In the Garden Q & A

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With the spring gardening season in full swing we have had some great questions come into the extension office. The following are a few examples with some information that may help you in your garden, lawn, and landscape.

Q: I grow asparagus and the spears that are ready for harvest seem shriveled and damaged. What is going on and what should I do?

A: Asparagus is a fabulous perennial crop that every gardener should consider putting into their edible landscape. There are three main suspects for damage of asparagus spears at this time of year.

The first suspect is frost. If a frost is predicted harvest all of your spears the evening before since a frost will badly damage asparagus spears.

The second suspect is slugs. Dedicated gardeners need to visit their crops in the early morning dark (before 5:30 a.m.) and see what is feeding. Slugs are a common night time feeder. Look for slime trails on the asparagus spears and the long ragged damage that comes from a slug slowly moving and taking small bites. Slug traps such as small containers with 3 teaspoons of yeast and warm water will attract slugs to spots where you can dispose of them. Copper barriers are sometimes used for slug deterrence since slug slime contacting copper will result in a slight electric current. Chemical products containing active ingredients such as iron phosphate (approved for organic agriculture) and metaldehyde can be used but the product label must be read and followed completely!

The third suspect is asparagus beetle. The eggs of this pest show up as soon as asparagus shoots begin to emerge in late March/early April. These tiny, football shaped, black eggs are barely visible to the naked eye so look closely and you might seem them attached with one of the football-shaped tips pointing straight out from the stalk. The eggs hatch in a week and the beetle larvae join the adults in decimating one of your favorite spring treats. Avoid damage by harvesting daily. You will probably need to spray a pesticide if there are multiple beetles on every spear. There are organic and conventional products so please call the extension office if you want more information on this.

Q: Is it too late to fertilize my lawn?

A: Yes – if you have a tall fescue lawn (by far the most common lawn in Catawba County) you should only apply a nitrogen fertilizer in mid February, mid September, and Oct/Nov – think Valentine’s Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving.

Q: When is that local food event that you do every year?

  1. Eat, Drink, and Be Local will happen in mid July and the much anticipated Farm to Fork Feast will take place on July 21. Tickets are on sale and they will go fast so call our office (828-465-8240) or get our monthly e-mail newsletter on our website to reserve your tickets.

Q: Can I still do a soil test?

A: Yes, come by our office for the sample boxes. Soil samples are processed for free from April 1 until Nov 30 at the NCDA soil testing lab in Raleigh. Take the sample, send the box, and results are on-line in 2-3 weeks.

Q: Is it too late to sign up for the Master Gardener class?

A: The 2018 Master Gardener class is full. However, we have open registration for the 2019 class. The class fills quickly (20 student max) so fill out the registration and put down your deposit ASAP!

We also have regular garden programming with the Advanced Gardener series taking place each month at the Patrick Beaver Memorial Library – 2nd Thursday of the month from 6:00-7:00 p.m., Newton Library – 3rd Tuesday of the month from 6:30-7:30 p.m., and Maiden Library – 4th Tuesday of the month from 6:30-7:30 p.m. These programs are free and open to anyone – no registration needed. The topic for May is focused on vegetable production with an emphasis on simple things that you can do to eat from your garden 365 days of the year . . . yes, you can have a fresh salad from your garden on Christmas! Get healthy, have fun, and join our growing gardener community in Catawba County. We can make our community healthier one garden at a time and the Catawba County Cooperative Extension Service is here to help you. Call our office for questions and sign up for our monthly e-mail newsletter to get involved in gardening, farming training, workshops, cooking classes, farm tours, 4-H activities, and much more – 828-465-8240.