August 20, 2008
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Don't let your backyard get the best of you
Summer brings all sorts of things to one's mind — beaches, barbeques, outdoors — but warmer weather brings us more than just the sun. Disease, infestation, and property damage become an unfortunate reality when critters start to infest your neighborhood. It's what you don't know about your backyard that can kill you!
When you say disease, what do you mean?
Beyond the avian flu and West Nile Virus, birds and other critters can carry more than 60 different diseases through their feces. Some of these diseases are airborne and can easily be inhaled, causing lung and upper respiratory complications. Respiratory histoplasmosis is a fungal infection that permanently affects the lungs. Salmonella, E. coli, cryptococcosis and meningitis are also common diseases that can be spread by birds and other critters. Any of these aforementioned diseases leave young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, especially vulnerable.
Can these critters actually cause property damage?
Coyotes, raccoons, birds, squirrels and the like can actually have a negative affect on your home. Raccoons can infest your home by nesting in your attic and within the walls of your home. They chew on the insulation, defecate and urinate, leaving horrible odors. Bird feces have acidic elements that can also cause damage to a home. Bird droppings cause erosion on wood, metal and steel, which can put a damper on your home's overall value.
What do you mean by infestation?
Animals are much like us. When they find a place they like, they tend to stick around and invite others. Especially during the summer season these critters tend to multiply, increasing the risk for disease and damage. Infestations are harder to get rid of because there is more to combat. However, with preventative measures these infestations can be alleviated.
So how do we protect ourselves?
Animals such as coyotes, birds, squirrels and raccoons are habitual species. They will continue to come back unless an environment sparks danger or is undesirable. New research has developed products that protect our yards while respecting the animal. Non-toxic, non-lethal and non-harmful is the new motto. These products have been made to create an environment that the animal will avoid. Ultrasonic and sonic devices, such as the YardGard, uses sound technology to repel coyotes, raccoons, skunks, opossums, deer and other creatures. These devices work by continuous or motion-sensor operation, which is ideal for yards, gardens, porches, buildings and greenhouses.
How do these devices actually work?
There are a few different ways to humanely deter and repel pests. Taste, sound, sight and physical barriers are the most common ways to avoid critter infestations. A taste aversion that uses Methyl Anthranylate from the skin of concord grapes is used as a repulsive tactic to birds' and/or critters' taste buds. Bird netting, spikes, Irri-tape and moving owls all help create an environment that will irritate and prevent these animals from invading your home.
Prevention is the key to avoiding infestation, disease and damage before it becomes a problem. However, without the right tactics in place, it is inevitable that your yard will become infested. Protecting your yard, health, and home will save you money, time and frustration. So don't let your backyard get the best of you.
"I purchased various colored elastic ponytail holders from the local Dollar Store (50 cents for a large package)," writes Nancy Rodriguez. "I place two holders of the same color on each faucet outside my home. When I turn an outside faucet on, I remove one ponytail holder and place it on my arm like a bracelet. This helps remind me which faucets I have running. No more forgetting and leaving the water running! When I turn the faucet off, I take the 'bracelet' off and place it back on the faucet. If you get busy elsewhere in the garden, a quick glance at your arm reminds you what water you have running."
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 send 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...
The dandelions that many of us curse in the late winter and early spring are very nutritious and contain lots of vitamins A, C, several B vitamins and minerals like calcium, copper, iron and potassium. They are also very easy to prepare. Just harvest the leaves when young and tender and steam or boil as you would spinach or mustard greens. They will be sprouting in September so be sure to leave a few and give them a try.
Upcoming garden events
Austin: The 16th Annual Texas Bamboo Festival will be held on Saturday and Sunday, August 23-24, at Zilker Botanical Garden, Austin. The festival will include a live plant auction on Saturday afternoon and two full days of bamboo activities and lectures with bamboo plants and crafts for sale and show. Guest speaker Robin McBride Scott will conduct a workshop on Weaving Cane Mat, using native American Bamboo that she has personally harvested, prepared and dyed. She will also do a presentation about her work with basketry and native American bamboo. The 16th Annual Texas Bamboo Festival is sponsored by the Texas Bamboo Society. For more information, call (512) 929-9565, e-mail email@example.com, or visit http://www.bamboocentral.net.
Kemah: "If You Build It, Will They Come? Creating a Habitat for Birds and Butterflies," presented by Alecya Gallaway, environmental historian, will be the program at the Kemah-Bay Area Garden Club's Wednesday, September 3, meeting. The meeting will be held at 9:45 a.m. at the Kemah Visitor Center and Schoolhouse Museum, 603 Bradford St., Kemah. Light refreshments will be served and the public is welcome. For additional information, call Mary Ellen Chapman, president, (281) 559-1912.
Austin: Travis Country Master Gardeners Association, a volunteer arm of the Texas A&M and Travis County AgriLife Extension Service, will present "Using Water Wisely," a seminar that concentrates on capturing rainwater and landscaping with plants requiring little water, 10 a.m. until noon, Saturday, September 6, at the West Rural Community Center, 8656 Hwy. 71 W, Build. A, Austin. Gain the knowledge necessary to build a rainwater harvesting system. All the basics are covered to build a non potable water harvesting system. A demonstration will show how to make a simple, inexpensive rain barrel collection system. Lower your water usage by utilizing native and adapted landscape plants that look great and need a minimal amount of water to thrive. This method of gardening is called Xeriscaping. If desired, a green, lush looking landscape can be achieved. Vendors representing tanks, pumps and guttering will be available to answer specific questions. This seminar is free. No reservations will be taken. For more information, call (512) 854-9600 and ask for the Master Gardeners desk or visit http://www.tcmastergardeners.org.
The Woodlands: Turf grass is the thirstiest plant in the landscape. Brenda Beust Smith, Houston Chronicle’s Lazy Gardener, offers quips, maxims and techniques that conserve water and beautify landscapes in How to Reduce the Size of Your Lawn (for the Ecology’s Sake) Without Infuriating Your Neighbors on Thursday, September 11 at 7:30 p.m. Organized by Community Associations of The Woodlands, the free program will be held in the L.G.I. Lecture Hall at McCullough Junior High, 3800 S. Panther Creek Dr., The Woodlands. For more information, call (281) 210-3900 or visit www.thewoodlandsassociations.org/site/environment/default.aspx?page=355.
Rockport: The 20th Annual Hummer/Bird Celebration will be held September 11-14, 2008 at the Rockport-Fulton High School. Four days of programs, exhibits and field trips about hummingbirds, other birds, butterflies, and habitat gardening by renowned speakers and a visit to Hummer Homes to see Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds during their migration south for the winter. For more information, visit www.rockporthummingbird.com.
Kilgore: Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association will host the "East Texas Organic Workshop" on Saturday, September 13. Expert speakers will present topics such as The Soil Food Web, Organic Insect Management, Organic Growing for the Small Farm, and Raising/Management of Free-Range Chickens. It will also include a tour of a grass-fed beef ranch. For more information, visit www.tofga.org or call (903) 986-9475.
Houston: The Native Plant Society of Texas-Houston (NPSOT-H) presents its 11th Annual Wildscapes Workshop & Plant Sale, "Landscaping with Native Plants to Attract Wildlife," on Saturday, September 13, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the University of Houston's Main Campus (I-45 & Cullen Blvd.), Cullen College of Engineering, Building 1. The workshop will feature the following speakers: Chris LaChance and Angela Chandler on "Rain Gardens and Introduction to Rainwater Harvesting," Jason McKenzie on "Great Plants for a Wildscapes Landscape," Farrar Stockton on "Local Butterflies, Moths & Flight of the Monarch," and Diana Foss on "Designing with Natives." The Native Plant Sale, which opens at 11:30 a.m. for workshop attendees, will feature many hard-to-find natives. From 12:30 p.m. until 3 p.m. the plant sale will be free and open to the public as well as attendees. Visit the book sale, exhibits, and booths. In addition, there will be raffles, door prizes, refreshments, and lunch. Fee: $30 per person ($25 for NPSOT members). Preregistration on or before September 1, 2008 is required. Registration form, flyer, and more information can be found at http://www.npsot.org/Houston/Wildscapesflyer2008.pdf. Sponsored by NPSOT-H, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, and the University of Houston, the proceeds of this NPSOT-H fundraiser will be used for school habitats, grants, and education.
Houston: The Harris County Master Gardeners at Precinct 2 are accepting applications for Master Gardener Certification Training Classes. Classes will be held at The Precinct 2 Road Camp, 1202 Genoa Red Bluff, Houston, from 8:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning September 16 and continuing through October 28. For additional information, visit http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu.
Austin: The Travis County Master Gardeners Association, a volunteer arm of the Travis County AgriLife Extension Service, will present Vegetables for Cooler Times, a free seasonal seminar that will cover multiple topics pertinent to fall gardening activities from 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m., Wednesday, September 17, Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Road, Austin. In spite of the heat, it is time to be in the vegetable garden. "Fall Vegetable Gardening" by Patty Leander, a regular contributor to Texas Gardener, will include the basics of vegetable gardening with the emphasis on plants and varieties that flourish in the fall and winter months. Leaves, leaves everywhere! Don’t rake, bag and send it to the landfill. Learn how to convert leaves and other material into plant food. It is called compost. Plants adore it. Learn how to make this magic act happen. Thought only Yankees could grow rhubarb? Wrong! With a little thinking outside the box, you can grow rhubarb and strawberries, too, right in your own backyard. Learn how these two favorites can be successfully in Central Texas. A Plant Clinic will be held during the entire seminar. Bring your diseased/bug eaten plant, roots and all, in a plastic bag. Gain knowledge from expert Master Gardeners on action you can take to remedy the situation. The seminar is free. No reservations will be taken. For more information, call (512) 854-9600 and ask for the Master Gardeners desk or visit http://www.tcmastergardeners.org.
Edna: The Jackson County Master Gardeners will have a Fall Plant Sale on Saturday, September 20, beginning at 8 a.m. in the Jackson County Services Building Auditorium, 411 N. Wells, Edna. Admission is free and open to the public. A variety of shrubs, flowering trees, vines and garden accessories will be on sale.
The Woodlands: Discover the hottest trends in landscaping—habitat gardening, rainwater harvesting and organic methods—at Woodlands Landscaping Solutions on Saturday, September 27 from 9:00 a.m. to noon. The free, hands-on, how-to event offers sage tips for yard and garden with booths, demonstrations, pond and garden tours and a plant sale. Explore container gardening, learn design tips and get the dirt on composting. Purchase native perennials, vines, shrubs and understory trees from Diane Cabiness’s Native Plant Nursery and The Pineywoods Nursery. Rose Rustler’s will offer vintage roses for $10 a piece, and Montgomery County Herb Gardeners will spice things up with herbs for woodland gardens. Ceramics from Colored Umbrella Pottery, organic products and garden gifts also for sale. Free event hosted by Community Associations of The Woodlands at 8203 Millennium Forest Dr., The Woodlands. For more information, call (281) 210-3900 or visit www.thewoodlandsassociations.org/site/environment/default.aspx?page=382.
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.
Bryan: The Brazos County Master Gardener Association will hold a Fall Pant Sale at the Brazos County Extension Office, 2619 Highway 21 West, Bryan from 9 a.m. until noon on Saturday, September 27.The sale will include a wide selection of unusual and unique plants guaranteed to grow in Brazos County. Choice Heirloom and Pass-along plants from the gardens of local Master Gardeners will also be available for purchase. For additional information, call (979) 823-0129 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lewisville: The Denton County Master Gardeners' 2008 Garden InfoFest will be held Saturday, October 4, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Upper Trinity Regional Water District, 900 North Kealy Ave., Lewisville. Events include expert garden speakers, gardening demonstrations, Ask a Master Gardener booth, children's activities, garden shopping, silent auction, plant sale, door prizes and a garden tour. For additional information, call (940) 349-2883 or visit DCMGA.com.
Tyler: The Smith County Master Gardener Association, a volunteer program of Texas AgriLife Extension Service, will sponsor its annual Fall Gardening Conference at Marvin United Methodist Church in Tyler on Saturday, October 11, from 8:30 a.m. until 11:15 a.m. A bulb sale following the conference at Harvey Convention Center will offer thousands of bulbs to the public with many varieties not often found in local nurseries. During the exposition, local Master Gardeners will provide a help-desk to answer gardening questions and perform demonstrations of proper bulb planting techniques, division of perennials, and planting of bare root roses. This conference and plant sale have continued to grow in popularity each succeeding year with attendees coming from as far as South Central Texas up to the Red River in the north and as far east as Louisiana. The conference is free and open to the public. Conference presentations by two recognized horticulture experts will provide useful insight and information about gardening in our region. Dr. William Welch, Professor and Landscape Horticulturist with the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M University, will discuss gardening using perennials that thrive in the area and come back year after year. Chris Wiesinger, known as "the Bulb Hunter," is the owner of the Southern Bulb Company, a flower bulb farm in East Texas that offers heirloom perennial flower bulbs for warm climates. Chris regularly travels the back roads of Texas to rescue heirloom bulbs forgotten or destined for extinction due to developments and highway expansion. For additional information, call Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Smith County at (903) 590-2980.
Fredericksburg: Texas Gourd Society will present the 13th annual "Lone Star Gourd Festival" at the Gillespie County Fairgrounds October 18 and 19. There will be door prizes, raffles, classes, demonstrations and an opportunity to meet Bill Decker, 2008 TGS Artist of the Year, and Bonnie Gibson, nationally-known author and artist. The show is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $5 and free to children under 12. For additional information, call (806) 523-9092 or visit www.texasgourdsociety.org.
Austin: Plant and Insect Photography for Beginners class will be taught by Sam Myers, a Master Gardener and experienced photographer, from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m., Wednesday, October 22 at Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Road, Austin. The class will concentrate on developing the ability to take sharp, colorful photos with impact. There will be an overview of cameras, both film and digital. Discussion will include how lighting, focal length and aperture interact in composing photographs and how to use your camera's programs (landscape, portrait, etc.) effectively. Guidelines of composition will be covered along with "posing" plants and insects for best visual presentation. Prerequisite: study the owner's manual on your camera. Bring your camera for some practical exercises. Class size is limited. Reservation required: email@example.com or (512) 804-2257. The class is sponsored by the Travis County Master Gardener Association in partnership with the AgriLife Extension, Travis County. For more information call (512) 854-9600 and ask for the Master Gardener's desk. http://www.tcmastergardeners.org.
Kilgore: Northeast Texas Organic Gardeners meets at 10 a.m. on the first Wednesday of each month at Wildwood 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.
Schertz: The Guadalupe County (Schertz/Seguin) Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) meets the second Tuesday of each month at the Guadalupe County Annex, 1101 Elbel Road, Shertz. A plant exchange and meet-and-greet begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by a program at 7. For additional information or an application to join NPSOT, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Sugar Land: The Sugar Land Garden Club meets on the third Tuesday of each month, September through November and January through April at 10 a.m. at the Sugar Land Community Center, 226 Matlage Way, Sugar Land. The club hosts a different speaker each month. For more information, visit www.sugarlandgardenclub.org.
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 p.m. and are preceded by a social at 6:30. For more information, call (940) 382-8551.
Houston: The Native Plant Society of Texas — Houston (NPSOT-H) meets at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month except for October (4th Thursday) and December (2nd Thursday). Location varies. For locations, for more information on programs, and for information about native plants for Houston, visit http://www.npsot.org/Houston.
Rosenberg: The Fort Bend Master Gardeners meet at 7:15 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month except December at the Bud O'Shieles Community Center located at 1330 Band Road, Rosenberg. For more information, call (281) 341-7068 or visit www.fbmg.com.
Seguin: The Guadalupe County Master Gardeners meets the third Thursday of each month at the Texas AgriLife 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.
Edna: The Jackson County Master Gardeners present their "Come Grown With Us" seminars on the fourth Tuesday of each month, January through October, beginning at 7 p.m. at 411 N. Wells, Edna. The seminars are free, open to the public and offer 2 CEU hours to Master Gardeners or others requiring them. For additional information, contact the Jackson County Extension Office at (361) 782-3312.
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.
Seabrook: The Harris County Precinct 2 Master Gardeners hold an educational program at 10 a.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month at The Meeting Room (on the Lakeside) at Clear Lake Park, 5001 NASA Road 1, Seabrook. The programs are free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu.
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. To ensure inclusion in this column, please provide complete details at least three weeks prior to the event.
— the cards that grow
Cards are made of "plantable paper" (paper embedded with wildflower seeds). Plant in a pot or garden spot and watch it grow! The perfect gift for youngsters of all ages. Set includes six cards and envelopes.
$22.50 includes tax and shipping
Order by calling 1-800-727-9020.
(Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.)
Wish you'd saved
Are you missing an important issue of Texas Gardener? Or, perhaps, just tired of thumbing through stacks of back issues looking for the tips and techniques you need to make your garden grow? Three new CDs provide easy access to all six issues of volume 24 (November/December 2004 through September/October 2005), volume 25 (November/December 2005 through September/October 2006) and volume 26 (November/December 2006 through September/October 2007)*.
$16.99 per CD includes tax and shipping
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*Other volumes will be available soon.
Doug Welsh's Texas
Doug Welsh's Texas Garden Almanac is a giant monthly calendar for the entire state — a practical, information-packed, month-by-month guide for gardeners and "yardeners." This book provides everything you need to know about flowers and garden design; trees, shrubs, and vines; lawns; vegetable, herb, and fruit gardening; and soil, mulch, water, pests, and plant care. It will help you to create beautiful, productive, healthy gardens and have fun doing it.
$26.63 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 July and we'll waive shipping charges. (Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.)
Fiber row cover
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 or order on-line.
(Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.)
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