April 2020
Onslow County Center
A Note From Emilee

Special announcement: 
Due to the current COVID 19 situation, our office is currently closed to the public for everything except picking up soil testing kits and dropping off samples. Lawn and garden questions can still be sent to the agent via email at: 
emroz@ncsu.edu and to the Plant Clinic email that is monitored by Master Gardener Volunteers at:  onslowplantclinic@gmail.com. Stay tuned to your email and social media for ongoing gardening information and tips specific to Onslow County!

Stay safe and take good care of yourselves and your families, and remember, gardening is not cancelled and is actually highly encouraged!
Planning an Herb Garden

Photo from Pitt County Extension 
Growing herbs can be a rewarding gardening experience, whether you have a large garden bed or a few containers on your porch. In general, herbs are grown for their culinary and medicinal uses, although many herbs also provide nectar sources to bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators. Aside from these practical uses, herbs provide beauty and uplifting fragrances to the landscape.
When planning your herb garden, think about which herbs you enjoy most. Do you like to cook? You may consider a culinary herb garden. Do you like to make teas? You may consider growing herbs like chamomile and mint for that purpose.
Whichever herbs you decide to grow, consider the environmental needs of individual plants, and group them accordingly. For example, herbs such as rosemary, lavender, and sage, prefer drier soils and sun, whereas mints and cilantro prefer moist, well-drained soil and can grow in partial shade. Providing sufficient spacing for plants is also important to allow for good air circulation. Read the label to know what the recommended spacing is for your plants.
In areas without good drainage, growing herbs in containers is an excellent idea. Many store-bought containers do not have sufficient drainage holes. Drilling additional holes or enlarging existing holes in the bottom will help provide better drainage. Potting media is also important. Do not use "garden soil" but rather potting mixes designed for container gardening.
By providing herbs with the right amount of sunlight, good drainage, and room to grow, you will encourage healthy plants and minimize problems in your garden.
For more information about the growing conditions, uses, and the best way to get herbs started, visit: https://forsyth.ces.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Growing-Herbs-Contents.pdf?fwd=no
Or visit the NC Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox at: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/ where you can look up information about specific plants

Upcoming Events

Due to precautions being taken to prevent the spread of Coronavirus in Onslow County, all public programming has been cancelled or postponed. The Plant Clinic is currently closed to walk-ins, but gardening questions are still being answered by the Horticulture Agent via phone call and email. Contact Emilee at (910) 455-5873 or emroz@ncsu.edu.
Stay tuned to our website and social media for updates on Extension programming moving forward. If you haven't "liked" us on Facebook at Gardening in Onslow County, please do so. You will receive updates and timely gardening tips.

April Tips and Tasks
Vegetable Garden
* Remember to wait until after the last frost to plant warm season crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and peppers. The last, average frost date in Onslow County is around April 21. However, this is just an average - in any given year the last frost may be earlier or later. Be prepared to protect these crops from frost if necessary.
* Most warm weather crops can be seeded or set out as transplants in April. Large seeded crops like sweet corn and beans can be planted at the beginning of the month. Wait until the middle of the month to plant tomatoes in most locations.
* Use your soil sample report to determine your fertilizer needs. Consider using a slow release fertilizer to feed your vegetables. Slow release fertilizers are less likely to burn the plants or leach out of the soil. Many formulations will feed for 2-3 months or longer.
Some crops will need an additional side dressing of a nitrogen fertilizer during the growing season. Tomatoes, potatoes, sweet corn, cabbage, squash, okra, beans and peppers will require a side dressing of additional nitrogen during the growing season.
Planting Plans!
Heat-loving crops like okra, eggplant, sweet potato and watermelons will do better if you wait an extra couple of weeks for the soil and air temperatures to warm. Planting dates for okra are from May 1 to June 1 and sweet potatoes can be planted from May 1 until July 15.
Ornamental Garden
* You still have time to transplant and divide perennial plants before the heat of summer sets in. Choose a cool, cloudy day to reduce stress on your transplants and watch them closely through the summer to ensure they have adequate moisture to get established.
Save your spring-blooming perennials for dividing in the fall.
* If you have portions of the lawn that were damaged by winter kill or large patch, pre-emergent herbicides will prevent you from being able to reseed those areas for several months. Your best option for now is to mow to keep the winter annual weeds under control and commit to applying a pre-emergent in the fall. Wait until May (Zoysia, Bermuda, St. Augustine) or even early June (Centipede) before fertilizing warm season grasses.


Farms, Farmers Markets and Garden Centers are Essential (and Open for) Business

A lot has changed in the last month. For many of us, we have seen changes in how we live, work and shop. One thing that hasn't changed, is that local farms, farmers markets and garden centers are (mostly) still open. These businesses are considered essential services in accordance with statewide stay at home orders.

These businesses are allowed to continue operating because they fall into several important key areas. For one thing, these are businesses in which it is possible to maintain adequate social distance up to the point of sale. Many of these businesses are essential for food production. Farmers markets, farm stands and u-pick operations are critical aspects of our food supply chain, just like grocery stores while garden centers supply essential services for industries like agriculture.

That said, these businesses have all adapted to further protect customers and their employees health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some farms are offering an option to preorder by phone or text and then have your order delivered to the car when you arrive. In some cases, farms are now accepting no touch payment options like Venmo, Zelle or Paypal. U-pick strawberry farms are spacing customers out so there is adequate social distancing in the field.

Farmers markets are spacing vendors further apart, encouraging produce to be pre-packaged, asking customers not to handle produce they aren't purchasing and making hand sanitizer readily available to customers and vendors. If you would rather do your grocery shopping at the farm or farmers market rather than the grocery store or if you want to find transplants and start growing your own vegetables, those options are available to you. Make sure you call ahead as some of these businesses have chosen to close for their own reasons or may have limited hours or availability.

Remember that all recommended practices to avoid COVID-19 still apply. Do not shop if you are sick, maybe be sick or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19. 

Stand at least 6 feet apart, avoid high touch surfaces, wash or sanitize your hands regularly and don't touch your face.

The Onslow County Farmers Market will open for the season on April 18. This market has two locations:


  • Saturdays: 4024 Richlands Highway, Jacksonville, 8:30 am to 1:30 pm. Opens April 18.
  • Tuesdays: 512 New Bridge Street, Jacksonville (across from the Onslow Consolidated Health Service Building) from 9:30 am until 1:30 pm. Opens April 21.

This market accepts SNAP/EBT and farmers market nutrition vouchers.


Mike's Farm will be picking strawberries soon. Berries are available pre-picked and u-pick. Located at 1600 Haw Branch Road, Beulaville. Call ahead to ensure the fields are open for picking: 910.324.3422.
Xanadu Farms sells vegetables, eggs and plants. Please call or email for availability and pickup times. Ztjordan@gmail.com , (910) 398-7117, Instagram: @Xanadu_farms

If you're interested in local fresh produce, stay tuned for more local grower resources around Onslow County.

The Onslow County Farmers' Market will open it's 2020 Season, Saturday April 18th at 830.  We will temporarily be limiting vendors to produce and food at this time.   Please follow Onslow County Farmers Market facebook page or  their website,  onslowcountyfarmersmarket.com for more information.  

2020 Season
Every Saturday, April 18 - November 14
4024 Richlands Hwy., Jacksonville
830am - 130pm

Every Tuesday, April 21 - July 28
512 New Bridge St., Downtown Jacksonville
930am - 130pm

Marie S Bowman
Local Foods
4024 Richlands Hwy., Jacksonville NC  28540
(910) 455-5873

Plant of the Month

Photo taken Wildlife Garden section of the Discovery Gardens
Verbena canadensis 'Homestead Purple'
If you are looking for a ground cover with lovely flowers (ours is in full bloom here in the Discovery Gardens), look no further than 'Homestead Purple' verbena. This perennial plant is drought tolerant, grows well in sandy soils, and can be planted in full sun to part shade. It spreads to about two feet wide per plant, so is a great option if you are looking to fill in some blank areas in your garden. Be sure to provide proper spacing between plants to allow for good air circulation. On top of its versatility in the landscape, it is also a great source of nectar for pollinators like butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.
To find out more about Verbena canadensis, visit: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/verbena-canadensis/

If you have questions about lawn, landscape or garden problems, contact your local Cooperative Extension office.  In Onslow County call 910-455-5873, Mon - Fri. 8 am - 5 pm, or visit us online anytime at http://onslow.ces.ncsu.edu.  While you are there, you can post your questions to be answered by email using the "Ask an Expert' widget (in the upper left hand corner).

North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status or disability.  In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation.  North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.  
Emilee Morrison, Extension Agent, 
Agriculture - Horticulture
4024 Richlands Hwy, Jacksonville, NC 28540