The spring season is always a busy time for everyone, especially when trying to plan for a spring garden! Not only is it a great time to start planning, but it is also National Garden Month! There have been a number of great questions coming into our office that we hope readers will find useful and interesting for this upcoming season:
Q: I took a soil sample and sent it for analysis and never got my results, why not?
A: Taking soil samples for analysis is easy and free from April 1 to Nov 30; the fee is $4 for other times in the year. The boxes and explanation for how to take a soil sample are free at our office and I also provide them to anyone that attends the library gardening presentations. Those samples are shipped to a laboratory in Raleigh that is operated by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture (NCDA). Usually that test is completed within 3-6 weeks but the results must be viewed on-line. Search: ‘NCDA Soil Test Results’ and select the NCDA Agronomic Services web page. You will see a tab on the right hand side of the screen that says ‘Find Your Report (PALS)’. Click that option and follow the directions to get your test. Call your local extension office if you need help finding this or assistance in understanding your soil analysis results.
Q: Our church wants to start a community garden to help families grow produce and provide fresh produce for our food pantry. How can we get this project going?
A: Our state has a reputation as a community that values agriculture, food production, and community resiliency. There are several great examples of successful community gardens in our area. If you want to get one started call your local extension office. They have a number of resources, groups of gardening volunteers, and general advice and information to help you succeed.
Q: I struggled to fight weeds and keep my lawn from drying out last summer. Do you have any advice for this season?
A: The majority of home owners in Catawba County and other areas of the Piedmont have tall fescue grass for their lawn. Tall fescue can easily outcompete weeds like crabgrass if allowed to grow to at least 4 inches in height. Tall fescue that is allowed to grow to a more natural height will also have a larger and deeper root system. Deeper roots results in more ability to endure dryer conditions and less need to water your lawn. Save mower gas, time, irrigation water, and needless herbicide applications with one simple action – raise the height of your mower to at least 4 inches.
Q: Last year I planted a row of sweet corn in the garden but our ears did not have very many kernels. What went wrong?
A: Corn depends on the wind for pollination. The male flower, called the tassel, comes out of the top of the plant and the wind carries pollen from that tassel to the female flower, the silks where an ear of corn will develop. When you eat an ear of sweet corn there may be more than 600 kernels of corn on that cob. Each of those kernels resulted from a pollen grain landing on an individual silk, germinating a pollen tube that grows down the silk, and fertilization of the ovule at the end of the silk by that pollen tube. That fertilized ovule develops into a kernel of corn. If you only plant a couple of rows of sweet corn, there may not be enough pollen blowing around for each silk to receive a pollen grain. You need to either grow a larger block of sweet corn (at least 4 rows) for better wind pollination or provide assistance by collecting some pollen in a pan and gently brushing it onto the silks of each of your sweet corn plants.
Feel free to call your extension office for any additional questions that you may have for the spring gardening season! Check their website for upcoming events and courses in your area. https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/ or if you would like to contact George Place his email is as follows: firstname.lastname@example.org
To read more about Carolina Farm Credit, our members and the ag industry, check out issues of our Leader magazine—you can read them online.
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