January 9, 2008

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.

  When Christmas is over, send poinsettias to the compost pile

By Kathleen Phillips
Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Something in your holiday heart will urge you to attempt to forge a long-term relationship with your poinsettia.

But before you repot it and spend time and money trying to encourage it to produce vivid colors again, make it a martyr for your spring garden, suggests a Texas AgriLife Extension horticulturist.

"Unless you are an absolute plant nut, the most economical and reasonable thing to do is to discard it when it starts to look rough around the edges," said Dr. Don Wilkerson, Extension horticulturist and EarthKind advocate.

"And the best way to get rid of a poinsettia is in a sustainable manner by tossing it on a compost pile rather than in the trash. We don't need to contribute to the endless stream of yard waste that is clogging up urban landfills."

Wilkerson said poinsettias, which were brought to the U.S. more than 180 years ago, were never intended to be a perennial plant. Perhaps because they are associated with Christmas, people often try to keep the plants alive.

"But the challenge is in getting the plants to reflower. They are photoperiodic, which means that they only bloom in the 'short day' times of year. If there is any interrupting of the dark cycle, they remain in the vegetative state," he said.

Though there are no hard numbers for this season yet, poinsettias seem to have been sold at low prices because supply about matched the demand, according to Dr. Charlie Hall, holder of the Ellison Chair in International Floriculture at Texas A&M University.

Hall said there were numerous specials this season, from $1.49 for a 6-inch pot one Friday early in the season to three for $10 on the larger pots as Christmas neared.

But, "there’s nothing more worthless than a poinsettia on December 26," Hall noted.

That’s where the compost pile enters.

"Toss poinsettias on a compost pile, dirt and all," Wilkerson said. "They have such a narrow carbon-to-nitrogen ratio that the plants will decompose rapidly, and the potting medium will also contribute to a richer compost material. The wider the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio, the longer it will take to break down."

Generally, the green or fleshy items are higher in nitrogen whereas the dried items are more carbon.

So, go ahead to the compost pile with the poinsettias and the grapefruit, apples, pears and other seasonal fruit that linger past being edible.

But other Christmas wastes — such as gift wrap — may not be as suitable for composting, Wilkerson said, because they are higher in carbon and thus take longer to degrade in the soil. Large pieces such as evergreen boughs or pinecones can be chipped into smaller pieces and used for mulch on a flower bed.

  Extension changes name

The Texas AgriLife Extension Service is the new name of Texas Cooperative Extension, which provides Texans in all 254 counties with non-biased, research-based education programs and services in agriculture and natural resources, 4-H and youth development, family and consumer sciences, and community economic development. The new name took effect on January 1.

  Gardening tips

"Instead of throwing away water used to cook or boil vegetables, like potatoes or corn," writes Marlene Skaggs, "save the water, let it cool and use it to water plants. The added nutrients in the water will feed your plants."

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...

Lady Bird Johnson was an advocate of native landscapes. "The environment is where we all meet: where we all have a mutual interest, it is the one thing all of us share. It is not only a mirror of ourselves. It is a focusing lens on what we can become," said Lady Bird Johnson. Although we lost her last year, her legacy lives on at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave., Austin, TX 78739. For more information, call (512) 292-4100.


  Upcoming garden events

Friendswood: The Gulf Coast Gardener’s Forum will hold its next meeting at 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, January 16, at the Marie Workman Garden Center, 112 W. Spreading Oaks. Friendswood. Linda Knowles, member of the Native Plant Society of Houston, will discuss “Native Grasses.” Light refreshments are served and the public is invited. For more information, contact call Nancy Busko, President, at (281) 332-5294.

Houston: Urban Harvest Fruit Tree Sale will be held Saturday, January 19, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. A class describing all varieties for sale, as well as providing vital information on how to plant and care for each type tree will be held January 5 and 12 (your choice), from 2 to 4 p.m. A nominal fee of $10 is charged for the class. Register for the class by calling Urban Harvest. Sale and classes at Emerson Unitarian Church, 1900 Bering Dr., Houston. For detailed information about the sale as well as about fruit trees, check the Urban Harvest website www.urbanharvest.org.

San Antonio: The San Antonio Botanical Garden will host "Coffee Day and Rainforest Roundup" from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., Saturday, January 19. Explore the sights, sounds and flavors of the rainforest. From coffee to cookies to lifesaving medicines, discover the treasures that can only be found in some of the world's most unique ecosystems. Sample coffee and other tasty treats made with tropical plants, learn about the ethnobotony of the rainforests, and enjoy hands-on children's activities. For more information, contact Siri Lindholm at (210) 207-3270 or siri.lindholm@sanantonio.gov.

Edna: Jackson County Master Gardeners begin the third year of their "Come Grow With Us" seminars, beginning 7 p.m., January 22, at the Jackson County Service Building, 411 N. Wells. Edna. Anita Nelson, of Nelson Water Gardens in Katy,will be speak about "Jazzing Up the Garden." The seminar is free to the public and earns 2 CEU credit hours.

Canyon: The sixth annual High Plains Vegetable Conference will be held January 24 in the Alumni Banquet Facility on the West Texas A&M University campus in Canyon. The program will begin with registration at 7:45 a.m. and time will be given to view exhibitor displays and posters. Industry representatives will also be given the opportunity to provide updates on what is new for 2008. The program will include various experts who will provide the latest information on disease, insect and weed management for vegetables; transitioning to organic and sustainable agriculture; alternative crops; seedling establishment; economics; weed management in turfgrass; and laws and regulations. The conference is designed for vegetable growers and shippers, consultants, agriculture industry representatives, AgriLife Extension agents, university researchers and Master Gardeners from the High Plains and surrounding regions. Texas Department of Agriculture will offer 6.5 continuing education credits ‑ four general, two integrated pest management and one-half on laws and regulations, and Master Gardeners will also qualify for continuing education credits. For more information, contact Wallace at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Lubbock at (806)-746-6101.

Tomball: The annual Fruit Tree Sale and Seminar presented by Heidi of Treesearch Farms will be held at The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM2920, Tomball, on Saturday, January 27. The day begins with a free seminar at 9 a.m. The sale begins at 10:30 a.m. For additional information, contact (281) 351-8851 or visit http://www.arborgate.com.

Navasota: The Grimes County Master Gardeners will hold their 2008 class beginning Tuesday, January 29 and ending on Tuesday, April 22. Classes meet from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. in the Go Texan Building at the Grimes County Fairgrounds outside of Navasota. Cost for the class is $150 and applications may be picked up at the Extension Office on Judson, Martha's Bloomers and Coufal Prater. For further information contact the Extension Office at (936) 825-3495 or Julia Cosgrove at (979) 921-0538.

San Antonio: The San Antonio Botanical Garden will host "Chocolate Day" from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., Saturday, February 9. Indulge your appetite for knowledge about everyone's favorite botanical treat: chocolate! See a real cacao tree, sample chocolate treats, and learn about the botony and history of chocolate. For more information, contact Siri Lindholm at (210) 207-3270 or siri.lindholm@sanantonio.gov.

Tyler: The 15th annual East Texas Spring Landscape & Garden Conference will be held February 16, from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the Tyler Rose Garden Center, 420 Rose Park Drive, Tyler. Featured speakers include Dr. Jerry Parsons, Joe Novak, Aubrey King, and Tim Lanthrum. Topics include "Texas Superstars in Your Garden," "Secrets of Successful Vegetable Gardening," "Gardening for a Lifetime," "Landscaping with Texas Native Plants," "Common Problems with Small Engines and How to Prevent Then," and "Calibrating Sprayers and Spreaders." Cost: $15, which includes lunch. For additional information, contact Keith Hansen at (903) 590-2980 or khansen@ag.tamu.edu, or visit http://EastTexasGardening.tamu.edu.

Navasota: The Grimes County Master Gardeners will hold a Landscaping and Planting Seminar on Saturday, February 23 from 8 a.m. until 4 pm at Martha's Bloomers in Navasota. Speaking at the seminar will be Dr. Doug Welsh, Designing and Accessory Your Landscape; Dr. Elmer Krehbiel, Garden Preparation and Water Systems; Anita Nelson, Water Features in the Garden; and Diane Cabiness, Landscaping for Wildlife. For a registration form and information, please contact the Grimes County Extension Office at (936) 825-3495 or email Grines-TX@tamu.edu, or contact Sandra Stuckey at (936) 873-2181 or email sandrastuckey@aol.com.

Houston: River Oaks Garden Club will host its 73rd annual Azalea Trail Friday through Sunday, March 7, 8 and 9 from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day. Azalea Trail, 2008, will celebrate the 51st anniversary of Miss Ima Hogg's gift of her beautiful home and gardens, Bayou Bend, to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The trail will feature four private houses and gardens, as well as Bayou Bend, Rienzi and the River Oaks Garden Club Forum of Civics Building and Gardens. Tickets for seven admissions are $15 before March 7 and $20 during the trail. Single admissions are $5. For additional information, call (713) 523-2483 or visit http://www.riveroaksgardenclub.org.

Tomball: The Arbor Gate will host its third annual Rose Festival March 8. More than 100 varieties of old and antique roses will be available, as will guest speakers and informative booths. The Arbor Gate is located at 15635 FM2920, Tomball. For additional information, contact (281) 351-8851 or visit http://www.arborgate.com.

Rockport: The Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardener Association will hold its "Spring Plant Sale" Saturday, March 15, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Green Acres, 611 East Mimosa Street at Pearl Street, Rockport. Purchase those much wanted plants that you have been wanting to buy and can't find anywhere. 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. This event is open to the public. For more information, contact the Aransas County Texas Cooperative Extension at (361) 790-0103.

Burnet: The Highland Lakes Master Gardener Association will sponsor the 10th Annual Hill Country Lawn and Garden Show, March 22, from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Burnet Community Center on E. Jackson in downtown Burnet. The show features garden-related vendors, a children's booth, a raffle, and seminars. Admission is free. For more information, visit http://hillcountrylgshow.com or call Paula Montandon, Show Chairman, at (830) 693-0163.

Galveston: Moody Gardens and the International Oleander Society will host the Earth Day and Oleander Festival at Moody Gardens on Galveston Island April 26-27. The Oleander Festival is an annual event dating back to 1921 that honors the beautiful flower and educates guests about the history of the oleander on Galveston Island and throughout the world. Area plant societies, clubs, and vendors are invited to set up booth space to display and sell their plants. There will be a floral design competition were professional, amateur and child participants can display their work to be judged. Earth Day celebration activities by Moody Gardens and its community partners will include arts and crafts, entertainment and presentations great for the whole family. "We are pleased to bring these two events together here at Moody Gardens in Galveston," said John Zendt, General Manager of Moody Gardens. "We are excited about promoting the environmental conservation missions of both Moody Gardens and the International Oleander Society and inviting the public to have some fun while learning about global and local environmental issues." Admission to the Earth Day and Oleander Festival is free to the public. For more information, call Moody Gardens at (800) 582-4673.

Tyler: The Smith County Master Gardeners will hold their 6th Annual Home Garden Tour, rain or shine, on Saturday, May 3 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Five private gardens in Tyler will be showcased on the tour. Tickets will be available April 1 and are $8.00 in advance. They can be purchased from The Smith County AgriLIFE Extension office at 1517 W. Front St., Suite 116, Tyler, TX 75702 or by mail from Andie Rathbone, 13270 Oak Hill Lane, Flint, TX 75762. Tickets will also be available on the day of the tour for $10.00 and can be purchased at any of the gardens on the tour. For more information, visit http://grovesite.com/mg/smg.

Rockport: The Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardener Association will hold its annual “Hidden Gardens Tour” Saturday, May 3, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Arrive at Green Acres, 611 East Mimosa Street at Pearl Street, Rockport, and get your tickets and maps for this one-day event. Receive maps 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. This event is open to the public. The cost is $10.00. For pre-registration tickets or for more information, contact the Aransas County Texas Cooperative Extension at (361) 790-0103.

Rockport: The Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardener Association will hold a "Fall Plant Sale" Saturday, September 27, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Green Acres, 611 East Mimosa Street at Pearl Street, Rockport. Purchase those much-wanted plants that you have been wanting to buy and can't find anywhere. 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. This event is open to the public. For additional information, contact the Aransas County Texas Cooperative Extension at (361) 790-0103.


Kilgore: Northeast Texas Organic Gardeners meets at 1 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month at a new eco-farm in Kilgore. For more information, call Carole Ramke at (903) 986-9475.

Allen: The Allen Garden Club meets on the first Thursday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the little blue-gray house located at 102 N. Allen Dr., Allen. For more information, visit www.allengardenclub.org.

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.

Friendswood: The second Tuesday of each month the Harris County Precinct 2 Master Gardeners hold a free evening educational program for the public, called the Green Thumb Series, at Southeast Church of Christ, 2400 W Bay Area Blvd., Friendswood, about 1 mile west of I-45 and Baybrook Mall. For more information visit http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu or call (281) 991-8437.

Rockport: The Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group, founded in March 2003, meets the second Wednesday of each month, with the exceptions of June and July, to discuss all aspects of using and growing herbs, including historical uses and tips for successful propagation and cultivation, meets at 619 N. Live Oak Street, Room 14, Rockport at 10 a.m. Sometimes they take field trips and have cooking demonstrations in different locations. For more information, contact Linda (361) 729-6037, Ruth (361) 729-8923 or Cindy (979) 562-2153 or visit www.rockportherbs.com.

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 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 www.RainbowGardenClub.com.

Denton: The Denton Organic Society, a group devoted to sharing information and educating the public regarding organic principles, meets the third Wednesday of each month (except July, August and December) at the Denton Senior Center, 509 N. Bell Avenue. Meetings are free and open to the public. Meetings begin at 7:00 p.m. and are preceded by a social at 6:30. For more information, call (940) 382-8551.

Seguin: The Guadalupe County Master Gardeners meets the third Thursday of each month at the Texas Cooperative Extension Bldg. at 210 E. Live Oak at 7 p.m.  For more information, phone (830) 379-1972 or visit www.guadalupecountymastergardeners.org.

Longview: The Northeast Texas chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas meets the third Thursday of each month at St. Mary's Parish Hall in Longview. For more information, call Logan Damewood at (903) 295-1984.

Fort Worth: The Organic Garden Club of Forth Worth meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month except July and December at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens main building. Refreshments are served. For more information, call (817) 274-8460.

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.

  Go wild over Wildflowers of Texas  

Written by Geyata Ajilvsgi, this classic by one of the pioneers in the discovery of native Texas plants has been completely revised and expanded to feature 482 species of native Texas wildflowers. It includes full-color photographs, botanical descriptions and special notes for each plant listed.

 $21.30 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 January 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. 2008. 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.

Missed an issue? Back issues of Texas Gardener's Seeds are available at www.texasgardener.com/newsletters.

Publisher: Chris S. Corby Editor: Michael Bracken

Texas Gardener's Seeds, P.O. Box 9005, Waco, Texas 76714 ● www.TexasGardener.com