County Extension

  • Getting your lawn and landscape ready for cooler months ahead

    Fall weather is in the air and its arrival to the Cape Fear region is much appreciated, but the work isn’t over. Cooler weather means that deciduous landscape plants and warm season turfgrass will soon be going into dormancy, a period of inactivity when plants store energy for the colder months ahead. As you reclaim the outdoors and get back to your garden, you will still find there is plenty of work to do in order to get your landscape ready for winter.

  • Pumpkins can be more than Jack-o’-Lanterns

    Pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins — they are everywhere. I’m seeing them at grocery stores, farm markets, front yards and porch steps.
    Decorating with pumpkins and carving Jack-o’-Lanterns is a wonderful fall tradition for many. I’m guessing that most people only use the pumpkins for carving, decoration or maybe a pie. This year, begin to think of it as a vegetable.

  • Backyard rain gardens manage stormwater runoff

    By Judy Koehly
    Master Gardener
    Stormwater runoff is one of the leading sources of pollution in waterways, but rain gardens can be a great way to manage storm water. Rain gardens are shallow depressions planted with perennials and woody plants, which collect water from roofs, driveways, other impervious surfaces as well as turf grass (which, like a driveway, is terrible at absorbing water).

  • Food safety mythbusters bust the ‘five-second rule’

    The popular television show “MythBusters” on Discover Channel seeks out and researches myths or urban legends to determine if they are true or not. Some of these are related to one of my favorite topics to write about: food safety.

  • Crape myrtles offer colorful summers and elegant winter silhouettes

    By Judy Koehly
    Master Gardener
    Crape myrtles are in their glory during the hot, humid days of summer, but most people do not realize that they make a beautiful four-season statement. In summer, they bring us a splendid variety of colorful blooms, and in winter the smooth bark and graceful natural shape of the tree add a lovely contrast to the many other deciduous trees. To keep the blooms coming all summer, trim off the flower heads as soon as they finish their blooms and a new set of blooms will follow shortly.

  • Breakfast is still the most important meal of the day

    Do you constantly find yourself eating breakfast “on the run” or worse yet, skipping breakfast entirely? Are you settling for coffee and a donut or whatever’s in the break room at the office? The first meal of the day is important, so don’t short-change yourself.
    Why eat breakfast?

  • A fall vegetable garden will extend your growing season

    By Sam Marshall
    Horticultural Extension agent

    Fall is an exciting time in southeastern North Carolina. We finally get a reprieve from the heat and humidity and the bugs are more tolerable, which means you can begin to reclaim the outdoors and get back in the garden; and now is the time to start a fall vegetable garden. If you typically grow a summer garden — tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, squash — and no fall garden, you are only getting half the production potential from your beds and are missing out on some tasty cool-season veggies.

  • Allergens are focus of National Food Safety Month

    If you or a family member has a food allergy, you probably worry a little when eating at restaurants. This is a concern for restaurant staff, too. They don’t want to serve anything that may cause someone to get sick. To help restaurants learn more about allergies and how to help customers, allergens and preventing a reaction is the theme of this year’s National Food Safety Month.

  • Freezer problems and solutions

    Although it doesn’t happen often, the loss of power or a broken appliance can cause problems keeping food safe in your freezer. Here are a few tips on what you can do to help prevent a food borne illness or the loss of food caused by a freezer that isn’t working.
    Refreezing thawed foods

  • Get on the right track with weight loss program

    The kids have gone back to school. Summer visitors are long gone. The days are getting a little cooler and shorter. We’re all getting back into a normal schedule, but before you go back to all your old habits, why not start a new routine that includes eating smarter, moving more and ultimately weighing less?