May 9, 2007

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Mayor Pete Smith tends to the Earth Kind Rose trial garden he helped establish in Mineola. The Earth Kind garden is the second of its type in the U.S.

Smith tidies up around an Earth Kind rose at the trial garden. The volunteer hours Smith spends at the garden help him and other Wood County gardeners earn their Master Gardener certifications from Texas Cooperative Extension.

Earth Kind roses are selected not just for their beauty, said Mark Chamblee, but for their disease resistance and being easy to grow. Chamblee, who owns Chamblee's Rose Nursery, donated this rose and 89 others to start an Earth Kind demonstration and research rose garden in Mineola. (Texas Cooperative Extension photos by Robert Burns)

  Mineola garden tests Earth Kind roses for east Texas

By Robert Burns
Texas Cooperative Extension

The common perception is that roses are hard to grow, requiring lots of pesticides and work. But that's just not true, particularly with Earth Kind roses, said Pete Smith, Master Gardener and the mayor of Mineola.

Smith, Texas Cooperative Extension, a local nursery owner and his fellow Wood County Master Gardeners have set out to show just how easy growing roses can be. To do so, they have started a 9,000-square-foot Earth Kind rose test garden in the heart of Mineola.

The garden will not just demonstrate how well-adapted some Earth Kind roses are to east Texas conditions, it will test numerous other candidates. All told, Wood County Master Gardeners have planted 30 varieties of Earth Kind or Earth Kind candidates. Each rose variety is replicated three times so research data can be gathered.

At 10 a.m. on May 19, Smith, Wood County Extension will hold a dedication ceremony for the national Earth Kind roses research we have going right here.

"I believe we are the second county in the U.S. to do one (Earth Kind test garden) this size," said Clint Perkins, Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources in Wood County. The idea of the garden originated with a call to him from Dr. Steve George, Extension horticulturist, Perkins said.

"He contacted me to see if I was interested in doing an Earth Kind rose research trial," Perkins said. "Mark Chamblee and Mayor Pete Smith and I had a big meeting. I brought some of the (Wood County) Master Gardeners with me and basically we sat down and had a big planning session."

Smith already had a site in mind. During much of the 20th century, Mineola was a railroad terminal hub. It sported two railroad hotels, where crews of the Texas and Pacific Railway could lay over between trips. In the early 1980s, the railroad relocated its hub to Longview, and the hotels and the terminal fell into disrepair, Smith said.

"It really was a pretty big economic hit for the city," he said.

In the 1990s, town leaders renovated the main street, re-inventing the town as a tourist site and bed and breakfast stop. The old terminal was rebuilt to accommodate Amtrak travelers. But two dilapidated railroad structures remained: a grain elevator and a large warehouse. The structures fell into disrepair and one partially burned. The unsightly buildings were distracting from the picturesque image the town wanted to project, Smith said.

"They really were an eyesore," he said. "We finally scraped enough money together to put in the budget to have them torn down, and once they were torn down there was the thought of what do we do here?"

So when the idea arose to put in a test rose garden, it seemed like a plan made to order, Smith said. Smith said they were fortunate to have Chamblee, who lives in Mineola, donate the rose bushes, the compost and other materials needed to start the garden. White picket fencing that had once surrounded the depot had been recently replaced with wrought iron. The fencing was going to be disposed of, but Smith rescued it for the garden.

Road equipment was used to work up the soil bed, but otherwise the cost to Wood County or the city was zero, Smith said.

"We had our county commissioner come out; he helped prep the soil with a big mixing machine," Perkins said. "Before you know it, Mark had donated the roses and we had the Master Gardeners involved and, voila, it happened," Smith said.

"Basically, we are going to water them the first year as needed, and then it’s going to be survival of the fittest," Perkins said.

The public is invited to the dedication ceremony. Perkins said George, who tests Earth Kind roses in Texas, the local commissioners, Chamblee, Smith and himself will give brief presentations and answer questions.

"The ceremony won't last very long," Perkins said. "Then everyone can look at the roses or visit downtown Mineola."

The garden is south of Mineola's downtown, just off state Highway 69 and west of the Amtrak train depot.

For more information, contact the Extension office in Wood County at (903) 763-2924.

To learn more about roses and other Earth Kind selections for Texas, visit or contact the Extension office in your county. An online, county-by-county directory can be found at

The author says, "This is a class on rodent patrol for my dogs. I am holding a facsimile of a garden pest. No animals were harmed. If my dogs ever caught a squirrel, I would be shocked. I just want them to know what their job is; keeping my tomatoes safe from harm."

  The lighter side of gardening
Diary of a determined gardener

By Beverly Nord
Freelance Writer

Week one: Caught one of the dogs in the garden. He had dug a large hole in my asparagus patch. Decided now was the time to replace worn fence. Went to the store to purchase higher fencing. The only problem is that it may be too high for me to climb over! Also installed metal posts to support fence and give me a handle to grab when climbing into garden. Seems to work keeping dogs out. Don't know about me though.

Week two: Removed weeds from garden to get ready to plant tomatoes. Dug cages out of attic. Took an hour to disentangle wire and to make round again. Went to four nurseries looking for specific tomatoes in six-packs. Yes, I called first to make sure they had variety that I wanted. The kids working did not know one tomato from another. A tomato is a tomato, right? Ended up getting whatever they had in whatever size pot they had at nursery number four. Went home, repotted into bigger pots and waited for last freeze.

Week three: Went out to pull weeds after it rained. Easier to pull out that way. Looked for fire ants too. They mound after a good rain and it is easy to find them and treat the mound. Saw a tiny toad hopping into the brush.

Week four: Last freeze, can plant my veggies now. Carefully transplanted tomatoes and peppers. Wrapped each stem with foil and placed a nail next to stem to keep off the cut worms. Better safe than sorry! Gave seedlings a good drink. Gave leftover tomato plants to neighbor.

Week five: Had to rush home from out of town to cover plants — rain and sleet in April! Dug out old blankets that I had put away in the attic. At least the tomato cages gave support and kept weight of wet blankets off tomatoes. Removed old blankets when weather improved and hung them out to dry, again. Put them back in attic.

Week six: Admired the little yellow flowers on the tomatoes. Noticed a bee on my salvia. There used to be so many bees that I had to be careful not to get stung. I hope this lone bee will be a hard worker to get the job done.

Week seven: Tied the tomatoes that were not in cages. Did not have enough space in my little garden for every tomato to have their own house. Some will have to share or will cling to metal post for support. Pinched off suckers.

Week 8: Something ate my pepper plant! Only the stem is left. Better check fence for openings. Blocked opening next to privacy fence with a large rock. That will keep them out!

Week 9: Saw rabbit in yard munching on freshly cut grass. Brazen little booger! Four dogs and he is out in the open in broad daylight! Found hole under fence and put another rock over it. Better check my supply of big rocks.

Week 10: Admired the tomatoes that were coming. Made them a nice cup of compost tea. Picked a couple asparagus spears. Wondered why so few. Then I remembered week one.

Week 11: Covered my tomatoes with netting to keep the birds out.

Week 12: Some of the tomatoes are turning reddish! Watered with a little compost tea.

Week 13: Something is terribly wrong! The tomato that I was watching ripened and when I went to pick it, there was no bottom, just a gaping hole in the tomato! Better watch the garden for midnight marauders. Looked for holes in the garden fence and patched them up.

Even the higher tomatoes have the missing bottom. What can it be? Maybe I will pick tomatoes earlier in the day. No luck! I tried everything that I could think of to discourage my unwelcome moocher. I put out noisy pie tins, shiny CDs, mothballs, chimes, pine cones to irritate their feet and kaolin dust to make the tomatoes taste bad. Each failed. I checked the garden hourly to see what it was. Went out with a flash light at night. Could not sleep thinking of some critter eating my tomatoes. OK, one last idea. I did not want to kill one of God’s creatures. I just wanted them to go to a buffet somewhere else. I decided to bait a live trap with a tomato. That will work. No luck. What about peanut butter? They will have to step on the lever in the live trap to get the peanut butter. Soon I will know who is driving me mad.

The dogs were going crazy barking outside! It was early and my neighbors would surely complain. The dogs would not come in for breakfast. That was a first! What was their problem? They were over by the garden and the trap was overturned. It took a while to figure out what the furry, noisy thing was. I had never seen one so big. Maybe its fur was a little fluffed up. Boy what a racket! I took the cage and put it in the back of my truck. My husband usually takes the furry tailed rats, AKA squirrels, and drops them off somewhere on his way to work. He had already left for work. I just wanted to stop the noise! I took the critter down by the creek. He shot out of that trap like demons were after him! My husband later told me that I did not go far enough away and the squirrel was probably back home before I was. Plus the rodent probably had friends that would take over. Well, I would just start picking the green tomatoes before they could get them. They would ripen in my kitchen just fine.

  The Western Yellow jacket (Vespula pensylvanica) and the Southern Yellow jacket (Vespula squamosa)

By Robert Dailey
Freelance Writer

Western and southern yellow jackets aren't going to do much harm to your plants. But as much as 95 percent of the "bee stings" reported are from yellow jackets, not bees.

The only harm they might do to plants is feeding on ripe fruit, like raspberries or peaches, usually late in the summer.

Their most common habit that affects humans, in addition to their sting, is the disruption they cause at outdoor meals and picnics, or attacking honeydew-producing insects in late summer.

In particularly dry seasons, they will become a nuisance around sources of water.

Yellow jacket life cycle

Fertilized females, or "queens," are the only members of the species to survive over the winter. They might hide under debris, behind house siding, under stones, or any other site that is protected from the cold.

Though these females emerge in mid-spring, warmer-than-usual winters may bring them out earlier. These "queens" then seek favorable nesting sites...almost always underground.

More often than not, the females will build their paper nests in holes abandoned by ground squirrels, mice, rats or other rodents, or under stones. They also have been known to build their nests in hollows behind walls.

Although the colony is usually small in the spring, it expands rapidly. By late summer-early fall, the colony might consist of hundreds of insects.

In late summer, some males are produced in the colony, and these mate with fertile females. After the in-flight mating, the females leave to seek a suitable location to spend the winter. The rest of the colony dies out by early fall, and the nest is not reused.

Yellow jackets are pretty omnivorous. They will feed on live insects, but they are basically scavengers. Their main food sources are dead insects, worms, fresh garbage and dead animals. They will also go after sugar-rich foods like soft drinks and sweets.


Traps, using lures that attract yellow jackets, are an excellent method for controlling these pesky critters. Fruit preserves, tuna or cat food make excellent baits. Be mindful though that the scent of these fades after several days. Some trap makers provide their own attractants.

If you're going to use traps, do so early in the season. That way, you can nip potential population explosions in the bud.

Chemicals can also be used, if you can find the location of the nest. There are several sprays on the market which are labeled for use against wasps and hornets. Since they are in aerosol containers, they allow you to get several feet away when spraying the nest entrance.

The best times to spray yellow jacket nests are very early in the morning or very late in the day. Yellow jackets are less active at these times, and more likely to be in their nests. You may need to spray several times before you succeed in killing all the insects.

Or, just leave them alone if the colonies aren't in the way and are not posing a problem. The colony will die out in the fall.

  The compost heap
Sunny faces and global warming

"Loved your article on the dandelion flowers ("Dandelion Whine")," writes Billie King. "I know the weeds spread left alone, and we eventually mow them down, but I love being greeted by all of the sunny faces in the morning."

"In regard to your article on global warming ("Gardeners can play an important role in reducing global warming"), please do some research before agreeing with the scientifically bankrupt postulate that there is a a connection between CO2 and climate," writes Steve Woolley. "The climatic model that the GW crowd uses does not include water vapor, which has 1000s of times the mass of CO2 in the atmosphere. The geologic record shows that the earth is not in steady-state, but rather constantly changing. Our recorded climate history is minute compared to the record of the rise and fall of the oceans recorded in Texas geology. While I do endorse energy conservation, I cannot agree, nor does science support, that less fuel consumption will have any effect on the climate."

  Gardening tips

"Encourage bees to come to your garden and you do, don't you?" asks Jeanette Crumpler. "Why? Because they pollinate your veggies and flowers. I'm talking honey bees, those essential garden workers that give us help in pollinating not only our crops but honey, honey. A small baby food glass jar painted red on the outside and filled with one part sugar to 3 parts water and hung by a wire on the back fence will encourage bees to come for some free nectar and yes, they will still continue to gather nectar from your roses, honeysuckle, orange trumpet, wisteria, privet and any other flowering thing. Also it might keep them away from your hummingbird feeders or at least diminish the numbers. Sunflowers are a must in my garden as well as Elderberry, Lantana, Red Salvia, Blue Ageratum, lilies, and letting a few herbs go to flower, especially Sweet Basils, Lemon Balm and Bee Balm. All of these attract butterflies, bees and many other wonderful critters."

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...

Gardeners go online. According to a survey conducted by the Mailorder Gardening Association, consumers who buy plants, seeds, bulbs, tools and other gardening products from mail order catalogs are increasingly going online for information and to place their orders. The MGA survey revealed that 34% of customers placed their orders by phone, 33% placed their orders by mail or fax, 18% looked at a catalog and then placed their orders online, and 14% were "pure" web shoppers. "That means 32% of orders came in via Web sites, which is a number that's growing every year," says Don Zeidler, president of the Mailorder Gardening Association. "Clearly, the web is having a huge impact on the way Americans shop for everything from garden seeds to books and music." For more information about gardening catalogs and websites — including links to more than 100 online catalogs, visit


  Upcoming garden events

Elmwood: The Anderson County Master Gardeners are hosting their third Annual Spring Conference "Let's Talk Water" Friday, May 11 from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Elmwood Gardens, 680 ACR 446, Elmwood. Speakers include Dr. Monty Dozier, Dr. John Nielson-Gammon, Keith Hansen, and Dr. Dottie Woodson. For more information, call (903) 723-3735 or visit aggie-horticulture.tamu/anderson.

Denton: The Denton County Master Gardeners will hold their 6th annual Walk in the Garden Tour and Plant Sale on Saturday, May 12, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Five gardens will be featured, ranging from expansive country acreage to smaller scale city gardens. There is a focus on vegetable gardening. Information on tickets and garden locations may be obtained at or the Denton County Extension Office, (940) 349-2883.

Houston: The Westbury Garden Tour — Great Backyards in Westbury will take place Saturday, May 12 from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. See five gardens for $7. Tickets may be purchased at 5506 Briarbend.

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 or call (254) 947-8300.

Waco: The McLennan County Master Gardner Annual Plant Sale will be held Saturday, May 19, 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. next door to Mocek's, 4601 W. Waco Drive, Waco. Lots of plants from the yards of Master Gardeners will be available under the tents.

Victoria: The Victoria County Master Gardeners Spring Plant Sale will be held May 19 at the Victoria County 4H Activity Center (at the airport) 259 Bachelor Drive, Victoria, from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. or until sold out. The plants for sale have been raised by the Master Gardeners themselves. You know the plants will grow in our area because they come from our area! Come also to see the Victoria Educational Garden along with its newest expansion.

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 or call (817) 966-7126.

Austin: It's About Thyme, 11726 Manchaca, Austin, will host "Choosing the Perfect Crepe Myrtle for Your Garden," a free clinic for gardeners to learn about disease resistance, choices of size, and length of bloom time, presented by Hays County Free Press columnist and crepe myrtle expert Chris Winslow, Sunday, May 27, at 2 p.m. For more information, call (512) 280-1192 or visit

Austin: The Fifteenth Annual Texas Bamboo Festival will be held on Saturday and Sunday, August 25 and 26 at Zilker Botanical Garden, Austin. Sponsored by the Texas Bamboo Society, the event will celebrate the wonders of bamboo with presentations, demonstrations and education information, including Bamboo 101, a Bamboo Kite Making Workshop led by Greg Kono, and Bamboos of Southeast Asia presented by Harry Simmons. Bamboo plants and crafts will be for sale. For additional information, call (512) 929-9565 or visit

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

Rockport: The Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardener Association “Hidden Gardens Tour & Fall Plant Sale” will be held Saturday, September 29 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the Hidden Gardens Tour and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the Fall Plant Sale at Green Acres, 611 East Mimosa Street at Pearl Street, Rockport. Get your tickets and maps at Green Acres for this one-day event in addition to purchasing those much-wanted plants that you can’t find anywhere. The maps will lead you to wonderful Hidden Gardens in both Aransas County and San Patricio County. Be sure to take the time to wander through the demonstration gardens at Green Acres, which are continuously being updated and maintained by the Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardener Association. Admission is $10.00. For pre-registration tickets and/or questions contact the Aransas County Texas Cooperative Extension, Rockport, at (361) 790-0103.

Fort Worth, Dallas: Visit America's very best, rarely seen, Private Gardens. The Garden Conservancy's Open Days Program has been opening the gates to America's best private gardens since 1995. The 2007 season features more than 350 gardens across 21 states. Learn about gardens participating in your area through the Open Days Directory, an annual publication listing open gardens with garden descriptions, open dates and hours, and directions. To purchase a Directory or for more information, call (888) 842-2442 or visit The $5 admission fee supports the expansion of the Open Days Program around the country and helps build awareness of the Garden Conservancy's work of preserving exceptional American gardens such Peckerwood Garden in Hempstead. 2007 Texas Open Days: Fort Worth: October 14; Dallas: October 20.

Belton, Temple, Killeen: The Bell County Master Gardener Association will host the Fall Glory garden tour Saturday, October 20, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Gardens in Belton, Temple and Killeen will be showcased. Admission is $5 for adults. For additional information, contact Sue Morgan at (254) 698-8668.

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

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

Dallas: The Rainbow Garden Club of North Texas meets the second Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. Everyone is welcome. Meetings are held at member's homes and garden centers around the area. For more information, visit

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

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.

  Herbs for Texas a valuable resource

While Herbs for Texas includes a wealth of information about herbs, it also includes information about trees, shrubs, vines and ground-covers with edible and/or medicinal properties. In this fully illustrated, easy-to-use guide, Howard Garrett and veteran herbalist Odena Brannam offer expert advice on growing nearly 150 herbs suited to Texas gardens.

 $31.97 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 May 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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