December 3, 2008

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The garden reader:
Kiddie-lit for gifting and reading aloud

By William Scheick
University of Texas at Austin

Eve Bunting. Flower Garden. Red Wagon Books, 2008. $10.95. 32 pp.

Lois Ehlert. Planting a Rainbow. Red Wagon Books, 2008 $10.95. 32 pp.

Henry Cole. Jack's Garden. HarperTrophy, 1997. $6.99. 32 pp.

Sibylle von Olfers. Mother Earth and Her Children: A Quilted Fairy Tale. Breckling Press, 2007. $17.95. 32 pp.

Jeffrey L. Schatzer. The Runaway Garden: A Delicious Story That Is Good for You Too! Mitten Press, 2007. $17.95. 32 pp.

Gardening with young children can plant perennial memories ó not only for parents and grandparents, but especially for youngsters.

A garden exposes children to a special space distinctly different from their everyday, increasingly denaturalized experiences. Gardening with children passes on to them something from an older time, when our lives were less hectic in pace and more natural in rhythm.

Gardens can be a magical place for children. What they see, touch, smell, taste and even hear in a garden can converge into a healthy, inspiring sense of wonder.

It is good fortune, indeed, that there are excellent garden books designed for young children. Here is a sample worth a second look when thinking about gifting or reading aloud to a child at this time of year.

For kids between the ages of 3 and 7, the new lap-sized board-book edition of Eve Bunting's Flower Garden offers a lavishly illustrated verse-story of a father and daughter planting flowers together to create a window box as a surprise birthday present for the little girl's mother. Expect to be asked to read this one aloud again and again.

Also for 3-to-7 year olds, the new lap-sized board-book edition of Lois Ehlert's Planting a Rainbow gorgeously celebrates the diverse colors and shapes of garden plants. In this story, a year passes as a mother and a daughter plant bulbs, order seeds, watch first growths and enjoy summer's bounty. A word of caution: youngsters might ask to plant something now.

Written by an elementary-school science teacher and designed for preschoolers, Jack's Garden explores planting in the backyard. It ends with glorious blooms. Garden visitors, especially birds, are also highlighted. Depicted activities both below and above the ground will fascinate youngsters, who might also find this book suitable for early-reading efforts.

A translated 19th-century fantasy based on a quilt, Mother Earth and Her Children features the seasonal cycle. Mother Earth's children scurry about readying bees, ladybugs and other insects for their spring work. The children themselves eventually emerge as flowering plants, which (like everything else) must once more return to Mother Earth. Children between 4 and 8 should especially enjoy delving into the details of the intricate close-up images from the quilt.

For children between 6 and 9, there's The Runaway Garden, a funny, cautionary story which is drawing awards as easily as sunflowers attract bees. So far it has received the Growing Good Kids Children's Book Award, the USA Book News Award and the Mom's Choice Award.

The young girl in The Runaway Garden is unhappy with her chores: "'I really, really hate this job!' I yelled and threw a fit. / 'The work's too hard! My fingers hurt! I don't like this one bit! / If Grandpa makes me pull more weeds, there is no way I'll stay. / I'll pack a bag of dolls and things and leave this very day!'" The knowing grandfather sits down beside her and begins his tale of the night all the plants in the garden planned to runaway.

Of course nothing goes according to their plan. The plan of The Runaway Garden, on the other hand, works out perfectly.


Gardening tips

This is a great time of year to prowl your neighborhood looking for bags and bags of leaves. They will make a great addition to any compost pile and can even be used as mulch and placed between rows as a mud-free walkway in the vegetable garden. You will be improving your garden soil and helping the environment as well.

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...

Earthworms are a great aid to improving soil aeration. Earthworms burrow down six feet or more, leaving tunnels as a way for air to enter. When you add organic matter to the soil, you automatically multiply the number of earthworms in your garden.


Upcoming garden events

Schertz: The Guadalupe County (Schertz/Seguin) Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) will celebrate Christmas on Tuesday, December 9, with a pot-luck supper and gag gift exchange, at the Guadalupe County Annex, 1101 Elbel Road, Schertz at 6 p.m., a little earlier than usual, to allow time for fun before a brief business meeting. This change is only for December; beginning January they will return to their usual meeting time of 6:30 p.m. for meeting and greeting, plant exchange, followed by a program at 7 p.m. Visitors are most welcome. For more information or an application to join NPSOT, contact: guadalupecounty@npsot.org.

Houston: Urban Harvest Fruit Tree Sale will be held Saturday, January 17, from 9 a.m. until 2 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 10 (12-2 p.m.) and 13 (6:30-8:30 p.m.) at Urban Harvest's office on Canal Street. A nominal fee of $10 is charged for the class. Register for the class by calling Urban Harvest. The tree sale is at Rice University's Football Stadium, on the concourse. For detailed information about the sale as well as about fruit trees, check the Urban Harvest Web site www.urbanharvest.org or call (713) 880-5540.

Houston: The River Oaks Garden Club's 74th annual Azalea Trail will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 6, 7 and 8, from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day, and will feature four beautiful private homes and gardens. Tickets for admissions are $15 before March 6 and $20 during the trail. For additional information contact the River Oaks Garden Club at (713) 523-2483 or visit www.riveroaksgardenclub.org.

MONTHLY MEETINGS

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 guadalupecounty@npsot.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.

College Station: The A&M Garden Club meets on the second Friday of each month during the school year at 9:30 a.m. at the Exit Center, 1600 Rock Prairie Road, College Station. Expert speakers, plant sharing, and federated club projects help members learn about gardening in the Brazos Valley, floral design, conservation topics, and more. For more information, visit www.sallysfamilyplace.com/Clubs/GardenClub.htm.

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.

Granbury: The Lake Granbury Master Gardeners meet at 1 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at the Hood County Annex 1, 1410 West Pearl Street, Granbury. The public is invited to attend. There is an educational program each month preceding the business meeting. For information on topics call (817) 579-3280 or visit http://www.hoodcountymastergardeners.org/.

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 Southern Kitchen Garden

By William D. Adams and Thomas R. Leroy

A kitchen garden, or potager, is a celebration of the seasons: brimming with vegetables, herbs, flowers, and even fruit trees, itís our link with nature and a source for fresh produce. The kitchen garden has always been an important part of life in the rural South, at times meaning the difference between being well-fed or going to bed hungry. In recent times, the kitchen garden has become more fashionable and now more and more homeowners are reaping the delicious rewards of growing their own food.

A kitchen garden needs little more than a small raised bed, so an aspiring gardener with only a modest backyard will have plenty of room to get started. If you have more space on your hands, then you can include some produce requiring a little more space like fruit trees, corn or pumpkins.

In the book, the authors with take you through the process of starting your very own kitchen garden from location to soil preparation to planting and then to harvest. It is also loaded with useful information on propagation, pest control and is laced with mouth-watering recipes and beautiful color photographs.

$21.30 plus shipping*

Order online with credit card at www.texasgardener.com or call toll-free 1-800-727-9020.

*Or with credit card by phone and receive FREE shipping. That is a $3.50 savings! Visa, MasterCard and Discover accepted.


Wish you’d saved them?

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), volume 26 (November/December 2006 through September/October 2007), and volume 27 (November/December 2007 through September/October 2008)*.

$16.99 per CD includes tax and shipping

Order by calling 1-800-727-9020.

(Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.)

*Other volumes will be available soon.


Doug Welsh’s Texas Garden Almanac

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 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 or order on-line.

(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.

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Publisher: Chris S. Corby Editor: Michael Bracken

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