Making It Grow Minute

Mon-Sat, throughout the day

Amanda McNulty of Clemson University’s Extension Service and host of ETV’s six-time Emmy Award-winning show, Making It Grow, offers gardening tips and techniques.

Archive: Making It Grow Podcasts, January 2011 - September 2014

Ways to Connect

Acorn Flour

Nov 23, 2016

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Here is a new word for you, or it is for me, balanophagy – the practice of eating acorns. Although the word may be new, for thousands of years, acorns were an important food source for people and/or for their domestic animals. The Maidu Native American peoples of California   collected acorns and stored them woven structures called granaries.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Many of our farmers are still in business this year because of the Farm Aid Relief Bill. After the devastating floods of October 3, 2015 which brought over 25 inches of water in one day, entire crops, everything that certain farmers were growing, were laid waste with nothing to salvage.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Tony Melton says you should rake leaves off your turf grass as they can insulate the grass, keeping it from going dormant which prepares your turf for winter. But don’t bag them and send them off to the landfill! Leaves are full of nutrients and make great organic matter.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Rather than sending  the limbs and branches you pick up after a storm to the landfill,  use that material to make a brush pile on your property. Put the largest limbs down first and then come back at a ninety degree angle with similar sized material for the frame work. Then begin to add smaller debris, especially with leaves still attached. Keep the pile as loose as possible.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Another type of dead wood that should be left in wooded areas when it doesn’t threaten timber value is large logs. In rural areas bears and turkey vultures can find shelter in them and mice, amphibians, lizards, snakes and such use their rotted interiors or crevices beneath them as places of refuge. One interesting fact is that the humidity associated with these rotting, moist pieces of wood is that is creates micro-environments for such moisture requiring amphibians as salamanders and certain frogs.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Although tree farmers must keep their stands healthy, a few snags, upright dead or dying trees, usually don’t pose a risk and are critical to the lifecycle of many animals. Primary cavity creators like woodpeckers and brown-headed nuthatchers are the top of a group of animals that benefit from snags. A raft of secondary creatures then enjoy these hollow spaces – such as  Owls, bats and certain songbirds.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. If you are fortunate enough to have a woods as part of  your property, you can support wildlife by management decisions. I’ve seen many newcomers who want their pines or hardwoods to be as tidy as their shrub borders – a practice that destroys many places birds, mammals and reptiles need for their lifecycle. Three types of dead wood are critical for a wildlife nurturing woodland.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has fact sheets that give detailed and fascinating information about native plants. An extremely comprehensive resource, it begins with a thorough description of the entire plant. Most interesting to me is the history of its uses by native people and others for medicinal and utilitarian purposes.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Dogwoods are not long-lived trees and the ones in my yard are showing their age. One planting goal for this fall is to plant more of those native trees that have high value to wildlife. Dogwoods are monecious so all trees will have the red fruits that are an important part of the winter diet of our overwintering birds.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. A recent caller to Making It Grow complained that nearby growing Eastern Red Cedars, Juniperus virginiana, were causing his dogwoods to die. Actually, these trees have no disease interaction but both are beneficial to wildlife and should be planted in our yards. In large spaces, use them as windbreaks.  

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The weather is still unseasonably warm but not blazing hot and we are all ready to catch up on outdoor chores. How tempting to give the garden a haircut – all those spent flower heads and stems that are no longer a blaze of color but a drab brown don’t seem very attractive.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. There is a huge pine tree fell in my vegetable/flower garden and it broke two sprinklers along with all the other mess. Thankfully, they feed off a well separate from the city water that goes to the house. I’ve got three hoses joined together to keep the large containers we use are bird baths filled with fresh water.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Although the production of anthocyanin, the pigment that gives us reds, purples, and blues in leaves, flowers and fruits is enhanced by increased sugar concentrations and cooler nights, some plants in the midlands and coastal plain can still produce those compounds. In my yard, dogwoods and black gums have those red pigments developing in their leaves in spite of the less than ideal conditions required by certain maples for that pigment to develop.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. October Glory, Autumn Blaze – these are just two of the improved cultivars in the Red Maple collection that are supposed to have drop dead fall color. Sadly, they may be show stoppers in cooler areas but probably not going to stop traffic in the coastal plain of South Carolina.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Hickories, tulip poplars, catalpas, gingkoes and other deciduous trees owe their yellow and golden fall colors to the presence of chemical compounds called carotenoids and flavonoids that served as accessories to   the life-giving cycle of photosynthesis that takes place in green leaves. Now that the shorter-lived chlorophyll molecules, responsible for the green color in leaves, are declining in concentration, these longer-lived compounds are becoming visible to us.

The decreasing intensity of sunlight in the Fall causes production of chlorophyll to decrease, giving other pigments a chance to "shine."

Fall Colors

Oct 3, 2016

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Some of the colors that make autumn leaves so beautiful have actually been in the leaves all along, but only become visible in the fall. Their presence was masked by the chlorophyll molecules held in structures called chloroplasts. Chlorophyll absorbs red and blue light to power the process of photosynthesis – the chemical reaction that turns carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates – the ultimate source of all food we eat!

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. People fuss about our native catalpas – both species grow here bignoniodes and speciosa – saying they are weedy and then go right and plant a horrible invasive non-native tree that closely resembles catalpa. Paulownia tomentosa, Princess Tree, has similar large heart shaped leaves and a showy cluster of flowers, purple in this case. One paulownia tree can produce 20 million seeds each year, and they’re moved all over by wind or water.

The Catalpa Sphinx Moth Caterpillars

Sep 30, 2016

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. A nearby stand of catalpa trees is kept pruned so that the owners can easily reach catalpa sphinx moth caterpillars that use the leaves as their larval food source. This stout but dully colored caterpillar is actually hard to find – most stands of catalpa I see don’t have them feeding on them. Their infestations seem to be sporadic; many other insects parasitize these creatures and some people actually purchase pupae to inoculate their trees.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Since summer seems interminable this year, I’m desperate for signs of fall. Several catalpa trees on my daily drive have caught my eye recently with their large leaves sporting a yellow autumnal color. Catalpa is known as a fisherman’s tree since it the larval food source for the catalpa sphinx moth. It has large, ten inches or so across, heart-shaped leaves that are yellow-green.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Although persimmons have consistently beautiful and early fall foliage, they aren’t often highly valued by homeowners but people who plant them as a food source for wildlife and soil stabilization properties know their importance. The ripe fruits are relished by deer, possums, foxes, and raccoons and people – although you have to wait until they’re so soft you can only eat them with a spoon.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The area around the Dixiana exit off 1-26 is one of those deep sand spots with stunted pines and black jack and turkey oaks. Right now, there are surprising spots of color from persimmon trees that have colonized certain parts of the roadside. Diospyros virginiana has lustrous green leaves that early in the fall begin to show purple and orange color. A few of the trees, the females, have beautiful orange fruits hanging from them.

Writing Spiders

Sep 10, 2016

Writing Spiders make beautiful webs, don't bother humans, and they catch a lot of insects!

The Brown Recluse spider is rarely sighted in South Carolina, but, it gets blamed for a lot of mischief.

    

Spiders aren't interested in biting people, but they will chow down on the insects in your home.

    

Only 44 Brown Recluse Spiders have been found in South Carolina since record keeping began.

Spider Myths

Sep 5, 2016

Amanda shares some myths about spiders.

Fragrant Sumac doesn't smell all that great, but, it's a great choice for dry areas where it will get little maintenance.
Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz, via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making it Grow. Rhus aromatica, or fragrant sumac, may not quite be worthy of the name fragrant. Other common names are skunkbush or polecatbush so smell, like beauty, maybe in the eyes or nose of the beholder or sniffer as the case may be. This sumac member is relatively slow-growing, topping out at about 7 feet, and grows in both sun and shade. Michael Dirr recommends this smaller sumac as a good choice for an exposed, dry area where it will get little care or maintenance. .

Sumac Gets a Bad Rap

Aug 26, 2016
"Poison" Sumac, not all that common, is not a member of the Sumac family. It is recognizable by its reddish stems.
Rusty Clark/Flickr

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Sumac has a bad rap as there is one plant with that name that causes a terrible rash. It’s been moved from the genus Rhus and is now called Toxicodendron vernix. Many people freak out whenever you speak identify a plant they’re examining as sumac -- they think it’s going to give them a horrible rash. The facts are that , poison sumac has more usushiol than either poison oak or poison ivy does.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Five species of Sumac, deciduous woody shrubs in the genus Rhus, are found across the State. Right now Rhus copalllinum, known as winged sumac or shining or dwarf sumac, is showing its attractive flower heads as I cross the Congaree and Wateree causeways on my way to Sumter. A creamy , greenish white now, these showy heads turn a handsome reddish brown in fall. Birds enjoy the seeds and also find shelter in the dense colonies this stoloniferous plant forms.

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