Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Classes will be starting soon.  Click on 'Become an Extension Master Gardener' in the HELPFUL LINKS section on the right for more information. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


This was sent out from the NCSU pest experts, Steve Bambara and Mike Waldvogel: 

Merry Cinara Aphid and a Happy New Year

'Tis the season again for Cinara aphid phone calls on ole Tannenbaum. Cinara aphids are large, brown aphids that feed on the stems of conifers. In the winter, these aphids often become abundant because predators are not as effective in controlling aphid populations in low temperatures. They are common on Christmas trees. They are normally manageable on the live plants in the field and rarely a problem in Fraser fir, but if present, they may become abundant and noticeable on trees taken into the house. After all, there is no place like a home for the holidays.

In the future, it would be best to examine the tree before taking it indoors. Once indoors, a decorated tree could be difficult to treat. These aphids will not bite people and will not damage the house or furnishings.
Control recommendations would be to try to squash as many as possible with your fingers, use insecticidal soap in a hand-held pump spray on the ends of the branches where you see aphids. Don't try to spray an
entire decorated tree. Use a rag or towel as a backing behind the twig you are spraying. Do not use any other household-type pesticides to reduce the chance of exposure to children and pets. One may also try using a vacuum cleaner with the crevice tool, being careful not to suck down that special dough ornament your child made in the first grade.
Check out this photo at

Friday, December 18, 2009

Looking for a unique gift for the gardener on your list?

Why not give the gift the keeps on giving? A membership to the 'Friends of the Pitt County Arboretum' entitles the member to discounts at local garden shops, a special preview at our annual plant sale in the spring, and several other benefits. Look on the right for 'Friends of the Pitt County Arboretum'  and click on application for more details.

Friday, December 11, 2009


QUESTION:  I found an insect in my house. I am not sure if it is an ant or termite. How do I tell the difference?

ANSWER:  Termites have straight antennae, no defined waist, and its wings are the same length.  Winged ants have elbowed antennae, a waist, and its front wings are longer than the hind ones.  You can always bring specimens into the Extension Office and someone will help identify them.  More information can be found at termites.

COMPOSTING:  As we head into the winter months, the questions we've been receiving have become fewer and additionally, they are ones we previously have addressed.  Earthworm mounds (see November) continue to be an issue.  However, an observant fellow Master Gardener noticed all the leaf bags piled curbside around town and questioned why the homeowners were tossing them out.  You can easily make your own compost from these leaves, as well as from your now frozen annuals and vegetable plants.  Add any vegetable or fruit peelings from your kitchen plus coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells, and your are on your way to some fabulous nutrient rich compost for your spring garden.  For a thorough fact sheet click on composting.

QUESTION:  I have wild onions and dandelions growing in my lawn.  Is now a good time to use a weed killer?
ANSWER:  December is a great time to do winter weed control in home lawns. Image is good for wild onion/garlic and some other broadleaf weeds in warm season grasses and is best applied before the end of December. Atrazine can be used in warm season grasses now (best to be done before the end of December) to control grass weeds and broadleaf weeds ( Do not use on lawns overseeded with ryegrass or other cool season grasses). Three way herbicides are found on most garden center shelves and will work well particularly if two applications are made two weeks apart. All these products are slow to work in cool temperatures so patience is needed. It may 4 to 6 weeks to see complete results of applications. It is always important to read the label and follow instructions for grass safety, application, mixing, and personal protection.

QUESTION:  What is the best way to take care of my Christmas tree?
ANSWER:   If you missed Danny's column in last week's Reflector, you can find all the information you need at Christmas Trees.