Gardening Articles

We moved into our forever home Thanksgiving 2000; ten acres, a dream of having two horses, and more land than our two dogs could ever cover. Fine, but what do we do with the rest of the space?

After exhaustging ourselves with endless options, we invited our county agricultural agent out to access our property and perhaps suggest what we might grow. After showing the agent around and describing our intention, the agent asked a few key questions: no, we didn’t have a tractor or any implements, no we’ve never had horses before but we’re eagar to learn — that is after we built a barn added water and electricity, and built fences.

In the meantime, we wanted to know what we could grow to make money from the land.

After several deep breaths, the agent recommended that we grow ornamentals; they could be grown in pots, didn’t require large equipment and expanding our business would be a matter of buying more large pots — not plowing.

After she left, my husband and I looked at each other then asked “What are ornamentals?”

What business did two boneheaded city dwellers have moving to the country without researching more about living in the country.

We floundered for a few years but learned from each endeavor. But wth each venture we asked the familiar question: What we could we grow to improve our lives out here? Fortunately, the county extension office offered a 40-hour Master Gardener class in 2005 that helped me start to see an answer to that ever looming question. Unfortunately, the MG program fizzled out when the agent left; but, having this new found knowledge, we landscaped our property, got chickens, built two barns, added fences, got goats, and built more fences.

Fast forward to 2017, the county extension office revived the Master Gargener program and taught the course — again. Yep, I was on the front row — again. I volunteered until 2022 when our gardens required more time and attention. That ever looming question of what to grow out here to improve our lives turned out to a bit complex: vegetables for the humans, forage for our goats and horses, and herbs for the chickens. But, the question was beginning to find its answers.

One of my favorite MG volunteer projects was developing the newsletter. The Stanly Quarterly Gardener was born in Spring 2019. As editor I was resonsible for editoral content, design, and layout. Ever once in a while I wrote an article. With a Masters in Journalism and being a research nut, most of my articles tended to be thorough (aka too long). Although the local town crier did publish a few 300 to 500 word articles of mine.

The following articles were orinally published by the Stanly County Extension Office Extension Master Gardener newsletter Stanly Gardener Quarterly. They tell a story of how we’re answering the question of what we can grow to improve our lives out here.

Spring 2019

Caring About Pollinators

Caring about pollinators begins with understanding them, their lifecycle, their habitat needs, and the threats they face. Only then can you develop a strategy for helping them. After you identify the pollinators you want to attract to your garden you then begin selecting their food, water, and nesting materials.

Read more …

Bumble Bee collecting nectar.

Summer 2019

Give Your Garden the Gift of Compost

Composting is probably one of the easiest tasks around your home/garden. But before you start tossing ‘stuff’ in a pile, you need to know a few facts about composting. Like what is composting, what are its benefits, which materials are appropriate, are there different methods, how do you build a compost, and when will you know when it’s ready.

Read more …


Fall 2019

Autumn is in the Air

Editors Note
by Pat Allen, EMG

Summer days were long, hot, and dry in Stanly County but when the weather turns cooler, the days become shorter, and the leaves begin to fall, we know that Autumn is in the air. Autumn is a time for nature to begin resting and refreshing herself. Holidays spur memories of long-ago traditions, family,
and festivals.

Read more …

Basic Crop Rotation

Winter 2019

What You Can Do To Help Honey Bees

As gardeners we’re often asked what we can do to care for honeybees. As you may have heard, honeybees are under threat worldwide because of virulent viruses against which they have no natural

Read more …

“Bearding” bees coming out for some cooler air.

Spring 2020

Vegetable Crop Experience the Magic of Growing Your Own Food

Editor’s Note

With everyone in a Stay at Home Order, the first in this generation’s history, we’re all looking for ways to entertain our family while caring for them at the same time. Children are home from school so we’re learning how to conduct Home School, spouses are working from home so many homes now have home offices, some of us lost our jobs and are looking for ways to not only cut costs but feed our families as well.

Read more …

Home Grown Vegetables

Winter 2020

Vegetable Crop Rotation

Have you ever wondered about crop rotation and why it is important? Me too. My curiosity had been sparked and I wanted to know what it is, and why I should do it. I didn’t really need one more thing to add to my already long list of garden chores, but I wanted to know more.

Read more …

Basic Crop Rotation