March 2017

Alexander County Plant Sale

Plants are still available in limited quanities.  
 Blueberry, Strawberry, Muscadine, Blackberry, Asian Pear and Nectarine.

Plants need to be picked up on Thursday, March 15 from 8:30 a.m. - 5:00   p.m.  

For more information or to place an order please call the Extension Center  at 828-632-4451. 

Using Natural Dye
Using natural dye from plants is a fun and
 experimental way to have celebrate Easter with your kids, friends, and families with some
egg-ccellent coloring results. Try these steps to extract your natural dye.
Step 1:  Choose your dying agent or plant that you want to extract color from and added to a pot with 1 quarter water and 2 tablespoon of white vinegar. If more water is necessary to cover your ingredients, proportionally increase the amount of water and vinegar.
Step 2:  Bring to a boil and then lower the heat. Allow these ingredient to simmer for 30 minutes
Step 3:  Strain your dye into a bowl and cool.
Step 4:  Soak your eggs in room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Soaking the eggs in the dye overnight can give the egg a richer color
Some of my favorite plants to use are Beets, Red Cabbage, Tumeric, and grape juice. Beets will give you a bright pink to hot pink color, red cabbages will produce a blueish color, turmeric will give you a vibrant color, and grape juice will give you a lavender color. Natural dye can sometimes produce unexpected results so don't be surprise if what you were thinking turns out to be another color. Take the time to experiment with different types of plants.
For more information on using natural dyes, please call our office at 828-632-3125.

 Culinary Herb Container Workshop

Thursday March 22nd 5:30pm-7:30pm
 Extension Learning Center 
376 1st Ave SW 
Taylorsville, NC 28681 
Cost: $40 

Tired of spending all that money on buying fresh herbs? Want to know how to grow your own but lacking the space to do so? Try container gardening for your culinary herbs. Herbs need at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun but growing herbs in a container is perfect for both outdoors and indoors. Join us as we learn about different types of herbs to grow, culinary herbs best suited for containers, how to care for your herb container and how to use those herbs. Participants will be able to put their own containers together to take home. All participants must pre-register and pay by Friday March 16th. You can pre-register online via
  For more information please call our office at 828-632-3125 or email Der Holcomb at
ECA Achievement Night
Tuesday, March 27th at 6pm
Extension Learning Center
376 1st Ave SW
Taylorsville, NC 28681

ECA is a grassroots association that has actively addressed the needs of families in their perspective communities for over one hundred years.  A s the years changed, many aspects of ECA evolved from their name to their members but one thing remains the same and that is their goal to serve the community in which they live in. ECA club members have stride to always carry out the missions and goals of the club and universities.

You are invited to attend the Extension and Community Association Achievement Night. Alexander ECA Club members will be recognizing individuals and groups from ECA clubs that have contributed to the goals and mission of the Extension and Community Association. The theme this year is "Changes in ECA" and the program will highlight past programming.
The program will start at 6:00pm with a meal followed by our guest speaker. If you are interested in attending or would love to know more about ECA, please contact our office at 828-632-3125.

NC A&T State University will be kicking of Small Farms Week on March 26th in Robeson County, home of the 2017 Small Farmer of the Year follow by several different activity on campus throughout the week. 

In collabration with NCATSU to honor Small Farms Week and the small farmers in Alexander county, the Cooperative Extension Services will be hosting several events throughout March. 

We will be highlight several small farmers in Alexander county in the Taylorsville Times on March 21st and March 28th. Several County Government offices will be collecting canned food to be donated to the local food banks the last two weeks in March. Last, there will be a cooking demonstration at the Taylorsville Library on March 29th at 2:00pm show casing the local foods in Alexander County. 

For more information or where and how to participate, please call our office at 828-632-3125 or email Der Holcomb at   

2018 Commercial Poultry Grower Meeting

Tuesday, March 20, 2018
9:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.  
Iredell Agriculture Resource Center
444 Bristol Drive, Statesville, NC 28677

Join us for the 2018 Commercial Poultry Grower Meeting at the Iredell County Center in Statesville NC. We will be covering topics such as Poultry Mortality Regulations, NCDA requirements for mortality disposal, up to date soil nutrient uptake research, EPA and CERCLA Updates, available cost share programs for poultry growers, and much more. Lunch will be provided so please RSVP here or call Tiffany Hancock at (919)545-8304.

3 hours of animal waste credits will be available for those attending.

For accomodations for persons with disabilities, please call Tiffany Hancock at (919)545-8304 no later than five days before the event.

March Garden Calendar

Plants in Flower
  • Saucer Magnolia, Bradford Pear, Flowering Cherry, Forsythia, Star Magnolia, Breath-of-Spring (Winter Honeysuckle), Spirea, Flowering Quince, Carolina Jessamine, Periwinkle, Thrift, Violets, Crocus, Daffodil, Hyacinths and Tulips
  • Fertilize shrubs.
  • Fertilize your important shade trees.
  • Fertilize asparagus beds early in March before spear growth begins.
  • Before planting your vegetables, fertilize your garden as recommended by your soil test results. Apply the recommended amount of lime if this was not done in the fall.
  • Plant a tree for Arbor Day! Arbor day is always the first Friday after March 15.
  • Plant your small fruit plants, grape vines and fruit trees before the buds break.
  • March is a good month to transplant trees and shrubs.
  • New shrubs and ground covers can be planted the entire month of March. Be sure to follow your planting plan.
  • Plant seeds of the following perennials: columbine, hollyhock, coreopsis, daisy and phlox. Sweet William can also be planted this month.
  • New rose bushes can be planted this month.
  • Plants of broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower should be set out in the garden in mid-March.
  • The following vegetables can be planted this month: beets, carrots, Chinese cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, Swiss chard, turnips, potatoes,cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.
  • Start any annual flowers or warm-season vegetables inside your home that are not commercially available in early March.
  • Prune fruit trees.
  • Prune spring flowering plants like breath-of-Spring (Winter Honeysuckle) and flowering quince after the flowers fade.
  • Prune roses late in March.
  • Prune shrubs like abelia, mahonia and nandina this month if needed.
  • Pick off faded flowers of pansy and daffodil. Pansies will flower longer if old flowers are removed.
  • Overgrown shrubs can be severely pruned (not needled evergreens).
Lawn Care
  • Cool-season lawns may be fertilized with 10-10-10, but NOT with slow-release fertilizer.
  • Apply crabgrass herbicides to your lawn late this month to help control crabgrass in the turf.
  • Mow your tall fescue lawn as needed.
  • Seed fescue and bluegrass if not done in September.
  • Continue to divide perennials like daylily, shasta daisy, gaillardia and coreopsis this month.
Specific Chores
  • Check garden supplies like fertilizer, insecticides and fungicides to see if you have adequate amounts.
  • Check all garden equipment, lawn mowers, tillers, hedge trimmers, tools, hoses and sprayers to see if they are in find working order before they are needed.
  • Be certain that old plantings of perennials like peony, hollyhock and phlox are clean of last season's growth.

Morgan Watts, Livestock Agent, Rowan County

There are many identification options that you can use for your herd. What you use depends on your preference and needs. Some of these options are considered temporary, while others are considered permanent.
The most common identification method used is ear tags. Ear tagging is the easiest option and can be customized to fit your operation. They can be purchased in a variety of colors. You can even have them customized with your farm name. They can be purchased with numbers already printed on them or you can get blank tags to write any information you may need. Ear tags are considered a temporary form of identification, as they do occasionally get ripped or torn out. If you are using blank tags and writing on them, marking ink can fade over time. The other issue with ear tags is that they are harder to see from a distance. I recommend pairing ear tags with a form of permanent identification.
Freeze branding is another option for identification. This is considered a permanent form of identification that can be seen from a greater distance. Freeze branding is the use of branding irons (letters and number) being chilled in dry ice or liquid nitrogen and alcohol. This process kills the color producing cells but doesn't kill the follicles that produce hair growth. What you end up with is white or colorless follicles where the brand was placed that you can see all year round. The cons of freeze branding are that it does require more equipment, time, and upfront cost. The success is not always 100% and that can depends on the age of animal, hair color, method, and where you place the brand.
You can also do hot iron branding. Hot iron branding is more commonly used for ownership purposes, but it can also be used for individual identification. This is a permanent form of identification that is easy to read from a distance. The negatives are like with freeze branding in the extra upfront costs and time to get your calves branded.
Tattooing is also a form that is used for identification; it is permanent. Tattooing is more commonly use in the purebred cattle industry. The initial cost to tattoo is not too expensive, and you can use numbers and letters. A con is that you have to have the animal restrained to read the tattoo. Even then, depending on the color of the calf, you may need a flashlight to see it. Tattoos are placed in the ear of the animal. It is recommended that you pair this with another form of identification that is more easily seen from a distance.
The use of identification systems is necessary for proper date collection and to help maximize management practices. Sometimes, the use of two identification tools is necessary to get maximum accuracy. Determine what you need out of your operations identification system before choosing the best method for you.

4-H Expressive Arts Contests

It's that time of year to be getting your crafts, photos, fashion garments and accessories and your talent ready for Expressive Arts Night.  

The 2018 Alexander County 4-H Expressive Arts Night will be held on Monday, April 30 at the Extension Center.  The following will be a part of the expressive arts show.

Craft Contest:  It's time to get your crafts ready!  You may only enter one craft per category. Crafts must have been made since April, 2017.  All work must be completed by a 4-Her. All items are due no later than Wednesday, April 25. Items will be on display at the 4-H Expressive Arts Show.

Fashion Contest :  4-Hers may enter an item in each division wearable art and accessories.  These items along with entry form are due to the Extension Office no later than Wednesday, April 25. Items will be on display at the 4-H Expressive Arts Show.

4-H Photo Contest:  Gather your best photos taken since March 1st, 2017 and enter them in our photo contest.  You may enter one per category. Categories include: People, Animals, Landscape, Buildings, Family Traditions, 4-H in action, Nature's Beauty and "Silhouettes".  Deadline for photos and entry form is Friday, April 10.

Talent Contest:  Show off your talent!  Participants must be enrolled as a 4-Her for 3 months prior to the show.  4-Hers may enter two different acts: Club or individual. Please have your form filled out and turned into the Extension Office by, April 10.

Alexander County 4-H is passionate about helping youth develop skills so they can be successful in the future.  Come be a part of an awesome organization. For entry forms please contact the Alexander 4-H Center at 828-632-3125.

4-H Achievement Night

 The Alexander 4H Clubs held their 4-H Awards Program for 2017 activities on Tuesday, February 27 at the CVCC- Alexander Center. Anna Beth Harris, outgoing 4-H County Council President, presided over the award program. DeAnna Little led the pledges to the American and 4-H Flags.

In the annual project book judging, Sarah Perry was awarded the 4-H High Achievement Trophy for 4 project books. Other 4-H'ers receiving recognition for outstanding project work were Nathaniel Keever, Benjamin Keever, Lucas Ritchie, Kaylor Berwick, Sarah Kirby, Nolan Ritchie and Sarah Perry (4 areas).

Curriculum Project Area winners in the 11-12 year old division: Lucas Ritchie; in the 13-15 year old division: Kaylor Berwick and Sarah Kirby; and in the 16-18 age division Sarah Perry (4 areas). These 4-H'ers will advance to district competition and judging. District project winners for 2016 project work included: Sarah Perry. 

County portfolio participants were also awarded: Sarah Perry (2 areas) and Kaylor Berwick. District portfolio winners for 2016 include Sarah Perry.

4-H Skillathon team receiving an award include: Garrett Brown, Kade Payne, Chloe Lawson, Clate Childers, Cora Childers, Weston Brown, Lanie Crouse and Trent Crouse.

The following individuals were awarded for their work in the Top Shots Shooting Club competition: Will Bumgarner, Jack Bumgarner, Colby Wike, Ben Jolly, Garrett Brown, Weston Brown, Clate Childers, Cora Childers and Trent Crouse.

The 2017 Amy Shook 4-H Leadership Award was awarded to Garrett Brown for his outstanding leadership.

The 4-H club turning in the most project books for the year was the Shockers 4-H Electric Club. The Club of the Year Award went to The Top Shots 4-H Club for the most points earned for 2017.

Volunteers receiving club tenure awards included Amy Childers, Mandy Reid, Karen Stroud, Aaron Berwick, Leryn Berwick and Merlyn Davis.

4-H County Council Officers were installed. President - Anna Reid; Vice President- Anna Beth Harris; Secretary- Sarah Perry; Treasurer- Garrett Brown; Reporter-Kaylor Berwick and Officer Delegate-DeAnna Little.

It has been said that if you eat healthy you feel better...

Alexander County 4-H has been in Kindergarten classrooms at Hiddenite and Ellendale Elementary Schools teaching  the Color Me Healthy Curriculum. Color me Healthy is a nutrition and physical activity program for children ages four and five.  It is designed to stimulate all the senses of young children: touch, smell, sight, sound and of course, taste. It uses color, music and exploration of the senses to teach children that healthy eating and physical activity are fun.
In the 9 lesson series students explore a variety of foods and beverages for good health, including unfamiliar and culturally diverse foods.  Students also participate in physical  activity and learn ways that physical activity improves health.

Thank you to the Kindergarten teachers at Ellendale and Hiddenite Elementary Schools for letting us be a part of your classroom!

Alexander County 4-H: Making the Best Better!
Cook Smart, Eat Smart Cooking School
Thursdays April 26th, May 3rd, May 24th, and May 31st
Extension Learning Center
376 1st Ave SW
Taylorsville, NC 28681
Cost: $50

The Cook Smart, Eat Smart Cooking School will teach you how to prepare simple, healthy and delicious food for you and your family. Cook Smart, Eat Smart keeps it simple-simple healthy preparation techniques, simple ingredients, and simple equipment Each session contains several basic cooking techniques and other topics related to eating and preparing meals at home. Cook Smart, Eat Smart also provides tips for stretching your food dollars while still eating healthy. For more information or to register, please call or email Der Holcomb at 828-632-3125 or
Alexander County Offices will be closed for Good Friday on Friday, March 30, 2018.
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