Alexander County Center

Green Thumb Gazette

September 2021 Newsletter
I hope you have found this newsletter helpful and full of resources to guide you in your home gardening.  I have decided to combine the September and October newsletter into one, so BEWARE this newsletter is lengthy.  You will receive November's information at the beginning of October.  This will give you the advantage of preparing a month in advance.  As always, if you have any questions or concerns with any of your home horticulture, please contact me by phone at 828-632-4451 or by email at  Happy Gardening!!  Cari Mitchell, Extension Agent, Horticulture

Fall is almost here which means Alexander County is officially in apple season! Picking is now in full swing with the apple houses looking like busy beehives full of hardworking men and women working the orchards, apple houses, and retail areas! Apples are usually picked into the beginning of November so there will be plenty of fresh apples that will be cool stored for fresh tastes well into the new year!

As many of you know, in Alexander County we are blessed to be the home of three AMAZING orchard families! Deal Orchards, Sugarloaf Orchards, & Perry Lowe Orchards are all located on NC HWY 16 as you are headed towards Wilkes County. They are all family run orchards that have generations of experience under their belt. Sugarloaf manages 30+ acres and Deals and Perry Lowe orchards manage 100+ acres each of orchards, you can say our area is plentiful in tree fruit! All have farm stands right off the highway that are now open to the public for consumers to stop in and grab some fresh, delicious peaches, nectarines, apples, cider, and pears straight from their orchards.

Apple varieties for September through October include: honey crisp, early Fuji, jonagold, red and golden delicious, granny smith, stayman/Winesap, cameo, gold rush, Rome, Arkansas black, pink lady and more! Prices at the apple houses are great and are much fresher than most at the grocery stores. Be sure to also pick up some of the other local items sold at the apple houses too like honey, jams, jellies, produce, cheese, etc. Supporting these local businesses means a lot to the community and families involved within them!
Apple Festival Note: October 16th!

Perry Lowe Orchards U-Pick

Saturdays and Sundays from 10 - 5pm starting Sept. 4th

$2 per person + cost of apples you pick

2021 Fall Color Forecast for the Blue Ridge Mountains

* Please note, these timeframes are estimates based on prior years and current weather and soil conditions.   Actual peak times may vary some from this forecast.

September 27 - October 7

At the highest elevations, close to 6,000 feet there is some color, but it's often very spotty and muted.  The views from these locations will be mostly green, since the areas viewed are lower elevations.  Areas that turn early in this date and elevation range include Graveyard Fields and Rough Ridge.

October 1 - 10
Peak time for areas above 5,000 feet.  This would include: Clingmans Dome, Grandfather Mountain, Mount Mitchell, Water Rock Knob and Graveyard fields (the first location on the Parkway to turn) and higher elevations of The Blue Ridge Parkway (between Asheville and Cherokee) and Great Smoky Mountains National Park

October 10 - 20

Peak time for elevations from 4,000 - 5,000 feet.   This would include almost all Blue Ridge Parkway locations and the majority of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well. Included in this elevation are the Boone and Blowing Rock areas.

October 18 - 26
Peak time for lower elevations, from 3,000 - 4,000 feet. This would include places like: Pisgah National Forest which includes Sliding Rock and Looking Glass Falls, Dill Falls, Wildcat Falls, and many other waterfalls.  Other areas include Linville Gorge, Nantahala Gorge, Maggie Valley, and Cataloochee Valley.

October 24 - 31
Peak time for elevations from 2,000 feet - 3,000 feet.  This would include: The cities of Asheville, Brevard, Waynesville, Cherokee, and many others.  Places of interest include DuPont State Forest and Biltmore Estate, and Cades Cove.

October 26 - November 8
Peak time for remaining elevations, including Gatlinburg, TN, Chimney Rock NC, Lake Lure and remaining lower elevation mountains.  This includes Chimney Rock as well, a great place to see Fall color.

4-H Garden Club Interest Meeting

Club designed to introduce kids to all the different sub-categories of horticulture so that they can learn more about the natural world around them and perhaps spark their interests! We will have an interest meeting on Sept 30th @ 6pm in the Alexander Services Building (151 W Main Ave).

Please fill out the link below regarding preferences for regular meeting times, days, etc.!

If you have any further questions or comments, please email Cari Mitchell at or call at 828-632-4451.
September/October Garden Calendar

Plants in Flower
  • Helenium/ Sneezeweed
  • Rose-of-Sharon/ Hardy hibiscus
  • Dahlia
  • Canna lily
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Crocus
  • Liriope
  • Sedum
  • Asters
  • Goldenrod
  • Joe Pye Weed
  • Japanese anemone
  • Butterfly bush
  • Bluebeard
  • Tickseed
  • Lavender
  • White turtlehead
  • Russian sage
  • Sasanqua camellias
  • Hardy clematis
  • Crepe myrtles
  • Summer annuals
Please click on the following link to view more September/October Gardening Tips:

BOLOs (Be On The Lookout)....
Month-by-month lists of common plant diseases, pests, and other problems you may encounter in North Carolina yards and gardens. Straight from our PDIC (Plant Disease & Insect Clinic) entomologists and pathologists!


The BUZZ on Hornets
We've had many calls recently about "murder hornets". Rest assured! We DO NOT have "murder hornets" in NC or any established colonies of these hornets in the US at this time. Cicada killers and European hornets DO occur in NC & can be confused with the Asian giant hornet. Read this article to learn more about the  Asian Giant hornet and its look-a-likes!
Planting for Wildlife : Think Layers!

Feeding and observing birds and other wildlife is a favorite winter activity for many gardeners. You can attract more wildlife to your landscape (even if it’s super small or in an urban area) by planting trees and shrubs that offer a source of food, nesting cover, escape cover for enemies, and shelter from the elements. As you develop your plan, remember to select a variety of plants that are both attractive to people as well as to wildlife and that last throughout all seasons. Use a mix of deciduous (looses its leaves) and evergreen trees and shrubs, flower types (for various pollinator/wildlife mouth parts), leaf shapes, sizes, growth habits, fruit/seed production, etc.!

The best time to plant trees and shrubs is late September through November. (The earlier the better!) Tree and shrub roots will continue to grow as long as the soil temperature is above 40 degrees. The extra root growth through the fall and winter helps the tree to be able to survive our summer weather.

Remember to provide water to wildlife, especially during winter when normal supplies may be frozen. During the warmer months, running water is highly attractive to birds.

Click here for more information on attracting songbirds to your landscape!

Landscaping with Native Plants!
A list of NC natives for all regions, light requirements, soil moisture, and wildlife value.
Supplemental Feeding for Songbirds

If you don’t have enough space, time, etc. to plant & maintain a landscape to help the wildlife around you, consider hanging some bird feeders!

Setting up a bird feeder is a bit like opening an outdoor restaurant. As a responsible owner, you must provide your customers with a safe and pleasant dining experience. The premises must be clean, and the food must be fresh. Here are some tips to help prevent diseases like (Trichomoniasis, Salmonellosis, Aspergillosis, or Avian pox).

  • Offer appropriate portions (2-3 days worth of food prevents spoilage)
  • Sweep feeder stand and rake under feeder on a regular basis (fallen food can attract unwanted rodents & droppings can spread infectious bird diseases)
  • If using multiple feeders, spread them apart to reduce crowding (consider putting them on a rotation schedule so that one is cleaned, disinfected, & dried each week)
  • Move your feeders periodically to reduce waste accumulation in that area
  • Always use fresh seed stored in a cool, dry place
  • If you have a birdbath, replace water daily (prevents mosquito breeding)
  • Avoid having any standing water around, especially after rain events
  • Make sure your feeder has drainage holes
  • When cleaning your feeder get rid of old or wet seed
  • Hand clean feeder every 2 weeks with hot soapy water

You don't want to be responsible for an outbreak of food poisoning among your patrons. These tips will help keep birds coming to your yard again and again. Cleanliness, together with prompt service, remains the most effective customer-loyalty program!
Alexander County Garden Club

Our Garden Club is full of AWESOME people who are super nice and LOVE plants! With most meetings there is an educational program that is offered and we work on beautification projects throughout the community! If you have any questions or are interested in joining, please call our office: 828-632-4451.

Monthly meetings are starting back starting September 9th @ 6:30pm in the Alexander Services Building (151 W Main Ave, Taylorsville) & will continue on the 2nd Thursday of each month! Come join us at our upcoming meeting for a special talk from Jim Walgenbach (NC State Professor & Extension Entomology Specialist for Fruits and Vegetables) regarding stink bugs!

Pesticide Recertification Training Classes

Private X/ Commercial Applicators - September 14th @ 2 – 4pm
Categories & Credits: (A: 2, B: 2, D: 2, G: 2, H: 2, I: 2, K: 2, L: 2, M: 2, N: 2, O: 2, T: 2, X: 2)

Private V Applicators -  September 16th @ 6 – 8pm
Categories & Credits: (V: 2)
*Each class is hosted IN-PERSON @ 151 W Main Ave, Taylorsville
*Attendee must be on time and present for the entire 2 hours to receive full credit
*Please Contact our office (828-632-4451) to pre-register
More How-To’s

Interested in Growing Garlic this fall? Click here to learn how!
Interested in trying hydroponics? Here is an EASY system that works!
Improving your soil this fall!
Want to organize your garden better next year? Here is a comprehensive guide to help you plan this winter!
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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