January 28, 2009

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Winter pruning

By Tara McKnight, CEA-Hort.
Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Wichita County

Now that winter is in full swing, you need to look around your landscape for possible pruning jobs. Pruning is a great job that can be done on some of our nicer weather days.

We always recommend pruning in the winter for several reasons. One, the trees and shrubs are not actively growing. This makes pruning less stressful on the plant and you will lose less sap at this time of year. Another good reason to prune in the winter is that the insects are not out and about. This will decrease your chance of having a disease attack your plants. Also, by pruning now you are able to see better into your trees that have lost their leaves. This gives you the opportunity to see what limbs need to be removed and where to remove them.

The only plants that you do not want to prune in the winter are spring flowering plants. Plants that bloom first thing in the spring should be pruned after the bloom. If you prune them now you will be removing the spring flowers and you will have less of a flower show this spring.

If you prune a little every year, your landscape will look much more maintained than if you wait until the job is too large for you. The more you remove from the plant, the greater the risk of stressing the plant out and causing damage. If you have let your landscape get large and overgrown, only prune a little this year. Next year you can prune a little more, and so on and so forth. You will continue this process until you get the landscape back in check and under control.

Why should you prune? Pruning can improve the structure of the plant as well as improve the appearance of the plant. If a plant was placed incorrectly in the landscape for its mature size, pruning will be required to maintain the plant at a desired height or width. This is why we stress picking plants for a location with their mature size in mind. If the plant is placed in the proper area, pruning may not be required at all.

Another reason we prune in the landscape is to maintain or improve the health of the plant. If your plant has any diseased or damaged areas in it, they need to be taken out now. Dead branches should also be removed if you have not already done so. Make sure to clean your cutting tools in between cuts, especially when pruning diseased branches. This will reduce the likelihood of spreading the disease to other parts of the plant or even to other plants.


Gardening tips

For small seeds like carrot and some flower seeds, cover the planting bed with plywood or other thin lumber after the seed has been planted and watered. Prop the boards up on all four corners with stones or bricks so they don't come in direct contact with the soil. As soon as the seed germinates, remove the boards.

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...

Erratic spring temperatures in Texas can be one of the most limiting factors when it comes to growing fruit crops. We can quickly go from freezing to 90 F plus in a matter of hours and the back again in the same amount of time. This kind of roller coaster ride often catches fruit trees like apricot and peach in full bloom and can destroy an entire crop in mere hours.


Upcoming garden events

Edinburg: The 8th annual Sustainable Ag and Organic Gardening Conference will be held January 30-31 at the Echo Hotel in Edinburg. This conference is for people who have thought of going into farming on a small scale, backyard gardeners who want to expand or are interested in growing and selling organic vegetables, or who want to start a small citrus orchard or grow high-value crops such as starfruit. The conference is an excellent opportunity for small landowners to gain knowledge from experienced producers, researchers and farm industry professionals. The conference begins Friday at 8 a.m. with a tour of the City of McAllen’s composting facility, an organic citrus farm and the Borders Farm and Packing Shed in Edinburg. After the tour, the speakers program begins at 2:30 p.m. with talks on organic pecan production, soil minerals and fertilizers. Saturday’s program begins at 8:30 a.m. with talks on tropical fruit orchard maintenance, organic nematode and disease control, high-density citrus production and how to become a certified organic producer. Growers can receive three continuing education units to help meet pesticide license requirements. The conference is sponsored by the Sustainable Agronomic Education Association, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, AgriLife Extension, Texas Plant and Soil Lab and Earthwise Organics. Registration fee for both days is $80, or $40 for Saturday’s program only. For more information, contact Barbara Storz at (956) 383-1026, or email b-storz@tamu.edu.

Schertz: The Guadalupe County Master Gardener will host the "Grow Local Festival," Saturday, February 7 from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the Schertz Civic Center, 1400 Schertz Parkway, Schertz. This event, which is sponsored by Schulz Nursery, New Earth Soils and Compost, Fanick's Garden Center and the City of Schertz, is free to the general public. Shop for bedding plants and seeds, annuals, fruit trees and other quality garden products. See a demonstration of rain water harvesting. Get advice from local experts on gardening and landscaping. Running concurrently will be an in-depth gardening seminar. Patty Leander, Travis County Master Gardener and a contributor to Texas Gardener magazine will start off the "Backyard Vegetable Gardening" seminar. Learn The Best Vegetables to Plant, the basics of Raised Bed Gardening and How to Harvest Rainwater in your garden. Pre-registration seminar cost is $25 per person/$35 per couple; $30 & $40 at the door. Registration includes lunch by McBee’s BBQ and chances to win great door prizes. Registration form and more information are available at www.guadalupecountymastergardeners.org or call (210) 363-8380.

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.

Georgetown: The Native Plant Society of Texas, Williamson County Chapter meets from 7 to 9 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at the Georgetown Library, 402 W 8th St., Georgetown. On Thursday, February 12, Matt Warnock Turner will speak on his new book Remarkable Plants of Texas. The book looks at how people have used plants for food, shelter, medicine, and economic subsistence; hot plants have figured in the historical record and in Texas folklore; how plants nourish wildlife; and how some plants have unusual ecological or biological characteristics. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

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.

Navasota: The Grimes County Master Gardeners are presenting their Second Annual Spring Landscaping & Planting Seminar at The Navasota Center, 101 Stadium Drive, Navasota on February 21. For additional information, or to register, visit www.grimesmastergardeners.org.

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 or $5 per location. For additional information contact the River Oaks Garden Club at (713) 523-2483 or visit www.riveroaksgardenclub.org.

Georgetown: The Native Plant Society of Texas, Williamson County Chapter meets from 7 to 9 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at the Georgetown Library, 402 W 8th St., Georgetown. On Thursday, March 12, Jason Radcliff, landscape architect with TBG Partners, designed the landscape at the Wolfe Ranch Town Center. He will talk about plants, design and a bit about maintenance.

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.

Stephenville: The annual Native & Heirloom Plant Fair will be held April 4, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Stephenville Museum, 525 E Washington St., Stephenville. Vendors will be offering native Texas plants, adapted plants, herbs and vegetables, arts & crafts, gardening supplies, nature and garden related gifts, concessions, and much more. Speakers will be delivering informative presentations and/or workshops. A self-guided nature trail along the Bosque River is on site. Vendor space is FREE; interested vendors should contact Russell Pfau at pfau@tarleton.edu.

Georgetown: The Native Plant Society of Texas, Williamson County Chapter meets from 7 to 9 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at the Georgetown Library, 402 W 8th St., Georgetown. On Thursday, April 9, Kerry Blackmon, District Landscape Architect with the TxDOT Austin district, will discuss survey factors that have to be considered when designing roadside landscapes and native plant use. There will also be a question and answer session.

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.”

Georgetown: The Native Plant Society of Texas, Williamson County Chapter meets from 7 to 9 pm on the second Thursday of each month at the Georgetown Library, 402 W 8th St., Georgetown. On Thursday, May 14, Kelly Conrad Bender of Texas Parks and Wildlife, and author with Noreen Damude of Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife, will speak on creating wildscapes and how you can get the latest information, since the book is now out of print.

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.

MONTHLY MEETINGS

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.

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.

Houston: The Clear Lake City Garden Club meets the second Tuesday of each month September through May at 9:30 a.m. in the Board Room of the Clear Lake Recreation Center, 16511 Diana Lane, Houston. This small garden club is open to all residents of the Bay Area interested in horticulture and making new friends. Visitors are welcome meetings. For further information, please e-mail Sue at flosflores@comcast.net.

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.

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.

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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)*.

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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.

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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.

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Texas Gardener’s Seeds
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