December 5, 2012

Welcome to Texas Gardener’s Seeds, the weekly newsletter for Texas gardeners. Please do not reply to this e-mail because the sending address is not monitored. See the bottom of this newsletter for information on how to subscribe, unsubscribe, or contact the editor.


The garden reader:
Popcorn for breakfast

By William Scheick
Book Reviewer

Rebecca Rupp. How Carrots Won the Trojan War: Curious (But True) Stories of Common Vegetables. Storey Publishing, 2011. 376 pp. $14.95.

With the gifting season upon us once again, there is a new, highly entertaining paperback book that would make a perfect present for both veggie-gardeners and foodies.

Its title alone — How Carrots Won the Trojan War — signals the fun to come within this book. The 20 chapter headings are also relentlessly enticing, including “Radishes Identify Witches,” “Peas Almost Poison General Washington,” “Cucumbers Imitate Pigeons,” “Lettuce Puts Insomniacs to Sleep” and “Melons Undermine Mark Twain’s Morals.”

Since I started to read this book during Halloween week, I was drawn at first to the radish/witches discussion and also to the section headed by “Corn Creates Vampires.” While the titles are deliberately provocative to grab readers’ attention, the actual detailed commentaries are in fact at once pleasantly folksy and richly informative.

Combining a light touch with a deep mining of history and a smart sampling of plant science is not an easy journalistic trick to pull off. But chapter after chapter Rebecca Rupp, a contributing editor at GreenPrints, manages that trick with enviable skill.

Here are examples of Rupp’s engaging manner: “Unusual among vegetables, corn doesn’t sweeten with age.” Equally unusual, “nothing that looks much like corn is found in the wild, and nobody, for most of its history, knew where it came from. Corn has always been a mystery, which perhaps is why so many myths surround it.”

Besides Native American myths, from earliest times corn also has played a considerable role in history. Even cornhusks have served a variety of functions.

For instance, cornhusks were long ago stuffed into mattresses, including Abraham Lincoln’s birth-bed. And cornhusks were turned into paper by 1802, though the latter process “doesn’t seem to have gone much of anywhere.”

“Popcorn was breakfast food in colonial New England,” while the Pennsylvania Dutch “cooked up chicken-corn soups with popcorn floating on the top to give them extra oomph.”

Eventually Rupp gets to George Washington’s taste for corn whiskey and also to European vampire legends as well as corn flakes. But I’ve already given enough away here and ought to leave some mystery left in Rupp’s commentary on corn.

It is a wonder how much diverse information Rupp has so expertly distilled into each of her chapters. And it is another wonder, too, that she has rendered all of this wide-ranging information in a narrative performance that hugely delights even as it keenly enlightens.


Trees to be distributed to residents in Grimes, Montgomery and Waller counties on Dec. 8

Hundreds of Southeast Texas families still recovering from the devastating effects of last year’s drought and wildfires will receive a tangible symbol of hope next week as 500 free trees are distributed through Texas ReLeaf.

Funded by a partnership between Texas A&M Forest Service and Anheuser-Busch, the beautification and disaster relief program is providing trees to pre-registered families from Grimes, Montgomery and Waller counties — three areas that were hit particularly hard by the 2011 drought and wildfire season.

The trees will be distributed Saturday, Dec. 8, from 1 to 4 p.m. at three designated locations:

  • Grimes County: Plantersville Fire Department, 15985 FM 1774, Plantersville, Texas, 77363
  • Montgomery County: Magnolia City Hall, 18111 Buddy Riley Blvd., Magnolia, Texas, 77354
  • Waller County: San Bernard Electric Co-Op, 29244 FM 1488, Hockley, Texas, 77447

Families must pick up their tree at the designated location within their county.

“ReLeaf is much more than a tree giveaway,” said Texas A&M Forest Service Urban District Forester John Warner, who is based is Conroe and developed the program. “Yes, we want to re-green these communities. But more importantly, we hope to use these trees to revive community spirit and inspire hope.”

The program launched in October, giving priority to residents living within the burn scars created by the Riley Road and Dyer Mill fires, as well as those living within a surrounding one-mile buffer zone. Registration was later opened to all residents of the three counties.

Each participating family will receive one tree, as well as a water bag and tree guard. As part of the program, they agree to plant the tree immediately upon pick up, preferably in their front yard, and participate in a follow-up site survey done by Texas A&M Forest Service.

Roughly 1,000 trees will be provided through the program; the first half distributed Dec. 8, 2012, and the second half distributed March 2, 2013. About 10 percent have been set aside for planting on public lands such as schools, libraries and parks.

Registration for the first distribution is closed; however, trees still are available for the March distribution. Families who haven’t already signed up can do so online or by phone — www.kmcbtexas.org/releaf  or 713-806-3453 — when registration re-opens to the public on Jan. 6, 2013.


Gardening tips

Why not grow your own tomato transplants this year? You can select the varieties you want, rather than settling for what is available come planting time. Plant your seed in trays or small pots and place them in larger trays partially filled with water on top of your refrigerator. It is important to bottom water the transplants to lesson the chance of damping off disease. Once they seedlings start to emerge, place the plants under fluorescent lights. Keep the light bulbs within a few inches of the leaves, raising the light as the plants grow. In three to four weeks you can step your transplants up to larger containers and harden them off by setting them out on a protected patio or porch during warm spells. This will help them make the adjustment to outside conditions once all danger of frost has passed.

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 2012 Planning Guide & Calendar. Please send your tips of 50 words or less to the editor at: Gardening Tips.


Did you know...

Muscadine grapes don’t produce bunches of grapes. Instead, they produce lots of clusters. On a per-square-foot basis, they out-produce bunch grapes and are resistant to Pierce’s disease, the most limiting factor to grape production in Texas.


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.

DECEMBER

La Marque: “The Urban Farmstead” will be presented from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., December 8, at Galveston County AgriLife Extension Office in Carbide Park, 4102 Main Street (FM 519), La Marque. Presentation provided for homeowners who wish to have a better and more self-sufficient life whether they live on a city lot or small acreage. Topics include intensive vegetable gardening, back yard poultry and small livestock production. Also included will be video presentations of urban farmsteads on city lots and small acreages in Galveston County. This seminar is about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Registration fee of $12 covers lunch and program handouts; due by December 3 (visit http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/) for more details. For course reservations, call 281-534-3413, ext. 12 or email GALV3@wt.net.

Houston: HUG (Houston Urban Gardeners) will meet at 6:30 p.m., December 10, at the Houston Garden Center, 1500 Hermann Park Dr., Houston. To access parking go to the lot right across from Miller Outdoor Theater. Kim Haven, owner/manager of Billabong Fresh Flower Farm, will describe her small (20 acre) family farm in Waller dedicated to producing high-quality specialty cut flowers. She’ll describe the challenges and success stories of her business. Kim can be found at her Texas Cut Flowers booth at many of Houston’s farmers markets. Lien Nguyen, a creative floral designer with Prestige Events, will demonstrate some impressive yet simple arrangements using common containers and supplies just in time for the holidays.

Humble: Mercer volunteer Sherry Cruse surprises and inspires participants with selections of plant materials and containers that bring color and style indoors during the winter months during her presentation about “Decorating for the holidays” from noon until 2 p.m., Wednesday, December 12, at the Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens, 22306 Aldine Westfield Road, Humble. For more information, call 281-443-8731, or visit www.hcp4.net/mercer.

Humble: Join avid birders and novices from 8 a.m. until noon, Saturday, December 15, at the Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens, 22306 Aldine Westfield Road, Humble, as you take part in Christmas Bird Count, an annual national event sanctioned by the Audubon Society, Houston is on a major flyway for migrating species and this is a great way to see some amazing birds as they head south or spend their winters in Mercer’s gardens. For more information, contact Al Barr at albbarr@comcast.net or call 281-443-8731.

MONTHLY MEETINGS

FIRST WEEK

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.

Wichita Falls: The Wichita County Master Gardener Association meets at 5:30 p.m. at the AgriLife Extension Office, 600 Scott Street, Wichita Falls, on the first Tuesday of each month. For more information, visit www.txmg.org/wichita or call 940-716-8610.

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 www.allengardenclub.org.

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.

Gonzalas: Gonzales Master Gardeners Association holds their monthly meeting on the first Thursday of each month. A short program is presented. The meeting is held from noon until 1 p.m. at 1405 Conway St. (Odd Fellows Lodge). Bring a bag lunch, drinks provided. Contact AgriLife Extension Office at 830-672-8531 or e-mail gonzales@ag.tamu.edu for more information.

SECOND WEEK

Austin: Austin Organic Gardeners Club meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second Monday of each month (except December) at the Austin Area Garden Center, 2220 Barton Springs Road, Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin. For more information, visit www.austinorganicgardeners.org.

Evant: The Evant Garden Club meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 10 a.m., usually at the bank in downtown Evant. To confirm the date, time and place of each month's meeting, call 254-471-5585.

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 guadalupecounty@npsot.org.

Jacksboro: The Jacksboro Garden Club meets at 9:30 a.m. the second Wednesday of each month (except June, July and August) at the Concerned Citizens Center, 400 East Pine Street, Jacksboro. For more information, call Melinda at 940-567-6218.

Longview: The Gregg County Master Gardeners Association meets the second Wednesday of each month from noon to 1 p.m. at the AgriLife Extension Office, 405 E. Marshall Ave., Longview. The public is invited to attend. There is an educational program preceding the business meeting. For further information call Cindy Gill at 903-236-8429 or visit www.gregg-tx.tamu.edu.

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 www.rockportherbs.org and http://rockportherbies.blogspot.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.

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 Association holds their monthly meeting on the second Thursday of each month. A short program is presented. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Salvation Army Bldg. cor. MLK & Strickland in Orange. Pot luck supper at 6 p.m. Visit http://txmg.org/orange for more information.

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.

Angleton: The Brazoria County Master Gardeners meet at 11 a.m. on the second Friday of each month at the Brazoria County Extension Office, 21017 County Road 171, Angleton. There is a general business meeting followed by a brief educational program each month. For further information call 979-864-1558, ext.110.

College Station: The A&M Garden Club meets on the second Friday of each month during the school year at 9:30 a.m. in the training room of the College Station Waste Water Facility building at the end of North Forest Parkway, College Station. Expert speakers, plant sharing, and federated club projects help members learn about gardening in the Brazos Valley, floral design, conservation, and more. For more information, visit http://www.amgardenclub.com/.

Houston: The Spring Branch African Violet Club meets the second Saturday of each month, January through November, at 10:30am at the Copperfield Baptist Church, 8350 Highway 6 North, Houston. Call Karla at 281-748-8417 prior to attending to confirm meeting date and time.

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.

THIRD WEEK

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 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 Sharon Smith at 817-894-7700.

Rockport: Monthly meetings of the Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardeners are held at 10 a.m. on the third Tuesday of each month at Texas AgriLife Extension Service - Aransas County Office, 892 Airport Rd., Rockport. For 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.

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.

Brownwood: Brownwood Garden Club meets the third Thursday of each month, 11:30 a.m.– 1 p.m.  The club meetings are at Southside Baptist Church, 1219 Indian Creek Road, with refreshments and a speaker presentation. Visitors are welcome. For more information, email boeblingen@centex.net or call 817-454-8175).

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 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 June and 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.

FOURTH WEEK

New Braunfels: The Comal Master Gardeners meet at 6 p.m. the fourth Monday of each month (except December) at the GVTC Auditorium, 36101 FM 3159, New Braunfels. For additional information, call 830-620-3440.

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 Gene Bobo at gene.bobo@agnet.tamu.edu.

Brackenridge Park: The Native Plant Society San Antonio Chapter meets every fourth Tuesday of each month at 7 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.

Bryan: The Brazos County Master Gardeners, a program of Texas AgriLife Extension, meet the fourth Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Brazos Center, 3232 Briarcrest Drive, Bryan. There is a public gardening program at each meeting and pertinent information may be found at brazosmg.com or 979-823-0129.

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 Deborah Beggs Moncrief Garden Center, 3220 Botanic Blvd., Ft. Worth. Refreshments are served. For more information, call 817-263-9322 or visit www.ogcfw.webs.com.

San Antonio: The Native Plant Society of Texas San Antonio Chapter meets the fourth Tuesday of each 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.

Houston: The Houston Chapter of the Native Prairie Association of Texas (HNPAT) meets from 7 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of each month at Bayland Park Community Center, 6400 Bissonnet, Houston. For more information, contact hnpat@prairies.orgrg.

Leander: The Leander Garden Club meets on the fourth Thursday of each month (except July and August) at 10:30 a.m. at the community room behind the Greater Texas Federal Credit Union,1300 N. Bell, Cedar Park, unless there is special event planned. Following a program and short business meeting, we share a pot-luck luncheon. To confirm the meeting place and time, please call president Cathy Clark-Ramsey at 512-963-4698 or email info@leandergc.org.

Dallas: The Greater Dallas Organic Garden Club meets at 7:00 p.m. on the fourth Thurday of each month at the REI, 4515 LBJ Freeway, Dallas. For more information, call 214-824-2448 or visit www.gdogc.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.


Texas Fruit and Vegetable Gardening

By Greg Grant

This new book incorporates Greg’s horticultural expertise along with his homespun writing style and, unlike other books on vegetable gardening, this one includes chapters on fruit, nuts and herbs along with a nice selection of family recipes.

This easy-to-follow, color-packed guide features:

  • Planting, care and harvesting information for more than 60 edibles
  • Popular vegetable selections from arugula to tomatoes
  • A variety of common and unusual fruits and herbs
  • Advice on garden planning, creating the perfect soil, watering and more!
  • It is a must have for every serious gardener in Texas and neighboring states.

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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.

Available only for Kindle. Order directly from Amazon by clicking here.


Wish you'd saved them?

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Texas Gardener’s Seeds is published weekly. © Suntex Communications, Inc. 2012. 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