Welcome to the September 2020 Issue of The Scoop Newsletter, the official monthly newsletter of The Garden Club of South Carolina, Inc.
For ease of reading or to print this for your members who do not use email, please click here.
Calendar of Events
October 2, 2020 - 2-3PM - First Friday ZOOM - Gardening with Kids - with GCSC Youth Chair Sandra Barker and Green Steps Schools coordinator Jane Hiller
October 14, 2020 – 2-3PM - GCSC Classroom - Transforming your Landscape with Native Plants, Sue Watts, Education Program Coordinator of Clemson University and the South Carolina Botanical Garden will provide a great program on Native-scaping. From site analysis to plant selection and design, Sue will teach us how to create beautiful, native landscapes that invite you to wander and wonder.
Thank you to every club who submitted their yearbook, year plan, or digital link to this year's activities. Alhough some of you were disappointed that judging was suspended, please know that the decision was not an easy one. This term one of our goals is member-centered action and we have devoted a great deal of time, energy, and thought into listening to your needs, likes and dislikes as members of our federation.
Given the COVID cloud that has prevented so many of you from meeting, planning, and fundraising since early March, GCSC decided the best course of action was to relieve you of the burden of producing a very costly booklet that may or may not be an accurate representation of your activities. We also wanted to keep your options open so that you change course whenever you are able.
Awards are still going to be judged as usual with the addition of a special category of awards specifically given to clubs who make lemons out of lemonade. These will not require applications and will be selected from the other applications received.
Please know that GCSC is here for you. Through ZOOM hosting, monthly club officers training and our new GCSC Classroom and YouTube channel, we strive to keep you connected, educated and engaged.
Pollinator of the Month
By Dwight Williams
Skippers are a large group of small butterflies in the Lepidopteran family Hesperiidae. They deserve this name because their flight is not the flap and glide of larger butterflies, but is a fast, skipping flight. This fast flight, their often-small size, and the tendency for closely related species to look alike makes some of them a challenge to identify.
Skipper caterpillars typically hide in a leaf shelter in the daytime and feed at night when it is safer to come out. The caterpillars have large brown head capsules with a contracted collar behind the head. The easiest ones to find are the caterpillars of the Brazilian skipper under their leaf flap hide-outs on canna leaves. I have found caterpillars of silver-spotted skippers and long-tailed skippers under leaf flaps on native wisteria and beans, respectively.
The skippers mentioned here are the most common I see around my garden. They represent a minority of the skippers in our area. I encourage you to explore natural areas like the Francis Marion National Forest, CawCaw Interpretive Center County Park, Santee Coastal Reserve and others to find more skipper species.
One of the earliest skippers seen each year is the Juvenal’s duskywing. It is a brown butterfly with small white spots on the upper surface of the forewing. The males tend to be dark and the females lighter brown with more color variation. It is followed seasonally by the almost identical Horace’s duskywing. There are other similarly colored duskywing species, but these two are the most common. Both lay eggs on fresh oak foliage.
The checkered-skippers are black and white spotted with grayish hair (females) or bluish hair (males) on the bodies. The common species in this area are the white checkered-skippers and tropical checkered-skippers. These are typically seen on the ground or on low foliage. They use mallows and sidas as host plants.
The large silver-spotted skipper keeps its wing in an upright position when feeding. From that viewpoint the large white spots on the undersides of the hindwings are evident. The upper surface of the forewing has a broad yellowish band. They use a variety of flowers for nectar and oviposit on legumes.
The long-tailed skipper is our most exotic looking skipper with shiny blue green on the upper area of the body and long tails. The tails are often missing, presumably removed in predator confrontations. These skippers have a rare distinction among butterflies—the caterpillars are sometimes economically important pests of bean plants. They have used native butterfly pea as a host plant in my yard.
The small grass skippers, the fiery skipper and Whirlabout, are about equal in size with males being bright yellow/tan and females darker. Fiery’s have spots like ground pepper while whirlabouts have smudges. They use Bermuda grass, St. Augustine and other grasses as host plants.
The largest grass skipper is the Brazilian skipper a common pest on cannas. This skipper larva cuts a flap from the edge of the leaf and stiches it over to form a hide. The mature larvae are somewhat grotesque elongated blobs. A close look will reveal the trachea (the silver air transport tubes) visible under the skin. The adults are dark brown with translucent window spots on the wings. They are active around dusk.
In general skippers like small flowers. In my garden the 2 common species of vervains are popular nectar sources as are zinnias, flamingo celosia and gomphrena. Clustered bush mint, frostweed, thistle and elephants foot flowers are popular native nectar sources as well as many native composites.
Month by Month Gardening
East Piedmont District
by Gina Ginther
- Begin to clean up spent (scorched) vegetation.
- Trim spent bulb leaves/foliage.
- Prepare beds for fall gardens.
- Rake lawn, aerate, apply autumn fertilizer.
- Check for white grubs and control, if necessary.
- Sow new lawns.
- Dead head, trim and feed roses.
- Plant trees and mums!
East Sandhills District - The Month of Dog Days
by Gail W. Ford
- Calendula, sweet alyssum, larkspur, California, Iceland and Shirley poppies.
- Ornamental kale and cabbage for the winter garden.
- Mustard greens, kale, spinach, lettuce, onions, broccoli and collards.
- Layer your favorite shrub by laying a brick or rock over a stem (where the bark is removed), close to the ground, ie. hydrangea.
- Take a 6” cutting of hardened new growth and transplant it to the garden in the spring, ie.bay leaf, rose or boxwood etc.
- Divide Iris (flags) can be divided and replanted.
- Pot up herbs such as chives, rosemary oregano, sage, rosemary, parsley and bring in the house or greenhouse to extend the growing season.
- Take cuttings of annuals coleus, geraniums, impatiens and wax begonias etc. Let geraniums dry over night before planting cutting to avoid mold.
- Use slow-release fertilizer when planting cool-weather annuals.
- Continue to feed chrysanthemums.
- Give roses the last feeding for the year mid- September. Use 1/3 cup of 5-10-5 or rose fertilizer per plant.
- Prune only leggy unsightly growth. Do not prune severely now, because it will stimulate new growth which is susceptible to cold damage.
- Divide house plants and get established before bringing inside for the winter.
- Herbs to dry or freeze for winter use. Dry basil, oregano, sage, tarragon. Can use microwave to dry herbs. Use herbs to flavor ice, vinegar and olive oil.
- Continue to gather seeds from your favorite annuals or bulbs for spring planting. Be sure to label and keep dry.
- Remove all old spent plants.
- Start cleaning up the vegetable garden.
- Prepare beds for spring flowering bulbs. Work in superphosphate.
- Order/buy the largest bulbs available. Do not plant now. Store them (60-65 degrees) away from food. Remove from plastic bags which can cause mold. Store in brown paper bags.
- Add fallen leaves to compost pile and add water and fertilizer to compost pile periodically.
- Begin to “Gib” camellias at the end of the month. Start with early blooming varieties first.
West Low Country District
by Anna Sheets
- Disbud and apply gibberellic acid on your camellia buds to enhance size and earlier opening for Camellia Shows.
- Do not fertilize your perennials, shrubs or trees so they can go dormant
- Plant leafy green vegetable, radishes, beets, onions
- Buy your spring flowering bulbs and store in a cool place to set out later
- Water as needed to supplement the fall rains
Pollinator Habitat Gardening
Starting a pollinator garden?
Did you know that fall is an excellent time to start a pollinator garden in South Carolina?
Many of our favorite pollinator perennials can be sown right now to emerge after a winter's nap, while late season annuals and herbs can help draw the migrating species to your yards right away. If you're just starting out, select the location in your garden where sun shines at least 4-6 hours per day and start your design plan.
There are just as many pollinator landscaping plans as there are pollinator lovers out there so peruse the internet for hours and you'll never find them all. Some of our favorites can be found in a great book by Christopher Kline, Butterfly Gardening with Native Plants: How to attract and identify butterflies.
Kline's book provides a wonderful introduction to pollinator garden designs, common butterfly species, and nectar and host plants. While his plans are specific to butterfies, they serves as a good primer to entice the dancing beauties to your space so you can expand from there.
Another great tool is our "Planting with a Purpose" list from Riverbanks Botanical Gardens. These tried and true native and non-invasive cultivars are sure to attract pollinators while also providing the eye candy we all love.
If you do order the book, please use Smile.Amazon and choose Garden Club of South Carolina, Inc. as your charity. For every sale, we receive .5% of proceeds that can go towards our GardenFORLife projects around South Carolina.
Starting a pollinator garden with kids?
Youth Grant Opportunities
National Garden Clubs, Inc. is excited to provide a grant opportunity for Garden Clubs working with youth clubs or groups planning and planting Pollinator Gardens. Grants, up to $200, are available for projects that include educational materials on the vital role pollinators play in nature and youth involvement in planning and planting gardens providing nesting and food sources for pollinators. Youth will learn the importance of providing appropriate food sources, nesting areas, shelter, and practicing sustainable gardening practices for pollinators by planning, planting, and maintaining these pollinator gardens.
To apply for a grant, complete an NGC Grant Application, provide detailed information about the project, and submit your request to the NGC Youth Committee Chairman for approval.
Fall and Winter Gardening
Fall and Winter Gardens in South Carolina
by Linda S. Geronilla, PhD
One of the wonders of living in South Carolina (SC) is being able to garden all year long. Many spring vegetables can be replanted in fall and a few are actually better in fall because they cannot take the heat of summer, like garlic. With three hardiness zones in SC, Clemson University has a wonderful fact sheet that will show when the vegetables should be planted in each zone https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/planning-a-garden/.
There are several vegetables that can make it through the entire winter with a light frost protection depending upon the zone and the specific variety. The first group of vegetables is semi-cold hardy (29-32 degrees): beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, endive, English peas, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard greens, onions, rutabaga, and Swiss chard. The second group of vegetables is cold hardy (25-28 degrees): arugula, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards, garlic, kale, radishes, spinach, and turnip. Planting vegetables together according to their cold hardiness can be helpful when the temperature goes low so that you know which ones to cover. Freezing rain makes them even more susceptible to damage than cold alone.
In order to protect your plants from destructive insects, there are certain native beneficial plants that should be established for fall: cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum), boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), blue lobelia, goldenrod ( Solidago), Joe Pye weed( (Eutrochium purpureum), New England aster (Symphyotricum novae-angliae), smooth aster (Symphyotricum leave), and swamp sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius). These same plants will also feed the pollinators. Two best beneficial herbs that are great to start in fall are dill (Anethum graveolens) and cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) which will feed your good bugs through March.
One of the worst fall bugs in SC is the cabbage moth (or looper) which lays its eggs on brassicas and other ornamentals. This insect is very territorial and usually will not lay her eggs if she sees another cabbage moth. An effective natural control method is to create fake cabbage moths from white plastic milk jugs scattered among the brassicas mounted on two-foot bamboo sticks. Making these is a lot easier than manually picking off green caterpillars that will chew holes in plants. A list of host plants can be found here.
Fall is a good time to improve the fertility of the soil. First, dig out nasty summer weeds, but leave as much soil undisturbed as to disturb fewer microbes. Cut off the tops of dead plants and let them compost in place but leave the roots in the ground for the microbes as food. There should be a minimum layer of ½ inch of compost on all beds. Thicker compost is usually better. Use a winter mulch of leaves or wood chips or grow a winter cover crop like hairy vetch or winter peas to add nitrogen to the soil. Learn to tolerate winter weeds like henbit and chickweed that form green mats that protect the soil from erosion and dandelions and bittercress that drill deep into the soil to improve soil drainage. In Spring, hoe them out and compost them before they reseed or better still, make the chickweed pesto.
Fall and Winter Gardening
Beautiful Fall Colors…..for your Table!
by Gina Ginther
Fall is an excellent time to plant vegetables, and growing fall vegetables in South Carolina is not as difficult as it may seem! The most important thing to remember when growing veggies, is to respect your growing zone. In addition, knowing your first and last frost dates will help you start your vegetable seeds or transplants at the right time.
You can log onto to the USDA website and using their tool, you can determine your growing zone and your frost dates. Use those dates to determine what you will plant and when. Remember, using raised beds can be a strategic way to prepare for unexpected cold snaps! Most cold weather vegetable varieties will grow in South Carolina. Some popular choices include: Brussels sprouts, beets, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, chard, lettuce, pumpkins, radishes, spinach and many varieties of squash.
To get the most production from the vegetables you plant in the fall, plant early! Some selections can be planted as early as late July. Varieties with at least a sixty-day growth cycle can be planted in early August. Shorter cycle vegetables can be planted as late as September in the Carolinas. Again, always remember to focus on frost tolerance! Planting seeds or transplants at the correct time is important to getting the most out of your garden.
Prepare your soil, adding amendments. Your garden center can recommend what’s best for your area to support your plant choices. Many regions benefit from mushroom compost. After the recommended soil preparation, and planting, your newly established garden will be well served by a generous application of mulch to retain moisture during the hot South Carolina summer. Adequate moisture is required during the critical time that seeds are sprouting and transplants are adapting. Monitor seedlings closely in the first weeks for insects feeding on tender new growth and to make sure the soil is not drying out. As your crop grows, you will need to apply a liquid fertilizer specifically formulated for vegetables. It will contain the required ration of nutrients needed to maximize your harvest. Harvest time for fall vegetables runs from October through November in South Carolina.
Earlier in the year we spoke about the benefits of companion gardening. As with that principle, when “farming” you may want to consider the benefits of crop rotation, changing your crop choices season to season. Crop rotation helps improve soil biodiversity by changing crop residue and rooting patterns. Different crops benefit different species, and so a range of crops will lead to a more diverse and healthy soil diversity. Simply said, it is the practice of growing a series of different types of crops in the same area across a sequence of growing seasons. For example, a simple rotation between a heavy nitrogen using plant, say corn, and a nitrogen depositing plant, like soybeans, will help maintain a healthy balance of nutrients in the soil. If you grow the same crop year after year in the same field, the nutrients and minerals of the soil will be exhausted. Rotating crops helps maintain, replenish and improve soil health and maintain or increase productivity over time.
According to the South Carolina Parks Department, our beautiful state hosts the longest fall color season in the nation. Because of our COVID-19 public health crisis, many of us have been sequestered over the last five months, or even longer! And as the summer temperatures begin to cool, it’s a sure thing that many of us will escape, taking amazing day trips – or longer, meandering the South Carolina roadways to catch a glimpse of the breathtaking electric colors our wooded areas gift us with each year. You may not be able to bring that color home with you, but planting a fall garden will give you a little bit of that same fall color, ready to harvest and find a place on your fall table!
Preparing your garden for planting
by Bonnie Disney
Let’s talk dirt! Can any patch of dirt in your yard sustain a garden? Perhaps, but an analysis of the soil and a knowledge of what is best for plants to be put in your garden site should be considered. A healthy and productive garden needs soil that allows water, air and nutrients to be absorbed by the plants’ roots.
A soil test will determine the amount of essential nutrients for plant growth that is in the garden site’s soil. The nutrients analyzed include levels of phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, copper and boron. In addition, the soil test report will give the pH value, or how acidic or basic the soil is. Knowing this information will allow you to correct nutrient deficiencies or other problems as well as prevent environmental pollution through water runoff. Additionally, different areas of the state have different soil compositions. Some areas have higher levels of phosphorus or calcium as well as higher pH levels.
Upon receiving the soil test report, you may need to amend your soil to add both nutrients and tilth, its physical condition. One way is to add organic material such as composted animal manure, cottonmeal, bloodmeal, shredded leaves and/or “green manure” such as a cover crop with crimson clover or annual rye. Older generations have used fish and chicken manure----both of which would increase the organic content as well as add nutrients.
Having a soil analysis and amending the soil are best done a few months ahead of creating the garden. Some additions to the soil such as lime need time to neutralize the acidity in the soil.
Polanski, Bob.Carolinas Month-By-Month Gardening.Cool Springs Press, 2014.
Fall Vegetable Gardens
by Karen Galloway
Broccoli and Cabbage are edible, cool season crops that I plant in late fall. They are referred to as cole crops or crucifers. Cole simply refers to any of the various plants belonging to the mustard family. They prefer temperatures of 60-65 degrees and well drained rich, moist soil. To fertilize, you may water with diluted fish emulsion. I am careful not to get the fish emulsion on my plants because of the oily film and fishy smell. It is an organic fertilizer and really boosts the health of the plants. It is also important to have good air circulation around the plants and full sun. I secure metal garden hoops over my garden when planting so the plant isn’t disturbed later. If the evening or overnight temperatures drops into the 20’s, I cover my garden with a floating row cover. Gardener’s Supply has various grades of covers depending on the temperatures. Be sure to pull back the covering in the morning.
Broccoli comes from the Italian word “broccoli” which means the flowering crest of a cabbage. Both broccoli and cabbage will bolt and go to seed if the temperature is greater than 80 degrees. I often leave my plants after harvesting the vegetables as the flowers are an attractive addition to the garden.
Both of these fall/winter vegetables provide excellent meals as well as benefits to your overall health. You will enjoy them raw or cooked and experience the advantages of home grown vegetables. Please consider these two additions in your next plantings.
Starting from Seed
by Kate Copsey
Each fall, as soon as the school buses start on the roads, our minds turn to the fall vegetable garden. Soon afterwards the hardware stores start selling young fall vegetable seeds. Starting the fall garden from seed though just takes a few weeks longer and is no more difficult then starting the spring garden.
As with the cool, spring garden, the seeds are best started indoors where the air is cooler. Cabbages, kales, lettuce and other early garden years varieties can all be started and planted outside when the weather finally cools down. I prefer to start the seeds in mid to late August, but many do well in September too. Most of us have a first fall frost date somewhere at the end of October to late November, but as against spring, the days are getting shorter and the seedlings do take a little longer to mature in the short fall days. So add a week to 15 days to your seed package time to mature.
Harden off the seedlings in a site with morning sunshine but away from harsh, hot afternoon sun, or use a shade cloth to protect the seedlings. The fall garden seedlings do best in 70 degrees but will grow in 80 weather if given enough shade. Always have a frost cloth handy too, just in case Mother Nature brings an unexpected frost! Some fall garden items like Brussel sprouts and kales are happy, and even taste better, after a few hard frosts but most lettuce is killed at 30 or below. However, there are even some lettuce that are reported to be tolerant of temperatures as low as 20 degrees.
Other fall seeds, such as peas and carrots cannot be started inside, so timing for them is tricky. Start by picking a naturally shady area where the soil is slightly cooler than the usual vegetable garden area or use an area among taller tomatoes and peppers which has slightly cooler soil between them. Like the other seedlings, keep this area shaded with a cloth until the seeds have germinated and are growing well. I have found that germination at the tail end of summer is still sporadic, so keep an eye on the seeds and sow again if needed. Often the reluctant seeds will germinate when the temperatures really cool down. Carrots can tolerate a light frost and if growing, they will continue through winter with minimal protection. Some peas can also tolerate some light frost.
Whichever way you start your fall garden, keep the seedlings cool but have a frost cloth handy in case temperatures dip unexpectedly.
Don't forget the herbs
by Anna Sheets
Herbs are defined as plants that are grown for their aromatic, medicinal or seasoning characteristics. Fall is the best time to plant the hardiest herbs that grow very well in areas with mild winters such as SC. These include, parsley (curly or Italian), sage, rosemary, cilantro, mint, chives, thyme, lemon grass, and lavender. These are herbaceous plants either annuals such as parsley or perennials such as sage or small shrubs like rosemary. Often, herbs are planted in themed gardens, such as scent, or kitchen or apothecary garden. Herbs grow well in containers or planted amongst your flower or vegetable beds. Most herbs like sun, up to 6 hrs. a day, and locations that are well drained. Most prefer a dry climate, with exceptions such as parsley and mint which prefer partial shade or mint and lemon grass which like wet soil.
Clay soil should have 2-3 inches of pine bark mixed in to help with drainage. Sandy soil should have 2-3 inches of fine pine bark mixed in to improve water retention. Raised beds with a good garden mix help grow your herbs from seeds or small container plants and eliminate the step of amending your soil. Put several in a big pot by your kitchen door and harvest as needed when cooking. You can grow the herbs on your sunny kitchen windowsill even if they are not frost hardy such as basil or oregano and have flavorful seasonings all year round.
This Month's Contributors
If you are enjoying this newletter, you can thank the following monthly contributors.
Trish Bender, Kate Copsey, Laurie Churchill, Bonnie Disney, Gail Ford, Karen Galloway, Linda Geronilla, Gina Ginther, Rue Lucas, Anna Sheets and this month's special contributor, Dwight Williams.