September 13, 2006

Welcome to Texas Gardener's Seeds, the weekly newsletter for Texas gardeners. Please do not reply to this e-mail as the sending address is not monitored. See the bottom of this newsletter for information on how to subscribe, unsubscribe, or contact the editor.

  Harvesting health from the garden

The most common piece of exercise equipment in American households might just be the humble garden trowel. Active gardening offers health benefits that match those of the most sophisticated health club, according to Joel Kimmons, a nutrition expert for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta.

Instances of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and many other illnesses could be greatly reduced if more people participated in gardening on a regular basis.

Dr. Kimmons made his case at the Gardens for All Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, sponsored by Drake University Agricultural Law Center in cooperation with the National Gardening Association. The conference, organized by Drake law professor Neil Hamilton, was designed to explore ways to bring the benefits of gardening to the attention of policy-makers at every level of government.

According to the CDC, garden tasks like raking leaves and weeding offer the exercise equivalent of low-intensity aerobic dance or biking at 5 to 9 miles per hour. More strenuous jobs, such as digging or moving large loads of dirt, are the equivalent of race walking or working out on a stair-climbing machine.

As a nutritional epidemiologist, Kimmons is particularly alert to the potential for home-grown fruits and vegetables to improve the average person's diet. "The U.S. has the highest level of malnutrition in the world," Kimmons noted, citing research that shows that fewer than 10 percent of Americans get the CDC-recommended 7 to 13 daily servings of fruits and vegetables.

The trend underlying that statistic may be a key reason for the rapid rise in obesity and its associated health consequences, notably diabetes over the past 20 years. And the trend is accelerating. For example, in 2004, there were nine states in which 25 percent or more of their residents were dangerously obese; in 2000, no states fell into that category.

Kimmons said garden-grown foods are more healthy than those bought in the supermarket. Too many vegetables sold in supermarkets have been "dumbed down," that is, bred for sweetness, pest resistance or industrial production methods at the expense of flavor, he said. Home gardeners, on the other hand, can produce fruits and vegetables at the peak of flavor and nutritional value.

Gardening's health benefits extend beyond preventing illness. They also apply to individuals who are already experiencing health problems. According to the American Horticultural Therapy Association, gardening activities can be used to support the physical, social, psychological needs of people who are physically and mentally challenged, regardless of age.

Rick Brooks, director of the Health Promotion Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told conference attendees of his experiences coordinating construction therapy gardens for people with a variety of disabilities.

For his work on projects like that one, Brooks was recently named the grand prize winner of the Garden Crusader Awards program run by Gardener's Supply Company. The program recognizes individuals who have improved their communities through gardening activities.

Brooks noted that the benefits of his work are not always immediately evident. He related his experience building a garden with two residents of the Waunakee Adult Family Home in Madison, Wis. Due to a communication disorder, the two women rarely spoke, so Brooks was unsure of their reaction to the garden.

"We kinda wondered if we made a difference," Brooks said at the conference. The answer came two months later. "I got a package in the mail," Brooks recalled. "It was two jars of tomato jam made from their garden. And there's a picture of both of them smiling with their jam."

  Planning ahead can save home from wildfires

By Linda Anderson
Texas Cooperative Extension

In spite of recent rains in some parts of Texas, the drought isn't going away any time soon, said a Texas Cooperative Extension specialist. And with drought comes the increased risk of wildfires.

That's why taking steps to protect home and property in case of fire is so important, said Janie Harris, Extension housing and environment specialist.

She recommends following these steps from the Texas Forest Service:

  • Keep propane gas tanks far enough from buildings so valves can be shut off in case of fire. The area around the tank should be cleared of any vegetation that might fuel for fire.

  • Store gasoline in approved safety cans, and keep these cans away from occupied buildings.

  • Keep combustibles including firewood, wooden lawn furniture, boats and lumber away from buildings.

  • Clean roofs and gutters regularly to prevent buildup of leaves and other debris which could catch and spread fire.

  • Keep fire-fighting tools handy, including ladders long enough to reach the roof, shovels, rakes and some buckets for carrying water.

  • Keep garden hoses connected on all sides of the house for emergencies.

  • Know all the emergency exits from the house and from the neighborhood.

"You must plan ahead of time," Harris said. "If you live in area with big trees, you need a defensible space around your home; you need to know that trees close to the house can be fire fuel."

To reduce that risk, Harris and the forest service recommended clearing trees and brush out an area at least 30 feet out from the house.

"Cut tree limbs overhanging the roof; clean out gutters," Harris continued. "Choose fire-wise landscaping, such as hardwoods instead of evergreens. And clearly mark your home address from the main road, and make sure your driveway is accessible for fire-fighting equipment."

Knowing about burn bans in the area is also important, she said. On its Web site (, the forest service maintains a current list of burn bans in the state. If burning is not banned, the forest service recommends:

  • Clearing combustible material such as grass, leaves, scrap wood and other debris away from the site where the burn is to take place.

  • Keeping a water hose ready at the site of the burn.

  • Never leaving a burn pile unattended.

More information on protecting homes and property from wildfires can be found on the Texas Extension Disaster Education Network Web site at, Harris said. But preparing for a disaster such as wildfire means more than protecting buildings. Families should always keep disaster supply kits prepared and available for every member. The kits should include such items as necessary medication, changes of clothing, food and water, battery-operated radios and flashlights.

Extension's Family and Consumer Sciences Web site ( has more information on preparing disaster supply kits.

And if wildfire should become more than just a possibility, "know to leave if you feel least bit threatened," she said. "Know the ways to get out of your neighborhood. If there's only one way to leave, get out early. And listen to the authorities. The bottom line is: When they tell you to get out, get out."

  Plant spring wildflowers

Now is the best time to plant bluebonnet and other spring wildflowers. They must germinate in late summer or early fall, develop good root systems, and be ready to grow in spring when the weather warms. Plant seed in well-prepared soil, one-half inch deep, and water thoroughly.


  Readers' Gardening Tips

"Here in the South we can get stung by fire ants when we garden," Judith Tye writes. "Liquid bleach will take the sting out; in fact, if you can get to it quickly enough, sometimes it will even keep the pustule from forming."

Have a favorite gardening tip you'd like to share? Texas Gardener's Seeds is seeking brief gardening tips from Texas gardeners to use in future issues. If we publish your tip in Seeds, we will seed you a free Texas Gardener T-shirt. Here's a chance to get published and keep your head in the shade! Please send your tips of 50 words or less to the editor at: Gardening Tips.

  Did you know...

Clock plants like four o'clocks are not always accurate. In Texas, four o'clocks may not open until much later in the day and stay open all night. On cloudy days they become confused and open early in the morning thinking it is afternoon.



'Pam Puryear' Turk's Cap, one of several plants being introduced by Greg Grant, Pineywoods Native Plant Center research associate, at this year's Fabulous Fall Festival October 7. (Photo by Greg Grant)

  Upcoming Garden Events

The Herb Association of Texas and the Antique Rose Emporium will host A Celebration of the Herbal Harvest: A Focus on Culinary Herbs, September 22 through 23, San Antonio. The event will include a road trip, cooking classes, herbal refreshments, lectures and a vendor fair featuring locally grown herbs and related products. To register or for more information, contact Beth Patterson at (830) 257-6732 or e-mail

The Garden Conservancy will host a tour of five private gardens in Dallas, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., September 23. The tour is self-guided. The conservancy will also sponsor similar tours in Galveston, October 14 and Austin, October 21. Admission to each garden is $5, no reservations required, rain or shine. For more information, visit or call toll-free (888) 842-2442.

The Arbor Gate will sponsor "Kindergarten for Rose Lovers...Learn About Teachers' Pets!" presented by Mark Chamblee on Saturday, September 23, at 10 a.m. Admission is free. The Arbor Gate 15635 FM 2920 Tomball. For more information, call (281) 351-8851 or visit

ArtScape, September 23 and 24, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., is the Dallas Arboretum's first ever fine art show and sale. The two-day art fair is a family-oriented event that will kick off the Dallas Blooms Autumn festival. ArtScape will feature artists from around the country, the Tour de Fleurs race, the Ultimate Tree Houses exhibit, entertainment and many exciting classes. ArtScape will complement Ultimate Tree Houses, a juried exhibit of 12 tree houses that will be on display throughout the garden. In addition, this year's event will kick off with Tour de Fleurs a 10k, 5k and 1 mile fun run. What a great way to start the weekend! For additional information, please email

There's a new music scene coming to the San Antonio Botanical Garden. On Saturday, September 30, Gardens by Moonlight will offer popular, high-charged live music performances from 7 until 11 p.m. Gardens by Moonlight will feature a rare San Antonio performance by the Grammy-winning band "BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet." Joining BeauSoleil at the top of the bill is former San Antonio resident Monte Montgomery. Also performing are Seth Walker, Wilber Beasley and Body & Soul, The Ron Wilkins Quartet, Django's Moustache, Mariana Scuros-Ornelas, and Buttercup. Under the fall moonlight, visitors can indulge themselves on a variety of culinary treats ranging from cold Asian salad to barbequed shrimp on a stick. Drinks include sodas, wine, imported beers and others beverages. While the music plays, Gardens by Moonlight guests can wander through the unique areas of this vibrant San Antonio institution. Visitors can experience the formal gardens, the exotic conservatory and stroll along the newly renovated Texas Native Trail, exploring the Texas Hill Country and the East Texas Piney Woods surrounding the small lake. In the Lucile Halsell Conservatory area, exquisite granite sculptures of renowned artist Jesus Moroles are displayed. In the Formal Gardens, Roger Colombik's 35-foot bronze ship sculpture and four bronze and stone vessels can be viewed. Beautiful lighting adds to the glowing spell of the evening, capturing the bright white blooms and aromatic scents of night blooming flowers jasmine, moonvine and brugmansias. Advance tickets for Gardens by Moonlight are $12 per person and are available September 11 through September 29 at area Starbucks and the Botanical Garden's Garden Gate Gift Shop. Tickets are $15 at the gate; $12 for Botanical Society members. Tickets are non-refundable. The gates open to the public at 7 p.m. There is free parking at the Garden, plus free parking at Terrell Plaza, 1201 Austin Highway, with free and frequent shuttle service to the Garden starting at 6 p.m. In case of inclement weather, a rain date is set for Sunday, October 1. The San Antonio Botanical Garden is located at 555 Funston @ North New Braunfels Avenue. For more information, the public can call the Garden at 210-829-5100 or visit its website at

The Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardeners will sponsor the annual Hidden Garden Tour September 30 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Rockport. Enjoy touring Rockport and the surrounding area and tour some of the area's private gardens plus Green Acres Demonstration gardens. Bus tours will be available for $15 and tickets must be purchased ahead. Self-guided tours are $10. A plant sale will occur at Green Acres on the day of the tour. Green Acres Demonstration gardens, located at the Aransas County Extension Office (611 E. Mimosa behind Monroe's Furniture on Hwy 35) is the start of the tour on September 30. Maps and additional tour information for the Hidden Garden Tour can be obtained by contacting the Aransas County Extension Office at (361) 790-0103.

Malcolm Beck, the founder of Garden-Ville ands a master practitioner in the field of organic growing will speak at at informational luncheon October 1 at The Inn at Dos Brisas in Brenham. Mr. Beck began his career in sustainable agriculture as a family farmer in the 1950s, raising and selling organic produce near San Antonio, Texas. Later, he turned to helping others find alternatives to conventional agricultural methods and materials through his business, Garden-Ville. Beck has contributed many articles to American Horticulturalist and several garden handbooks, and hasd written several books, including The Secret Life of Compost, Texas Organic Vegetable Gardening, The Garden-Ville Method and The Texas Bug Book. For more information on how to attend this lecture, call (979) 277-7750.

The SFA Mast Arboretum's annual Fabulous Fall Festival plant sale will be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 7 at the Stephen F. Austin State University Intramural field on Wilson Drive, between College and Starr in historic Nacogdoches. A great selection of rare, unusual, and Texas-tough trees, shrubs, vines, herbaceous perennials, grasses and groundcovers will be available. Greg Grant, Pineywoods Native Plant Center research associate and contributing editor/columnist for Texas Gardener magazine, will introduce his pink 'Pam Puryear' Turk's Cap, 'Buttercream' Lantana, and the 2006 Texas Superstar, 'Henry Duelberg' Sage. Many of the rare Aromi hybrid deciduous Azaleas will be offered as will a good number of the rarely available, Texas native, Southern Sugar Maple (Acer barbatum). Proceeds from the plant sale help support the SFA Mast Arboretum, the Ruby Mize Azalea Garden, the Pineywoods Native Plant Center and educational programs. Please help support these great Texas treasures. For more information, call (936) 468-4404 or visit

Castro Garden Club's "Fall Tour of Homes" in Castroville will take place October 7, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tickets will be available September 1 and can be purchased in advance by writing Castro Garden Club, P.O. Box 10, Castroville, TX 78009. Tickets will be sold the day of the tour at the Landmark Inn State Historic Site. Ticket price will include admission to the Landmark Inn State Historic Site, courtesy of The Friends of the Landmark Inn, to visit the newly renovated Gristmill. Proceeds from the tour will benefit Castro Garden Clubs special projects. Admission: $12.00 per person. For more information contact: Priscilla Garrett, (830) 931-2262; Bonnie Keller, (830) 931-2614; or Joan Menard, (210) 677-8979.

Ernesto Velez Koppel of Colombia will lecture on his country's flower industry October 11 at Texas A&M University. His talk is the second in the Distinguished Lecture Series on International Floriculture. Koppel is the Association of Colombian Flower Growers and Exporters board of directors chair. The lecture series is sponsored by the Texas A&M horticultural sciences department's Ellison Chair in International Floriculture. The presentation will include background on what led to the formation of the Colombian flower association, known as ASOCOLFLORES, its current activities and its plans for the future. Koppel also will describe the group's global impact. For further information, contact Tammy Landry, program coordinator, at or (979) 845-7342.

The McLennan County Master Gardeners and the Carleen Bright Arboretum will host a Texas Superstar seminar Sunday, October 15, at 2 p.m. at the Carleen Bright Arboretum in Woodway (east of Waco). Jerry Parsons, horticulture specialist with Texas Cooperative Extension in San Antonio, will be the featured speaker at this free event open to the public. For additional information, contact Barbara Vance at (254) 741-0000.

The Austin Herb Society celebrates Herb Awareness Month in October with HerbFest, Saturday, October 21, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Sunset Valley Farmers Market, located in the Burger Center, 3200 Jones Rd., off I-290 between Brodie Lane and Westgate Blvd. No entrance fee for shoppers, free parking. For additional information, call (512) 468-9126.

The San Antonio chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas will host the groups' annual symposium Convergence and Diversity: Native Plants of South Central Texas, October 19 through 22, San Antonio. The symposium will feature guided tours to natural areas, seminars on native plants and a special program on cooking with native plants. For more information, contact (210) 733-0034, (830) 997-9272 or visit

The Johnson County Herb Society will hold its Herbal Thymes Show and Symposium, October 28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Cleburne Senior Center, Cleburne. The event will feature speakers, demonstrations herb plants and related products. For more information, contact Esther Chambliss at (817) 263-9322 or visit

The 2006 Annual Garden Tour in Victoria County will take place on Saturday and Sunday, October 28 through 29, showcasing five gardens at historic homes in Old Victoria. Imagination will be fulfilled beyond garden gates with the theme "Nature's Beauty Beyond the Gate" in fall and pre-Halloween garden settings. Highlighted garden plants will be catalogued in educational materials and for plant sale identification on the weekend of the tour. Guided tours at $18 per person are scheduled from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. through 5 p.m. on Sunday. Individual garden tours are $5 per garden. Workshops will be conducted on culinary cooking and holiday decorating from the garden for additional fees. For further information, contact Victoria County Extension Office at (361) 575-4581.

The Texas Gourd Society will hold its 11th annual "Show and Tell" at the Waco Convention Center, Waco, November 11 and 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The two-day show will include gourd artists, seminars, demonstrations and much more. Admission is $5 for adults; children under 12 free. For more information, visit

The Garland Organic Club meets the first Sunday of each month in the little red school house at 1651 Wall St., Garland. All interested gardeners are invited to attend. For more information, call (972) 864-1934 or (800) 864-4445.

Austin Organic Gardeners meet at 7:00 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at the Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin. For more information, visit

The Dallas Organic Garden Club meets at 6:45 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month at the Fretz Park Recreation Center, located at the corner of Hillcrest and Beltline Road in Dallas. For more information, call (214) 676-4326 or visit

  Year-long delight can be yours

Perennial gardens are a source of year-long delight. In Perennial Gardens for Texas, Julie Ryan covers cottage gardens and perennial borders. She also defines eight major ecological regions in Texas and offers plant suggestions for each.

 $29.84 plus shipping*

Order by calling 1-800-727-9020 or order on-line.

 *Mention Texas Gardener's Seeds when ordering by phone during the month of September and we'll waive shipping charges. (Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.)

  Fiber Row Cover valuable year-round

Grow-Web encourages plant growth and development, and also provides protection from insects, birds, diseases and frosts. It is also air and water permeable and allows for ventilation. Grow-Web provides excellent protection to seedlings when applied directly to the seedbed.

 $30.64 per 12.3' x 32.8' roll (includes shipping!)

Order by calling 1-800-727-9020. Not available through on-line bookstore.

(Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.)


Texas Gardener's Seeds
is published weekly. Suntex Communications, Inc. 2006. All rights reserved. You may forward this publication to your friends and colleagues if it is sent in its entirety. No individual part of this newsletter may be reproduced in any manner without prior written permission from the publisher.

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