By Darrell Blackwelder, For Farm Carolina
SALISBURY — December is the month when most people have their sights on the upcoming Christmas holidays. However, many homeowners still take time to call or email with gardening questions or concerns. Below are a few questions posed to Cooperative Extension over the past few weeks.
Q: A few weeks ago you had an article in the paper about poinsettias, commenting that the plants were not poisonous. However, I have a friend that claims she is allergic to poinsettias. Do these plants cause allergic reactions?
A: Poinsettias have a latex-type sap that can cause a reaction in some people who are allergic to latex. The most common reaction is a skin rash.
Q: We have knock-out rose bushes and they still have leaves. When do we prune them?
A: You can lightly prune them now to reduce wind damage. Winter winds and heaving soil often damage the root system. Prune them severely in March.
Q: My blackberries did fine last summer, but the fruit had white spot on many of the berries. What caused this and is there anything I can do to prevent this next year?
A: Last summer, if you remember, there were days when the temperatures were very cool and then temperatures soared. The condition your fruit experienced was probably white drupelet/sunscald. The fruit was actually damaged from the intense heat and then botrytis (a common fungus) moved to the damaged fruit. If this situation happens again, pick off the bad fruit; this condition usually does not persist through the season. Go to http://teamrubus.blogspot.com/2012/05/white-grey-or-tan-drupelets.html for more detailed information.
Q: My friend and I were eating supper the other night and we discovered the small ears of corn that were added to our salad. Can you tell me more about this oddity?
A: Fresh baby corn is becoming very popular for salads. It’s featured in many Asian recipes. Most of the baby corn found in the United States is pickled or canned and imported from Asia. Baby corn’s diminutive size makes consumers think that it grows from dwarf corn plants, but the tiny ears of baby corn are simply immature ears from regular-sized corn plants. There are specialty varieties available for baby corn production, but baby corn can also be harvested from many common sweet corn varieties. The issue of intense labor and marketing make this commodity a challenge for local growers. More information can be found online at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/harvest-baby-ears-your-corn-patch