April Horticulture News Summer Pests, Soil Sampling

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Vegetable Gardening – A Beginners Guide
Vegetable gardening is becoming more popular—both as a pastime and a food source. We experience satisfaction in planting a seed or transplant, watching it grow to maturity, and harvesting the fruits of our labors. In addition, vegetable gardening offers a good source of exercise, with the added benefits of healthy snacks and food for the table. Read more >>

image of NC Vegetable Planting Guide Page 1.

NC Vegetable Planting Guide Page 2.

Soil Sampling

Healthy soil is the foundation of successful gardening. The first step to having healthy soil is conducting a soil test. Collecting soil samples only takes a few minutes and has many benefits. It can save you money in your landscape and can result in healthier plants by telling you which nutrients are already in your soil and which you need to add.image of a hand holding a handful of soil with soil in the background

One of the most important things the soil test measures is soil pH, or how acidic or basic your soil is. Soil pH levels in NC range anywhere from 3.5 (very acidic) to 8.0 (basic) or higher. Most ornamental plants, vegetables, fruits, and lawns prefer to grow in soils where the pH is 5.5 to 6.5, though acid loving plants such as azaleas, camellias, and blueberries prefer a soil pH between 5.0 and 5.5. Soil testing is the only way to know if your soil is too acidic and if you need to add lime to raise pH. Many people apply lime incorrectly, which can raise soil pH too high, resulting in poor plant growth.

Soil test results will also tell you which nutrients you need to apply for the type of plants you are growing. If nutrients are needed, they can be supplied with either natural or synthetic fertilizers. Submit samples several weeks before you plan to plant. This allows plenty of time to receive results and amend the soil before planting. Soil samples can be submitted any time of the year.

Sampling is free from April 1 through November 30 each year. Soil sample kits may be picked up at the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Franklin County office, 103 S. Bickett Blvd., in Louisburg. For more information about horticulture contact Colby Griffin at 919-496-3344 or colby_griffin@ncsu.edu.

Homeowners may be able to use the recommendations from a previous year’s test to maintain their yards and gardens. Read more >>

How to use previous soil test results for yards and home gardens:

Kudzu Bugs

If you notice a dark olive-green bug with speckles lurking around your home this spring it is probably the Kudzu Bug. Kudzu bugs are 4 to 6 mm long. They are “true bugs” meaning they have piercing-sucking mouthparts. Kudzu bugs are not a native insect having been introduced to the US from Asia in 2009.

Image of Kudzu bugs on a leaf.

Kudzu bugs on a leaf.

Kudzu bugs feed on legumes – plants within the bean family, so soybeans and even wisteria are a delicacy. If you happen to live near a soybean field then you have an increased chance of spotting this insect. The flying adults congregate on the sides of homes and buildings as the weather warms in spring before their susceptible plant hosts are available to them. They will also congregate on homes and buildings during the fall as well as they move away from their plant hosts. As daytime temperatures and day length decline, kudzu bugs seek out protected areas where they can overwinter, such as beneath leaf litter and under rocks. They will find any small crevice around your home to seek shelter. This is also where they will lay eggs that will emerge next spring as adult kudzu bugs. As temperatures continue to warm during the spring they will migrate to their plant hosts. They are harmless to you but can be a nuisance around you home and garden.

Pesticides aren’t that effective at preventing kudzu bugs from gathering around your home. However, if you choose to use a pesticide be sure to follow the label and use as intended.

Read more >> Kudzu Bug – A Nuisance and Agricultural Pest >>

Pests and Disease of Summer Veggies

There isn’t much that can quite compare to the taste of home-grown vegetables. However, it takes time and dedication to achieve such a delicious bounty of produce. If you are an avid vegetable gardener then you know that growing vegetables isn’t just a stroll through the field and stumbling upon pungent peppers, scrumptious squash, or toothsome tomatoes. In addition to maintaining a steady supply of water and fertilizer there are many pests and diseases that can be the bane of any gardener’s existence.

Vegetables such as squash, zucchini, and cucumber all reside in the cucurbit family.

Image of squash vine borer moth.

Squash Vine Borer Moth

These vegetables have several pests and diseases that can otherwise burden healthy growth. One such pest that attacks squash and zucchini is the squash vine borer. Read more >>