May 15, 2013

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Nutrition research shows that in addition to being an excellent source of dietary fiber, artichokes contain high levels of antioxidants and potassium. They are a staple of the Mediterranean diet, noted for its health benefits. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo)

Artichokes finding a place in the ‘heart’ of Texas

By Paul Schattenberg
Texas AgriLife Extension Service

It was cool and overcast during the recent harvest of a 12-acre field of artichokes being grown by MO Produce LLC in Rancho Viejo, near Brownsville.

As the workers methodically harvested the fist-size globes from the tops of plants, Mike Ortiz, one of the operation’s owners, oversaw the harvest and inspected the rest of the crop.

“This is our fifth year for growing artichokes here in the Rio Grande Valley and we’ve had good success with them so far, especially with help from the Texas A&M Research and Extension Center in Uvalde,” said Ortiz, who has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural development from Texas A&M University.

While more than 95 percent of U.S. artichoke production is currently in California, Ortiz and his business partner, Jed Murray, himself a California ‘transplant’ to the Lower Rio Grande Valley, have been giving the artichoke a home where the armadillo and roadrunner roam.

“There is currently some fledgling commercial production in the Rio Grande Valley and Winter Garden area, with additional small-scale production in the Hill Country and in the Austin and Dallas area,” said Dr. Daniel Leskovar, Texas A&M AgriLife Research vegetable physiologist and Uvalde center director. “There are also many home gardeners throughout the state who grow artichokes in small veggie garden plots. But the artichoke as a commercial crop is still a relative newcomer to Texas.”

Since 2007, Ortiz and Murray have been consulting with Leskovar on various aspects of artichoke production. He and his fellow researchers have provided them research-based information and assistance on variety selection, transplantation, irrigation and various production methods so they might produce artichokes that will meet or exceed consumer expectations.

“From a production standpoint, artichokes are a reasonably low-maintenance crop,” Ortiz said. “In general, they require about the same amount of effort as say cabbage or onions. Plus, they have a much better profit potential than most of the traditional crops produced in the Valley.”

Murray, who also is president of the Texas Vegetable Association headquartered in nearby Mission, said customer feedback proves the operation is headed in the right direction.

“Our customers tell us they like the freshness, the nutty flavor and the big heart of the artichokes we grow here,” Murray said. “We frequently get compliments and expressions of gratitude from them.”

Murray said part of their marketing strategy is to introduce artichokes to audiences that don’t have a tradition of using them as ingredients in their recipes and to alert them to their many healthful qualities.

“Once they get a taste and realize how good they are, plus realize their exceptional nutritional value, they’ll want to add them to their weekly shopping list,” he said.

Both Murray and Ortiz practice what they preach, frequently cooking artichokes for their own families, which include a total of seven children.

“We make cooking artichokes a kind of family activity at my house,” Ortiz said. “I’ll parboil them in a little water and oil, plus some salt and a few spices, then put them on the grill. The kids actually fight over who gets served first.”

Otriz added that his 97-year-old Spanish grandfather who lives nearby grew up in the tradition of eating artichokes as a part of his normal diet.

“I guess you could say he’s living proof they’re good for you,” Ortiz said jokingly.

It’s not just Rio Grande Valley-area consumers who are delighted with their artichokes, Murray said. MO Produce can now count Whole Foods, as well as another Texas-based supermarket chain, among its artichoke fan — and customer — base.

“We’re excited that we can produce a fresh, flavorful, local product that is both healthy and nutritious,” Murray said. “We also strive to leave a small carbon footprint from our production and transportation.”

Artichokes are a key food in the Mediterranean diet, which has been scientifically proven to have exceptional health benefits, said Dr. Sharon Robinson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service nutrition specialist in College Station.

“They are high in dietary fiber and low in calories, plus they’re rich in antioxidants and potassium,” Robinson said.

She noted that a recently completed 5-year study in Spain showed participants with heart-risk health issues following a Mediterranean-type diet had a 30 percent lower combined rate of heart attack, stroke and death from related causes than those following a typical low-fat diet.

Celebrity chef Jesse Griffiths, owner of Dai Due Butcher Shop and Supper Club in Austin, is another fan of artichokes, especially Texas artichokes. According to the Austin Food and Wine Alliance, Griffiths uses locally-grown vegetables, meats and dairy products in his recipes, focusing on “traditional, local and sustainable foods.”

“I’ve been buying artichokes from Mike and Jed for three or four years now and they have always been very high quality,” Griffiths said. “I would describe them as sweet with a nut-like or slightly ‘woody’ taste and excellent texture. I enjoy using them in my dishes and look forward to the times when they’re available to me.”

Murray said while most of their business outside the Rio Grande Valley currently comes from the Austin area, they are hoping to also break into the San Antonio, Houston and Dallas markets. They are also assessing the possibility of organic artichoke production.

“Our research on artichoke production, which began in 2005 at the Uvalde center and in conjunction with the Food for Health Program, has shown the artichoke to be a viable alternative crop for many areas of the state,” Leskovar said. “We have studied crop yield, quality and nutritional aspects of several different varieties of artichoke in relation to different irrigation regimes and nitrogen fertilization rates. We also focused on water-use rates as this region is water-limited and prone to drought, as well as on the heat tolerance of artichoke varieties.”

Leskovar said center research is also investigating how to extend the spring growing season so operations can take advantage of the higher off-season prices.

In Texas, he said, artichokes are grown as annuals or possibly bi-annuals where re-sprouting is possible. Seedlings are raised in greenhouses in South Texas, and are transplanted into the field during the fall and harvested in the spring. There is also a niche market for the flower produced by the artichoke plant.

“Development of year-round management strategies focused on producing artichoke heads in the spring and fall in areas of the state will give producers with a positive market opportunity to sell their product at the best possible price.

“There’s a lot of additional potential for artichoke production in other regions of Texas, but it will take additional research, as well as the necessary funding to support that research and various practical aspects of production, to realize that potential.”

Leskovar said the nutritional value to the consumer and profit potential to the producer make the artichoke a stand-out alternative crop for many parts of the state. And soon, Leskovar and AgriLife Extension agricultural economist Dr. Marco Palma, College Station, will conduct a consumer preference study using fresh-market artichokes from MO Produce in comparison with other fresh-market and processed artichokes.

“We are continuing our artichoke research at the Uvalde center with partial funding from the Texas Department of Agriculture. Early indications of new field variety trials are showing good commercial potential for early and late variety selections with traditional green heads and also red to maroon color heads,” he said. “These too may provide some more interesting opportunities for Texas producers.”

Leskovar cited the success of MO Produce in artichoke production as an excellent example of how research-based knowledge and technical assistance can be applied to practical agricultural production to benefit both the producer and consumer.

Four garden tools every gardener should have

By Tom Harris, Ph.D.
The Hill Country Gardener

The information below is based on years of experience in the garden, writing about gardening, and teaching gardening classes. I have lots of garden gadgets that I’ve collected over the years, but most of them seldom get used like the ones here.

1. A good pair of pruners — not the $3 type from the grocery store, but a good pair that can be sharpened every day if need be and still last for years. Along with this goes a scabbard that either clips onto your belt or into your pocket. Hint: it allows you to practice your “quick draw” ad infinitum. Don’t try to cut limbs larger than your finger with most pruners. If the blade gets bent, it’s ruined.

Also in this vein would be a good pair of loppers. These are nothing more than larger pruners with long handles that will cut larger limbs — up to about an inch or so. Be sure to get the lopper with either metal or fiberglass handles. Wooden handles break about the second time they’re used.

A drop of oil at least 2-3 times per year on the joint of the tool will keep it working easily.

2. A good pruning saw — the folding type that fit in your back pocket. This is what you should use with limbs up to about 2-3 inches. Get one with a stainless steel blade that will last just about forever and, because they have triple-cut teeth, stay sharp for years and won’t rust.

These little saws will cut limbs up to about 3 inches, which is about as big as you should be cutting anyway. Anything larger than this should require a trained arborist.

3. A little hand-held, short-handled cultivator-hoe combination tool. This little dandy is just the right tool for many weeding/cultivating chores. It is lightweight but sharp enough to take out even the most stubborn weeds or grass.

4. A small, lightweight tiller. These little gas-powered workhorses will do wonders for your garden and beds. They’re great for tilling in compost or weeding large areas. Most of them weigh in at less than 20 lbs. and don’t beat you to death when you run them. The one I have is a two-cycle engine so the tines on the tiller go twice as fast as the tines on 4-cycle engine do.

Texas Water Smart initiative encourages conservation habits to avoid mandatory watering restrictions

Texas Department of Agriculture

In an ongoing effort toward solving Texas' critical water crisis, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples along with John Belliew, president and CEO of El Paso Water Utilities, challenged Texans to step up their daily water conservation efforts by utilizing the Texas Water Smart program. During the event El Paso Mayor John Cook declared his support for continued water conservation and announced that El Paso will join the Texas Water Smart coalition. Texas Water Smart is another tool El Pasoans can use to continue their conservation efforts to avoid watering restrictions.

“We cannot restrict and ration our way to growth,” Commissioner Staples said. “Citizen-led conservation efforts are our best alternative to mandated restrictions that can hurt our economy. Our recent historical drought and booming population point to an unavoidable conclusion; it’s time all Texans take a serious look at individual water use habits and find common-sense ways to conserve. With Texas Water Smart, I’m reminding all Texans a few drops saved, when multiplied by 26 million citizens, adds up to big savings.”

Texas Water Smart, launched last spring, is a public-private partnership of nearly 300 businesses, associations, research organizations and state and local officials. Through a highly successful consumer education program, Texas Water Smart has raised awareness about water conservation by encouraging homeowners and businesses to adopt daily habits to curb wasteful water usage.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report shows El Paso continues to deal with severe drought conditions. As an arid city El Paso has experience in dealing with these conditions and the community has embraced conservation as a way of life for more than 20 years. By adopting conservation programs such as “Less is the New More,” the city of El Paso saved more than a half-billion gallons of water in 2012 than in 2011. Texas Water Smart, in partnership with El Paso’s existing water plan that utilizes conservation and the development of new water resources, will help serve residents growing water needs for years to come.

“El Pasoans have embraced our conservation program as a way of life for over two decades,” Mayor Cook said. "We hope the visit by Commissioner Todd Staples and our involvement in the Texas Water Smart Coalition will remind our community how important it is to continue our successful conservation habits in light of the ongoing drought.”

“El Paso Water Utilities is excited to support the efforts of the Texas Water Smart coalition,” said Belliew. “The materials the program is making available to consumers will complement El Paso’s long running success in conservation.”

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, more than 99 percent of the state is still suffering from some degree of drought. The state water plan dictates nearly 25 percent of our future water needs will be met through water conservation. Following the historic 2011 drought, failure to conserve today’s water supply stands to increase water rates more than would otherwise be necessary, jeopardize jobs and hurt future economic development.

Texas Water Smart asks all Texans to conserve by adopting more frugal water-use habits such as:

Watering only when plants look like they need it, keeping in mind most plants die from over-watering, not under-watering;

Checking outdoor faucets, hoses and sprinklers for water-wasting leaks, and making sure to repair them quickly;

Adjusting sprinklers so only lawns and gardens are watered — not houses, sidewalks or streets;

Cleaning driveways, patios and sidewalks with a broom or leaf blower instead of a hose.

Other recommended methods of water conservation include using watering cans rather than hoses and adding a layer of mulch to flower beds to better retain water.

Inside the home, Texas Water Smart encourages shorter bath times, washing only full loads of dishes and clothes, and fixing leaky faucets and toilets.

For more helpful tips and information, visit

"Pea brush." (Photo by Chris S. Corby)

Gardening tips

The British call it “pea brush” but those broken ends of branches and tree limbs that result from spring storms make the perfect support for low climbing vines like English and sugar snap peas. Just stick them in the ground scattered among your pea plants and the vines will attach and make harvesting easy as pie.

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 2013 Planning Guide & Calendar. Please send your tips of 50 words or less to the editor at: Gardening Tips.

Did you know...

Mother Nature gave some plants like Bluebonnets hard seed coats as a survival tool. During times of drought, very few of the seed will germinate, allowing the remainder of the seed to lie dormant on the ground until a subsequent year when more normal rainfall occurs to spout, produce blooms, seed and keep the species alive.

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.


Dallas: “Container Gardening” will be presented May 16, 10 a.m. until noon. and 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at 17360 Coit Road, Dallas. This program teaches how to prepare and install a container garden. You will learn how to prepare the container, prepare the soil, and install a well-planned mix of annuals, perennials, and other colorful foliage plants. For more information and to register, visit or email

San Antonio: Bexar County Master Gardeners will meet on Thursday, May 16, at 3355 Cherry Ridge Drive, Suite 208, San Antonio. The social begins at 6 p.m., followed at 6:30 p.m. with the presentation "The Truth About Lavender Growing" from Melanie Van Aken. Come learn about the many uses for lavender. This program is open to the public and is free. For more information, contact Lisa Nixon at 210-364-7844 or email

Seguin: The Guadalupe County Master Gardeners will meet Thursday, May 16, at 7 p.m. in the AgriLife Extension Building, 210 E. Live Oak, Seguin. Dr. Gus Gross will speak about "Treating Poisonous Snake Bites." Meetings are free and open to the public. For more information, visit or call 830-303-3889.

Fort Worth: Learn about plants that “Survive and Thrive” from the Tarrant County Master Gardener Association, Saturday, May 18, 10 a.m. – noon at the Fort Worth Resource Connection, Building 2300, Mesquite Room, 2300 Circle Drive, Fort Worth. The Resource Connection is located off Campus Dr, north from I-20. Look for the Resource Connection signs on Campus Drive. Class fee is $5 and the class is limited to 40. Pre-registration is required. To register and for more information/directions, contact Billie Hammack at or call 817-884-1296.

Fort Worth: Learn about “Backyard Chickens” at the Tarrant County Master Gardener classes for families at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden children’s vegetable garden pavilion, Saturday, May 18, 10 a.m. Cost: $10 per adult; $5 per child. Class limit: 20. Pre-registration is required. To register and for more information/directions, contact Billie Hammack at or call 817-884-1296.

Humble: “Cultivating Your Outdoor Pallet: Watercolor Technique Workshops” will be presented Saturdays, May 18 and June 8, 9 a.m. – noon at Mercer Arboretum & Botanic, 22306 Aldine Westfield Road,  Humble. Attend one or both classes to explore the techniques and wonder of watercolor through live demonstrations. A supply list will be provided following registration. Each class costs $40, and TMS members receive a $5 discount. Please call 281-443-8731 for details.

Rockwall County: The 10th Annual Tour of Gardens, the premier educational event of the Rockwall County Master Gardener Association, is scheduled for May 18 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. In celebration of the 10th Anniversary, this year’s Tour of Gardens will include visits to favorite gardens from past tours. Tickets went on sale April 1. Cost is $8 in advance and $10 on the day of the tour. Details and ticket locations will be posted on as they become available, or call 972-204-7660 for more information!

Dallas: "Edible Wild Plants" will be presented from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., May 18 at The Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park, 3601 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Dallas. Many of our local plants, especially common weeds, are extremely nutritious! Director of Horticulture Roger Sanderson explains which are tasty and which are not. Sample some of the native fare at the end of the workshop. $20; $15 for TDG members. Register in advance at or 214-428-7476, ext 341.

Cleburne: Looking for ways to reduce your water bill this summer without sacrificing your yard? Julie Winchell, Environmental Coordinator for the City of Cleburne, will present a program on water conservation at the May 20 meeting of the Johnson County Master Gardeners Association. The program will begin at 6 p.m. at the McGregor House, 1628 W. Henderson, Cleburne.

San Antonio: "How to Build a Raised Bed Garden" and "Saving Water/Money Through Drip Irrigation" will be presented from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 21, at 3355 Cherry Ridge Drive, Suite 208, San Antonio. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Horticulturist David Rodriguez will be joined by Master Gardeners Ron Csehil and Dr. Tom Harris to show you all the advantages of raised beds, such as improved soil and drainage, increased yield, better pest control, less weeding, and easier access to your beds. This presentation is open to the public. Registration fee of $10 may be paid at the door. For more information and to RSVP, contact Angel Torres at 210-467-6575.

Fort Worth: Make and take cement leaves taught by Tarrant County Master Gardeners, Saturday, May 25, 10 a.m. – noon at the TCMGA Community Demonstration Garden pavilion, 1800 Circle Drive, at the Fort Worth Resource Connection. The Resource Connection is located off Campus Dr, north from I-20. Look for the Resource Connection signs on Campus Drive. Cost is $25 and class limit is 20. Pre-registration is required. To register and for more information/directions, contact Billie Hammack at or call 817-884-1296.

McKinney: Join the Collin County Master Gardeners and tour the perennial research and demonstration gardens at Myers Parke and Event Center in McKinney Saturday, May 25, 9 a.m.-11 a.m.; Wednesday, June 5, 9 a.m.-11 a.m.; Saturday, June 8, 9 a.m.-11 a.m.; Wednesday, June 19, 9 a.m.-11 a.m.; and Saturday, June 22, 9 a.m.-11 a.m. Tours will provide gardeners a first-hand opportunity to see which plants grow well in the area and the knowledge needed to have successful gardening experiences at home. Tour guides will be on hand to answer questions. Visit or call 972-548-4232 for more information.

San Antonio: 16th annual Festival of Flowers, Saturday May 25 at Alzafar Shrine, 901 N. Loop 1604 West. Indoor Garden Mall features retail and non-profit vendors selling plants, garden accessories and decor, landscape materials and more. Morning seminars include “12 Months of Watersaver Color” with Dr. Jerry Parsons; “Pioneer Roses for Modern Gardens” with Mike Shoup, founder of Antique Rose Emporium and author of “Empress of the Garden”; “Yards Without Lawns” with Mark Peterson of San Antonio Water System; and “Full Landscape Drip Irrigation Conversion” with Dr. Tom Harris, Master Gardener and co-author Of “Drip-Line Gardening.” Afternoon Organic Roundtable features Bob Webster, John Dromgoole, Stuart Franke, Noel Garcia, and Clayton Leonard. Swap plants at the City-Wide Plant Exchange, enter your plants in the Alamo Area Horticulture Show. Floral Design Challenge, Herb Market Cooking Classes and Rain Barrel Demonstrations. Co-hosted by San Antonio Water System. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission $6 for adults, children under 10 free. Free parking. For more information, visit or call 210-3 380-3532.

Bryan: Wade Roitsch, Manager of Yucca Do Nursery, will present "Agaves and Woody Lilies with Landscape Power," showcasing the species of Agaves, Yuccas and other succulents that are suitable additions for the landscapes of the humid regions of Texas, at 7 p.m., Tuesday, May 28, at Brazos Center, 3232 Briarcrest Dr., Bryan. Wade Roitsch was raised on a ranch near Manor, just east of Austin. A Texas A&M graduate, he began working in the horticulture industry in 1990 and joined the Yucca Do Nursery, Inc., as a plant propagator in 1997. Roitsch presently is the manager of Yucca Do at their new location in Giddings. The nursery is noted as the source for heat and drought-tolerant plants. They offer curious plant cultivars from the southwest, Mexico, South America, Africa, Asia and beyond. The public is invited at no charge to this program. For additional information, visit, call 979-823-0129, or email

Dallas: “Composting” will be presented May 28, 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. & October 10, 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at 17360 Coit Road, Dallas. This program teaches the composting process, the different types and methods of composting, as well as how to compost and its importance. Adding compost to your garden, landscape, and/or container garden improves your soils nutrition, moisture retention, and aeration. For more information and to register, visit or email


Dallas: City of Dallas Water Utilities, City of Dallas Stormwater Management, City of Dallas Park & Recreation, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Dallas County Master Gardeners and the Town of Addison are teaming up with surrounding cities to demonstrate the beauty of Water-Wise and EarthKind gardening with the 19th annual Water-Wise Landscape Tour, Saturday, June 1 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Dallas County Master Gardeners will be conducting free 30-minute talks on Water-Wise gardening every hour on the hour at each of the tour headquarters. Dallas County Master Gardener volunteers will also be assisting homeowners and helping answer questions about he plants and landscapes on the tour. The first 100 visitors at each of the three tour headquarters will receive a free hose nozzle. Maps for the self-driving tour are available at and at all tour headquarters. Tour Headquarters: Central: Bath House Cultural Center - 512 E. Lawther Dr., Dallas; North: Les Lacs Linear Park - 3901 Beltway Dr., Addison; South: Lake Cliff Park - E. Colorado Blvd. at N. Zang Blvd., Dallas. For more information, visit or call the Water Conservation Hotline at 214-670-3155 Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

La Marque: Tomato & Pepper Evaluation & Tasting Event, Saturday, June 1, 9 a.m.- noon, at the Galveston County AgriLife Extension Office in Carbide Park, 4102 Main Street (FM 519), La Marque. Homegrown heirloom and hybrid tomatoes and sweet and hot peppers grown by Master Gardeners Terry Cuclis and Gene Speller will be available at this event for tasting, comparing, and evaluating. This is a great opportunity to share information and knowledge about this year's season and harvest. Open to the general public. No registration necessary. For additional information, call 281-534-3413, ext. 12 or email

Tyler: The Smith County Master Gardener's present their annual garden tour June 1. The tour will be held from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., rain or shine. This is a unique opportunity to view five private gardens and landscapes. This year’s gardens showcase a variety of landscaping styles and methods — ranging from a woodland setting to an intimate garden planned for the wheelchair gardener. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 day of tour, and available by mail order (deadline May 20) MG Garden Tour, 13270 Oak Hill Lane, Flint, TX 75762. Ticket locations: Brookshires at 100 Rice Rd. Potpourri House, Blue Moon Gardens, Rubicon, and the Smith County Extension office at 1516 W Front St. Ste 116, Tyler. For more information call 903-590-2980.

La Marque: Galveston County Master Gardener Loretta Osteen will present “The Fabulous Fragrant Frangipani (Plumeria),” Tuesday, June 4, 6:30 - 8 p.m. at the Galveston County AgriLife Extension Office in Carbide Park, 4102 Main Street (FM 519), La Marque The program will cover the history, culture, usage of the Plumeria flowers, propagation by seeds, cuttings and grafting. For course reservations, call 281-534-3413, ext. 12 or email

Midland-Odessa: Permian Basin Master Gardeners 2-day Composting Workshop with lectures June 4 at the Commemorative Air Force, 9600 Wright Drive, at Midland Odessa International Airport and hands-on and vermicomposting on June 6 at Odessa Time Machine, 816 W. 42nd. Both begin at 6:30 p.m. Call 432-498-4071 for information.

New Braunfels: Harold Voges and Rosalie Meier will present tips on how to prepare and maintain your vegetable garden at the 6:30 p.m., June 5, meeting of the Comal Master Gardeners at GVTC Auditorium, 3610 FM3159, New Braunfels. The public is welcome. Come for Social hour at 6 p.m. and sample produce from the garden.

Woodway: Midsummer Nights, a free annual concert series, returns to the Carleen Bright Arboretum, 1 Pavilion Way, Woodway. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and get ready to relax to some great music! June 5: The Morticians; June 12: The Elephants; June 19: Rewind Party Band; June 26: Nolan Pick Band; July 3: Texas Country Gentlemen. All concerts are from 8 p.m. until 9 p.m. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and get ready to relax to some great music! Covered seating available for the Dessert Fundraiser, $10.00. For more information, call 254-399-9204.

San Antonio: Home gardeners are invited to enter the annual Spring Top Tomato and Salad Bowl Contest at Milberger’s Landscape Nursery, 3920 Bulverde Rd. on Saturday, June 8. Entries accepted starting at 10:30 a.m. Judging begins at noon. Prizes will be awarded for best large and small (cherry) tomatoes, biggest tomato and Best of Show. The “Best Salad Bowl” prize goes to the gardener who brings in the best collection of homegrown vegetables, excluding tomatoes. No entry fee. Find guidelines and more information at, or call Gardening Volunteers of South Texas at 210-251-8101.

Austin: What makes heirloom plants so great? Find out on June 10 from Judy Barrett, who literally wrote the book on heirlooms! The Austin Organic Gardeners Club meets at Austin Area Garden Center, 2220 Barton Springs Rd., in Zilker Botanical Gardens. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the opportunity to meet and mingle with local gardeners; club business begins at 7 p.m., followed by our guest speaker's presentation. Take cash for the raffle and/or to purchase one of Judy's books! For additional information, visit

Humble: Lunch Bunch meets Wed., June 12, noon – 2 p.m. at Mercer Arboretum & Botanic, 22306 Aldine Westfield Road, Humble. Spring Creek and Harris County Precinct 4 Greenway Projects: With just a few miles of connecting trails, the Spring Creek Greenway and adjoining Cypress Creek Greenway have the potential to connect more than 300 miles of existing hard surface and equestrian trails, as well as many Precinct 4 parks and natural spaces from Humble to Tomball. Join Mike Howlett, greenway project manager, for an overview of the largest forested urban corridor in the United States, and discover the multitude of flora, fauna, and recreational opportunities that abound here. For additional information, call 281-443-8731 or visit

San Antonio: Marty Ruona will present “Principles of Xeriscaping and Succulents,” Thursday, June 13, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the San Antonio Garden Center, 3310 N. New Braunfels. Learn from people who know the most about herb gardening, cooking, sniffing, crafting and infusing...anything and everything is herbal for this meeting! For more information, visit Free and open to the public.

San Antonio: “Watersaver Landscape Design School,” sponsored by Gardening Volunteers of South Texas in partnership with San Antonio Water System, will be held Saturday, June 15, from 9 a.m. until 1 the San Antonio Garden Center, 3310 N. New Braunfels. Four presentations on xeriscape principles, design, plant selection, and full-landscape drip irrigation installation and conversion. $25 for individuals, $40 for households of two people. Fee includes three full-color plant and landscape guides, CD version of the book “Drip-Line Gardening,” and one-on-one design idea consultations. For more information and an application form, visit or call 210-251-8101. Enrollment deadline is Friday, June 7.

San Antonio: Austin Landscape Designer Pam Penick will speak on “grass-less’ yards at the monthly Essentials of Gardening class, Monday, June 17, at San Antonio Garden Center, 3310 N. New Braunfels, from noon until 3 p.m. Penick is the author of “Lawn Gone!—Low Maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive Alternatives for Your Lawn.” The class will include a book signing. The second session of the class will be “Full Landscape Drip Irrigation Conversion” with Ron Csehil, Bexar County Master Gardener and co-author of “Drip-Line Gardening.” Free and open to the public. Presented by Gardening Volunteers of South Texas. For more information, visit or call 210-251-8101.

La Marque: Master Gardener Jim Gilliam will present “Turning Dirt Into Soil,” Saturday, June 29, 9 a.m.-11 a.m., at the Galveston County AgriLife Extension Office in Carbide Park, 4102 Main Street (FM 519), La Marque. This program covers soil structure and characteristics, pH, nutrients, sources and strategies for soil amendment, testing and cultural practices, with an emphasis on how to improve your existing soil. For course reservations, call 281-534-3413, ext. 12 or email


Dallas: “Vegetable Garden-Fall” will be presented September 4, 10 a.m. until noon, at 17360 Coit Road, Dallas. This program teaches homeowners the proper time to germinate fall vegetable seeds and/or when to transplant fall vegetables into their vegetable garden. It also teaches proper soil preparation, insect and disease and weed control. For more information and to register, visit or email

Nacogdoches/Arcadia: Naked Ladies and Oxbloods: SFA Gardens Arcadian Fall Bulb Bus Tour, September 14. Visit Greg Grant’s Emanis House dogtrot in Shelby County’s rural community of Arcadia. Depending on the weather, see red oxblood lilies (Rhodophiala), several different colors of spider lilies (Lycoris), or assorted rain lilies (Cooperia, Zephyranthes, and Habranthus). Unfortunately their display depends on the first fall rains so a grand naturalized bulb display isn’t guaranteed. Visit Grant’s old family home with an open breezeway running through it, along with his small cottage garden, chickens, and bluebird houses. Dress comfortably for potentially hot weather. The bus tour will be from 9 a.m. until noon. All participants will meet at the SFA Ag building, Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacognoches, at 9 a.m. $25 for Friends of SFA Gardens members, $30 for non-members. For more information and reservations contact Elyce Rodwald at 936-468-1832 or Other SFA Gardens events and information can be found at


Dallas: “Trees for North Texas” will be presented October 8, 6 p.m. until 7 p.m. at 17360 Coit Road, Dallas. This program teaches proper tree selection and planting for North Texas. Selecting the right tree and planting it properly helps improve the sustainability of your home or business landscape. Tree list provided. For more information and to register, visit or email

Houston/Ft. Worth: A total of 10 Texas gardeners will share their private gardens with the public in 2013 through the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program, America’s only national private garden-visiting program. Open Days in Texas take place on the following dates. Sunday, October 13: Visit four private gardens open in Fort Worth, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Features include a country estate with formal spaces and an organic orchard, an urban garden using earth-friendly methods and native plants, sculptural pieces and unusual container plantings, and a cottage garden focused around a fountain and large planting beds. Each of these Open Days Program dates is self-guided and no reservations are required. A $5 admission fee collected at each garden supports the national preservation work of the Garden Conservancy. The Open Days program features hundreds of magnificent spaces not normally open to the public. From April through October, garden hosts across the country welcome the opportunity to learn and exchange gardening ideas, and give the public access to explore and enjoy their private gardens. For a complete list of the more than 300 private gardens participating in eighteen states, visit the Garden Conservancy and its Open Days program online at or call toll-free weekdays, 1-888-842-2442. The 2013 Open Days Directory ($21.95 including shipping and handling) is the only comprehensive source for details on the 2013 season. The Directory provides descriptions, visiting dates and hours, and driving directions to each private garden. The Directory also includes one free admission ticket to any private garden participating in the program, a $5 value. To purchase a Directory or to join the Garden Conservancy as a member and receive a free copy, call 1-888-842-2442 or visit



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.

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 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.

New Braunfels: The Comal Master Gardeners meet at 6 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month (except December) at the GVTC Auditorium, 36101 FM 3159, New Braunfels. An educational program preceeds the business meeting. The public is invited to attend. For additional information, call 830-620-3440 or visit

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.

Gonzalas: Gonzales Master Gardeners hold their monthly meeting at noon on the first Thursday of each month at 623 Fair Street, Gonzales. Bring a bag lunch, drinks provided. Contact AgriLife Extension Office at 830-672-8531 or visit for more information.


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

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, August and December at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Marion. Directions to St. John’s Lutheran Church: From FM 78 turn south onto FM 465 and the church is just past the Marion School on the right. From IH 10 go north on FM 465 towards Marion. The Church will be on the left, just before you get to town. 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

Quitman: The Quitman Garden Club meets at 2 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month at the Quitman Library on E Goode Street, Quitman. It is a diverse group that welcomes all visitors.For more information, e-mail

Humble: The Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Garden, 22306 Aldine Westfield Road, Humble, hosts a Lunch Bunch the second Wednesday of each month from noon until 2 p.m. Take a sack lunch or order a box lunch from Starbucks when you call 281-443-8731 to reserve your spot. Master Gardeners and Masters Naturalists may earn CEU credits by attending.

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

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

Woodway: The McLennan County Master Gardeners meet on the second Wednesday each month at noon at the Carleen Bright Arboretum, 9001 Bosque Blvd., Woodway. Educational programs follow the business session. For more information, call 254-757-5180.

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

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 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

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

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


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 Sharon Smith at 817-894-7700.

Corpus Christi: The Nueces Master Gardeners meet at noon the third Tuesday of each month, except December, at Garden Senior Center, 5325 Greely Dr., Corpus Christi. An educational program precedes the business meeting. For further information call 361 767-5217.

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 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

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

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 or call 817-454-8175).

Houston: The Native Plant Society of Texas — Houston (NPSOT-H) meets at 7:30 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 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 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


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

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 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.

Linden: The Caddo Wildflower Chapter of Native Plants Society meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at the senior citizens building at 507 S Kaufman St. in Linden at 6:30. Visitors are welcome. For additional information, contact Karen Tromza at

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

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 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

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

Dallas: The Greater Dallas Organic Garden Club meets at 7:00 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month at the REI, 4515 LBJ Freeway, 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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