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Features

  • Microorganisms that cause disease can be transferred from animal manures to humans.

    The pathogens Salmonella, Listeria and E.coli, as well as parasites, such as roundworms and tapeworms, have been linked to applications of manure to gardens.

    Publicity about illnesses due to E.coli 0157:H7 has made people more aware of the potential risk of food borne illness from manure contamination. As a result, many are now asking whether it is safe to use manure on their gardens.

  • I’ve never been one of those people who got overly excited about native plants. We do have some wonderful natives, but some of our southern favorites like evergreen azaleas, camellias, gardenias and crape myrtle have all been introduced from other parts of the world.

    Redbud is a native small tree that’s flowering right now that makes a great addition to the garden. It’s distinctive, heart-shaped leaves and reddish-purple flowers make it easy to recognize. “Forest Pansy” has dark purple leaves when they first emerge.

  • Spring, ah yes, spring, and a gardener's fancy turns to, “What else?” Planting!

    I know you’re not all bozos out there, but just a few reminders. Everyone needs to be preached to now and then, and I’m just the guy to do it. When I was a teaching, a student once came up to me and said, “You are a preacher teacher,” so who is so foolish to argue with the wisdom of youth? And if you've got it, why fight it?

  • You want attitude? Pound for pound—actually ounce for ounce—the Carolina wren is the Lower Cape Fear’s bird with the most attitude. The wren is only exceeded at times by an occasional mockingbird or a visiting New York cab driver.

    The mockingbird arguably has the baddest attitude because, when defending its territory, it sometimes attacks people, its own reflection in a window, and other birds. And who hasn’t seen a mocker terrorize a cat?

  • Herbert Pittman of Supply has been around the world, and seen and done things in days gone by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren may have never known about.

    He has boxes of pictures from his days in the U.S. Air Force on the beaches of Guam, the marketplaces of Turkey, the deserts of Libya and the rice paddies of Southeast Asia.

    He has official records from his military career and mementoes of his family and job that he’s saved over the past 50 years. He wants his four children, their children and their children’s children to know about his life.

  • St. Patrick’s Day is next Monday, but some of our lawns are already “wearin’ a bit ‘o the green” because of some warm days. This move out of dormancy means right now is the wrong time to stress your lawn with fertilizers or weed control products. Maybe you can just save some of that green beer for your grass.

  • Look at what is blooming now! The Brunswick County Botanical Garden is starting to show color. Our saucer magnolia is blooming and the forsythia in the woods has peaked. Some of our old bulbs are “poking” through the ground with promises of color soon.

  • As we all start looking for plants as spring approaches, the following may be of some help:

    Many gardeners are addicted to visiting garden centers and nurseries and greenhouses in search of plants, trees, shrubs, annuals and houseplants. They shop and compare prices but are never quite sure what a plant is worth. The problem is some sort of valuation is placed on the plant. We try to figure out the worth or value of the plant in comparison to another source of supply. To some extent, that is a reasonable approach.

  • Many of you have watched this bird on telephone lines all your life and may know it by its former name, the sparrow hawk. This certainly matches my experience growing up in Eastern North Carolina.

    My apologies to the American Ornithologists Union, I have to confess I sometimes use a former name for a species because it has a more down-home, nostalgia-invoking feel to it.

  • When Cpl. Todd Coring drives by in his night black SUV—silver rims gleaming, red letters emblazoned across the side—it’s hard to miss him.

    But that’s the way he wants it.

    Coring is Brunswick County’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer for the county’s nine elementary schools, and he says his SUV is “catching a lot of eyes.”

  • Whether we are suffering through a prolonged drought as we are now or just trying to have your garden make it through the sweltering summers of the Carolinas, wise use of water is important.

    Practicing water conservation not only helps protect the environment but also saves money and provides for optimum growing conditions.

  • Our typically erratic late winter temperatures may have your centipede pushed to the brink of disaster. We have problems just about every year with low temperature injury during the spring “green up” period. Keeping the nitrogen rates low, avoiding pre-emergence herbicides, and mowing at the right height can help minimize these “winter kill” problems.

  • Homeowners with excess moisture in their crawl spaces often wage war with wood-destroying organisms, such as wood-decaying fungi, termites and wood-boring beetles. But winning the war means first solving the moisture problem, not battling the bugs and fungi.

  • On the morning of the Feb. 18 total lunar eclipse, I was suddenly driven to photograph the event. Without planning and with little study, I grabbed my camera and birding scope, jumped in to my SUV, and headed to Fort Fisher’s rock seawall. I was the first to arrive around 6:30 p.m. and the last to leave around 11:30 p.m.

  • “New” is a great marketing campaign. Stop by the supermarket and you’ll find all kinds of “new and improved” stuff on the shelves. Gardeners are enamored with “new” just like everyone else. Take a look at your favorite garden catalog and you’ll see lots of space devoted to the new and unusual.

    During a recent visit with an old nursery friend of mine, I saw two new plants that have lots of potential for our landscapes: Taiwan cherry and Steeplechase arborvitae.

  • Stella can run through an agility course in about 40 seconds with few mistakes. She can run up and down the see–saw and A-frame with ease, soar over the jumps and maneuver through weave poles.

    But when it comes to making her way through a closed tunnel Stella, unlike many other dogs that perform the same tasks, gets lost because she cannot hear verbal commands.

    While most dogs listen for direction, Stella is deaf and relies on hand signals to help her run the course. Despite her disability, she runs the course with ease.

  • EDITOR'S NOTE: (Part 2 of a two–part series on lawn care)

    First and foremost, do not fertilize your lawn at this time. The Extension Master Gardener Hot Line has received several calls on lawn fertilizing. As warm season grasses are grown in this area and the grass is just now starting to break dormancy, fertilizing now is a waste of time and money.

  • Last week I noticed it. The first songbird to sing this spring in my neighborhood was the house finch. On the following Sunday morning, while birding in Southport, I noticed eastern bluebirds singing in several locations. In fact, numerous species were singing that warm morning.

  • With the afternoon sun beaming down, Lonzie Bryant stood outside Cedar Grove Missionary Baptist Church and basked in the warmth and history.

    The 62-year-old church trustee can recall his childhood, when a more primitive structure preceded the two-story brick church building in the African-American community on Cedar Grove Road.

    He remembers homemade pews, no central heat in winter and no air conditioning or fans in summer, when windows were lifted to let some air in.

    “Most people came to church with a mule and cart,” he said.

  • Celia is a full-grown gray tiger-and-white tabby who loves to dip her paws in the water can and lick your hands. To see her, call Cat Tails at 253-1375 or visit its Web site at www.cattails.org. You can visit Celia, as well as all the other cats and kittens available for adoption, at Cat Tails in the Corner Stone center at 6622 Beach Drive in Ocean Isle Beach. Visiting hours are 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and 1-3 p.m. Sundays. Other hours are by appointment. Cat Tails is also desperate for volunteers.