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Frequently Asked Questions

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I reached out to a fellow Master Gardener here in our county. Vic Johnson has been butterfly gardening for many years, and I thought he might be your best help in getting your area growing.

Here are his suggestions:

You have plenty of sunlight.

Since there may not be good topsoil he recommends that you focus on native plants that are more adapted to various soil types. Do not add fertilizer at the planting phase.

October, November is the best time to plant seeds.

If using a spreader, mix the seed with sand to make sure the seed's spread more evenly.

Make sure the seed is making good contact with the soil so going over the area with a yard rake may be needed.

For a half-acre, you will probably need 10 to 20 pounds of seed. Contact the company you purchase the seed from to help guide you on quantity, how much sand to add, and dispersing the seed properly.

Here are 4 sources of seed for our area:

1. Garrett Wildflower Seed Farm: garrettseed.com

2. American Meadows. They have a Southeast Pollinator Wildflower Seed Mix. americanmeadows.com

3. Roundstone Native Seeds. They have a Pollinators & Honey Bee Mix for Southern Regions: roundstoneseed.com

4. Mellow Marsh Farm. They have a MMF Pollinator Mix: mellowmarshfarm.com

Here is a link to a document called North Carolina Pollinator Toolkit Much of the info will not apply but some will.

Top 25 Native Pollinator Plants for North Carolina Also includes native plant and seed supplies.

I hope this helps. Good luck on this fascinating and beneficial project.

Warm-season crops and summer annuals are best planted after the last frost date in spring. Here in Cherokee County that is usually around May 1, give or take a week. Should you decide to plant on the early side, keep some form of covering available in case the weather report indicates an unexpected dip in the temps overnight. Covering your newly planted crop will protect it from the frost. See our Planting Calendar for more information.
An appropriate volume of “brown” and “green” material is necessary in order to “cook” the ingredients in your pile. A minimum size is 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet. Your pile can be larger than. NC State Extension has an excellent publication on composting called Backyard Composting of Yard, Garden, and Food Discards, in which you can find out all you need to know to produce successful compost.
This is an excellent question. Unintentional over-fertilization is a common practice. Not only is it a waste of money, but it will also stimulate excessive plant growth, and adds to the pollution of our water supplies. Excess nutrients not used by plants runoff into surface waters during storms or leach into our groundwater. Applying the correct amount of fertilizer leads to healthier, more productive plants. A sure-fire way to know just how much fertilizer you need is to conduct a soil test. It will determine the relative acidity of the soil (pH) and the level of several essential nutrients (phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, sulfur, manganese, copper, and zinc) needed. A soil test will also tell you if lime is needed to improve the soil in your garden. Lawn and garden areas will need separate soil tests. Your soil will be examined at The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Agronomic Division, a soil-testing laboratory, free of charge or for a small fee. Your soil report comes back with recommendations for improvement based on the type of plant you are trying to grow. A specific amount of fertilizer and/or lime will be indicated. More information on how to take a soil sample, and how to read your test results can be found at A Gardener’s Guide to Soil Testing, a publication of NC State Extension.

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