November 24, 2010

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Virus component helps improve gene expression without harming plant

Texas AgriLife Extension Service

A virus that normally deforms or kills plants like tomatoes, peppers and eggplants isn’t all bad: A gene within the virus has been found useful for allowing foreign genes to be introduced into a plant without harmful effects, according to Texas AgriLife Research scientists.

The technology ultimately could lead the way toward a “cheap, green alternative” for pharmaceutical development, said Dr. Herman Scholthof, AgriLife Research virologist.

Scholthof and colleague Drs. Yi-Cheng Hsieh and Veria Alvarado collaborated with scientists at the John Innes Centre in England on the study which appears in this week’s Plant Biotechnology Journal.

"Nowadays in the pharmaceutical industry, many protein-based drugs are expressed in and purified from bacteria," Scholthof said. "Plants not only form a cheap and green alternative, but they also have the benefit that they process proteins properly — something bacteria cannot do."

The team worked with tomato bushy stunt virus, which can attack a multitude of plants worldwide but rarely has economically severe consequences. It is model virus that can be safely contained because it does not have an insect vector which could spread it.

For this study, Scholthof said, only one gene of the virus — called P19 — was used because it is the one that suppresses RNA silencing.

"RNA silencing is a fairly recently discovered defense that plants use against viruses," he explained. "During this silencing, short strands of RNA serve as signals to alert the plant that a virus is attempting to infect so that all of its tissues start mobilizing to defend.

"The elegance is that the P19 protein forms counter-defense units that are each composed of two protein molecules which form a sort of caliper to measure and capture signal molecules, thereby suppressing the defense to the virus which can infect a plant."

But suppressing the defense might also allow other things, such as allowing desired genes to enter and be expressed. Scholthof said scientists have used other suppressors in plant research in the past to avoid silencing, but "a problem is that these suppressors also cause many developmental defects and severe disease symptoms."

Not so with the P19 variant the group developed, he said.

Scholthof said the process of expressing foreign genes in plants is common in research, but there also is an important practical use.

"It also is used in biotechnology to produce beneficial proteins for medical and veterinary applications," he noted. "By developing this new P19, we have 'tamed' a suppressor because it still works to suppress but does not induce severe disease symptoms in the plant.

"We have provided a proof-of-principle that P19 can be used to protect the silencing of introduced foreign genes in plants."


Well-adapted and gorgeous, roses vie for top billing in Texas breeding program

By Kathleen Phillips
Texas AgriLife Extension Service

If you’re the type who likes to spend hours in the garden spraying and watering finicky roses, go ahead.

But if you’re like most who want to plant them and walk away yet get prolific, colorful, delicious blooms all season, look to the Texas AgriLife Research rose breeding program.

"There are people who will take care of their roses and spray every week, religiously, but I think the majority don't want to do that," said Dr. David Byrne, AgriLife Research rose breeder. "And landscapers want to plant it and let it take care of itself. The whole rose industry is beginning to realize that this is where they need to go, so that is what our emphasis is going to be."

The AgriLife Research effort is poised to blossom in that direction because of two unique rose collections that were given by their creators — the late Robert Basye and the late Ralph Moore — after decades of breeding efforts.

Basye, a math professor at Texas A&M, turned his rose hobby into several commercial varieties by breeding for disease resistance and adaptability in hot, humid southeast Texas. Moore, a nurseryman in Visalia, Calif., professionally bred hundreds of roses to achieve unique colors, shapes, sizes and fragrances.

"Since the early 1990s, we’ve been working with materials that have good disease resistance to black spot and heat tolerance, but not always the best horticultural traits," Byrne said. "We have stuff that is very healthy and has lots of flowers but are simple and light pink – not too exciting."

The Moore materials have "bright yellows, oranges and shocking pinks," Byrne added, "and lots of fragrance."

To handle all of the roses from the two collections, Byrne and his team built a dozen 12-foot by 20-foot raised beds on the Texas A&M University campus. About 700 plants are tended to in that location, and duplicates are planted elsewhere in the College Station area in conditions similar to what they would experience in a residential or business landscape planting. A third planting elsewhere in Texas maintains some 1,100 different plants.

"In the field, they are put through 'torture tests' with little care so we can see how they do. In the plantings on campus, we take better care of them to maintain the germplasm," Byrne explained. "We learn a lot from both plantings."

Byrne said the next step is to combine the two diverse germplasms into one through the AgriLife Research breeding program.

The rose breeder has already conducted a field day for commercial nursery professionals and others interested in the Moore rose collection. The participants selected some 60 different plants for further research and development.

"The public usually thinks only of the hybrid tea-type roses or of cut roses," Byrne said. "But if you consider garden roses, there is such a wide range of different types. Some of them look like chrysanthemums. There is a wide range of how you can use them and design your garden and get the colors right.

"It's always a trick trying to breed everything into one bush, and then get a wide range of colors within that bush," he added. "There are just so many different colors and flower types. It's kind of hard to keep track of it from a breeding point of view."

He said a minimum of six years is needed to create a new rose variety.

"Then after that, the commercial people may want to test it for two or three years to make sure it works," Byrne said. "So it's six to 10 years to get one out. It's a long-term process, but it's lots of fun. It's exciting to go through the seedlings and all of a sudden see something you’ve never seen before."


Gardening tips

Fall is a great time to collect leaves for garden mulch or for composting. Try placing the leaves between rows as mulch that can later be roto-tilled into the garden soil. When adding leaves to the compost pile, be sure to add some manure or nitrogen fertilizer to aid in the decomposition process.

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 hat. Please send your tips of 50 words or less to the editor at: Gardening Tips.


Did You Know...

Strawberries are so named because this popular berry crop is covered by northern gardeners with straw or hay to protect the plants from cold weather. In most parts of Texas it is not necessary to cover the plants with straw but the name “Strawberry” lives on.


Upcoming garden events.

If you would like your organization’s events included in "Upcoming Garden Events" or would like to make a change to a listed event, please contact us at Garden Events. To ensure inclusion in this column, please provide complete details at least three weeks prior to the event.

Kemah: The Kemah-Bay Area Garden Club holds its next meeting on Wednesday, December 1.  The meeting will be held at 9:30 a.m. at the Jimmie Walker Community Center, 800 Harris Avenue, Kemah. The program will be ”Designing Flower Arrangements for the Holidays” a demonstration on how to make your own holiday arrangements. Light refreshments will be served and the public is invited. Visitors to our meetings. For additional information, call Anniece Larkins, President, at 281-842-9008.

Dallas: Texas Discovery Gardens offers its second Master Composter Certification Course Saturday, December 4. The class lasts from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. and is $50; $40 for TDG members. Learn about composting techniques, helpful insects, worms, and compost tea. With completion of optional volunteer hours, participants will receive a certificate. Class includes lunch, a book, compost thermometer, and worm bin, courtesy of Living Earth. Find details and sign up at http://texasdiscoverygardens.org or call (214) 428-7476. Texas Discovery Gardens is located at 3601 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Dallas, TX 75210 (Fair Park at Gate 6). Parking is free for course participants if they mention the course and TDG at the front gate.

Georgetown: The Williamson County Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas will meet at 7 p.m., Thursday, December 9, at the Georgetown Public Library, 2nd floor. There will be a silent auction and potluck dinner. Visitors welcome. For additional information, contact Susan Waitz at 512-948-5241 or visit http://www.npsot.org/WilliamsonCounty/default.htm.

Georgetown: The Williamson County Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas will meet at 7 p.m., Thursday, January 13, at the Georgetown Public Library, 2nd floor. Ginger Hudson will present her new book Landscape Maintenance for Central Texas Gardens. Visitors welcome. For additional information, contact Susan Waitz at 512-948-5241 or visit http://www.npsot.org/WilliamsonCounty/default.htm.

Houston: The Urban Harvest Fruit Tree Sale will be held 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. or until sold out, January 15, at Robertson Football Stadium on the University of Houston campus, Scott Street at Holman Street, Houston. This annual sale brings together far more types and varieties of fruit trees than can be found anywhere else in the greater Houston area. Fruit trees are easy to grow in metro Houston, with little care and big results. Learn more about growing fruit trees from Urban Harvest. For more information, visit www.urbanharvest.org.

New Braunfels: Registration has begun for the Comal Master Gardener Training Class which will be held from January 19 to May 11, 2011. Applications for the class are currently on the Comal Master Gardener website at http://www.txmg.org/comal/ or contact the Texas AgriLife Extension Service office at 830-620-3440 for more information. Class size is limited and applications are accepted in the order they are received. The class will meet each Wednesday afternoon from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Texas AgriLife Extension Service Comal County Office, 325 Resource Dr., New Braunfels (behind the Comal County Recycling Center).

McKinney: The Collin County Master Gardeners will present The Garden Show, March 26 and 27 at the Myers Park and Event Center near McKinney. The show is focused on providing research based horticulture information to area residents. For more information, contact thegardenshow@dfwair.net or visit www.ccmgatx.org/thegardenshow.

San Antonio: Viva Botanica! — A Garden Fiesta for the whole family will be celebrated at the San Antonio Botanical Garden on the first Saturday of the Fiesta week in San Antonio, April 9, 2011. Decorate your stroller or red wagon and wear your finest Fiesta attire to enjoy the spring beauty of the San Antonio Botanical Garden. Start the fun with a children’s parade and the coronation of lucky young visitors to the Garden’s first ever Fiesta Flower Court. Viva Botanica crafts, music, inflatable “bouncies” and games combine the natural environment of the Garden’s 33 acres with Fiesta fun. Stamp your Fiesta Passport on your “walk across Texas” experience along the Texas Native Trail, where families can explore the East Texas lake, the Hill Country’s limestone spring and historic cabins, and the Bird Watch at the farthest reach of the South Texas region. Interactive stations along the way will engage guests of all ages in the wonders of the natural world. For home gardeners, the Botanical Society will host its popular Spring Plant Sale of San Antonio friendly plants, all lovingly grown in the volunteer greenhouse at the Garden. Viva Botanica activities will be offered 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The Garden is open 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Anne Marie’s Carriage House Bistro is open for weekend brunch 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. The San Antonio Botanical Garden is located at 555 Funston at North New Braunfels Avenue with free parking. Admission is $8 adults; $6 students, seniors, military; $5 children age 3-13. The Botanical Garden is operated under the auspices of the City of San Antonio Department of Parks & Recreation and is open year-round except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. For more information, visit www.sabot.org.

MONTHLY MEETINGS

Houston: The Harris County Master Gardeners meet at noon the first Tuesday of each month at the Texas AgriLife Extension, 3033 Bear Creek Drive (near the intersection of Highway 6 and Patterson Road), Houston. For additional information visit http://hcmga.tamu.edu or call 281-855-5600.

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 at 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month, February through December, at the Allen Heritage Center, 100 E. Main St., 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.

Marion: The Guadalupe County (Schertz/Seguin) Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas meets on the second Tuesday of each month except July and August at The Library, 500 Bulldog, Marion. There is a plant exchange and meet-and-greet begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by the program at 7 p.m. Visitors are welcome. For more information or an application to join NPSOT visit www.npsot.org/GuadalupeCounty/ or contact contact guadalupecounty@npsot.org.

Pearland: 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 Bass Pro Shop, Highway 288 at Sam Houston Tollway, Pearland. 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.

Beaumont: The Jefferson County Master Gardeners meet at 7 p.m. the second Thursday of each month at the AgriLife Extension Office, 1225 Pearl Street, Suite 200, Beaumont. For more information, call 409-835-8461.

Brownwood: Brown County Master Gardeners Association meets the second Thursday of each month, from Noon to 1 p.m., at the Brown County AgriLife Extension Office, 605 Fisk, Brownwood. For additional information, call Freda Day 325-643-1077, or Mary Engle 325-784-8453.

Georgetown: The Williamson County Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas meets from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. the second Thursday of each month at the Georgetown Public Library, 402 W. 8th Street. Georgetown. For additional information, contract Billye Adams at 512-863-9636 or visit http://www.npsot.org/WilliamsonCounty/default.htm.

Orange: The Orange County Master Gardeners meet at the Salvation Army in Orange on the second Thursday of each month. A covered-dish dinner at 6:30 p.m. is followed by a speaker and business meeting at 7 p.m.

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.

Arlington: The Arlington Men's Garden Club meets from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. on the third Monday of each month (except December) at the Bob Duncan Center, 2800 S. Center Street, Arlington. For more information, contact Lance Jepson at LJepson@aol.com.

Cleburne: The Johnson County Master Gardeners meet the third Monday of each month at McGregor house on the corner of West Henderson and Colonial Dr. in Cleburne. A program starts at 6 p.m., followed by a meet-and-greet with refreshments and a short business meeting. For information visit http://www.jcmga.org/.

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.

Glen Rose: The Somervell County Master Gardeners meet at 10 a.m., the third Wednesday of each month at the Somervell County AgriLife Extension office, 1405 Texas Drive, Glen Rose. Visitors are welcome. For more information, call 254-897-2809 or visit www.somervellmastergardeners.org.

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/.

Seabrook: The Harris County Precinct 2 Master Gardeners hold an educational program at 10 a.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at The Meeting Room at Clear Lake Park (on the Lakeside), 5001 NASA Road 1, Seabrook. The programs are free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu.

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 7:00 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 at 7 p.m. the third Thursday of each month, except December, at the Texas AgriLife Extension Bldg. at 210 E. Live Oak, Seguin. An educational program precedes the business meeting. The public is invited to attend. For topic or other information, call 830-379-1972 or visit www.guadalupecountymastergardeners.org.

Atlanta: The Caddo Wildflower Chapter of Native Plants Society meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at the Horne Enterprise building in Atlanta at 7 p.m. Visitors are welcome. For additional information, contact Kay Lowery at frostkay268@aol.com.

Brackenridge Park: The Native Plant Society San Antonio Chapter meets every fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. in the Lions Field Adult and Senior Center, 2809 Broadway at E. Mulberry, Brackenridge Park, except August and December. Social and seed/plant exchange at 6:30 p.m. Free and open to the public. For more information, contact Bea at 210-999-7292 or visit www.npsot.org/sanantonio.

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.

San Antonio: The Native Plant Society of Texas San Antonio Chapter meets the fourth Tuesday of the month, except August and December, at the Lions Field Adult & Senior Center, 2809 Broadway, San Antonio. Social and plant/seed exchange at 6:30 p.m., program at 7:00 p.m. For more information, visit www.npsot.org/sanantonio or call Bea at 210-999-7292.

Dallas: The Dallas Organic Garden Club meets at 2:30 p.m. on the fourth Sunday of each month at the North Haven Gardens, 7700 Northaven Rd., 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.


In Greg's Garden:
A Pineywoods Perspective on Gardening, Nature and Family

An intimate and personal exploration of the life of one of Texas’s most beloved gardeners, In Greg’s Garden: A Pineywoods Perspective on Gardening, Nature and Family gathers in a single volume the first nine years of Greg Grant’s columns from Texas Gardener magazine.

Revised and updated from their original publication, these 54 essays reveal the heart and soul of a seventh generation native Texan who has devoted his entire life to gardening, nature and family. With degrees in floriculture and horticulture from Texas A&M University and extensive hands-on experience as a horticulturist with the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, Stephen F. Austin State University, Mercer Arboretum and San Antonio Botanical Gardens, Grant has successfully introduced dozens of plants to the Texas nursery industry, all while maintaining long-held family property and renovating the homes of his ancestors in Arcadia, Texas.

In Greg’s Garden: A Pineywoods Perspective on Gardening, Nature and Family is a must-read for every Texas gardener.

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Texas Wildscapes:
Gardening for Wildlife

By Kelly Conrad Bender

NEW EDITION of the popular Texas Parks & Wildlife book, now with fully searchable DVD containing all the plant and animal information you need to customizTexas Wildscapes program provides the tools you need to make ahome for all the animals that will thrive in the native habitat you create.

In Texas Wildscapes, Kelly Conrad Bender identifies the kinds of animals you can expect when you give them their three basic needs: food, water, and shelter. She then provides guidelines for designing and planting your yard or garden to best provide these requirements for the many birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates the environment will attract.

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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

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Texas Gardener’s Seeds is published weekly. © Suntex Communications, Inc. 2010. 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