May 22, 2013

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Youth at the Children’s Vegetable Garden Program, presented in cooperation with the San Antonio Botanical Gardens, grow, harvest and show vegetables grown on their own plots. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

Bexar County efforts get urban kids ‘rooted’ in science, agriculture

By Paul Schattenberg
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

“Okay, what’s the difference between a butterfly and a moth?” asked Natalie Cervantes, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service youth gardens coordinator for Bexar County, during her recent “Butterflies of the World” presentation to fourth-grade students at Wilshire Elementary School in San Antonio.

“Today I’m telling the kids about butterflies and insects and their role in the environment as pollinators,” Cervantes said. “We’re concentrating on native Texas butterflies because those are the ones they’re most likely to see.”

Cervantes was at Wilshire as part of AgriLife Extension’s Youth Gardens Program participation in the school’s Environmental Awareness Day activities. Through its Youth Gardens Program, the Bexar County office of AgriLife Extension, an educational outreach agency of the Texas A&M University System, provides education on gardening, horticulture and water conservation, as well as educational presentations to supplement and enrich classroom science objectives.

Youth Gardens Program education efforts are focused on introducing kids to nature and helping them develop a respect for the environment, said Lupe Landeros, AgriLife Extension director for Bexar County. Program efforts include Classroom Gardens Programs, the Children’s Vegetable Garden program in cooperation with the San Antonio Botanical Gardens, Terrarium Programs, educational camps and special events.

“We want young people to understand the importance of agriculture and being outdoors, as well as know the joy of growing their own food and learning about its nutritional value,” Landeros said. “The programs are primarily at elementary schools, but we also have some in middle and high schools. We offer teacher trainings and a Junior Master Gardener training.”

AgriLife Extension’s youth gardening activities create an environment that brings together parents, educators and the community to educate urban youth, she said. The Youth Gardens Program was made possible in large part due to the support of the San Antonio Livestock Exposition, Inc.

“I’ve been here for more than 23 years and have been involved in classroom gardening for most of that time,” said Donna Kadilis, a special education teacher at Wilshire and member of the Bexar County Master Gardener association, a volunteer horticulture program of AgriLife Extension. “I got my special education students involved in gardening as a way for them to relate to other students and to give them something they would enjoy doing.”

Wilshire now has a butterfly garden and several raised-bed gardens where students grow ornamental flowers and a variety of vegetables. This year, it received a Texas Certified Backyard Habitats designation for non-game and urban wildlife from a joint initiative of the National Wildlife Federation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

“Over the years, we’ve had thousands of kids go through our outdoor-gardening classroom,” Kadilis said. “We’ve grown pumpkins, melons, cucumbers, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, cabbage, potatoes and more. The kids love to plant the seeds or seedlings and then cover them with soil and watch them grow. They also enjoy picking the vegetables when they’re ready, and they’re always anxious to eat them.”

Kadilis said AgriLife Extension has helped by providing children’s gardening tools, plants and other materials for the gardens, as well as valuable gardening advice.

“Besides that, Mike Shockey with their 4-H program has brought his ‘City Critters’ wildlife module to my classes to introduce the kids to urban wildlife,” she added. “And other people from the agency, like Natalie, come to the school to present educational programs about nature.”

David Rodriguez, AgriLife Extension horticulturist for Bexar County, said AgriLife Extension conducts spring and fall teacher trainings for educators interested in installing a school garden and using gardening as a teaching tool. The agency also conducts Junior Master Gardener adult training once a year during the summer, focusing on the Junior Master Gardener curriculum.

This past year, the Classroom Gardens Program alone had 278 teachers representing more than 50 schools throughout Bexar County participating, along with more than 5,200 students.

The training focuses on the Junior Master Gardener curriculum, which is targeted at third- to fifth-grade students. Activities are correlated to the Texas standards in math, science, language arts and social studies.

“But teachers of younger students can easily adapt the curriculum for their age group,” Rodriguez said, adding that the next training will take place July 23-25 at the San Antonio Botanical Garden.

He said research shows that school children involved in gardening and using the Junior Master Gardener curriculum improve their science scores and math skills, plus expand their vocabulary.

Ninfa Salinas, a teacher at Northwood Elementary, was among the more than 175 teachers who participated in last year’s teacher trainings.

“I was like a kid in elementary school myself, listening to the gardening experts at the training and soaking in all they said,” Salinas recounted. “It’s critical that kids realize just how vital food production is — and where their food comes from. As a teacher, I feel I was given everything I needed to succeed with the program — from information to the plants themselves.”

Another popular Youth Gardens Program, the Children’s Vegetable Garden Program, is conducted in cooperation with the San Antonio Botanical Gardens. Held for several weeks in the spring and fall, the program gives children 8-13 years old the opportunity to grow their own vegetables.

“With the help of Bexar County Master Gardener volunteers, each child plants their own plot in the garden,” Rodriguez said. “Children grow different types of herbs, vegetables, and ornamental annual flowers. And weekly educational gardening presentations stimulate their minds as they participate in fun, hands-on Junior Master Gardener activities.”

Rodriguez added that the next Children’s Vegetable Garden program will take place over 16 Saturdays from late August to early December.

Katherine Sickle, a teacher at Beacon Hill Elementary, has been involved in both the classroom garden and terrarium programs.

“Our gardens are targeted at third graders, but any student from kindergarten through fifth grade can participate,” Sickle said. “Gardening helps us supplement their life science and earth science education. We’ve had hundreds of kids participate in the program.”

She said students also learn how to make their own terrariums, which helps teach them about plants, nature and the water cycle.

“The kids are very careful when planting their airplane plants and purple hearts in the plastic containers,” she said. “The process helps them learn about natural resources, and the terrariums teach them about condensation and the water cycle. These programs are a great way to get kids interested in nature and in science.”

Other Youth Gardens Program offerings through the AgriLife Extension office in Bexar County include a youth speakers bureau, educational camps and special events.

For more information, contact Rodriguez or Cervantes at 210-467-6575 or visit

New ‘dual resistant’ tomatoes fight lethal pests with one-two punch

Cornell University

In the battle against thrips, Cornell breeder Martha Mutschler-Chu has developed a new weapon: a tomato that packs a powerful one-two punch to deter the pests and counter the killer viruses they transmit.

The “dual resistant” insect and virus varieties may reduce or even eliminate the need for pesticides in several regions.

Thrips are tiny insects that pierce and suck fluids from hundreds of species of plants, including tomatoes, grapes, strawberries and soybeans. They also transmit such diseases as the tomato spotted wilt virus, causing millions of dollars in damage to U.S. agricultural crops each year.

Adapting a novel form of insect resistance discovered in a wild plant native to Peru, Mutschler-Chu, professor of plant breeding and genetics, first isolated the resistance. She found that it was mediated by droplets of sugar esters, called acylsugars, that are produced and exuded from hairs (trichomes) that cover the plants. The acylsugars don’t kill the insects, but deter them from feeding or laying eggs on the plants. The process does not require genetic modification and is completely safe.

After successfully transferring the resistance into new lines and breeding out undesirable traits, her team added a second layer of protection: one or both of two natural genes known to resist the so-called TOSPO viruses, which include tomato spotted wilt virus.

“If some thrips get through with the virus, the virus resistance genes are there to mop it up,” Mutschler-Chu said.

The Cornell thrips-resistant tomato lines, with and without the virus resistance genes, will be used by Mutschler-Chu and an interdisciplinary team of eight other scientists from seven other institutions nationwide as part of a new five-year, $3.75 million project to control thrips and TOSPO viruses in tomatoes. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative and is led by entomologist Diane Ullman of the University of California, Davis, and plant pathologist John Sherwood of the University of Georgia.

Mutschler-Chu said the collaboration will allow her to test her varieties in different regions and use the feedback to further refine her lines and create new, improved ones. Whether it be altering sugar levels to suit different environments, or tweaking virus resistance, Mutschler-Chu wants to discover the best package for insect and virus control. Her discoveries will be shared with seed companies so they can transfer the traits into their varieties.

“It brings us closer and closer to something that can be used commercially to essentially eliminate the need for pesticides in many growing regions,” Mutschler-Chu said.

The project rests on a foundation that was built over 20 years, supported by college-level funding and federal HATCH grants. During that time, new tools of molecular biology were developed, from PCR-based markers and SNP markers to the sequencing of the tomato genome. Using the new methods, it took Mutschler-Chu 10 years to develop the first tomato line with enough acylsugar, then four years to create a better series of 30 lines.

The impact could be far-reaching, she said. Not only would it be a boon to the U.S agricultural economy, it could also have significant impact in the developing world, where tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetable cash crops, especially for small subsistence farmers.

“This is even more critical, because they don’t have the resources to buy pesticides, and there is often misuse of pesticides,” Mutschler-Chu said.

Four tips for a memorable, bug-free summer party


Everyone knows them — those uninvited party guests that no one can stand, but they continue to show up year after year to your summer get-togethers. Whether it’s a family cookout by the pool, or an elegant wedding at dusk, these party crashers are mooching off of your food, pestering your guests, and are always the last to leave. This summer make sure mosquitoes and other bugs don’t show up at your party by following these four tips for a memorable, bug-free summer party:

Bite-Sized Portions. For party guests and bugs alike, the food table is usually the most popular spot to gather. Buffet style is not ideal for outdoor parties because the food will sit, attracting bugs. Instead, impress your guests with bite-sized foods that will be eaten quickly. Replace traditional burgers with sliders and the Greek salad with Greek salad skewers.

Make Your Guests Feel Comfortable. The golden rule of hosting a party is to make guests feel comfortable, and there is nothing comfortable about swatting away mosquitoes all night. Bug sprays and citronella candles are a common go-to bug repellent, but they smell harsh and can be dangerous if they get into the hands of children. Consider using pesticide- and odor-free insect traps that can repel mosquitoes up to half an acre without any annoying buzzing or zapping sounds, making them perfect for any summer party.

Tidy Up Your Yard. Tidying up the yard before guests come over will not only be appreciated by your guests, but will also keep bugs away. Make sure to drain any sources of water that could be a breeding ground for mosquitoes — such as birdbaths or flower pots that have collected rainwater. Cutting the grass before guests arrive will also decrease bug exposure.

Choose the Right Lighting. Bugs are attracted to light, so as your party continues into the evening, choose the proper lighting. A fire pit is a great way to keep bugs away, and is a great source of lighting. Changing outdoor bulbs from white to yellow will also help to reduce the number of bugs around the house.

Gardening tips

Now is a good time to plant Bermuda grass and native grass seed to reestablish turf areas that were damaged by the recent drought. Bermuda is a good choice where traffic will be heavy while buffalo grass, a native variety, is a good choice in light traffic areas. Both varieties need full sun to thrive. Buffalo grass can get by on less water and fertilizer and doesn’t require regular mowing.

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...

While there is no such thing as a deer-proof plant, there are some plants that are less appealing to deer and should be considered for use in landscapes that deer are known to frequent. Those deer “resistant” plants include yarrow, snapdragon, tarragon, butterfly bush, larkspur, purple coneflower, iris, lavender, lantana, rosemary, thyme and zinnia.

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.


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.

Houston: The Harris County Master Gardeners at Precinct 2 will host Open Garden Days twice monthly during June, July and August on 1st & 3rd Mondays from 8:30 a.m. - 11 a.m. at Genoa Friendship Garden, 1202 Genoa Red Bluff, Houston. Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer gardening questions and will present educational programs from 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. for children & adults. Monday, June 3: Children - "Plant Identification Game"; Adults - "Why is Plant Identification Necessary?" Monday, June 17: Children - "Butterflies"; Adults - "Irrigation for Your Home Gardens." For additional information, visit or call 281-855-5600.

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.

Humble: “Cultivating Your Outdoor Pallet: Watercolor Technique Workshops” will be presented Saturday, 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.

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: GreenSpaces Alliance presents its first SicloVerde, a 13-mile bike tour of six community gardens. Saturday, June 15. The tour begins at the River Road Community Garden, 780 E. Huisache (at Allison Dr.), San Antonio. Registration starts at 7 a.m. and the tour begins at 7:30 a.m. Three tour options will be offered: a 13-mile group tour, an 8-mile group tour, and a self-guided tour. Participants will gather at the first garden in the morning and travel in groups from garden to garden, visiting with gardeners and taking part in fun garden-themed activities before completing the loop. Registration is required and all participants must wear safety helmets. Cost: $25 per adult, $15 for children 12-17, and children riding with parents are free. To register or for additional information, visit, call 210-222-8430, or email

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.

Seabrook: Suzy Fischer will present "Edible Landscape" at 10 a.m., Wednesday, June 19, The Meeting Room at Clear Lake Park (on the lakeside), 5001 NASA Parkway, Seabrook. Fischer is a founding and current board member of Urban Harvest. Her mission is to promote healthy communities and sound nutrition by educating the public. This presentation is free and open to the public. For additional information, visit or call 281-855-5600.

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


Humble: Greg Harmison, horticulture coordinator at Jesse Jones Park, provides planting ideas for the hot summer season when he discusses blooming Shrubs summer to fall, Wed., July 10, noon – 2 p.m. at Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens, 22306 Aldine Westfield Road, Humble. For additional information, call 281-443-8731 or visit

Humble: Texas Rose Rustlers Meet Saturday, July 13, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens, 22306 Aldine Westfield Road, Humble. This Rookie Rustler meeting is open to the public in order to help enthusiasts learn the etiquette of rustling old garden roses, how to propagate from cuttings and then grow their favorite flower. Visit for more details or call 281-443-8731.

Kaufman: The Fall Vegetable Seminar will be presented Saturday, July 20, at the 1st Baptist Fellowship Hall, Northeast corner of Washington and Chestnut, in Kaufman. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and presentations begin at 9 a.m. and continue until noon. Kaufman County Master Gardeners will present "Fall Planting: What to Plant & Where to Find It"; Susan Clark and Arlene Hamilton, Ellis County Master Gardeners, will present "Mediterranean Herbs"; Renee Word, Kaufman County Master Gardener, will present "Canning Your Harvest"; and John Lawler, Owner-Operator of Worm Wranglers, will present "Vermicomposting & Soil Preparation." Admission is $5 per person. For additional information and to pre-register, call 972-932-9069 or email

Humble: Summer Color Conference and Plant Sale will be held Saturday, July 27, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens, 22306 Aldine Westfield Road, Humble. Splash into summer with this one-day immersion into perfect solutions for gardening in the heat. Mercer’s Director Darrin Duling will conduct a tour of the heat-loving plants in the gardens. Conference participants can take advantage of a plant sale that morning, which opens later in the day to the public. Reservations and a fee are required, so call 281-443-8731 for additional details.


Humble: As a county extension agent for many years, Tom Leroy has experienced every question about handling lawn care and what to do about those hard to manage spots needing easy ground cover. Join him as he makes the green monster manageable when he discusses lawns and alternations, Wednesday, August 14, noon – 2 p.m. at Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens, 22306 Aldine Westfield Road, Humble. For additional information, call 281-443-8731 or visit


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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