THURSDAY, OCTOBER 21, 1993
How Does Your Garden Grow?
Master Gardeners Eagerly Search For The Answers
INSIDE THIS SECTION:
TV schedules, 6-7
Sports , Pages 8 12
BY SUSAiN UMitK
"Mary. Mary, quite contrary.
How Joes your garden grow?
In Brunswick County, that question can
spark a lot of different answers, and
even more questions.
At the extreme tip of the range for many
northern and southern species, Brunswick
County is unique. Its known for an enor
mous diversity of plant and animal life. That
diversity has a down side, though: an equal
ly incredible variety of insects, invasive
weeds, plant diseases and other garden no
Couple that diversity with a long growing
season and the challenges of intense summer
heat, mild winters, heavy annual rainfall and
poor soils, and it's enough to send even the
stubbornest. most independent-minded gar
dener asking for advice.
Luckily for all Brunswick County home
gardeners, answers to most of their ques
tions are just a phone call away.
Last Thursday volunteer Lib Duncan was
staffing the hotline at the Brunswick County
Agricultural Extension Center in Bolivia
when someone called with a tough query.
The caller's chestnut tree is bearing too
many nuts this fall ? four or five "baby" nuts
instead of fewer, larger ones. What's the
Speculating to herself that this year's in
tense summer Keat might be part of the
problem, Duncan took a number, with plans
to research the issue and return the call as
quickly as possible.
A resident of the Calabash area, she's one
of Brunswick County's first Master Gar
deners, one of 39 volunteers who underwent
30 hours of intensive training last spring
with the understanding they would each pro
vide in return at least 30 hours of volunteer
work helping fellow gardeners in some fash
"The most interesting thing I learned was
on the last day," said Bud Scrantom of
Sunset Beach, president of the Brunswick
County Master Gardeners. "(Extension
Director) Milton Coleman told us that there
are times when we should consider replac
ing diseased plants instead of trying to cure
Out ot that initial group, all but two class
members remain active in the program, shar
ing their love of "playing in the dirt" and
their knowledge with fellow Brunswick
County gardeners ? and freeing agriculture
agents to spend more time with commercial
"We've got a great group with great lead
ership," said David Nash, the county's ex
tension agent for horticulture who works
with the Master Gardeners program. "Some
members have really given beyond the call
of duty, even working on projects that are
outside the scope, of the Master Gardener
Their numbers will soon increase. Nash is
leading a Master Gardener class on Bald
Head Island, and a class is planned on the
mainland next spring.
The hotline (253-4425) is the first of sev
eral services the Master Gardeners plan to
provide. It generally operates from 9 a.m.
until 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, offer
ing answers to gardening questions of all
Questions are as varied as you could
imagine, from pumpkins that aren't produc
ing fruit and post-storm salt damage to turf
and grass problems.
"The questions vary, but eventually I
think we have answered them all," said vol
unteer Shirley Waggoner-Eisenman of the
Shallotte area. "We've sent some plants to
the state lab for diagnosis and we've given
out a lot of soil testing kits. Right now is the
best time to do it."
MASTER GARDENER Lib Duncan
takes a call on the gardening hotline
as fellow volunteer Shirley Waggoner
Eisenman looks on.
Call the Hotline
A gardener all her life, Waggoner
Eisenman maintains 13 raised beds in her
own backyard garden, but still finds time for
volunteer work, serving as an extraterritorial
jurisdiction representative on the Shallotte
Planning Board and already logging 58
hours as a Master Gardener volunteer.
"It's not only a community service, but it
is a learning process for the volunteers who
are involved," she said. "And it takes a big
load off the staff here. It frees them up."
In addition to staffing the hotline, a group
of 10 to 12 Master Gardeners across the
county is working with Peter Hurtle, a tech
nician and doctoral student at N.C. State
University whose studies are on mole crick
ets. The volunteers monitor mole cricket
populations on local golf courses, use soapy
water to wash them up, while Hurtle con
centrates on various treatment approaches.
The Master Gardeners tried establishing a
demonstration garden near the extension ser
vice center this summer, only to encounter
some of the same problems gardeners run
into at home: hard-to-work fill dirt and in
tense heat. The garden languished.
Renewing their efforts this fall, they plan
to establish raised beds which will be filled
with a little bit of everything: flowers, veg
etables and herbs, said Waggoner-Eisenman.
The goal is to install an irrigation system
and also establish composting demonstra
tions to show others how to compost and
why it's worth the effort.
"We're looking for contributions of some
gardening supplies, everything from broken
bags of soil that can't be sold to landscape
_ STAFF PHOTOS BY SUSAN USHM
HORTICULTURE AGENT DAVID NASH (left) looks on as Ed Clute takes a good look at a group of ground pearls.
CAROL PHIPPS (far left) has members' full attention during a recent Master Gardeners meeting. That's President Hud
Scrantom standing at the right.
timbers," she said. "Anything to do with
gardening, we'd be glad to go pick it up."
At a meeting last Thursday in Bolivia the
Master Gardeners spent their first few min
utes together sharing news of their fall gar
dens (quite successful). Most stopped to take
a close-up look under Nash's microscope at
"ground pearls" (a lawn-destroying pest for
which there is no treatment) before moving
on to ideas for the coming year for commu
nity service and public education projects.
These may include organizing one or
more trips and seminars related to garden
ing, tagging by name trees and shrubs on the
grounds of the Brunswick County
Government Center, and getting more infor
mation out to the public on the Master
Gardeners hotline and other services.
Meanwhile, thanks to these eager and en
thusiastic "masters," answers to local gar
deners' questions are just a phone call away.
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