February 21, 2007

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Preparing now will prevent your yard from becoming overgrown with weeds this spring. For this homeowner it may be too late. (Photo by Chris S. Corby)

Weed control in winter will help lawns in spring

By Mike Jackson
Texas Cooperative Extension

Though still winter, now is the time to begin preparing lawns for spring, a Texas Cooperative Extension expert said.

Pre-emergent herbicides should be applied to lawns before weed seeds begin to germinate, said Dr. James McAfee, Extension turfgrass specialist in Dallas.

"For it to be effective you need to get that material down soon, before weeds start coming up in mid-March and mid-April," McAfee said.

Pre-emergent weed control can be purchased at nurseries or garden centers inside large hardware stores, he said. Don't confuse the material with post-emergent weed killer, which shouldn't be applied this early in the year.

"Pre-emergent is designed to kill the young plant," he said.

Brands sold in Texas kill weeds common in most lawns, McAfee said.

"Crabgrass is the big one," he said. "That's the one most people think about."

A number of brands contain a variety of chemicals, he said. But before buying any, determine which brand works best with the type of grass in your yard.

Read the labels carefully, McAfee said. Some brands can damage certain species of grass.

Calculate the lawn's square footage to help determine how much herbicide you need.

Lawns can be measured easily by walking their perimeters, length by width, taking roughly 3-foot strides, McAfee said.

"Most people don't have a clue what their lawn's square footage is," he said.

Once the herbicide is applied, water the lawn immediately or at least within a day or two, he said, because the pre-emergent material needs to soak in. If left on the surface too long, the herbicide can break down in sunlight and lose some potency.

In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, apply the material between mid-February and mid-March, McAfee said. In regions to farther north, such as the state's Panhandle, begin about mid-April.

In Central Texas, apply by early March at the latest. Farther south, where the spring season warms up the earliest, apply immediately.

"Soil temperature affects seed germination," McAfee said. "But even if you miss that first flush of weeds, they germinate through late August so it would be good to have the material down."

Pre-emergent herbicides aren't helpful to all lawns, McAfee warned. They can harm St. Augustine and centipede grasses, especially after cold winters.

"They don't have cold tolerance," he said. "After a lot of winters they'll come back weaker and they'll struggle. Pre-emergent can make it worse."

He advised against applying the material to shaded St. Augustine, because their root systems are shallow.

Tansy, a perennial herb that seems to repel insects.

  Tansy, a great desert garden herb

By Robert Dailey
Freelance Writer

Tansy (tanacetum vulgare) is a perennial herb that has a number of uses in desert gardens.

Tansy foliage is feathery and a beautiful bright green. The flowers of tansy are yellow, clustered and button like. The stem is leafy and stands erect and it may grow up to three feet high. It has an interesting aroma, which seems to be a cross between rosemary and camphor. The plant is very aggressive and, if left unguarded, will invade beds.

I find that the most attractive element of the plant, besides the attractive foliage, is that it seems to repel insects, particularly flies and mosquitoes. I know that it may be odd to think of mosquitoes in the desert, but they do exist, and can breed in rain barrels, cisterns, or other places where water is still.

I have tansy planted near outside garbage cans, and near some home entryways, and it seems to work. Many herbalists swear that a tea made from tansy and sprayed onto pets will repel fleas and ticks.

Tansy is sometimes difficult to find in nurseries, perhaps because it is sometimes confused with two noxious weeds that have tansy as part of their common name and have invaded the arid southwestern U.S.: tansy ragwort (Seneca Jacobean) and tansy mustard (Desaurainia pinnata).


Tansy will not only survive, but it will thrive in just about any soil, even poor soils, and does extremely well in sandy desert soil. It will survive cold down to USDA Zone 4, so it can be planted in a wide range of desert areas, from hot lowland deserts to arid high plains.

Tansy likes sun, but it will also do well in partial shade. I have some growing under a maple tree, and it is extremely vigorous. It is semi-drought-tolerant, so you might want to water them once a week during really dry periods.

Fall is actually one of the times to plant (and/or divide) tansy. It you are lucky enough to find tansy, you can divide it by slips or by dividing the roots. Whichever way you decide, plant them at least a foot apart. You should probably add a general-use fertilizer when planting.

You can plant tansy in the spring from either division or from seed.

Origins of the Name

Some plant historians believe that the name is derived from the Greek word athanaton, which means immortal. It is said to be the herb given to Ganymede to guarantee him immortality.

In the Middle Ages, tansy cakes were eaten by Christians on Easter Day, in remembrance of the bitter herbs eaten by the Jews at Passover.

Regardless of the practice, it has been reported that eating of tansy (and tansy extracts) has caused internal poisoning, severe gastritis, violent spasms and, in some cases, ingested tansy tea has been reported to have been fatal. I would strongly discourage ingesting it.

There also may an allergic reaction to the plant, which is displayed by allergic dermatitis.

  Gardening tips

"The French name for southenwood is garderobe which means clothes protector," writes Jacques Lapine. "Just mix it with the dried leaves and flowers of wormwood, rosemary, santolina and lavender to make insect repelling sachets. Fill small cotton bags with the mixture and place them in your linen closet and chest of drawers."

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 be a garden stylist as well! Please send your tips of 50 words or less to the editor at: Gardening Tips.

  Did you know...

Lunar cycles can affect the activity and behavior of animals. Since plants are vulnerable to predators in the first few days after germination, planting at a time when pests are active could reduce the stand and ultimately yield. For example, mice and other small rodents forage for food at the new moon when they are least likely to be eaten by owls. So, it makes sense that this would be a bad time to plant corn, beans or other crops. Instead, try planting at full moon when the owls will keep the mice in check.


  Upcoming garden events

Longview: Gregg County Master Gardeners are hosting their Spring Garden and Landscape Seminar, Saturday, February 24, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at First Methodist Church Faith Center, 400 N. Fredonia St., Longview. Garry McDonald, Horticultural Research Associate, Texas A&M University will present "Beautiful Plants for Hot, Humid Summers" and "Future Texas Superstars — Maybe." Daniel Duncum, District Forrester with Texas Forest Service, will address "What's Killing My Trees and What Can I Do About It?" Garden related vendors, door prizes and refreshments are offered. Advance tickets $10 and $12 at the door. Call (903) 236-8429 for more information or visit www.greggmastergardeners.org/.

Edna: The Jackson County Master Gardeners will present their "Come Grow With Us" program, featuring Chris Weisinger of The Southern Bulb Company on February 27 from 7 until 9 p.m. at the Jackson County Services Building, 411 N. Wells, Edna. Free to the public.

Houston: Volunteers with Texas Cooperative Extension in Harris County will present a gardening workshop 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. February 27 in the Extension auditorium, 3033 Bear Creek Drive, Houston. Members of Master Naturalists' Gulf Coast chapter will present "Green Home and Garden Workshop." The volunteers will give presentations that will include selecting low-cost plants, planning neighborhood beautification projects, identifying invasive plants and designing landscapes using plants that require less water to thrive. "The Master Naturalists have developed this program to help any homeowner make his home an oasis," said Wayne Thompson, Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources in Harris County and the coordinator of the Master Naturalist program. "However, they are also inviting housing developers, builders and boards of directors from homeowners associations. Many individuals in these groups are not only homeowners, but they also are responsible for planning and landscaping public areas in subdivisions, so the information will benefit many." The $20 registration fee will cover the program and lunch. For registration information, call Diana Todd, (281) 855-5600. A registration form can be downloaded from the Harris County Extension agriculture and natural resources events calendar at http://harris-tx.tamu.edu/anr/events.htm.

Houston: The River Oaks Garden Club will host its 72nd annual Azalea Trail March 2 through 4, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Azalea Trail will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Miss Ima Hogg's gift of her beautiful home and gardens, Bayou Bend, to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The trail includes stops at River Oaks Garden Club Forum of Civics Building, 2503 Westheimer at Kirby; Bayou Bend, 2940 Lazy Lane or One Westcott at Memorial Drive; Rienzi Home and Gardens, 1406 Kirby Drive at Lazy Lane; 3425 Del Monte Drive; 2456 Inwood Drive; 56 East Broad Oaks; and 415 Shadywood. Tickets for seven admissions are $15 before March 2 and $20 during the trail. Single admissions are $5. For more information and complete descriptions with pictures of all the homes and gardens, visit www.riveroaksgardenclub.org.

Cedar Hill: Petal Pusher's, 813 Straus Road, will host "Going Native, Texas Style," native plants for the landscape by designers "Native Dave" and Christy Ilfrey on Saturday, March 10 at 10:30 a.m. This event is free. For more information, call (972) 291-7650.

Cedar Hill: Petal Pusher's, 813 Straus Road, will host "Perennials and Roses that are Texas-Tough" with Vickie Thaxton on Saturday, March 10 at 1 p.m. This event is free. For more information, call (972) 291-7650.

Mineola: The Wood County Master Gardeners, in cooperation with the Texas Cooperative Extension, are hosting the "2007 Spring Home Gardening Conference" from 8 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 10, in the Oak Room of the Mineola Civic Center, 1150 North Newsom, Mineola. Sessions include "Native Plants," led by Carol Feldman, landscape architect; "Ornamental Grasses," led by Keith Mills, horticulturist, Caldwell Zoo; and "Rainwater Harvesting," led by Dottie Woodson, Texas Extension Service. Admission is free. For additional information, visit www.mastergardenersofwoodcounty.org or e-mail woodcountymg@yahoo.com.

Tomball: Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball, will host the Second Annual Rose Festival, Saturday, March 10, 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. This popular event includes guest speakers and informative booths. More than 100 varieties of old and antique roses will be available! Free. For more information, call (281) 351-8851.

Tomball: Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball, will host the Sixth Annual Herb Luncheon Saturday, March 17, 11 a.m. featuring Molly Fowler, The Dining Diva, and Ann Wheeler, Log House Herb Farm. Learn about different types of herbs and how to grow them while you enjoy a scrumptious lunch. $35 Due upon registration. For more information, call (281) 351-8851.

Woodway: The Woodway Beautiful Commission for the City of Woodway will hold A Gardeners Gathering Sunday, March 18 at the Carleen Bright Arboretum from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. This event is free and will feature representatives from many garden organizations to share information as well as a Children's Corner, local garden vendors, a walk with the Audubon Society, Country Store, and featured speakers throughout the afternoon. Music and refreshments will be provided.  For information call the Arboretum (254) 399-9204. In the event of rain the event will be held in the Woodway Family Center.

Round Top: The 12th Annual Herbal Forum, "A Celebration of Lemon-Scented Herbs and Lemon Balm, Herb of the Year 2007," presented by The International Festival-Institute at Round Top and The Herb Society of America-Pioneer Unit, will take place at Festival Hill near Round Top, from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., Saturday, March 24, with optional participation workshops the previous day. The forum includes lectures by Lucinda Hutson, celebrated food, garden and lifestyle writer; Jim Johnson, director of the Benz School of Floral Design; and Henry Flowers, garden director at Festival Hill. While the plant sale, gift shop and bookstore are free and open to the public, registration for the forum is $75, with additional charges for lunch, dinner, and the Friday workshops. For more information, call (979) 249-3129 or visit www.festivalhill.org.

Tomball: Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball, will host “Vegetable Gardening for the Gulf Coast” Saturday, March 24, 10 a.m. Learn great tips as well as garden basics from Tom LeRoy, Extension Horticulturalist, and Bill Adams, Horticulturalist Emeritus. Free. For more information, call (281) 351-8851.

Tomball: Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball, will host “Herbs Made Easy” featuring Ann Wheeler, Log House Herb Farm, Sunday, March 25, 1 p.m. With the knowledge from this class you can start your own herb garden or simply add herbs to your existing beds. Free. For more information, call (281) 351-8851.

Bonham: The Fannin County Master Gardeners are hosting their 3rd Annual Garden, Lawn and Home Expo on March 31, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Multiple Purpose Complex in Bonham. One of the speakers, Mark Chamblee of Tyler's Chamblee's Rose Nursery, will talk about EarthKind Roses. The educational event also features varied vendors for plants, garden crafts, and more. For more information, call (903) 583-7453 or visit www.fannincountymastergardeners.org.

Marble Falls: The Highland Lakes Master Gardener Association will sponsor the Ninth Annual Hill Country Lawn & Garden Show March 31, at the Lakeside Pavilion in Marble Falls. It is open 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free Admission and seminars. It features garden related vendors, demonstrations, a children's booth, raffle and seminars by Malcolm Beck, Bill Luedecke and the Antique Rose Emporium. For more information go to hillcountrylgshow.com or call (325) 388-8849.

San Antonio: The San Antonio Botanical Garden, 555 Funston, will host a Spring Plant Sale, Saturday, March 31, 9 a.m. until sold out. Purchase healthy, hardy plants suitable for the San Antonio environment and get expert advice from SABG volunteers, many of whom are Master Gardeners. Admission to the garden: $6 adults, $3 children 3-13, $4 students, military and senior citizens. Admission to the event is included with admission to the garden. For more information, contact (210) 829-5100 or visit www.sabot.org.

Rockport: The Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group will present the Third Annual Rockport Herb Festival Saturday, at the Rockport-Fulton High School Commons, 1801 Omohundro, Rockport, April 7, from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. The festival will include a variety of herb programs, herb cooking demonstrations, herb booths with lots of information and products for sale, and a plant sale that will include herbs, roses, heirlooms, orchids, bromeliads, tropicals, palms, garden art and pottery. There is no admission fee. For additional information, contact Linda T. Collins at ltcollins_1@charter.net or visit www.rockportherbs.com.

Nacogdoches: The annual Spring Garden Gala plant sale at Stephen F. Austin State University’s Mast Arboretum will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 14, at the intramural field on Wilson Drive, Nacogdoches. “We will offer a great selection of rare, unusual, and Texas-tough trees, shrubs, succulents, and herbaceous perennials, as well as many heat loving tropicals,” said Dawn Stover, Mast Arboretum research associate. “All of the plants are produced at SFA by the staff, students and volunteers.” Greg Grant, Pineywoods Native Plant Center research associate, will have a number of his introductions available as well, including the pink flowered ‘Pam Puryear’ and large flowered ‘Big Momma’ Turk’s cap. “Many of the rare Aromi hybrid deciduous azaleas will be offered, as will a good number of the rarely available native East Texas red buckeye,” Stover said. Proceeds from the plant sale help support the SFA Mast Arboretum, the Ruby Mize Azalea Garden, the Pineywoods Native Plant Center and educational programs. For more information, call (936) 468-4404 or visit http://arboretum.sfasu.edu/.

Cedar Hill: Petal Pusher's, 813 Straus Road, will host "English Gardening Texas Style" by Master Gardener and British Native Andrea Rucker on Saturday, April 14 at 10:30 a.m. This event is free. For more information, call (972) 291-7650.

Cedar Hill: Petal Pusher's, 813 Straus Road, will host "Petal Pusher's Picks" by nationally known landscape architect Rosa Finsley on Saturday, April 14 at 1 p.m. This event is free. For more information, call (972) 291-7650.

Waco: "Easy-Care Roses for Busy People," an EarthKind Rose Symposium hosted by McLennan County Master Gardeners and Texas Cooperative Extension, will take place in Waco, Saturday, April 21, 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., at Texas State Technical College, 3801 Campus Drive. Among the speakers will be Dr. Steve George, Professor and Landscape Horticulture Specialist, Texas Cooperative Extension, Dallas; Mark Chamblee, owner Chamblee Rose Nursery, Tyler; Gaye Hammond, President, Houston Rose Society; Steve Huddleston, Senior Horticulturalist, Fort Worth Botanic Garden; and Rachelle Kemp, Landscape Design Instructor, Texas State Technical College, Waco. Registration is $56 per person and pre-registration is required. Registration includes snacks, beverages, all course materials, and a two-gallon rose. For more information, call (254) 757-5180 or visit www.mclennanmastergardeners.org.

Salado: The 4th annual Salado Yard and Garden Tour, a tour of yards and gardens in the historic village of Salado, will highlight characteristic and varied private and public gardens for the Central Texas landscape. From large to small, rambling to organized, annuals to perennials, water wise planting to courtyard container gardens, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The tour will be Saturday, May 12 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Sunday, May 13 from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. Gardens will be self-guided with volunteers helping to answer questions when needed. Tickets will be $15 to view all gardens and are good for the two days. Maps will be available leading to each location with a description of each garden. Tours will be conducted rain or shine. The tour is sponsored by the Salado Garden Club and the Public Arts League of Salado. For further information, visit the Village of Salado website at www.salado.com or call (254) 947-8300.

Ft. Worth: The Greater Fort Worth Herb Society presents its 21st Annual Herb Festival May 19, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens in Fort Worth. The Festival will feature the sale of herb plants and herb-related products. There will also be a silent auction, crafts, music, demos, food and much more. Special event speakers will be Randy Weston of Weston Gardens and Mary Doebelling of Our Thyme Garden. Admission is $5 for adults. The Botanic Gardens are located at 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd Dr., Fort Worth. For more information, please visit www.greaterfortworthherbsociety.org or call (817) 966-7126.

San Antonio:The San Antonio Botanical Garden is sponsoring a trip to Italy September 4 through 15, featuring Italy's villas and gardens. Escorted by Bob Brackman, the Director of the Garden, an exceptional itinerary has been designed for lovers of leisurely travel and beautiful homes and gardens. Famous for their gardens, Italians still build on their ancestors' legacy with the creation of exquisite country villas surrounded by terraced, fountain-filled gardens that have become symbolic of Italian style. Experience the rich cultural heritage of Italy. Visit special gardens, famous museums, the important cities of Florence and Rome, plus the Lake District, and the small villages which make Italy so charming, such as Cinque Terre, Santa Margherita and Tuscan villages. Feast on fabulous Italian cuisine and enjoy la dolce vita. Land cost per person sharing is $3550 plus air, which includes a $100 tax deductible donation, most meals and gratuities. For more information, contact Marianne Martz of Fuller Travel at (210) 828-6311 or marianne@fullertvl.com.

Garland: 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: Austin Organic Gardeners meet at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at the Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin. For more information, visit www.main.org/aog.

Rockport: An herb study group founded in March 2003 meets the second Wednesday of every month at the ACISD Maintenance Department (Formerly Rockport Elementary), 619 N. Live Oak Street, Room 14, Rockport at 10 a.m. to discuss all aspects of using and growing herbs, including the historical uses of the herbs and tips for successful propagation and cultivation.

San Antonio: The San Antonio Herb Society meets at 7 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at the San Antonio Garden Center, 3310 N. New Braunfels (corner of Funston & N. New Braunfels). For more information on programs, visit www.sanantonioherbs.org.

Dallas: 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) 824-2448 or visit www.dogc.org.

Arlington: The Arlington Organic Garden Club meets from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. on the last Thursday of each month (except November and December) at the Bob Duncan Center, 2800 S. Center Street, Arlington. For more information, contact David at (817) 483-7746.

If you would like your organization's events included in "Upcoming Garden Events," please contact us at Garden Events.

  What's a gardener in deer country to do?

Vincent Drzequcki, Jr. answers this question in Gardening in Deer Country by presenting descriptions of trees, shrubs, annuals, perennials, groundcovers, herbs, bulbs and vines that deer don't like to eat. More than 130 plant descriptions and illustrations are included and an additional 100 plants are rated by their attractiveness to deer from "best" to "forget it." The author also discusses the problems, possible solutions and planting techniques that every gardener who lives with deer should know.

 $10.62 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 February 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.)


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