January 16, 2008

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  New Year's resolution: Store lawn chemicals safely

By Kathleen Phillips
Texas AgriLife Extension Service

While most plants go dormant in the winter, the chemicals that many people use for gardening remain active. That's why a Texas Cooperative Extension horticulturist urges people to winterize pesticide storage areas.

"Now is the perfect time to prepare a safe holding area for these materials," said Dr. Don Wilkerson, Extension horticulturist and EarthKind advocate. "This is important for environmental protection, human and pet safety, and for maintaining the effectiveness of the chemicals and fertilizers."

He said EarthKind is Extension’s program for focusing on environmental stewardship in the urban landscape. Wilkerson said a storage area for lawn and garden chemicals should be:

  • Secure from children and pets.
  • Well ventilated.
  • Lit well for product label reading.
  • Dry and not prone to flooding.
  • Large enough to separate spacing for herbicides, insecticides and fertilizer.
  • Enclosed so that spills can be quickly cleaned.
  • Protected from temperature extremes. He also noted that flammable liquids should be stored outside living areas and away from any potential ignition sources. An attached garage, for example, may not be the best place for this type of product.

Chemicals should be kept in the original container, Wilkerson added, and never mixed in an empty food container.

"An updated storage inventory allows for keeping track of what has been placed in storage and also helps in planning purchases when spring arrives," he said. "Make a record of the product name, active ingredient, date of purchase and date/volume stored."

Storage problems can be minimized, Wilkerson suggested, if a person uses the list to plan ahead — buying only the amount of product that is needed for a season.

"Small containers that seem expensive may actually be the most economical over time if larger amounts do not have proper storage," he explained.


  Extension expands fire ant fight to Red River County

By Mike Jackson
Texas AgriLife Extension

Red imported fire ants had no natural enemy in Red River County until this fall when phorid flies were released in the area to help combat the infamous pests.

Texas AgriLife Extension experts said they hope a population of the phorid flies will establish themselves by spring in a pasture near Clarksville, where the flies are likely to flourish and stalk fire ants.

"The flies as a biological control hold promise for suppressing red imported fire ants," said Extension agent Lynn Golden, based in Clarksville. "It doesn't promise to eradicate the ants. It's just another way to help control them."

The phorid flies were released on 24 mounds in late October, said Kim Schofield, an Extension program specialist in Dallas who coordinated the project. She and Golden will return to the mounds in April and October to measure the fly populations.

"We're hoping that the flies establish themselves as they have at other sites in the Dallas area and around the state," Schofield said. "We want to see fire ant numbers fall and native ants reclaim their territory."

The Clarksville project is Extension's latest and northernmost release of phorid flies in a long-running battle against fire ants in the state, said Dr. Bart Drees, a Texas A&M University professor and Extension entomologist.

"In the late 1990s, researchers began to see these as potential biological control agents," said Drees, who is based in College Station. "And since that time the flies have been imported to the United States, mass-produced and released."

Test releases began in 1997 to determine whether the flies would populate designated areas and to make sure they posed no threat to anything other than fire ants, he said.

In 2000, a governmental initiative brought several agencies together to raise and release large quantities of phorid flies in southern states, Drees said. The program involves Extension, the University of Texas at Austin, U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Phorid fly populations have been established in Bastrop, Brazoria, Burleson, Cameron, Denton, Kenedy, Kerr, Lamar, Orange, Polk, Travis, Walker and Wharton counties, he said.

"I would say several dozen release sites have been established across Texas using two fly species, but many attempts failed," Drees said. "Over the coming years, established flies are expected to spread throughout the entire fire ant infested portions of Texas."

But it may take several years before the flies to become abundant enough to provide measurable effectiveness against fire ants, he said.

Red imported fire ants are native to South America and arrived in the U.S. in the 1930s aboard ships in Mobile, Ala., according to the Texas Imported Fire Ant Research and Management Project. They spread to southern states, arriving in Texas in the 1950s.

In Texas, they cost $1.2 billion annually in agricultural losses, ecological damage and pesticide expenses, according to Texas A&M's fire ant economics Web site, http://fireantecon.tamu.edu. Their sting makes them dangerous to humans, livestock, pets and wildlife.

In South America, phorid flies and other predators keep red imported fire ants in check, Schofield said. The female flies attack the ants and lay eggs in their bodies. Larvae eventually hatch and burrow into the ants' heads. There, they grow and release enzymes that cause the heads to fall off. Mature flies eventually emerge from the decapitated heads, and the cycle starts over.

"The flies attack and eventually kill the ants, but their real impact is that they stalk the fire ants when they're foraging," Schofield said. "That reduces foraging activity which, in turn, helps limit food within the fire ant colony."

Though fire ants have earned scorn, Drees cautioned, the war against them shouldn't extend to the nearly 300 ant species that are native to Texas.

Collectively, ants are regarded as beneficial organisms in the environment, he said. They prey on flea larvae, cockroach eggs and other pests. They aerate the soil and reduce compaction.

"Many of our native ant species are much more polite than fire ants," Drees said. "They nest in little out of the way areas. They don't sting. They do the good things without bringing to the table what fire ants do."


  Gardening tips

"If you enjoy annual vines, especially morning glories, you can admire blooms 24 hours per day by planting moonflower vine among your morning glories or other flowering vines," writes Cindy Pierce. "Moonflower is a relative of morning glories and thus its foliage blends well. However, unlike morning glory, moonflower opens its large, luminous white flowers at dusk. Sometimes the blooms stay open on cloud cover days but most of the time they close at daylight. In addition to enjoying the nightly blooms, you will also be enveloped by the intoxicatingly sweet aroma of the flowers. Large sphinx moths as well as other nightly creatures will be attracted to the vine. I plant mine along my alley, where I store my garbage carts. This gives me an opportunity to enjoy the vine when taking out the trash, and the garbage odor is somewhat camouflaged by the vine. Planting along the alley also provides my neighbors quite a site when they witness the reflection of the saucer-sized flowers and hummingbird-sized moths in their headlights!"

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...

Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) is not as toxic as its European cousin, belladonna, but toxic none the less. Avoid eating the berries and keep childern away from it. All night shades accumulate toxic levels of nitrates.


 

  Upcoming garden events

Dickinson: The Kemah-Bay Area Garden Club will celebrate Arbor Day by planting a tree at San Leon Elementary School, 2655 Broadway, Dickinson, Friday, January 18 at 9:30 a.m. All are invited to attend. For more additional information, contact Nancy Busko 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 a "Children's Vegetable Garden Program" from 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., Saturdays, February 9 though June 7. Dig in your own vegetable garden and learn the techniques and joys of gardening from soil preparation to planting and harvesting. For children for ages 8 through 13. Parents are welcome to join their children for a family-friendly outdoor experience. Fee: $10. Applications are available at www.sabot.org. For more information, contact Siri Lindholm at (210) 207-3270 or siri.lindholm@sanantonio.gov.

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.

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.

College Station: Landscape professionals and enthusiasts are encouraged to attend the first of a four-part design study course February 18-19. The course, presented by Texas AgriLife Extension Service and Texas Garden Clubs Inc., will be at Christ United Methodist Church-College Station, 4201 State Hwy. 6. Additional course segments will be taught every six months. Participants may take the four courses in any sequence. Garden Club members, Master Gardeners, nursery professionals and others who are interested in furthering their knowledge of landscape design are welcome. "Native Grasses on the Texas Rural and Urban Landscapes" will be February’s course topic and includes a lecture by Dr. Barron Rector, AgriLife Extension rangeland ecologist and management specialist. Master Gardeners who complete a course may apply 12 hours of credit for continuing education requirements. Texas Garden Club members who pass the examination for all four courses are eligible to become nationally accredited landscape design consultants. Texas Certified Nursery Professionals who pass the course may apply this to their requirement for recertification with the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association. Registration for the course is $85 and includes two lunches and course materials. The text for all four courses is "Stewards of the Land," which may be purchased for an additional $40. For registration materials, call Tammy Landry at 979-845-7342 or e-mail t-landry1@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 Grimes-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 Texas AgriLife Extension Service 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 Texas AgriLife Extension Service at (361) 790-0103.

Denton County: The Denton County Master Gardener Association presents the 2008 Walk Through the Gardens Tour of private gardens in Southern Denton County on Saturday, May 10, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. For more information, call (940) 349-2883 or visit http://www.dcmga.com.

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 Texas AgriLife Extension Service at (361) 790-0103.

MONTHLY MEETINGS

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.)


 


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