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Soil pH
How and When to Change It

By Chris S. Corby
Editor/Publisher

Understanding soil pH is an important aspect to having a successful garden in Texas or anyplace in the world for that matter. Soil pH is simply a way of measuring the degree of acidity or alkalinity that a particular soil possesses. There are a few exceptions, but most soils in East Texas are acid while soils in the western part of the state tend to be alkaline.

Soil scientists use a range between 0 and 14 to express differences in pH with below 7 being acid and above 7 being alkaline. Soils with a pH of 7 are considered neutral. Soils in Texas generally range from 4.5 to 8.5.

Generally, you can garden somewhat successfully in soil that is too alkaline but soil that is too acid must be amended. Ideally, you want your soil pH to be in that 6.0 to 6.8 for growing most vegetables. If your soil is below 6.0 you should add limestone to adjust the pH upward. Be sure to use dolomitic limestone as it contains magnesium which is often deficient in acid soils.

If your soil is alkaline and near 8.0 then adding sulphur may lower its pH and often this will also correct the chlorosis or iron deficiency symptoms which are particularly common with beans and peas. Soils in many parts of central Texas and the Hill Country are buffered by limestone that lies just below the soil surface. It may be difficult to modify the pH with sulphur alone in this situation. Try adding high quality compost and using raised beds.

If you don’t know your soil pH or you suspect it may be affecting your gFall is an excellent time for testing and adding the necessary amendments. Come next spring, you will be glad you did.



Dr. Susanne Talcott, assistant professor with the Texas A&M University’s nutrition and food science department, found that acai antioxidants are absorbed in the human body. (Texas AgriLife Research photo by Kathleen Phillips)


Acai berry juice, shown here, and pulp contain antioxidants that have been found in a study by Texas AgriLife Research scientists to be absorable in human bodies. (Texas AgriLife Research photo by Kathleen Phillips)


Dr. Susanne Talcott, assistant professor with the Texas A&M University’s nutrition and food science department, works with acai. She found that acai antioxidants are absorbed in the human body. (Texas AgriLife Research photo by Kathleen Phillips)
Acai, Popular New Health Food:
Proceed With Knowledge

COLLEGE STATION - A Brazilian palm berry sweeping the globe as a popular health food - though little research has been done on it – now may have its purported benefits better understood.

In the first research involving people, the acai (ah-sigh-EE) berry has proven its ability to be absorbed in the human body when consumed both as juice and pulp. That finding, by a team of Texas AgriLife Research scientists, was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Showing the berry’s absorption in humans is important because it is known to contain numerous antioxidants. The berry is heavily marketed in the U.S. as a health food.

The study involved 12 healthy volunteers who consumed a single serving of acai juice or pulp. Researchers believe the results point to the need for continued research on the berry which is commonly used in juices, beverages, smoothies, frozen treats and dietary supplements.

"Acai is naturally low in sugar, and the flavor is described as a mixture of red wine and chocolate,” said lead investigator Dr. Susanne Talcott, “so what more would you want from a fruit?”

Talcott, who also is assistant professor with the Texas A&M University’s nutrition and food science department, said that previous studies have shown the ability of the human body to absorb target antioxidants (from other produce), but “no one had really tested to see if acai antioxidants are absorbed in humans."

Sales of acai products have increased dramatically in the U.S. where it has been touted as a metabolism booster, weight reducer and athletic enhancer. Advertisements use buzzwords such as health, wellness, energy, taste and organic.

About the only buzzword not used with acai is "local." The berries are harvested in the Brazilian rainforest from acai palms that may reach heights in excess of 60 feet - one of the same palms used to harvest edible hearts of palm.

The fruit is about the size of a large blueberry yet only the outermost layers of the fruit, the pulp surrounding a large internal seed, are edible, Talcott noted.

Talcott and her co-researcher and husband Dr. Steve Talcott began studying the palm- berry in 2001. His first scientific report on acai, apparently the first such study in English, was published in 2004.

Initially, their studies on the berry examined antioxidant and nutritional components in pulp and juice. Later studies showed the berry’s activity against cancer cells, Talcott noted.

With that background, the researchers then decided to find out whether those elements were actually being absorbed into the human body or being eliminated unused as waste.

"Like vitamin C, the body can only absorb so much at a time," Steve Talcott explained.

He said the researchers now “need to determine potential disease-fighting health benefits, so we can make intelligent recommendations on how much acai should be consumed.

For the clinical trial, people were given acai pulp and acai juice containing half the concentration of anthocyanins as the pulp and each compared to the control foods: applesauce and a non-antioxidant beverage.

Blood and urine samples at 12 and 24 hours after consumption showed significant increases in antioxidant activity in the blood after both the acai pulp and applesauce consumption, she said. Both acai pulp and acai juice showed significant absorption of antioxidant anthocyanins into the blood and antioxidant effects. The research couple said future studies hopefully will help determine whether the consumption of acai will result in any disease-preventing health benefit and the proper serving sizes for a beneficial dose for people.

"Our concern has been that it is sold as a super food – and it definitely has some good attributes – but it is not a solution to all diseases,” she said. “There are a great number of foods on the market, and this could just be part of a well-balanced diet."


Gardening tips

This time of year, cabbage loopers can be a big problem, not just on cabbage but broccoli, cauliflower, collards and other related crops. The problem is these pesky worms do their damage from the underside of the leaves. By the time you notice holes in the leaves, the damage is significant. To catch these bad boys early and without turning your plants upside down, simply hold a make up mirror under the leaves. If you see worms then it is time to get the sprayer and Bt out.
 
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 T-shirt. Here’s a chance to get published and be a garden stylist as well! Please send your tips of 50 words or less to the editor at: Gardening Tips.


Did You Know...

We have heard folks recommend kitty litter instead of vermiculite and perlite as component of potting soil or to loosen soil in garden beds. Since most kitty litter products have a clay base, they will absorb moisture and increase soil compaction instead of reducing it as intended.


Upcoming garden eventsperlite as component of potting soil or to loosen soil in garden beds. Since most kitty litter products have a clay base, they will absorb moisture and increase soil compaction instead of reducing it as intended.

Upcoming garden events" width="640" align="left"> Upcoming garden eventsperlite as component of potting soil or to loosen soil in garden beds. Since most kitty litter products have a clay base, they will absorb moisture and increase soil compaction instead of reducing it as intended.

Upcoming garden events

Seguin: For the upcoming Guadalupe County Fair, Master Gardeners will be accepting field crops, garden crops, orchard crops and home products for judging from 2 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, October 8 and from 8 to 9 a.m. on Thursday, October 9. Judging begins at 9:30 a.m. on October 9. The Master Gardeners' booth this year will have a "Go Green" theme. A demonstration on rainwater harvesting will be featured, and information will be provided on recycling, composting leaves and grass clippings, buying from local growers, etc. Members will be on hand throughout the fair to answer gardening questions. For additional information call Master Gardener, Carolyn Hyatt at 830 832-5156. The fair runs through the 12th at the Seguin Events Complex 728 Midway.

Austin: The Hampton at Oak Hill Branch of the Austin Public Library's next "Grow with Us" Gardening program will be presented by Walter Passmore. Walter is the City of Austin's Urban Forest Program Manager. On Saturday, October 11, from 10:30 a.m. until 12:00 noon he will discuss basic tree care, the Urban Forest Management Program, and urban forest master plan sample. The library is located at 5125 Convict Hill Rd, in Southwest Austin. For more information, please call: 512-892-6680.

Quitman: The First Annual Fall Festival and Plant Sale will be held on Saturday, October 11, beginning at 9:00 a.m., at the Governor Hogg Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, adjacent to the Stinson House, 100 Governor Jim Hogg Parkway, Quitman. The sale will include cool weather annuals and fall blooming perennials in addition to an "Ask a Master Gardener" booth, children's activities, half-mile nature trail and garden tour. Proceeds to benefit The Friends of the Arboretum in the development of the Governor Hogg Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. For more information, please call Pam Riley, Chairman of the Friends of the Arboretum, at 903-466-4327 or Clint Perkins, Wood County Agri-Life Agent, at 903-763-2924.

Tyler: The Smith County Master Gardener Association, a volunteer program of Texas AgriLife Extension Service, will sponsor its annual Fall Gardening Conference at Marvin United Methodist Church in Tyler on Saturday, October 11, from 8:30 a.m. until 11:15 a.m. A bulb sale following the conference at Harvey Convention Center will offer thousands of bulbs to the public with many varieties not often found in local nurseries. During the exposition, local Master Gardeners will provide a help-desk to answer gardening questions and perform demonstrations of proper bulb planting techniques, division of perennials, and planting of bare root roses. This conference and plant sale have continued to grow in popularity each succeeding year with attendees coming from as far as South Central Texas up to the Red River in the north and as far east as Louisiana. The conference is free and open to the public. Conference presentations by two recognized horticulture experts will provide useful insight and information about gardening in our region. Dr. William Welch, Professor and Landscape Horticulturist with the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M University, will discuss gardening using perennials that thrive in the area and come back year after year. Chris Wiesinger, known as "the Bulb Hunter," is the owner of the Southern Bulb Company, a flower bulb farm in East Texas that offers heirloom perennial flower bulbs for warm climates. Chris regularly travels the back roads of Texas to rescue heirloom bulbs forgotten or destined for extinction due to developments and highway expansion. For additional information, call Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Smith County at (903) 590-2980.

Wimberley: The Hill Country unit of the Herb Society of America will celebrate national herb day, Friday, October 17, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Wimberley Presbyterian Church, Wimberley. The featured speaker will be Henry Flowers, director of gardens at Festival Hill, Roundtop. For reservations, call Barbara Rawson, (512) 847-0521.

Elm Mott (near Waco): World Hunger Relief will hold a Fall Farm Day, Saturday, October 18, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the farm. Live music, farm-fresh food, plants, seeds and grass fed meat plus demonstrations by local artisans will be offered. Lots of activities for the kids including pony rides, hayrides and more so bring the whole family and make a day of it. For more information call (254) 799-5611 or visit www.worldhungerrelief.org.

Fredericksburg: Texas Gourd Society will present the 13th annual "Lone Star Gourd Festival" at the Gillespie County Fairgrounds October 18 and 19. There will be door prizes, raffles, classes, demonstrations and an opportunity to meet Bill Decker, 2008 TGS Artist of the Year, and Bonnie Gibson, nationally-known author and artist. The show is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $5 and free to children under 12. For additional information, call (806) 523-9092 or visit www.texasgourdsociety.org.

San Antonio: Bexar County Master Gardeners are hosting Bootanica and Fall Garden Fair at the San Antonio Botanical Garden, 555 Funston, Sunday, October 19, 2008. Fun for the family. Enjoy children's activities, plant sales and much more. For Youth Activities contact Hector J. Hernandez 210/467-6575 hjhernandez @ag.tamuedu

Sugar Land: Rescheduled due to hurricane Ike. The Sugar Land Garden Club's 10th Annual Garden Art and Plant Sale has been rescheduled to October 25, 2008. On Tuesday, October 21, the public is invited to attend a presentation on the plants offered by TreeSearch Farms that will be available at this year's sale. For this meeting only, the location is the Fellowship Hall at the First Presbyterian Church, 502 Eldridge in Sugar Land. Refreshments start at 9:30 a.m. and the program begins at 10 a.m... The Sale on Saturday, October 25 (8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., at the Sugar Lakes Clubhouse, 930 Sugar Lakes Dr., Sugar Land) will feature not only plants, well adapted to local climates and soils, but also garden-themed art by talented local artists, and seeds from members' gardens. Visit www.sugarlandgardenclub.org to preview some of the plants or call 281-491-1621 for more information.

Austin: Plant and Insect Photography for Beginners class will be taught by Sam Myers, a Master Gardener and experienced photographer, from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m., Wednesday, October 22 at Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Road, Austin. The class will concentrate on developing the ability to take sharp, colorful photos with impact. There will be an overview of cameras, both film and digital. Discussion will include how lighting, focal length and aperture interact in composing photographs and how to use your camera’s programs (landscape, portrait, etc.) effectively. Guidelines of composition will be covered along with "posing" plants and insects for best visual presentation. Prerequisite: study the owner’s manual on your camera. Bring your camera for some practical exercises. Class size is limited. Reservation required: gisathccs@aol.com or (512) 804-2257. The class is sponsored by the Travis County Master Gardener Association in partnership with the AgriLife Extension, Travis County. For more information call (512) 854-9600 and ask for the Master Gardener’s desk. http://www.tcmastergardeners.org.

Victoria: The Victoria Master Gardeners and Agrilife Extension will host Dr. Jerry Parsons at the South Texas Farm and Ranch Show, October 22, at the Victoria community center. Dr. Parson, extension horticulturist, will speak on Superstars Plants for The Farm and Ranch. Tickets are $10 in advance and include lunch. For more information, visit www.southtexasfarmandranchshow.com.

Weatherford: The Parker County Master Gardeners will hold their Annual Fall Open House and first Fall Plant Sale, October 25, from 8 a.m. to noon, at the demonstration garden, 604 N. Main, Weatherford. The event will also include a rainwater harvesting demonstration. A limited selection of fall annual, trees, shrubs and native and adapted plants will be offered for sale. For more information, visit www.pcmg-texas.org or call (817) 598-6168.

Buda: The Master Gardeners of Comal, Guadalupe, Travis and Hays Counties will sponsor a gardening conference entitled “Heirloom Treasures - Jewels of the Garden,” Saturday, November 8, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Texas Disposal System’s Exotic Game Ranch and Pavilion in Buda. Featured speakers include Dr. Bill Welch of Texas A&M, Roses and Perennials; Dr. Tina Cade of Texas State, Landscape Design; Sean Watson of the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, Heirloom Seed Saving, plus more. Visit our vendors, including Texas A&M Press, for books, garden ornaments, plants, herbal soaps, lavender products, birdhouses and much more! Malcolm Beck will brew up fresh compost tea for us – bring your own pint or quart bottle! Visit www.tcmastergardeners.org for more event details, registration form and driving instructions.

MONTHLY MEETINGS

Kilgore: Northeast Texas Organic Gardeners meets at 10 a.m. on the first Wednesday of each month at Wildwood Eco-Farm in Kilgore. For more information, call Carole Ramke at (903) 986-9475.

Allen: The Allen Garden Club meets on the first Thursday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the little blue-gray house located at 102 N. Allen Dr., Allen. For more information, visit www.allengardenclub.org.

Austin: Austin Organic Gardeners meet at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at the Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin. For more information, visit www.main.org/aog.

Schertz: The Guadalupe County (Schertz/Seguin) Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) meets the second Tuesday of each month at the Guadalupe County Annex, 1101 Elbel Road, Shertz. A plant exchange and meet-and-greet begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by a program at 7. For additional information or an application to join NPSOT, contact guadalupecounty@npsot.org.

Friendswood: The second Tuesday of each month the Harris County Precinct 2 Master Gardeners hold a free evening educational program for the public, called the Green Thumb Series, at Southeast Church of Christ, 2400 W Bay Area Blvd., Friendswood, about 1 mile west of I-45 and Baybrook Mall. For more information visit http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu or call (281) 991-8437.

Kemah: The Kemah-Bay Area Garden Club will hold its next meeting on Wednesday, October 1, 2008. The meeting will be held at 9:45 a.m. at the Kemah Visitor Center and Schoolhouse Museum which is located at 603 Bradford Street, Kemah, Texas. The program will be “Your Green WaterSmart Landscape” presented by Chris LaChance, WaterSmart program coordinator for the TX AgriLife Extension Service and TX Sea Grant. This program will address the why’s and how’s of landscaping to protect water quality, conserve water and provide habitat for wildlife. Light refreshments will be served and the public is invited.

We meet on the first Wednesday of each month and this is the second of our series of programs stressing the importance of “going green.” We welcome visitors to our meetings, so come join us for this informative talk.

Please call Mary Ellen Chapman, President, at (281) 559-1912, for more information.

Rockport: The Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group, founded in March 2003, meets the second Wednesday of each month, with the exceptions of June and July, to discuss all aspects of using and growing herbs, including historical uses and tips for successful propagation and cultivation, meets at 619 N. Live Oak Street, Room 14, Rockport at 10 a.m. Sometimes they take field trips and have cooking demonstrations in different locations. For more information, contact Linda (361) 729-6037, Ruth (361) 729-8923 or Cindy (979) 562-2153 or visit www.rockportherbs.com.

San Antonio: The San Antonio Herb Society meets at 7 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at the San Antonio Garden Center, 3310 N. New Braunfels (corner of Funston & N. New Braunfels). For more information on programs, visit www.sanantonioherbs.org.

Dallas: The Rainbow Garden Club of North Texas meets the second Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. Everyone is welcome. Meetings are held at member’s homes and garden centers around the area. For more information, visit www.RainbowGardenClub.com.

Sugar Land: The Sugar Land Garden Club meets on the third Tuesday of each month, September through November and January through April at 10 a.m. at the Sugar Land Community Center, 226 Matlage Way, Sugar Land. The club hosts a different speaker each month. For more information, visit www.sugarlandgardenclub.org.

Denton: The Denton Organic Society, a group devoted to sharing information and educating the public regarding organic principles, meets the third Wednesday of each month (except July, August and December) at the Denton Senior Center, 509 N. Bell Avenue. Meetings are free and open to the public. Meetings begin at 7 p.m. and are preceded by a social at 6:30. For more information, call (940) 382-8551.

Houston: The Native Plant Society of Texas — Houston (NPSOT-H) meets at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month except for October (4th Thursday) and December (2nd Thursday). Location varies. For locations, for more information on programs, and for information about native plants for Houston, visit http://www.npsot.org/Houston.

Rosenberg: The Fort Bend Master Gardeners meet at 7:15 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month except December at the Bud O’Shieles Community Center located at 1330 Band Road, Rosenberg. For more information, call (281) 341-7068 or visit www.fbmg.com.

Seguin: The Guadalupe County Master Gardeners meets the third Thursday of each month at the Texas AgriLife Extension Bldg. at 210 E. Live Oak at 7 p.m. For more information, phone (830) 379-1972 or visit www.guadalupecountymastergardeners.org.

Longview: The Northeast Texas chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas meets the third Thursday of each month at St. Mary’s Parish Hall in Longview. For more information, call Logan Damewood at (903) 295-1984.

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.


Handmade all-occasion greeting cardsyour organization’s events included in "Upcoming Garden Events," please contact us at #008000"> http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu.

Dalla. To ensure inclusion in this column, please provide complete details at least three weeks prior to the event.


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Grow-Web encourages plant growth and development, and also provides protection from insects, birds, diseases and frosts. It is also air and water permeable and allows for ventilation. Grow-Web provides excellent protection to seedlings when applied directly to the seedbed.

$30.64 per 12.3’ x 32.8’ roll (includes shipping!)

Order by calling 1-800-727-9020 or order on-line.

(Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.)



Texas Gardener’s Seedsbgcolor="#FFFF00">


Texas Gardener’s SeedstentBody" -->


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Grow-Web encourages plant growth and development, and also provides protection from insects, birds, diseases and frosts. It is also air and water permeable and allows for ventilation. Grow-Web provides excellent protection to seedlings when applied directly to the seedbed.

$30.64 per 12.3’ x 32.8’ roll (includes shipping!)

Order by calling 1-800-727-9020 or order on-line.

(Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.)



Texas Gardener’s Seeds
is published weekly. © Suntex Communications, Inc. 2008. All rights reserved. You may forward this publication to your friends and colleagues if it is sent in its entirety. No individual part of this newsletter may be reproduced in any manner without prior written permission from the publisher.

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Publisher: Chris S. Corby Editor: Michael Bracken

Texas Gardener’s Seeds, P.O. Box 9005, Waco, Texas 76714 ● www.TexasGardener.com