January 14, 2009

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.

Pick up pots of tulips for instant spring outdoors

Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center

Dillydallied all fall or forgot to plant your tulips? Never fear. Instant spring is right around the corner. Those plastic pots of colorful tulips, hyacinths and daffodils sold in spring at supermarkets and floral shops are just what you need. Though intended for use indoors, these potted bulbs can easily be planted outdoors as bedding plants, according to Sally Ferguson, director of the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center in Danby, VT.

"To a tulip, erratic spring weather is business as usual," says Ferguson. "Even nursery-grown bulb plants can usually take whatever Mother Nature dishes out, if you prep them before planting outdoors."

If outdoor temperatures are still flirting with freezing in your area, acclimate the potted bulbs by placing them in an unheated, but protected spot for a day to toughen them up before planting outdoors. After planting, acclimated forced bulbs will be oblivious to cold and even sudden snowstorms. Bulb plants are tough customers, whether fall-planted or forced in pots and prepared for spring planting. If zapped by frost after planting, young plants and buds will be unharmed, though fully-open flowers and leaf tips may get the equivalent of freezer burn.

Instant Spring in Three Easy Steps

For instant spring in the garden using potted bulbs, Ferguson suggests checking the NFBIC's website, www.bulb.com, for ideas and by following these three easy tips:

One: wait until the crocus and daffodils in your area start coming up in gardens. That's your cue that the season for potted-bulbs-as-bedding-plants has begun.

Two: choose potted bulbs that are still green — in bud but not in bloom. Top candidates include: tulips, hyacinths and daffodils, plus little Iris reticulata and dwarf Narcissi, Anemone blanda, Muscari and crocuses. All are widely available and of best quality in the market this time of year.

Three: once home, water the pots well, then place them in a cold but protected area (above freezing) for a day so they can acclimate to colder temperatures before you plant them out, she says. Slip off the plastic pot and plant the whole works 'as is' into the garden or in large containers, just as you would potted petunias or impatiens in early summer.

For longest enjoyment wherever you use them — indoors, outdoors, even as gifts — it's best to choose potted bulbs with the buds still tight and green, Ferguson advises. "That's what's special about potted bulbs, watching them grow then come into bloom," she says. "Unless you're having a party tonight, choose green."

A pot of young tulips or hyacinths displayed indoors at normal room temperature, for example, will grow and bloom over a period of up to two weeks or more, she said, while outside, where the spring weather is still cool, they can grow for a month or longer. "The trick is to put them into the ground or large containers once the weather begins to turn," says Ferguson. "Given a little acclimation up front, nursery-grown potted bulbs will happily settle in outdoors as if they'd been there all along."

Whether enjoyed in the garden or in the kitchen, colorful potted tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other bulbs are a welcome source of instant spring this time of year.

Gardening tips

"I have found an easier way to prevent overwatering," writes Jim W. Mitchell. "Most hardware stores sell timers that will cut off at any time up to two hours. Some only work on full water pressure but some will work on drip systems. Turn it on, set the time, and go watch TV."

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...

Most folks want a garden that is pest and disease free. The best way to accomplish that goal is to cultivate healthy soil and give plants the nutrients they need to thrive. Use native and adapted plants. Avoid toxic pest control products. Instead use cultural techniques like crop rotation along with biological and organic controls to obtain sustainable, healthy results.

Upcoming garden events

San Antonio: The Bexar County Master Gardeners general meeting will be held on Thursday, January 15 at 6:00 p.m. at the Extension conference room, 3355 Cherry Ridge. This is "Rodeo Kick-Off" time. Wear your western duds, learn about numerous volunteer opportunities for January and February and enjoy delicious cowboy grub.

San Antonio: Dr. Larry Stein will conduct Fruit and Pecan Tree Pruning and Training Seminar on Saturday, January 17 from 9:00 a.m. until noon, at Fanick's Nursery, 1025 Holmgreen Road, San Antonio. 3 CEUs will be awarded to Master Gardeners in attendance.

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.

Schertz: Do you have a love for gardening and want to learn more about horticulture? Then the next Guadalupe County Master Gardener training class is for you. Classes are on Wednesday, January 21 to May 13 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Schertz Civic Center, 1400 Schertz Parkway. Instructors include Texas A&M AgriLife Extension specialists, staff and local experts, including Malcolm Beck, Patty Leander and Drs. Larry Stein and Mark Black. Topics cover botany & plant growth, entomology, Xeriscaping, propagation, herbs and vegetables, tree care and pruning principles, composting and organic horticulture, water conservation and much more. Registration is $170 with a 10% discount if received by December 29. For more information and applications visit www.guadalupecountymastergardeners.org.

San Benito: The Texas Master Naturalist training program begins at 6 p.m. January 21 and will meet monthly through April 1. Registration closes January 14. The Texas Master Gardener Volunteer program begins at 9 a.m. January 28 and meets monthly through July. Registration closes January 16. Both will meet at the San Benito County Annex Building at Williams Road and U.S. Hwy. 83/77. To apply for the training, visit the Rio Grande Valley Chapter Texas Master Naturalist Webs site at www.rgvctmn.org or call (956) 364-1410. The class fee is $125. The Master Gardener classes that begin January 28 will be taught by AgriLife Extension specialists, staff and other local horticultural experts. Fee for the class is $140. In exchange for the training, students are asked to volunteer in local gardening projects. At least 50 hours of volunteer service within one year of training is required to earn the title of Texas Master Gardener. After that, there is a yearly requirement of 12 hours of volunteer service for recertification. To register for the Master Gardener program, call (956) 455-5358 or (956) 831-4547, or contact the AgriLife Extension office in Cameron County at (956) 361-8236.

Tomball: Arbor Gate will present a Fruit Tree Sale and Seminar, Sunday, January 25, at 15635 FM 2920, Tomball. A presale seminar presented by Heidi Sheesley, Treesearch Farms, begins at 9 a.m. The sale begins at 10:30 a.m. For additional information, call (281) 351-8851 or visit www.arborgate.com.

Houston: Dr. Carol Brouwer, County Extension Agent-Horticulture, will speak on Vegetable Gardening for the Houston area from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m., Tuesday, February 10, at Bass Pro Shops, Highway 288 at the Sam Houston Tollway, Houston. This free lecture, hosted by the Harris County Master Gardeners, is open to the public. For more information, visit http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu.

Tyler: Smith County Extension's annual East Texas Spring Landscape & Garden Conference will be held February 14 at the Tyler Rose Garden Center, Tyler. It is an all-day program with a range of topics, including landscape design, tree establishment and maintenance, rainwater harvesting, and plants for the region. Cost is $15. For more information, call (903) 590-2980 or visit http://easttexasgardening.tamu.edu/programs/2009 Conference agenda 2 with agencies.pdf.

Houston: The Harris County Master Gardeners will host an Open Garden Day from 9 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., Monday, February 16 for the public to visit and tour their demonstration garden at Genoa Friendship Garden, 1202 Genoa Red Bluff, Houston. See plant varieties that survive well in our local area. Master Gardeners will be available to answer questions. For additional information, visit http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu.

Houston: The Harris County Master Gardeners will host John Panzarella speaking on citrus trees that grow well in the Houston area, Wednesday, February 18, beginning at 10 a.m. at The Meeting Room at Clear Lake Park (on the lakeside), 5001 NASA Road 1. Mr. Panzarella has 200 different varieties growing in the largest collection of citrus in Texas north of the Rio Grande Valley. He grows most of them in pots because he doesn't have room to plant them in the ground. For more information, visit http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu.

Sunset Valley: The Travis County Master Gardeners Association in partnership with the AgriLife Extension, Travis County, will present "Everything’s Coming Up Roses," February 21, from 10 a.m. until noon, at Sunset Valley City Hall, 3205 Jones Rd., Sunset Valley. Roses aren't just for Valentine's Day — they can bring color and sweet smells to your garden year-round! Come attend this free seminar on selecting and planting roses in your garden. Topics will include Earth Kind Roses, a designation indicating high performance and outstanding disease and insect tolerance, pruning, and the basics of rose care. For more information, call (512) 854-9600 and ask for the Master Gardeners desk or visit http://www.tcmastergardeners.org.

Austin: The Travis County Master Gardeners Association will present "Getting Ready for Spring Gardening," February 26, 6:30 p.m. until -8:30 p.m., at the Yarborough Branch, Austin Public Library, 2200 Hancock Dr., Austin. Learn how a little planning now results in healthier and more beautiful gardens all year, what makes plants thrive, and pruning and fertilization techniques to get perennials, trees and shrubs off to a strong start. Also covered: lawn care, including the how and when of fertilization. Do your plants a favor and don’t miss this great kick-off to spring gardening. This seminar is free and does not require reservations. For additional information, visit http://www.tcmastergardeners.org.

Houston: The Harris County Master Gardeners of Precinct 2 will hold a plant and fruit tree sale on Saturday, February 28, from 9:15 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Landolt Pavilion at Clear Lake Park, 5001 NASA Road 1. The sale will feature fruit trees and tomato and pepper plants. Heidi Sheesley, the owner of TreeSearch Farms, Inc., a wholesale grower of perennials, natives and unique plants, will present a lecture beginning at 8 a.m. to highlight fruit trees available at the sale. Heidi's lectures are packed with gardening information. For more information, visit http://hcmgap2.

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.

Cleburne: The Johnson County Master Gardener Plant Sale will take place Saturday, March 28, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., at Hulen Park, Cleburne. Natives, herbs, butterfly plants, tomatoes, peppers and much more will be available. Demos and lectures will be presented by the Master Gardeners throughout the day and there will be activities for the kids in the Jr. Master Gardener booth. For more information, contact Pat Kriener at (817) 793-4625.

Nocogdoches: The SFA Mast Arboretum will host its annual Garden Gala Day on April 18 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the SFA Intramural Fields on Wilson Drive, Nocogdoches. This event features the annual spring plant sale fundraiser benefiting the SFA Mast Arboretum, Pineywoods Native Plant Center, Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden, and their educational programs. All of the plants are produced at SFA by the staff, students and volunteers. The public is encouraged to arrive early and bring a wagon. For more information and a list of plants for sale call (936) 468-4404, or visit http://arboretum.sfasu.edu and click on “upcoming events.”

Fort Worth: The Greater Fort Worth Herb Society's Annual Herb Festival will be held from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., May 16, at the Fort Worth Botanic Center, 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd., Fort Worth. For additional information, call (817) 874-6405, e-mail festival@gfwhs.org, or visit www.gfwhs.org.


Rockport: The Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardeners meets at 9 a.m. the first Tuesday of each month at the AgriLife Extension Office - Aransas County, 611 E. Mimosa, Rockport. For additional information, e-mail aransas-tx@tamu.edu or call (361) 790-0103.

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.

Rockport: The Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardeners host Brown Bag events the third Tuesday of each month, from noon until 1 p.m. at Aransas County Library, 701 E. Mimosa, Rockport. For a complete listing of all events or additional information, e-mail aransas-tx@tamu.edu or call (361) 790-0103.

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, it’s 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. 2009. 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