Tuesday, March 27, 2012

"Water-Friendly" Cleaning

The United States has the world’s 4th largest supply of fresh water in the world.  Our access to clean water is unprecedented, allowing us to turn on the faucet any time of the day or night and have clean water to use and drink at our convenience.  Many times we take water for granted in the southeast because it does seem plentiful, its not until its contaminated or unavailable that we think about it.

Everyday activities like doing the dishes, and using Phosphate-free detergent in your dishwasher help protect our surface waters.  Phosphate detergents have been banned in 16 states, because they have been known to harm surface waters.  It is the chemical that helps our dishes sparkle!  I would prefer sparkling river waters over sparkling dishes.   
Summer Algae in River
Phosphate is a nutrient, and what happens is when everyone uses phosphate fertilizers and phosphate dish detergents, excess phosphates end up in our river systems causing algae to grow.   If you’ve ever floated down the New River in August, it’s sometimes hard to paddle through all the algae.  When the algae dies and starts decomposing, a process called eutrophication occurs, which uses the oxygen in the river that is available for aquatic organisms.  This can be a problem in lakes, rivers and our oceans.  Make sure to check the labels and purchase phosphate free dishwasher detergents! 

Since we are in the of four major watersheds, the Watauga, New, Catawba, and Yadkin River basins, we can affect many water systems downstream.   Living in the mountains at a high elevation and knowing that gravity works, all of our streams flow down the mountain and into larger river systems.  For example the Watauga River flows west into Tennessee and converges with the Holston River, which flows into the Tennessee River and eventually makes its way to the Mississippi River.  So how we treat our water in the High Country affects many people and wildlife down stream.

To get you started on being water wise, Watauga County Cooperative Extension is promoting the Clean Home, Clean Watershed “water-friendly” home starter kit. The U-Mix-It Safe Spray bottles are available at the Cooperative Extension along with recipes on how to make homemade solutions using inexpensive natural ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, essential oils, and other natural cleansers and disinfectants.

The spray bottles are made in the USA from 25% recycled plastic milk containers.  The “water-friendly” recipes are printed directly onto the plastic where they will never wash off and are always available for quick and easy reference. These unique kits make it easy and fun for households to adopt safer alternatives that will help keep pollutants out of our nations watersheds.  The bottles are available at the Cooperative Extension for $3 each.  All proceeds go toward Water Resource Protection Programming in Watauga county.

An extra bonus:  By not using harsh chemicals to clean in your home, you are protecting the life of your septic system!   You are responsible for ensuring that your septic system is safe and working properly. A failing septic system is a health risk or your family and the community and may be causing harm to the environment.  It is recommended to not put any chemical cleaners down the drain into your drains including drain cleaners, household chemicals, paints, paint thinners, solvents, oils, grease, medicine, matches, cigarettes, pesticides, etc.  Not flushing anything down the toilet except toilet tissue and human waste will help your septic system function properly.  It is also very important to have your tank checked and/or pumped on a regular basis, every 3-5 years depending on use.    For more information on septic care, click to http://www.soil.ncsu.edu/publications/Soilfacts/AG-439-13/

Monday, March 26, 2012

Permeable Pavers Workshop - June 19th Boone, NC

Permeable Parking lot and Bio Swale
Most parking lots form puddles. As those puddles grow, gas, oil, trash, and other pollutants accumulate until the storm water flows into a storm drain and into a creek. But this does not happen at the new Casey and Casey Law Office parking lot in downtown Boone. In fact, when rainwater lands on this parking lot, it infiltrates and disappears from the surface! Pretty amazing! This is beneficial to the nearby creek because it cleans, cools, and slows the water down.

Under this permeable parking lot, there are layers of gravel and aggregates allowing the water to infiltrate before flowing into the creek.   Dr. Bill Hunt of the NC State University Stormwater Team will be in Boone on June 19th for the Permeable Pavers workshop providing permeable pavement research and informative insights on innovative stormwater management. 

NCDENR Division of Water Quality is updating their Permeable Pavement Design Chapter. The revised design guidance will promote the use of permeable pavements across most of the footprint of North Carolina. The revision will focus on two design alternatives: infiltration-based permeable pavement and detention-based permeable pavement. How each is credited, designed, constructed, and maintained will be the focus of the workshop. Permeable pavement is poised to become one of the most frequently used stormwater practices in the state, come and learn the details!

This workshop is designed for Engineers, Landscape Architects, Water Quality and Stormwater Administrators, Land Surveyors, Regulators, Planners.  It will cost $125, if registering at least 1 week in advance. If registering within 1 week of the workshop date, the fee goes up by $50.  Fees include refreshments, lunch and workshop materials.  Cancellation Policy: There is a $25 cancellation fee if canceling up to the date of the workshop. There will be no refunds for no-shows.

This workshop offers 6 PDHs (professional development hours) for professional engineers and surveyors. Other professionals may appeal to their respective boards to obtain professional education credits. We will provide a certificate of attendance at the conclusion of the workshop.

To REGISTER ONLINE, please select the link 
If paying by check, make your check payable to NCSU-BAE. We also accept Visa, Mastercard and American Express.
If paying by check, please mail your check and copy of your registration form to:
Campus Box 7625
Raleigh, NC 27695
Attn: Christina Shepard
  • Faculty of NCSU Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering including Dr. Bill Hunt, Ryan Winston, and Brad Wardynski
  • Representatives from NC DENR including Annette Lucas and Boyd Devane
Contact Christina Shepard for questions about registration: chrissie_shepard@ncsu.edu or 919-513-2192.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Greening our Creeks

Participants installing live stakes on Kraut Creek.  Photo courtesy of Donna Lisenby
It was a perfect day to green the creeks on St. Patties day in Boone.  52 participants came out for the "Greening our Creeks" day hosted by the Watauga County Cooperative Extension.  Participants took home a total of 2,500 live stakes including Elderberry, Buttonbush, Silky dogwood, Silky Willow, and Ninebark.  Thousands of feet of stream will be planted this week to protect our rivers!  As part of the workshop, participants also planted 50 ft of Kraut Creek behind the new Synagogue in town. 

These native woody plants have extensive root systems that stabilize the soil on stream banks during rainfall and high water flow.  The shade produced by the shrubs help maintain the cooler temperatures that our mountain fish and aquatic life need to survive, while the leaves help provide habitat and food for insects and fish. (Leaves fall into the stream, aquatic insects eat and live in the leaves, trout eat the insects) “Greening our Creeks” with vegetation is really important because it acts as a filter to prevent sediment, fertilizers, pesticides, bacteria, pathogens, and heavy metals from entering our rivers.

Wendy Patoprsty would like to thank BB&T for sponsoring the lunch provided to the participants, and National Committee for the New River, the Watauga River Partners, and Brushy Fork Environmental for the expertise they provided, and A&T State University grant for providing the free plants. Live stakes need to be installed while they are dormant, and because this event was so well attended, we will be hosting another live stake giveaway day in the fall. 

Photo courtesy of Donna Lisenby

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Visioning Plan Underway for Daniel Boone Park

Visioning Plan Underway for Daniel Boone Park

It’s likely that since you’re reading this, you love local foods, native plants, urban greenspace, Appalachian heritage, and vibrant culture. All these joys and more intersect at Boone’s Daniel Boone Park. Daniel Boone Park is the site of the renowned Horn in the West outdoor drama, the Daniel Boone Native Gardens, and, for the past 35 years, the Watauga County Farmers' Market. This community gathering space is where Boone has sourced local foods for more than three decades. Will it be able to accommodate a growing and even more dynamic Farmers Market in the future? The Boone Tourism Development Authority (TDA) and the Southern Appalachian Historical Association (SAHA) are now working with the award-winning landscape architects of Marquis Halback, Inc. to develop a new long-range vision plan for Daniel Boone Park.

If you have ideas for the future of the Watauga County Farmers Market or anything else going on at Daniel Boone Park, this is your chance to add your input. Please consider filling out the survey at


Shiitake Mushroom Spawn Available to Commercial Growers

Shiitake Spawn Availability for 2012 – Orders due 3/23/11

The shiitake mushroom spawn produced by NCA&T’s Mycology Program is again being made available to commercial-scale growers (200 logs or more). To be eligible to receive this spawn, growers must have all their logs cut by Friday, March 23, and their spawn orders also in by that date. Also, growers should have attended a shiitake production workshop (taught be Extension and/or NCA&T State University) prior to placing their spawn order.

Information and spawn requests from growers in Ashe & Watauga Counties can be sent to Richard Boylan, Area Agent for Alternative Agriculture via e-mail at richard_boylan@ncsu.edu Be sure to put “Mushroom Spawn Order” in the title of your e-mail.

Shiitake Spawn will be available for pickup from the Watauga County Cooperative Extension Center beginning on the afternoon of Thursday, 3/29/12, or at the Ashe County Cooperative Extension Center beginning on the afternoon of Monday, 4/2/12.

Seed Swap March 10

High Country Seed Swap & Growers School

Saturday, 3/10 at Family Central 8:30 AM – 1:00 PM

On Saturday, March 10, 2012, all aspiring and practicing area gardeners are invited to Ashe Family Central (the former Ashe Central High School in Jefferson) to the High Country Seed Swap and Growers School. The event features a day-long open exchange of seeds, plus workshops on vegetable growing and grafting apple trees taught by area experts. Beginning at 8:30 AM, gardeners will be able to display their own surplus seeds and view the offerings of others on tables set up in the cafeteria space. The seed swap will continue throughout the day. A vermicomposting class will be taught from 9 AM – 10 AM, a grafting workshop and fruit-scion-wood exchange will be held from 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM. A vegetable variety and succession-planting workshop will run from 11 AM – noon. Coffee and light fare will be available for purchase from the Blue Ridge Market on-site at Family Central throughout the morning and early afternoon. Also, the shared-use Ashe County Kitchen (aka- Creative Food Ventures) will be open for visits and tours.

Gardeners are encouraged to bring their surplus seeds, bulbs, corms, plants, and scionwood to exchange. However, people do not need to bring seeds to participate. Seed swaps operate on the honor principle that gardeners will grow what they take this year, and bring seeds from their crops the next year. The event is sponsored by North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s New River Headwaters Alternative Agriculture Program, with support from the Ashe County Farmers Market.

Classes at the Seed Swap begin at 9 AM with a Vermicompost workshop, taught by Tracy Myhalyk.

Ron and Suzanne Joyner, of Big Horse Creek Farm in Lansing, will teach the grafting workshop, beginning at 10 AM. The Joyners are nationally-known for their conservation and propagation of old Southern Apple varieties. The grafting workshop taught by the Joyners will be hands-on, with participants able to learn with the actual tools of the trade. Apple rootstocks will be available for purchase at the workshop, so if participants choose, they can graft several trees to then bring home and plant themselves. Information about collecting scionwood samples for grafting can be found at their website: http://www.bighorsecreekfarm.com/horticulture.htm

Area Extension Agent Richard Boylan will coordinate the Seed Swap, with assistance from local Extension Master Gardeners and Ashe County Farmers Market volunteers. He notes that the venue has been perfect for past seed swaps, but that participation is crucial to make this year’s event a success, “Ashe Family Central’s Community Space (the old school cafeteria) is the perfect spot to meet up and swap seeds in an open exchange. It’s big enough that folks can spread-out, browse seeds, and talk. The more participants who bring seeds to share, the better the Swap will be.”

Extension Agent Boylan will also lead the Vegetable Variety and Succession Planting Workshop, beginning at 11 AM. This workshop will guide growers through the process of balancing taste, quality, disease-resistance, and other factors as they choose what to plant in the season ahead, and also offer tips about timing plantings for a full season of successful harvests.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s New River Headwaters Alternative Agriculture Program works to identify and promote viable crops and agricultural marketing strategies suitable for small Farms in Ashe and Watauga Counties. This Seed Swap is part of NCA&T State University’s Small Farms Week statewide programming, and is held concurrently and in partnership with the Ashe County Farmers Market Annual Expo. The event is free and open to all gardeners and farmers in the region.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pruning Workshop at the Daniel Boone Native Gardens

Join NC Cooperative Extension and Extension Master Gardener Volunteers on Monday, March 12th beginning at 1PM for a service-learning project at the Daniel Boone Native Gardens in Boone.  Extension agent Meghan Baker will be leading a hands-on demonstration on pruning native shrubs and trees.  Participants will be able to learn proper pruning techniques while offering a valuable service to the native garden.  This is a free event open to everyone however participants need to register by calling the Extension Center at 264-3061 or emailing meghan_baker@ncsu.edu.  Volunteers should bring gloves, a pair of hand pruners, hand saws, and water.  Extra tools will be provided.  A snow date is scheduled for March 19th. 

Screening of “Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for our Time”

March 17, 2012; 6:00–7:30PM

Crossnore Forestry Training Facility, Crossnore, NC - Cafeteria
 About Green Fire
The first full-length documentary film ever made about legendary environmentalist Aldo Leopold, Green Fire highlights Leopold’s extraordinary career, tracing how he shaped and influenced the modern environmental movement. Leopold remains relevant today, inspiring projects all over the country that connect people and land.

Please contact Robert Hawk at robert_hawk@ncsu.edu or call him at 828-586-4009

Thursday, March 1, 2012

RG 201 - Residential Rain Garden Certification

As homeowners and property managers become more aware of the issues of stormwater management, many of them are choosing to manage the runoff from their homes and businesses with rain gardens. Rain gardens are shallow depressions and serve as landscape features that can effectively collect and treat stormwater and reduce localized flooding. Rain gardens can be integrated into the existing landscape as a retrofit or be included in the initial landscaping plan. To effectively manage stormwater, rain gardens must be accurately sized and properly constructed. This 1.5 day workshop will present a method for sizing and designing rain gardens and will detail proper construction techniques. Participants will have the opportunity to take a test and become certified in rain garden design and installation.
For more information and to REGISTER ONLINE, please visit our website at:
Workshop Dates & Locations:

January 18-19, 2012 - Apex, NC
January 25-26, 2012 - Wilmington, NC
March 12-13, 2012 - Charlotte, NC
June 7-8, 2012 - Boone, NC

For questions about registration, please contact:
Cathy Smith at 919-515-6780 or cathy_smith@ncsu.edu
Christina Shepard at 919-513-2192 or chrissie_shepard@ncsu.edu
For questions about the program, please contact
Mitch Woodward at mdwoodward01@gmail.com.
For a complete list of all workshops and short-courses offered by NC State University Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering, please visit our website at: