Growing a fruit trees is not impossible, but it takes more than just sticking something in the ground and walking away. One of the steps of having a delicious product is keeping pests and diseases away.
“You know what’s worse than biting into an apple and finding a worm in it? Biting one and finding half of one,”said Brad Hardison to a group of potential growers.
Sampson County Cooperative Extension’s Friends of Horticulture returned Thursday night with a session focused on fruit tree management for homeowners. A different topic will be explored each month. Hardison, agriculture-horticulture agent, was pleased with attendance.
“I was real happy with the turnout,” Hardison said. “I wasn’t expecting but a handful of people since we were starting this again.”
Friends of Horticulture began in 2010, but took an hiatus after extension agents switched job responsibilities. Hardison provides assistance and education for lawns, gardening and pest management. While visiting homes, patrons would often ask about classes.
“The community really responded,” he said.
Attendee Joseph Walton learned a lot from the first session.
“There were a lot of things I didn’t know,” he said. “I was just going by what people say. It was very in-depth.”
At home, he grows plums, pears and grapes. Walton also owns a pecan tree, which gets a lot of visit from squirrels.
“I can’t get pecans because the squirrels eat them. I know you can’t do nothing about that,” he said. “But my plums always have a little spot in them every year. Now I have an idea what to do about that.”
During the first class, which lasted a little over an hour, Hardison provided information on topics such as proper selection, sanitation technique and pruning annually. Like Walton, Annie Matthews learned from Hardison, who showed a lot of enthusiasm about tips such as painting the tree trunk with white latex paint to prevent the bark from splitting and cracking.
“What he did out there was very interesting,” Matthews said about the outside demonstration.
County Extension Director Eileen Coite was also pleased with the turnout.
“You can see by how full the room was, that there’s definitely a need for it,” Coite said. “There’s a good lineup of classes and a good variety.”
The next class, scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, March 23, will focus on management practices for turf and lawns. After the March session, the classes are: Controlling the red imported fire ant (April 20); Soil testing and understanding soil reports (May 18); The buzz about bees (June 15); Growing and maintaining pecans (July 20); Raised bed gardening(Aug. 17); Calibrating sprayers and spreaders (Sept. 21); and Ridding your yard of moles and voles (Oct. 26).
All classes begin at 6 p.m. in the livestock conference room, 93 Agriculture Place, Clinton. The registration fee is $5 per class. Participants may select the classes they wish to attend.
For more information, visit go.ncsu.edu/sampsonhort online or call 910-592-7161.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.