By Darrell Blackwelder
Rowan Extension Director
Generally, August is a slow month for consumer gardening questions, but Cooperative Extension still receives a variety of questions. Below are a few inquiries from the general public about various issues that may be of interest.
Q: I haven’t planted peanuts since I was a kid and my dad always planted them. I can’t remember when he dug them. Can you tell me when I should dig my peanuts?
A: Peanuts take a long time to mature, often over 100 days. A good indicator is the plants will start to turn yellow and stop growing. Dig a few plants to see how many pods are mature. They will be mature if the nuts themselves have a pink coat. Not all of the pods will be mature. When the majority of the pods are mature then you can dig them. Peanuts are then cured by stacking the plants in an open shelter or by hanging them in a warm, dry location for a week. After the plants have dried, shake off any remaining soil and pull the peanuts from the vines.
Q: There are caterpillars crawling from the shrubs and now attacking the side of our building. What are these and what can we do?
A: The insects in the cocoons are bagworms. They will actually drop from the tree (usually an arborvitae or Leyland cypress) and crawl across the soil or sidewalks.
In August when the insect matures, they will attach their case to a twig or side of a building or fence post, and pupate inside the case. At this stage, the insect cannot be killed with insecticides.
Q: (weed brought in for identification) I treated my flower beds earlier in the spring with an herbicide to control weeds. This weed keeps appearing and seems to be more prevalent than ever. What is this weed and how do I control it?
A: The weed is spotted or prostrate spurge. It has a sticky white sap that may be irritating to some individuals. Spotted spurge is a summer annual with a deep taproot. The weed is often in fields, gardens and turf. Pre-emergence herbicides will control the weeds from germinating, but many of these herbicides are very specific to weeds. Also, most pre-emergence herbicides are only effective for six to eight weeks. Additional applications are required to full season control.
Darrell Blackwelder is the county extension director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County.