Home Insteading With Cooperative Extension (Week 64)

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Bean in a Bottle

Submitted by: Camaryn Byrum, 4-H Agent

Through this activity, kids will learn about the life cycle of a plant and discover what their plant needs to survive. They will also learn about innovative gardens that don’t require going outside. This activity showcases how agriculture and science go hand-in-hand.

In the bean in a bottle activity, the string wicks water up into the soil to keep the plant moist. Water is made of cohesive and adhesive properties, which means that it “sticks” to itself and other special materials. This allows the water to be absorbed into the string; once the string has been completely soaked, it will result in water droplets being left in the soil, where it can then be absorbed by the plant. The activity teaches the basics of plant life cycles, but it also teaches about hydroponics! Hydroponics is the process of growing plants in perlite, gravel or liquid, with added nutrients but without soil. There are lots of different hydroponic systems, but one of the simplest kinds uses water wicking, just like this activity.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 empty plastic bottle
  • Scissors
  • String
  • Water
  • Garden soil
  • Bean seeds


  1. Cut the water bottle in half, horizontally.
  2. Remove the bottle cap and assist kids with cutting a small hole in the bottle cap.
  3. Cut a string that is about five inches long.
  4. Poke the string through the hole in the cap and tie a knot on the inside of the cap. Screw the cap back onto the top section of the bottle.
  5. Fill ¾ of the bottom section of the bottle with water.
  6. Take the top half of the bottle and place it upside down, inside the bottom half of the bottle. The cap should not be touching the water.
  7. Fill the top half of the bottle with soil. Press a bean seed into the soil and cover with about ½ inch of soil.
  8. Place the “bean in a bottle” in a sunny location either inside or outside, and watch your bean grow! Don’t forget to change out the water when it begins to color.
bean in a bottle

How to Use Wildflowers in the Landscape

Katy Shook, Area Horticulture Agent

Most gardeners would agree that wildflowers are durable, native, perennial plants that reseed regularly and provide beneficial blooms for pollinators. Unfortunately, when buying a pack of wildflower seeds that’s not always what’s included. To get the most from wildflowers in your landscape, consider direct planting the following species:

Wild Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis. Wild columbine prefers partial shade conditions but will tolerate more sun with adequate moisture. It may grow 3 feet tall by 1.5 feet wide. The red and yellow flowers mature in early spring and can last one month. These tubular flowers attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bumblebees. Once the flowers are gone the plant makes an attractive ground cover.

Black Eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta. Black-Eyed Susan is a stiff, moderately fast growing, upright branching biennial or short-lived perennial that is native to the eastern United States. Because it blooms in the first year when planted from seed in early spring, it is seen as an annual. However, it freely self-seeds and usually remains in the garden. In North Carolina, it grows as a biennial reaching a height of 4 feet and can be found growing along banks and roadsides.

Joe Pye Weed, Eutrochioum fitulosum. Joe Pye Weed is a native herbaceous perennial typically found in the low moist ground of meadows, woods, and fields. It is an erect and clump-forming plant that usually grows to 4 to 7 feet tall. Hollow Joe-Pye Weed prefers damp, moist to wet, rich soils, but it will also grow in gravelly or sandy soils if there is sufficient moisture. It prefers full sun to partial shade and neutral to slightly acid soils.

Ironweed, Vernonia noveboracensis. Ironweed is an herbaceous native perennial wildflower in the Aster family and is found in all areas of NC. It may grow 5 to 8 feet tall with deep purple flowers that appear in clusters from mid-summer to mid-fall on strong stems. This low maintenance wildflower naturalizes easily and is adaptable to garden conditions.

For more information about using wildflowers in the landscape, contact the Ask A Master Gardener Helpline at (252) 482-6585.


Joe Pye Weed is moderately resistant to damage from deer and the flowers are attractive to pollinators, including bees and butterflies. Songbirds eat the seeds.

Egg-cellent Hollandaise Sauce in a Blender

Submitted by: Mary Morris, CED & Family and Consumer Sciences Agent

Written by: Justin Moore, Director of Marketing and Communications, NC State University

It’s safe to say that North Carolinians — and Americans in general — are crazy about our condiments. Whether you dunk, dip, dollop or drench, a perfectly paired condiment just makes food better.

Ketchup and fries, hot sauce and wings, sour cream and baked potatoes. And now we humbly submit to the pantheon of condiments: hollandaise sauce. Indulge in a little haute cuisine at home with this rich, buttery sauce that can be made in a blender.

An essential ingredient in eggs Benedict, hollandaise sauce is a creamy, versatile accompaniment that goes well over pan-seared asparagus or other vegetables, as well as with grilled meats like chicken or fish.

We’re excited to share a heavenly hollandaise sauce from our friends at the North Carolina Egg Association, who put a Southern spin (translation: turn up the heat) on a timeless staple of French cuisine. Watch as Lisa Prince shows how to whip up your own homemade hollandaise sauce in this edition of Homegrown In the Kitchen. And find more quick and simple egg recipes and nutrition info from the N.C. Egg Association.

Food Safety First

  • Consuming raw or undercooked eggs increases the risk of foodborne illness. Make sure you use pasteurized eggs(labeled on carton), if following the steps in the video.
  • When using unpasteurized eggs for any dish, make sure you always heat the mix to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, while stirring, to kill harmful bacteria that may be present.
  • Eat or refrigerate eggs and foods containing eggs promptly after cooking!
  • Find more information on eggs and foodborne illnessfrom the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Hollandaise Sauce


  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • pasteurized egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • cayenne pepper (optional)


  1. Melt the butter in a microwave (cover the dish or it will splatter), or on the stovetop, for about 1 minute until it is hot. The butter must be hot, not just melted, to emulsify.
  2. In a blender, add the yolks, lemon juice, Dijon, salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Blend for 5 seconds until combined.
  3. With the blender running on medium-high, slowly stream the hot butter into the mixture until it is emulsified.
  4. Pour the hollandaise sauce into a small bowl and serve warm.


  1. Consuming raw or undercooked eggs increases the risk of foodborne illness. When using unpasteurized eggs, heat the mixture to 160°F, while stirring, to kill harmful bacteria that may be present.
  2. To make more sauce, add another yolk and up to another ½ cup of melted butter.
  3. Serve hollandaise with salmon, asparagus or eggs Benedict.
  4. You can also use an immersion blender to make this recipe.
    (Recipe from the North Carolina Egg Association)

Special thanks to the Prestage Department of Poultry Science at NC State University and the Got To Be NC program from the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, who partner with the N.C. Egg Association to promote and grow our state’s egg industry!