March 16, 2011

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Entomologist testing puts 'bite' on many home fire ant treatments

By Paul Schattenberg
Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Resourceful individuals have tried many different “home” treatments for fire ant control, but unfortunately lots of them simply don’t pass the science test, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service entomologist.

Wizzie Brown, integrated pest management specialist for AgriLife Extension in Travis County, has been putting alternative, non-chemical means of fire ant management to the test for the past few years. She now has collected objective, science-based data to either support or reject claims about the efficacy of some of these proposed home treatments.

“I’ve previously tested whether club soda was an effective means of control after getting inquiries from people who had read about this on the Internet,” Brown said. “I also started looking into whether or not other home remedies I’d been told about had any basis in scientific fact as fire ant treatments.”

Brown said her most recent trials dealt with anecdotal information she received from area homeowners about the use of coffee grounds as a fire ant treatment.

“Many gardeners utilize recycled coffee grounds from commercial operations or grounds from their own coffee brewing in their garden for composting,” Brown said. “And since gardeners tend to be rather resourceful, some have tried using coffee grounds for other purposes, including managing red imported fire ant mounds.”

In 2010, Brown tested coffee grounds obtained from the Starbucks “Grounds for Your Garden” program as an individual mound treatment for fire ants. She spread a cup of used grounds over a test mound and noted fire ant activity in and around the mound several times over a 30-day period.

“The home remedy of spreading one cup of used coffee grounds over a fire ant mound failed to kill the fire ants,” she said. “The amount of activity after applying the grounds was the same as on the control mounds receiving no treatment.”

Brown said while coffee grounds make for good composting material, her research showed that when put to the test, they are simply ineffective toward killing fire ants.

“It would be nice to have a handy way to dispose of coffee grounds awhile simultaneously killing fire ants,” she said, “but in this case, it just didn’t pan out."

Brown also recently tested whether ground cinnamon may be an effective treatment.

“I also received inquiries from Travis County residents and had seen on several Internet sites that ground cinnamon was being touted as a useful fire ant control method,” she said.

Brown established a similar methodology to test the cinnamon, sprinkling one tablespoon over the mound as an individual treatment. Again she checked ant activity on treated and untreated control mounds several times during a one-month period.

"I applied it the same way one would apply a pesticide dust labeled for control,” she said. “In this instance, it turned out that there was actually more fire ant activity in the treated mound than the untreated control.”

This spring, Brown will be investigating the efficacy of two other home treatments — oak ash and cayenne pepper.

“These are two other treatments that have been brought to my attention as possible alternatives to commercial pesticides,” she said. “It should be interesting to find out whether or not science supports their usefulness as a method of fire ant control.”

In 2009, Brown tested club soda as “an environmentally friendly cure for fire ants,” as was stated on a gardening website.

“The site suggested the reader pour two cups of club soda directly onto the center of a fire ant mound to control the colony,” Brown said. “This message found its way into gardening forums and was picked up by media — all without any scientific testing to back it up.”

Brown said the site claimed the carbon dioxide in the soda would displace the oxygen and suffocate the ants, including the queen, killing the entire colony within about 48 hours.

“It also claimed that the club soda would leave no toxic residue, would not contaminate ground water and would not indiscriminately kill other insects or harm pets,” she said. “Pretty much all that part was true, but what wasn’t true was that it would be effective in killing fire ants, unless of course you happen to drown a few in the process.”

Brown said her observations and data obtained from the trial showed there was no evidence of fire ant control resulting from pouring club soda onto a mound.

“It did not lead to the ants dying a horrendous death,” she said. “However, it did produce lots of impressive bubbling action.”

Brown said results of the club soda field trial and other home treatments have been or will be posted on the Texas Imported Fire Ant Research and Management Project website at

She added that the site also shows results of other home remedy field tests by herself and other AgriLife Extension and Texas AgriLife Research integrated pest management experts. Other home remedies for fire ant control that have been or will be tested by agency entomologists include aspartame, molasses, Epsom salts, orange juice and cola.

“There’s a lot of misinformation about home fire ant control out there,” Brown said. “And while it’s important to be environmentally responsible and minimize the use of chemicals that may also kill beneficial insects, harm pets or possibly enter the water table, the thoughtful, careful use of commercial pesticides specifically labeled for control is probably still your best defense against them.”

Brown and other AgriLife Extension integrated pest management specialists in major urban areas of the state also conduct community-wide control efforts. More information on who to contact about these efforts also can be found on the Texas fire ant project website.

San Antonio tree giveaway

By Margarette Chavez
Bexar County Master Gardener

Master Gardener Raquel Barba-Garza was looking for a unique volunteer opportunity. She wasn’t disappointed when she showed up at the Pearl Brewery Farmers’ Market on Saturday, February 12, 2011 in San Antonio. The Texas Forest Service, the City of San Antonio, the San Antonio Food Bank, the Pearl Brewery, the Alamo Forest Partnership, the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, and the Bexar county Master Gardeners, in partnership, were hosting their first fruit and nut Tree Giveaway. It was just what she was looking for.

“It seemed like a fun event,” said Barba-Garza. “I was looking for something I hadn’t done before.”

For the Texas Forest Service and its partners, long time proponents of maintaining a green canopy for the community, the free fruit and nut tree offer seemed a natural next step. As a matter of fact, City Arborist Mark Bird contends that the giveaway met many of the tree program’s goals.

“Fruit trees can be a sustainable food source,” said Bird. “The giveaway will make people think about trees in terms of other than shade trees. And it will give our landscape diversity.”

The thought of fruit trees as nourishment was on the minds of some of the tree recipients as well as those providing the trees. Although it takes at least one to three years for a tree to bear fruit, most people find trees easy to care for and the idea of fruit or nuts at their fingertips a treat. “I buy a lot of fruit from the farmers market. I try to buy organically. So after planting this tree,” said Natalie Griffin, “I plan to get some more. Pear or apple seems good. I’m originally from Wyoming. It’s a totally different kind of ground. Where I grew up we couldn’t grow much fruit, so I’m very excited about the fruit trees.”

San Antonio Master Gardeners and other volunteers handed out 330 trees ranging in height from less than 12 inches to four and five feet. The inventory included Mexican limes, lemons, peaches, plums, figs, walnuts, pecans, oranges and Texas persimmons. The citrus, however, proved to be the fast movers; they were all gone within the first 45 minutes.

According to Texas Forest Service Regional Director Paul Johnson, prices for the trees, which came from a variety of sources, ranged from $12 to $50 depending on variety. The cost was borne by the city’s Tree Mitigation Fund, a pool of money maintained from developers and builders fees used to negate the cost of trees cleared for construction. The fund supports a variety of tree planting programs that pay big returns.

“The city benefits an average of $20 a year per tree planted, or approximately $50,000 to $100,000 in terms of benefits in air quality, storm water control, and food production,” said Johnson.

The city’s trees also impact the island heat effect which can be substantial during steamy Texas summers, serve as noise barriers that mute the city’s heavy traffic, and provide cosmetic appeal that often ups property values.

In addition, the tree giveaway presented yet another opportunity. City Forester Michael Nentwich used the occasion to speak to a captive audience. Individuals standing in line were briefed on an upcoming event, the Green Shade Program, another tree giveaway event featuring an energy rebate from electric power utility City Public Service for planting medium size shade trees. Nentwich fielded questions from the tree recipients. Those households receiving a tree acquired educational materials including instructions for tree sowing.

As a bonus, Starbucks donated cups of coffee grounds that can be sprinkled around the trees to improve the nitrogen balance or that can be added to a compost pile. “People can call any Starbucks,” said Jackie Randall, Northstar Mall Starbucks Manager, “and the coffee grounds will be saved for you. We feel it’s better to give the grounds away than to send them to the landfill where they’re of no use.” The crowd welcomed the soil enhancer.

Judging from the number of people standing in line for a tree, there’s a strong possibility that the giveaway will become an annual event. Johnson anticipates that upcoming fruit and nut tree giveaways will be scheduled at various locations around the city to accommodate more residents.

Master Naturalist Rebecca Johnson never doubted the tree giveaway would be a huge success. Having volunteered at approximately 12 tree events, she is familiar with frequent requests from citizens asking for fruit and nut trees.

“Everybody always asked, ‘Do you have fruit or nut trees?’ So I knew they would go really fast,” said Johnson.

Indeed they did. All 330 saplings found a home quickly, leaving some folks to wait until next year to claim their favorite fruit or nut tree.

Gardening tips

"Dried oak leaves work great at scouring birdbaths," writes Peggy Edwards. "No need to haul out the soap, bleach and scrub brush if on a regular basis, while putzing around the garden, you grab a few oak or other large dried leaves. I leave the dirty water in the birdbath, scrub (if the leaves wear out, just toss them over your shoulder and grab some more), rinse and fill with fresh water. Easy, costs nothing and it's green."

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 2011 Planning Guide & Calendar. Please send your tips of 50 words or less to the editor at: Gardening Tips.

Did you know...

The best time to prune a peach tree is during bloom, according to The Texas Peach Handbook by Jim Kamas and Larry Stein. Pruning at bloom is an invigorating action that allows the grower to see where the production potential will be because the blooms are visible.

Field of vetch wanted

Wanted: Field of vetch in East Texas. Jerry Stroope, Stroope Honey Farms, Houston, is looking for a fairly large meadow with an abundance of vetch. He will place a truck load of hives in the meadow in return for a case of honey. He noticed a field of this fragrant, purple flowered legume between Henderson and Nacogdoches last year. To take advantage of this sweet deal, call Jerry at 281-732-5850.

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.

San Antonio: Visit the San Antonio Botanical Garden during Spring Break for daily children’s programs for ages 7-11 beginning at 10 a.m. each morning. Registration and fees vary. Remaining events include: Thursday, March 17 Worm Bins. Kids can learn how to turn their carrot tops and leftover lettuce into food for worms. Finished reading that newspaper? Throw that in, too! Now you're ready for some pet worms to help turn your kitchen scraps into rich soil for your plants. Register through NEISD Community Education at Fee: $27 (includes Garden admission) plus $5 supply fee due on the first day of class. Friday, March 18 Junior Gardeners. Kids will get their hands on horticulture through fun crafts and gardening activities! Fee: $3 plus Garden admission ($5/child, members free. The San Antonio Botanical Garden is located at 555 Funston at North New Braunfels Avenue with free parking. The Botanical Garden is operated under the auspices of the City of San Antonio Department of Parks & Recreation and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. year-round except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. For more information, the public can visit

San Antonio: David Rodriguez, County Extension Agent — Horticulture & Master Gardener Coordinator, will present Spring “Green-up” Seminar for Homeowners’ Laws and Gardens Wednesday, March 16, 6-8 p.m. at the AgriLife Conference Room, 3355 Cherry Ridge, Suite 208, San Antonio. David will discuss the actions to take now for your garden and landscape. Bring your question to this two-hour information-packed seminar. Admission charge is $12.00. For more information, call 210-467-6575.

College Station: "Gardening Study School I" will be March 17-18 at the Texas A&M University Horticulture Building, College Station. Taught by Dr. Joe Novak, Texas A&M University Department of Horticulture, the course includes botany, soils, houseplant basics, plant propagation, garden ecosystems.  Admittance is limited to 35 attendees. Registration of $100 is due postmarked by February 24 to Texas Garden Club GSS State Chairman: Jane W. Cohen, 3655 McCullough Road, College Station, TX 77845; 979-690-3500. A registration form may be downloaded from: 1) NGC web site at, then Schools, then Gardening Study Schools, then March 17-18; 2) Texas Garden Club web page at, then events, then March 17-18, Registration Form; 3) A&M Garden Club web page at, then activities, then Gardening Study School. The classes usually go from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., with sign-in the first 15 minutes. The Gardening Study Schools are a series of 4 schools. Each school may be taken individually. Courses are usually offered about 6 months apart. Attendees who take all four within a seven-year period, may become a Gardening Consultant. Schools are offered regularly through Texas Garden Club sponsorship.

Kingsland: Get ready for "Spring Vegetable Gardening" with Master Gardener Violet Carson in a free Green Thumb program presented by the Highland Lakes Master Gardeners on Thursday, March 17 at noon at the Kingsland Library, 125 W Polk. For more information, visit

Round Top: The 16th Annual Herbal Forum at Round Top Plant Sale and “Thyme Well Spent” gift shops presented by the Pioneer Unit of the Herb Society of America will be open to the public Friday and Saturday, March 18 and 19 (Friday from 9a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.). They will be located adjacent to the Festival Hill Concert Hall, which is on Jasper Road, 1/2 mile north of Round Top off of Highway 237. This plant sale has become one of the most anticipated plant sales in the area for gardeners seeking herbal plants and other garden plants suitable to this area that are seldom available in local retail outlets. Henry Flowers, the Director of Gardens at Festival Hill, will present an overview of the plants at the sale Friday morning at 10 a.m. The gift shops offer many garden-related hand-crafted items, including herb-based products. Proceeds support the gardens at Festival Hill and the educational activities and scholarship programs of the HSA-Pioneer Unit. Herbal Forum information is at or 979-249-3129.

Austin: A Passion for Plants: An East Austin Garden Fair will be held from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., Saturday, March 19, the last weekend of Spring Break, at New Covenant Fellowship of Austin Church, 1507 Wilshire Blvd., Austin. The theme of the fifth annual fair is Edible Landscaping. This free public gardening event will feature hands-on demonstrations of how to dig a garden bed, harvest rain water, grow fruits and vegetables organically, start plants from cuttings and seeds, and how to cut back on chemicals that harm our environment and ourselves. Come for the free advice from on-site experts who will answer all of your gardening questions, for tips on living healthier and happier, and for fun educational activities for kids to get them out in nature in your own back yard! Get ready for spring with all the free information needed to start an edible landscape, whether it’s one plant in a pot or a whole yard full, and enjoy eating healthier and being healthy! Hosted by Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Travis County Master Gardeners Association, the Sustainable Food Center, and the Holistic Education and Health Network. Call the Texas AgriLife Extension Service at 512-854-9600 for more information.

Marion: David Rodriguez, County Extension Agent — Horticulture & Master Gardener Coordinator will present Spring Vegetable and Citrus Seminar, March 19, 1-3 p.m. at Schultz Nursery, 100 West Huebinger, Marion. David will discuss the actions to take now in the flush of spring growth and answer questions about your garden and citrus trees. Admission is free. For more information, call 210-467-6575.

San Antonio: Linda Reed from Ladybug Natural Brand Products will present "Square Foot Gardening" at 10 a.m., March 19, at the Antique Rose Emporium, 7561 E. Evans Road, San Antonio. This free presentation will demonstrate how to get the maximum yield with the square-foot gardening approach to growing. For additional information, call 210-651-4565 or visit

Lufkin: A Spring Native Plant Seminar will be presented March 22, at 6:30 p.m. at Angelina County Extension Office, 2201 South Medford Drive, Lufkin (next to the Farmer’s Market on the Loop). Dawn Stover, Research Assistant at SFA Arboretum will speak on “Native Plants in the Landscape.” Dawn will discuss her favorite native plants and how to include them in your landscape. This event is hosted by Angelina County Extension and the Angelina Master Gardener Native Plant Committee and is open to the public. For more information, call 936-634-6414 or visit

Lake Charles, La.: 2011 Southwest Louisiana Garden Festival, March 25-26, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles, La. The Southwest Louisiana Garden Festival inside the Burton Coliseum is celebrating gardening with its 12th Annual Show and Plant Extravaganza about gardening, flowers, trees, shrubs, garden accessories, books, demonstrations, educational lectures, and general garden tools. Area, regional and interstate exhibitors and vendors will be there to assist you with your plant and garden needs. The Federated Garden Clubs of Southwest Louisiana will present: “Lovely Louisiana” their 2011 flower show theme. They will be displaying their floral design and horticulture talents. There will be new and exciting educational programs about garden topics of interest by LSU AgCenter specialist, as well as, regional, state and national guest speakers. The festival attracts more than 4,000 garden lovers, residents, and visitors each year. There will be a Plant Health Clinic with professionals from the LSU AgCenter as well as Master Gardener volunteers who will help diagnose plant problems and answer garden questions. Educational garden seminars will be on-going throughout the two day event. The 4-H ‘Rent-A-Kid’ will be there to help festival-goers carry out items to their vehicles. Educational programs include Home Vegetable Gardening and Fruit Production held on Friday while programs on Ornamentals and Landscape Gardening & Herbs being held on Saturday. The SWL Master Gardeners will present their Garden Fest Preview Party with a Gumbo Supper & Silent Auction in the Chalkley Room of the Burton Colisem on Thursday, March 24, 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. Donation of $10.00 in advance for admission. Tickets can be purchased at the LSU Agcenter, 7101 Gulf Hwy., Lake Charles. Attendees will enjoy the gumbo supper, participate in the Silent Auction, preview the Garden Show and purchase from the Garden Fest vendors that evening. Regular Garden Festival hours are Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Admission is $2 for adults and free for children 12 and under. For more information, visit, or contact Robert Turley or Pat Ortego at 337-475-8812.

Nacogdoches: The SFA Pineywoods Native Plant Center will host a two-part garden seminar, “How to Identify and Attract Backyard Birds,” on March 25 from 6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m. and on March 26 from 8 a.m.-11 am. Participants will enjoy a Friday evening lecture with Cliff Shackelford, ornithologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife, about identification of common local birds. On Saturday morning, Cliff will lead a leisurely birding stroll through the PNPC property and on to the Shackelford home near the Pineywoods Native Plant Center to visit their backyard made “for the birds.” Shackelford is a 7th generation Texan and started bird watching at the early age of nine. He holds both B.S. and M.S. degrees in biology, with an emphasis in avian ecology, from Stephen F. Austin State University, and has authored more than 50 publications on birds and birding. He is the lead author of the book Hummingbirds of Texas, published in 2005 by Texas A&M University Press. Participants will meet for both sessions at the Tucker House at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center, 2900 Raguet Street, Nacogdoches. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended, and binoculars are available for first-time birders that need them. Cost is $20 for members of SFA Gardens Friends and $25 for non-members. To register, call the SFA Gardens Education Office at 936-468-1832 or email

Burnet: The 13th Annual Hill Country Lawn and Garden Show, will be held at the Burnet Community Center, 401 E Jackson, Burnet, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., Saturday, March 26. Free to public. For more information, contact

Houston: The Garden Conservancy's Open Days Program Garden Tour: March 26 visit five Houston private gardens, open to benefit the Garden Conservancy and Peckerwood Garden. No reservations required; rain or shine. Visit website for complete garden descriptions and driving directions. Admission is $5 per garden; children 12 and under are free. See or call The Garden Conservancy toll-free weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST, 1-888-842-2442.

McKinney: The Collin County Master Gardeners will present The Garden Show, March 26 and 27 at the Myers Park and Event Center, McKinney. The Garden Show is packed with exciting and informative educational events with hands on activities and demos by local experts. Mariana Greene, Dr. Dotty Woodson, Kim Schofield, Dr. Greg Church, Michael O’Keefe, Roger Sanderson, Dr. Steve George, Buddy Lee and many Collin County Master Gardeners will speak on timely information on outdoor living in North Texas. Tour Our Perennial Trial Garden; Learn How to Build a Rain Barrel; Creating and Using Compost; Building a Raised Bed; Vegetable Gardening; Growing Herbs; Planting for Summer Color; Learn How to Propagate Plants; Growing Great Turf Grass; Growing in Containers; What is IPM?; How do I Collect and Use Rain Water?; Improving Your Sprinkler System; Visit With Local Garden Clubs and Nonprofit Organizations; Learn How Our Collin County Cities Are Going Green; Visit the Great Vendors and Much, Much More. Admission is 2 cans of food or $2 per car for the North Texas Food Bank. For more information, contact or visit

San Antonio: David Rodriguez, County Extension Agent — Horticulture & Master Gardener Coordinator will present Plant Problem and Answers Clinic, March 26, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., at Locke Hill Pet Feed and Lawn, 4927 Golden Quail, San Antonio. David welcomes your garden and landscape questions. Bring pictures and samples of any and all of your gardening problems. Admission is free. For more information, call 210-467-6575.

San Antonio: Native Plant Society of Texas, San Antonio Chapter will host the 2nd Annual "Native San Antonio!" on Saturday, March 26, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Land Heritage Institute, 1349 Neal Rd., San Antonio. Free and open to the public, this is an outdoor celebration of all things native to San Antonio that will include a tree give-away, native plant sales, guided nature walks, activities for kids, hay rides, Native American Hot Rocks Cooking and Chuck Wagon Demo, arts and crafts, food, music and speakers. For additional information, visit

Seabrook: Gaye Hammond, past president of the Houston Rose Society, will present "The Rose — America's True Native" at 10 a.m. March 26, at The Meeting Room at Clear Lake (on the lake side), 5001 NASA Parkway, Seabrook. This lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, visit

Waxahachie: The Ellis County Master Gardeners will host their 11th Annual Lawn & Garden Expo on Saturday, March 26, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., at the Waxahachie Civic Center, 1950 N. I-35E, Waxahachie. There will be 100+ exhibitor booths focusing on lawn- and garden-related products and services. There will be educational opportunities with the emphasis on fun for the whole family. There are activities throughout the day, including children and adult workshops presented by Ellis County Master Gardener specialists. There will be a huge Master Gardener plant sale area, as well as an  information booth where specialists answer horticultural questions. Tickets are $5.00 at the door; children under 12 are free. Free tickets are available from our sponsors. For a list of our sponsors, as well as further information on the Expo, visit or call 972-825-5175.

Bryan: The Brazos County office of Texas AgriLife Extension and the Brazos County Master Gardeners will host "The 2011 Earth-Kind Gardening 101 Series" each month through October. These monthly meetings, ideal for beginning gardeners, will teach everything from how to amend soil and grow healthier plants to tips for selecting the best spot for a vegetation garden. The remaining classes will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., March 29, April 19, May 17, June 21, July 19, August 16, September 20 and October 18. Attend one session or attend them all. $10 per class session. Pre-registration is preferred, one week in advance of a session, but walk-ins are welcome. For more information or a registration form, visit or call 979-823-0129.

Austin: There’s an old saying in the pest control industry: “There are two types of homes in Texas — those with termites and those that will have them within seven years.” Which category do you fit into? This class will arm homeowners with information so they feel comfortable discussing management options for termites with pest professionals. Do you know how termites look for food? Can you tell the difference between ants and termites? Learn how to identify the types of termites found in Central Texas and their management options at Termite Training for Homeowners, Wednesday, March 30, from 1 p.m. until 2 p.m. at Travis County AgriLife Extension Office, 1600-B Smith Rd., Austin. For additional information, call 512-854-9600.

Austin: Enjoy the pleasures of fresh homegrown vegetables. Imagine baskets of okra, tomatoes, squash and green beans from your own garden! Learn how to plant and maintain this garden from Master Gardener Vegetable Specialist and Texas Gardener Contributing Writer Patty Leander when she leads “Spring Vegetable Gardening,” from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m., March 30 at Old Quarry Branch Library, 7051 Village Center Dr., Austin. She will share popular varieties for Central Texas, recommended planting dates and tips for organic gardening and insect control. This free seminar, packed with information and color photographs, will benefit both new and experienced gardeners, so don’t miss this great kick-off to spring gardening! Arrive early to ensure a seat as this is one of our most popular seminars. This seminar is free and open to the public. It is presented by the Travis County Master Gardeners, a volunteer arm of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Travis County. For more information, visit or call the Master Gardener Public Gardening Help Desk at 512-854-9600.

Highland Lakes: The Kingsland Garden Club Annual Plant Sale will be held at the Kingsland House of Arts & Crafts Spring Sale behind Wells Fargo Bank on Chamberlain St. in Kingsland on Saturday and Sunday, April 2 and 3. Purchase good home-grown Hill Country plants at reasonable prices. Arrive early for best selection.  Open Saturday 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. For additional information, visit

Stephenville: The annual Stephenville Native & Heirloom Plant Fair will be held Saturday, April 2, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Stephenville Museum, 525 E Washington St., Stephenville. Vendors will be offering native and adapted plants, herbs, vegetables, arts & crafts, concessions, and more. Informative speakers. Vendor space is free; contact Russell at 254-968-9761 or For more information, including directions, visit

Austin: Learn the answer to “What’s Bugging my Vegetables?” Saturday, April 9, from 10 a.m. until noon at Homewood Heights Community Garden, 2606 Sol Wilson Ave, Austin. Learn about the most common garden insects…good and bad. Knowledge is power and you’ll walk away knowing you can identify the eggs, nymphs, and adults. Discover Integrated Pest Management (IPM), an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment. Park in the neighborhood. Garden is on the north side of street west of Sol Wilson/Ridgeway intersection. This seminar is free and open to the public. It is presented by the Travis County Master Gardeners, a volunteer arm of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Travis County. For more information, visit or call the Master Gardener Public Gardening Help Desk at 512-854-9600.

Cameron: The 2nd Annual Milam County Nature Festival will be held from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., April 9 at Wilson-Ledbetter Park in Cameron. This is an educational and fun family event for all age groups with presentations, exhibits and hands on activities in a variety of nature areas including birds, bats, insects, butterflies, snakes, horned lizards, fish, wild animals, wildflowers, native grasses, and much more. For more information, visit:

Cleburne: The Johnson County Master Gardener Association 3rd Annual Plant Sale will be held Saturday, April 9, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Cleburne Senior Center 1212 Glenwood Drive Cleburne. Native and adapted plants selected for Johnson County Featuring perennials, shrubs, vegetables, herbs and annuals. Large selection of Earth-Kind roses. Planting advice from Johnson County Master Gardeners. Free admission and parking. Free education classes Children's Activity Center. For additional information, visit

Rockport-Fulton: The Seventh Rockport Herb Festival will be held from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at the Paws & Taws Fulton Convention Center, 402 N. Fulton Beach Road, Rockport-Fulton. Featured speakers include Susan Wittig Albert, New York Times bestselling author of the China Bayles series, books that "contribute to our knowledge, information, use, or enjoyment of herbs"; the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter series; and a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries written with her husband Bill Albert under the pseudonym Robin Paige. Also speaking will be Judy Barrett, founder of Homegrown Texas Magazine and author of What Can I Do With My Herbs? and What Makes Heirloom Plants So Great? Chef Kevin Argetsinger will present a cooking demonstration, and there will be other on-going cooking demonstrations throughout the day. In addition, Jeff Transeau of Charta Olives will speak on growing Olive Trees in Texas and the Texas Olive Industry. Texas olive oil and olive trees will be for sale. For additional information, visit or

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. 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

Dallas: The Greater North Texas Orchid Society will host "Expose Yourself to Orchids," an orchid show and sale, Saturday, April 9, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sunday, April 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Texas A&M Extension Center, Pavilion Building, 17360 Coit Rd., Dallas. Free Admission. For additional information, visit

Nacogdoches: 2011 Family Fun Days planned through Nacogdoches Naturally, an outdoor education component of the Stephen F. Austin State University’s SFA Gardens, will include exciting outdoor weekend programs beginning in January and extending through May. Upcoming events include: April 16, SFA Garden Gala Day Plant Sale and Earth Day Celebration, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., SFA Pineywoods Native Plant Center, 2900 Raguet Street; April 30, Farm and Forest Day, 9 a.m.-Noon, SFA Beef Center, Highway 259; May 14, Lake Sam Rayburn/Caney Creek Recreation Area, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Lake Sam Rayburn Nature Center, $10 per family. Events are free unless otherwise noted. For more information or to register, call Kerry Lemon 936-468-5586 or email


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 or call 281-855-5600.

Rockport: Rockport: Monthly meetings of the Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardeners are held at 10 a.m. on the first Tuesday of each month at Texas AgriLife Extension Service - Aransas County Office, 611 E. Mimosa, Rockport. For additional information, e-mail or call 361-790-0103.

Kilgore: Northeast Texas Organic Gardeners meets at 1 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month. 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

Brownwood: The Brown County Master Gardeners Association meets the first Thursday of each month from noon to 1 p.m. at the AgriLife Extension Office, 605 Fisk Ave., Brownwood. For further information, call Mary Green Engle at 325-784-8453.

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

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 or contact contact

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 or call 281-991-8437.

Rockport: The Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group, founded in March 2003, meets the second Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m. at 619 N. Live Oak Street, Room 14, Rockport, to discuss all aspects of using and growing herbs, including historical uses and tips for successful propagation and cultivation. 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 and

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

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

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

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

Cleburne: The Johnson County Master Gardeners meet at 2 p.m. on the third Monday of each month at McGregor House, 1628 W. Henderson, Cleburne, which includes a program and a meet & greet. For more information, call Diane Asberry at 817-558-3932.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 or call Bea at 210-999-7292.

Leander: The Leander Garden Club meets on the fourth Thursday of each month (except July and August) at 10:30 a.m. at the Leander Presbyterian Church, 101 N. West Drive, Leander, unless there is a field trip or an event at a member's home. Following a short business meeting, there is usually a program, followed by a shared pot-luck luncheon. To confirm the meeting place and time, please call Cathy Clark-Ramsey at 512-963-4698 or email

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

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.

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