Category Archives: general nature

Rhinoceros beetles are menacing looking but completely harmless


Occasionally, someone will bring in a large curious-looking insect for me to identify. Males have a big horn-like structure on their heads. Females have no horns. These insects are in the group called scarab beetles. Their major colors are greenish … Continue reading

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Burning fields is an old practice that still continues


When I first moved to North Carolina, I was surprised farmers were still allowed to burn wheat fields, especially in places where neighborhoods were close. That was twenty-some years ago. Even in the mid-90s, there was a growing group of … Continue reading

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Mulching can benefit vegetable gardens too.


Last week I discussed how mulches are used on our landscape beds. Vegetable gardens can also benefit from a good mulching now and then. Often, our goals will determine the type of material used. In spring, we can speed up … Continue reading

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How do we decide about landscape mulching?


Most people spread a layer of mulch around their landscape beds. Some even mulch vegetable gardens. With so many types to choose from, it’s often a confusing situation. The main reasons we mulch are to conserve water, suppress weeds and … Continue reading

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Elephant ears make an interesting addition to your garden bed


Elephant ears (Colocasia sp.) are that plant with the huge heart-shaped leaves that look like they belong in a tropical rainforest. That’s probably because they do. They are native to Southeast Asia. These peace lily and caladium relatives are one … Continue reading

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Corkscrew willow and Corkscrew hazelnut have striking winter interest


Many plants have unique features that are displayed during the growing season. Some have unusual foliage. Some have unique flowers. Incorporating plants with attractive winter features can be a challenge. Two common plants are corkscrew willow (Salix matsudana) and corkscrew … Continue reading

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Cockleburs can cause more than just an inconvenience


I was walking around in the brush recently and noticed thick stands of cockleburs (Xanthium sp.). I tried to avoid them, but before I realized it my pants collected dozens. People with hunting dogs know all about cockleburs. Long-haired dogs … Continue reading

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