April is the month that our yards come alive with spring colors and new growth.

Gardening is a common thread that joins many of us together as we find enjoyment in gardening. There are so many reasons to enjoy gardening that it makes it the No. 1 recreational activity in America. Gardening allows us to get exercise, fresh air and connect with nature, as well as it being a way to stretch the food budget and improve our diets. Having an attractive landscape can increase the value of a residence by 10 to 15 percent as well as make communities more attractive. Gardening also can help protect and preserve our environment by conserving water, controlling soil erosion and attracting wildlife.

With warm weather and longer days, many of us will enjoy spending time sprucing up our gardens. There are many things beginner and expert gardeners can take advantage to improve their gardens. Spring is a great time to visit our local garden centers in Wayne County. One of the most exciting things for gardeners is to pick out new plants for their garden. Local garden centers will soon be full of plants, giving many choices for new plants to add to one’s yard. Garden centers can also offer ideas for plant combinations including mixing colors, leaf textures and shapes.

Growing one’s own food has grown in interest over the last several years. If you are a beginner gardener, you may start out this spring growing vegetables, strawberry plants or herbs in a container or small raised bed. More experienced gardeners can add grapevines, blueberries or fruit trees to their garden while trying different vegetables. No matter your level of experience, adding some vegetables and/or fruit to the garden gives a great satisfaction of eating fresh food grown in your own garden.

Extension gardening activities

•The new Farm Credit Farmers Market allows us to purchase fresh, local agriculture products while connecting with local farmers. The farmers market opens for the 2019 season on Thursday. The market will be open on Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The farmers market is located behind the Maxwell Regional Agricultural and Convention Center at 3114 Wayne Memorial Drive. The Farm Credit Farmers Market will be welcoming some returning vendors from last year along with new vendors this year. Vendors will be offering a variety of local agriculture products such as vegetables, fruits, eggs, meats, bedding plants and local crafts. Special days are scheduled throughout the season to celebrate when produce is in season. You can follow the Farm Credit Farmers Market on Facebook and Instagram to receive up-to-date information of products available and upcoming events.

•Wayne County Extension Master Gardeners will be holding their annual Garden Festival and Plant Sale on Friday, May 3, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, May 4, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. This year’s festival is expanded to a two-day event with longer hours and located next to the Farm Credit Farmers Market behind the Maxwell Center, 3114 Wayne Memorial Drive. Master Gardeners will have a large variety of plants for sale at great prices including vegetables, annuals, herbs, perennials, hanging baskets and garden crafts. Be sure to arrive early for best selection of plants. We will have information on soil testing and can help answer your gardening questions. Beekeepers of the Neuse will have honey for sale and information about beekeeping on both days. There will be a food demonstration and 4-H children’s activities on Friday from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.

•Wayne County Extension Master Gardeners also provide a great resource for local gardeners to get their gardening questions answered through the plant clinic. The Master Gardener plant clinic is open every year from April to August on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Extension Master Gardener volunteers are in the plant clinic during these times to assist the public with their gardening questions. One of the great things about the plant clinic is that volunteers have been trained to provide educational gardening information from N.C. Cooperative Extension that is practical and reliable. Volunteers will utilize resources through the N.C. Cooperative Extension to determine an answer and best solution. The plant clinic is a free resource to Wayne County residents with home gardening questions. One can reach the Wayne County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Plant Clinic by phone at 919-731-1433, email at Master.Gardener@waynegov.com or stopping by the Wayne County Extension Office, 3114B Wayne Memorial Drive.

Learn more

•Subscribe to Wayne County Gardening e-newsletter and receive timely gardening information and announcements of upcoming extension gardening events. To subscribe, visit http://go.ncsu.edu/subscribewcg. Scroll down to enter your email address in the “address” box and click on the subscribe button. You will then receive an email which will direct you to a website to accept the subscription.

•“Like” us on Facebook to receive timely garden tips, ask questions, and learn of upcoming gardening events. www.facebook.com/waynecountygardening

Extension gardening program

Growing Vegetables and Herbs will be Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Wayne County Extension Office, the Maxwell Center, 3114B Wayne Memorial Drive. The workshop will cover how you can successfully grow a vegetable garden and herbs. Learn about site selection, raised beds, when to plant different vegetables and herbs, garden maintenance and common pest problems. Registration fee is $5. Pre-registration is not required. Arrive a few minutes early to register.

Jessica Strickland is an agriculture extension agent specializing in horticulture for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Wayne County.