Alexander County Center

Green Thumb Gazette

July 2021 Newsletter

This newsletter will feature horticulture topics for each month.  If you would like to receive this monthly newsletter by email, please email to be added to the contact list.
July Garden Calendar


We recommend giving landscape plants a second (last) feeding of fertilizer.

  • Begin your fall vegetable garden this month, planting beans, carrots, Brussel sprouts, collards and tomatoes
  • Start broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower plants in peat pots to transplant into the vegetable garden in mid-August
  • Re-pot overgrown houseplants
  • Take semi-hardwood cuttings of azaleas, holly, rhododendron, etc.
  • Divide and transplant your iris and daylilies (late this month through September)

Learn More »
Vegetable Harvesting Tips

Vegetables have to reach maturity and be harvested at the right time to have the best taste and quality. Some vegetables have to be picked on a regular basis to remain productive. Others are harvested only once. Each vegetable is different so here are some common ones to take a look at.

  • Pickling cucumbers @ 1-2 in long
  • Slicing cucumbers @ 6-8 in long and 1-2 in in diameter
  • Harvest both types every 2-3 days

Root Crops
  • Irish potatoes @ 90-120 days after planting when tops turn brown and die
  • Sweet potatoes @ 100-125 days after planting & just before or after a vine killing frost

Upright Veggies
  • Okra @ 3 in long pods & bright green (Harvest frequently)
  • Sweet corn @ 5-10 in long ears & when mature kernels leak a milky sap when punctured
  • Tomatoes @ fully ripe for that variety
  • Hot peppers @ 1-3 in long (use gloves when harvesting)
  • Sweet peppers @ 2-4 in long (Can be harvested green or leave for longer till they are orange or red)
  • Snap beans @ 4-6 in long pods & pencil size thick

Squashes & Melons
  • Sumer yellow squash & zucchini @ 6-12 in long, 2 in diameter, and correct colors (Harvest every 2-3 days)
  • Watermelon @ 80-100 days after planting & when belly turns from white to creamy yellow in color
  • Cantaloupe @ 5-10 in in diameter with a yellowish tan between netting

Alexander County Farmers' Market

The Alexander County Farmers’ Market is headed off to a great start! With three weeks down and at least ten more to go, there is plenty of produce, flowers, honey, meat, bread and crafts to go around! Regular vendors include Mr. Alvin Woody with hand-made wooden crafts, Mrs. Woody with handmade jewelry and art, and Ms. Nancy Case with NC Case Farms who sells mixed flower planters and mixed herb planters. Mr. Lenny Rogers usually brings fresh, local honey made from his own bees, Ms. Carol Lovingood has fresh sourdough bread, cakes, & homemade soap, and Ms. De’Neane Kidd always brings whoopee pies, breads, fried pies, Texas-sized cinnamon rolls, and more! Chapman Cattle Company has also been a regular vendor, selling home grown beef and pork from their family farm here in Taylorsville! They will not be at the market for the next two weeks so call 828-514-0526 to order and you can find a list of their meat cuts and options on our Facebook page @alexanderextension. As far as produce goes, Ms. Margaret Childers has been bringing the small white cucumbers, squash, zucchini, and cabbage! This past week we had some new vendors bring some awesome items from Living on Faith Farms such as their medicinal toolbox (an old wooden toolbox as a planter filled with medicinal herbs) and fresh veggies! Another new Vendor, Mr. Kyle Wike brought buckets of green beans, along with squash and cucumbers! Our market has something different for everyone and has grown tremendously! Our market is every Saturday from 8 am to 12 pm in the old hospital parking lot on Hwy 16. Stop in and support your local growers, bakers, and artisans! If you are interested in becoming a vendor, please give me,  Cari Mitchell- Horticulture Agent, a call at 828-632-4451. We would love to have you!

Yellow Jackets!!

I have already noticed yellow jackets around the house and yard. Yellow jackets are about the size of a honey bee, have distinct bright yellow and black markings, and are less hairy than honey bees. They are often confused with bald faced hornets which have lighter yellow markings and more black coloring.

Yellow jackets never reuse old nests and make new ones in the ground or under logs and landscape timbers. These insects are not good diggers so they tend to use places that already vacant, like bases of mature shrubs, old rodent burrows, or gaps in masonry. Colonies often die in the winter, leaving only the mated queen to burrow in a safe, dry location until spring. The lonely queen then has builds the nest, finds her own food, lays all the eggs and raises the first set of adults. These new adults then do all the tasks except laying eggs (raising new young, foraging for food, protecting the colony, etc.). A healthy colony can produce over 3000 workers and hundreds of queens. These queens will then complete this cycle over again, making their own colonies.

You will often see yellow jackets around your BBQ’s or outdoor parties because they are looking for food and moisture. They like to collect this from trash cans, humming bird feeders, soda cans, fruit, etc. Females will swarm and sting repeatedly when their nest is disturbed. This sting is painful and tends to be sore, swollen, and itchy for days after the incident. If you are allergic to bee or wasp stings, please be careful this summer and always have the medicine you need if you are going to be outside!

Treat stings within the first five minutes to reduce the pain. Using ice on the sting is a great treatment. Most of the time, people don’t realize that they have disturbed a colony until it’s too late because they are very difficult to see/find. If you know the location of a nest, use aerosol hornet/wasp spray and spray directly into the opening at night. A second treatment may be necessary. Do not pour gasoline down a nest hole; this is extremely hazardous and environmentally unsound.

For more information on yellow jackets please go to:

Alexander County Offices will be closed Monday, July 5 in observance of Independance Day
NC State University and N.C. A&T State University work in tandem, along with federal, state and local governments, to form a strategic partnership called N.C. Cooperative Extension.

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