January 2020 Horticulture News and Upcoming Events

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Growing Potatoes in Your Home Garden

Well-known throughout the world for their versatility, potatoes have become a staple of many countries’ cuisines. It’s difficult to think of a holiday meal without a big batch of mashed potatoes on the menu. But did you know you can grow them in your own backyard?

As seen in the fan-favorite NC State Extension and UNC-TV partner project “Almanac Gardener,” Area Agent and Environmental Educator Bill Lord explains the best way to grow potatoes in your garden.

Image of a photo of red and white potatoes overflowing from a basket

Tips for Growing Potatoes at Home

  • Choose the right kind of seeds for the soil and climate of your region.
  • Get certified seeds to guarantee they are disease and insect-free.
  • Cut a seed piece with at least two “eyes” and allow them to cure outside for at least a day.
  • Plant in soil with low PH (between 4.8 and 5.4) and cover with leaf mulch — the mulch will protect the potatoes from disease!
  • Make sure to watch out for Potato Beetles and get a Potato Beetle spray that will prevent them from ruining crops.

Watch How to Grow Potatoes Video!

NC Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox

The NC Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox contains detailed descriptions and photographs of 3,567 plants that grow in and around North Carolina.
The NC State Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox is based on evaluation of plant databases around the world, surveys of Extension agents, Extension Master Gardener℠ volunteers (EMGVs), plant database users, and focus groups.

Visit the NC Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox >>

An image of the white dogwood flower.

Based on themes gathered from this data we have created an innovative tool for gardeners, EMGVs, extension staff, landscape professionals, university staff, and students. The primary goal of the plant database is to help consumers select plants that will bring them joy, provide a valuable function in their landscape, and thrive where planted. Users are encouraged to consider year-round functionality and potential disease and insect problems as part of their selection process.

Timing of Preemergent Herbicide Applications for 2020 – Apply Earlier!

From previous research, we know that crabgrass germinates with 24-hour mean soil temperatures average about 53-55 degrees at a 2 to 4-inch depth for several consecutive days. Because the climate in NC is quite varied (ski resorts in western NC and palm trees in eastern NC), the actual date of the critical soil temperature varies significantly. Traditionally, in the southeastern part of the state, we know that PRE herbicides should be applied and watered in by about March 1, in the Piedmont about March 15, and in western NC about early April (depending on the elevation). Based on observations of crabgrass emergence and data from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association), my recommendation for 2020 is for turfgrass managers to apply PRE herbicides two weeks earlier than previous recommendations.


Are Changes Coming for Atrazine & Simazine?

Atrazine and simazine are triazine herbicides registered for pre- and post-emergent control of numerous broadleaf and grassy weeds in turfgrass systems (including sod production, golf courses, residential lawns, athletic fields, school grounds, parks, roadsides, rights of way, and airports, among other sites). Additionally, they are registered in other systems including corn, sugarcane, conifers, orchard, vineyard, berry crops, and noncropland areas. Atrazine and simazine are commonly used herbicides due in large part to efficacy and costs.


For more horticulture information, contact Colby Griffin, colby_griffin@ncsu.edu or 919-496-3344.