Making It Grow

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

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. All over the country, scientists check for the presence of the invasive and deadly Emerald Ash Borer by placing purple traps in trees. These devices are baited with sex pheromones that entice male beetles to enter the traps from which they can’t escape. The half-inch or so long beetles are not great flyers, they don’t move very quickly by themselves, but have spread quickly to 30 states, mostly in the Eastern half of the country, with the addition of Colorado.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The Asian Emerald Ash Beetle causes little damage to Asian species of ash trees in its native range as both evolved together over millions of years.   That natural process didn’t extend to ash species growing in Europe and North America, and the accidental introduction of that insect to those continents is causing destruction on a scale like that of the Dutch Elm Disease in our history.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The exotic invasive Emerald Ash borer, an Asian beetle, was first found in the US in Michigan in 2002, it probably arrived in solid wooden packing material. Today this insect is active in thirty states (South Carolina was just added on August 3rd). Hundreds of millions of ash trees have died in the 15 years since this insect arrived.  The natural stands of American ash species are predominantly in the northern eastern half of the country, with an estimate of eight billion individuals.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. One cool benefit of participating in Clemson Master Naturalist program (just search South Carolina Master Naturalist Clemson Extension to learn about it) is the follow up educational opportunities you can be part of.  Recently, a group of us learned all about threats to the health of our forests during a day-long workshop.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Although kaolin clay makes a great sunblock for your sensitive vegetables and fruits, many farmers prefer to use a product that’s easier to wash off. Calcium carbonate, the main component of agricultural lime that raises the pH of our soils, is also the main ingredient in several products that act to protect fruits and vegetables from sun scale. Unlike kaolin, which actually blocks the sun’s rays, calcium carbonate sprays form crystals that act like tiny mirrors and reflect the sun’s rays.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. In the New World, the first kaolin clay mined for shipment back to England to be used in fine china came from the colony of South Carolina, and today we are second only to Georgia for kaolin extraction. We spoke about how kaolin clay sprayed on vegetables and fruits helps prevent insect feeding, but it also can prevent sunburn. Just like zinc oxide protects my nose from the sun, a coating of this white clay film protects tomato fruits from sunscald and tissue necrosis.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Lots of calls are coming to   Extension offices about vegetable plants that have lush and plentiful foliage but are not setting fruits, especially beans and tomatoes. There are several factors at play. One is high night time temperatures. Tony Melton explains that plants cool themselves by a process called transpiration – basically sweating.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Kaolin clay is a nuisance in garden soil; unlike red clay, it’s basically inert, low in electrical charges that hold nutrients and water, and is even more gluey and sticky if you can image that. However, it has a several uses for commercial growers and home gardeners. When kaolin clay is sprayed on plants, it forms a barrier, coating the leaves and fruits with a white film which protects them from damage by certain insects, including thrips and other leaf and fruit eating pests.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. My new sunscreen has zinc oxide in it; it actually forms a physical barrier to protect my skin from sunburn. Believe it or not, sunburn is a serious issue for many fruits and vegetables, too. Sunburn necrosis occurs when vegetable’s skin or peel which receives direct sunlight reaches a certain temperature and the tissue is killed. It’s the temperature of the fruit’s skin  – not the air temperature – that’s critical.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Our native black cherry tree, Prunus serotina, produces showy, elongated racemes of individual white, perfect, flowers in early spring. These flowers have pollen and nectar coveted by insects and are pollinated by native bees, flies, and honeybees. In early summer they ripen and have a sweet, pungent taste. If you’re interested in foraging, you might want to look in the old cookbook Charleston Receipts for the cherry bounce recipe.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Our native black cherry, Prunus serotina, is usually defaced this time of year by a large web of silk that houses several hundred leaf-eating Eastern tent caterpillars. If you can reach the web, use a small rake to pull the mass to the ground. Then you can actually stomp on the caterpillars and destroy them. If you don’t, they will march right back up the tree. If you can’t reach the nest, don’t fret, as the tree will produce new leaves and continue photosynthesizing for the rest of the season.

Black Cherry Wood

Aug 3, 2017

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The wood that comes from our native black cherry tree, Prunus serotina, is the most prized in the forestry/timber industry. The wood has the beautiful deep red color valued by furniture makers, is strong, and is easy to work. The Allegheny Plateau of Pennsylvania and New York is the region that produces the majority of quality timber.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Prunus serotina, black cherry, is our most important and largest native cherry tree in North America. It has a huge range, from the middle of Canada to Florida, over to Texas and Arizona and even with a subspecies that extends into Mexico and parts of Central America. Its importance in the forestry/timber industry is based on the beauty of its wood, which has that deep red color so beloved by furniture makers and for those fortunate enough to use it for paneling or flooring.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. If you take a botany class, you learn that the leaves or stems of certain plants have aromatic compounds. My mother had a Florida anise, Illicium parvifollium, in our yard and she would always crush a leaf when we walked outside and let us inhale that wonderful licorice fragrance.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Feeding the   worms in your compost bin with fruits and vegetables you bought but never used doesn’t completely exonerate you from being part of the problem of food waste in America, but it does reduce infrastructure costs.  Transportation, handling expenses, and taking up limited space results in a cost of $60 per ton for discarded food when it ends up in landfills.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The cost of sending a ton of food to a landfill in South Carolina averages $66; the methane which landfills emit is twenty-five percent more potent in enhancing the greenhouse effect carbon dioxide is. Clemson’s Food Safety and Nutrition Team came to Making It Grow recently with some ideas on how to reduce the twenty percent of landfill space that is devoted to receiving discarded food. Education is one way to reduce food waste.

Food: Use It All!

Jul 13, 2017

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. My pressure cooker is one of my favorite tools. When we de-bone chicken, the carcass goes in the pot along with the leftover pieces of vegetables that have been hiding out in the back of the refrigerator bins. Presto, no pun intended, we have chicken broth.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow.  Including all sources --institutional, commercial and residential-- food that’s thrown away is the largest component of what goes to landfills, responsible for at least twenty percent.  You might think that’s just wasteful but actually there are disposal costs.  From the standpoint of air quality and climate change, that food becomes a large factor in the emission of the greenhouse gas methane.

Consumer Food Waste

Jul 10, 2017

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Clemson’s Food Safety and Nutrition people not only try to keep us from getting sick from eating improperly stored, cooked, or served food; they also want us to stop wasting food. In 2015, South Carolina recorded six hundred seven thousand tons of food as being wasted. On the national scale, thirty to forty percent of what is grown and processed is wasted and has a value of one hundred sixty billion dollars each year.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Elderberries begin life as small white flowers held by the hundreds in flat clusters called corymbs, the blossoms eventually become deep purple fruits which when ripe are devoured by birds and mammals. The plant itself is large and rough-textured, growing well over six feet tall and with an equal spread in moist, rich soils.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow.  My commute from St. Matthews to Sumter is brightened  by numerous stands of elderberries with their large creamy flower heads. Elderberries grow all over the temperate world, and our native variety has long been used by animals and early peoples.  The flowers are not particularly attractive to insects as they lack nectaries – there’s no sweet liquid reward for visiting pollinators, therefore elderberries are mostly self or wind pollinated.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Believe it or not, in some situations fire ants are considered beneficial insects. They voraciously devour other insects and invertebrates -- sometimes in field crops they eat so many harmful insects that growers can reduce the number of insecticidal sprays applied. Researchers report that ticks populations are lower due to fire ant predation resulting in healthier livestock.  But fire ants also protect some insects.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. South Carolina roadsides are especially handsome now as the native elderberries are making a spectacular display with their showy clusters of creamy white flowers held on large plants growing vigorously in moist, sunny openings. . Native Americans used the strong exterior wood of these plants for blow guns, tubes, and pipes, and the pithy interior of the stem was a handy substrate for starting fires.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Although we can control fire ants in our yard relatively easily with the Texas Two Step method, applying a bait and following up with individual mound treatments, the procedure for keeping these pests out of vegetable gardens is somewhat more complicated. Amdro, the most commonly used bait in our part of the world, is not approved for use in a vegetable garden and the quick kill products which contain acephate are also illegal to use in that situation.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow.   People are coming to the Extension office with problem tomato plants   and sometimes their issues could have been avoided with proper watering. Two clients were using an overhead sprinkler and watering for fifteen minutes every day, which got only the top of soil wet- as a result one had diseased leaves and the other had blossom end rot, a calcium and water-related issue.   Tomatoes need a deep root system to provide a consistent supply of water with dissolved nutrients to the fruits to the plants.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Okra is one plant that likes hot weather and usually snubs its nose at the heat, not surprising for a plant which originated in Ethiopia.  Clemson Spineless is a Southern favorites but you might want to experiment with some different varieties.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange has a catalogue I like as it offers hybrid and heirloom varieties that are especially well suited to the Southeast. Although you may be tempted by companies offering tomatoes from the Belarusian-Ukrainian areas of Russia that have deep colors and a high sugar content, unless you plan to move to Michigan this summer, you’d do better to plant tomatoes that were developed in the deep South.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Extension Vegetable Specialist Tony Melton is doing research at the Pee Dee Research and Education Center near Florence on heat tolerant butterbeans. South Carolina vegetable growers are a hard-working group of farmers who often grow multiple crops in order to stay profitable.

Heat Zones

Jun 12, 2017

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. University of Illinois Professor Eric Snodgrass of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences recently gave Clemson agents a presentation on how our weather is changing. For the past several years, almost every state has reported the hottest temperature on record, records dating back to 1895.   This means we need to pay attention to the heat zones that have been established by the American Horticulture Society as well as the Cold Hardiness zones that are determined by the US Department of Agriculture.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Mothers used to caution their children against wearing underpants with holes in them. "What if you get in an accident and have to go to the hospital?" Well, I was certainly happy that my underwear was in good form last week when I was working in the garden and got into fire ants. There is no way to not react when those imported pests start stinging you – the pain is unbearable. I had on sneakers and long pants and as quickly as I could I pulled off my shoes and then got out of my britches.

Pages