What’s really killing Texas trees?
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Here are a couple of great educational opportunities for adults and youth in becoming better gardeners in 2013.
What's Happening In the Garden Archive
Nov 19 (Tue) 6:30pm - 8:30pm Growing
Plants Happily and Successfully Indoors will be presented in Suite 208 of the
AgriLife Extension office for Bexar County, located in the Conroy Square office
complex, 3355 Cherry Ridge Drive. 2 CEUs. For more information call
210 467-6575. Cost: $10.
Register online at https://agriliferegister.tamu.edu/BackyardBasics.
Dec 3 (Tue) 6:30pm - 8:30pm Backyard Basics Gardening Series:
‘Floral Arrangements for the Holiday Season’
A&M AgriLife Extension Service Horticulturist- David Rodriguez presents
Local Florist Jim Bliek. Come learn basic floral arrangement tips for the
winter holiday season and participate in fun hands-on activities in creating
your very own take home decoration. This learning experience will be conducted
in Suite 208 of the AgriLife Extension office for Bexar County, located in the
Conroy Square office complex, 3355 Cherry Ridge Drive. The cost is $45
but hurry, because the class is limited to 20 individuals. 2 CEUs will be
awarded to Master Gardeners/Interns. Register
online at https://agriliferegister.tamu.edu/BackyardBasics.
For more information call Angel Torres at 210 467-6575.
7:00-10:00a: WOAI Lawn and Garden Show
10:00-11:00: Mutual Fund Store w/ Adam Bold
11:00-2:00: The Car Pro Show
2:00-3:00p: Under The Hood
3:00-4:00p: The WOAI - KM Builders Remodeling Show
4:00-5:00p: WOAI Real Estate Show
5:00-6:00p: Wellness Matters
6:00-9:00p: The Tech Guy
Texas State Winner Kendall Hastings of Stockdale Elementary in Stockdale, Texas. She grew a humongous cabbage weighing in at 16 pounds
Kids Grow Green: Cashing in Cabbage: Kids across America are growing, and some are earning, a lot of “green” participating in the National Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program. This year, more than 1.5 million third graders in 48 states have gotten hands-on gardening experience growing colossal cabbages with high hopes to win “best in state” and receive a $1,000 scholarship towards education from Bonnie Plants. Each year Bonnie Plants, the largest producer of vegetable and herb plants in North America, with 72 stations across the country, trucks free O.S. Cross, or "oversized," cabbage plants to third grade classrooms whose teachers have signed up for the program online at www.bonnieplants.com. If nurtured and cared for, kids can grow green, giant cabbages, some tipping the scales at 40 pounds!
Launched nationally in 2002, the program awards a $1,000 scholarship to one student in each participating state. At the end of the season, teachers from each class select the student who has grown the “best” cabbage, based on size and appearance. A digital image of the cabbage and student is submitted online at www.bonnieplants.com. That student's name is then entered in a statewide drawing. State winners are randomly selected by the Commission of Agriculture, in each of 48 particpating states.
“The Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program is a wonderful way to engage children’s interest in agriculture, while teaching them not only the basics of gardening, but the importance of our food systems and growing our own”, said Stan Cope, President of Bonnie Plants. This unique, innovative program exposes children to agriculture and demonstrates, through hands-on experience, where food comes from. The program also affords our youth with some valuable life lessons in nurture, nature, responsibility, self-confidence and accomplishment”.
Getting It Growing: Growing a colossal cabbage may seem like a giant undertaking for little kids, but it’s easier than you think. All you need to do is:
Let the Sunshine In: Cabbages need at least six hours of full sunlight, more if possible.
Survey Your Space: Bonnie O.S. cabbages need at least three feet on each side to spread out. If you don’t have that much space, use a large container.
Supplement Soil: Work some compost into the soil – cabbages love nutrient-rich soil.
Feed the Need: Start your cabbage off right with an all-purpose vegetable fertilizer, then fertilize it every 10 days to keep it growing strong.
Water Wisely: Your cabbage needs at least one inch of rainfall each week. If it doesn’t rain, use a watering can or garden hose to gently water your plant at soil level.
Tend To Trouble: Keep weeds out of the cabbage patch – they compete for the food and water your cabbage needs. Be on the lookout for brown or white moths – these come from worms that love to munch on cabbage. If you see any, get rid of them right away. Cold weather can damage your cabbage. If the weather gets below 32° F, cover your cabbage with a bucket or clothe covering.
Hefty Harvest: In just 10 to 12 weeks, you should have a huge head of cabbage you can be proud of.
Green thumbs and perseverance can pay off, providing participating children with as great sense of pride and accomplishment, a humongous cabbage, and for the lucky state winner…. the beginning of an educational fund for college. To see the 2013 winners and learn more about the 2014 contest, visit www.bonnieplants.com
Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) is part of the Primrose family. In late October through early November is the ideal time to plant and establish cyclamen. These plants are so gorgeous that everyone who has grown them in the past greatly enjoys them. Cyclamen have a leaf that is as lush as spinach, but that is where the similarity ends. Cyclamen are an all-star winter-blooming plant for the shade. You can’t eat them, but you will admire cyclamen! The blooms come in shades of red, white, pink, or maroon. The flowers stand above the attractive three inch heart-shaped leaves on stalks that reach about one foot in height. Unless the weather gets extremely cold, cyclamen will bloom every day, all winter, until April. Use cyclamen as specimen plants or massed together as a single color, or in a combination of white and any of the other colors.
Photo by East Texas Gardening, TAMU.edu
Cyclamen are not inexpensive plants. Cyclamen are available in four inch containers on up. The larger the plant, of course, the more they cost. Four inch plants may cost $5. They are very beautiful and worth the investment, but the key to reducing cost is to over-summer a portion of your plants. Cyclamen do not like heat so the task is not always easy.
Some gardeners remove the bulb structure from the garden in late April or early May to store in a paper sack in an air-conditioned room in the house. Try leaving the plants in a container and storing them in the house without watering them. The most effective method so far has been to grow the cyclamen in containers that have been sunk in the flowerbed all winter. In the summer, plant them around caladiums or other shade-loving plants. It also works to store the containerized plants in a shady corner of the yard where they can be watered once every two weeks. Replant the survivors in the flowerbed, and be generous with the time-released fertilizer incorporated in the soil at the time of planting. The new plants you purchase are in full bloom and pumped up with nutrients, so your over-summered plants will require some special attention to catch up.
Many of us have grown cyclamen as a houseplant. Cyclamen will live a number of years and bloom almost continuously if they are: (1) watered faithfully when the soil surface dries to half an inch, (2) fertilized every three or four weeks with soluble fertilizer, and (3) placed in a window with morning sun. In an air-conditioned house, cyclamen are much more tolerant of light than they are outside. In the late fall through early spring, cyclamen do best with dappled sun for a few hours each day.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and buy some cool weather cyclamen for your landscape and . . .Remember, Learn and Have Fun!
David Rodriguez is the County Extension Agent-Horticulture for Bexar County. He represents Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension Service with Texas A&M University System. For any landscape or gardening information, call the Bexar County Master Gardeners Hotline at (210) 467-6575, -mail questions to email@example.com or visit our County Extension website at http://bexar-tx.tamu.edu/.
There are four species of widow spiders found in Texas, with the best known being the black widow. Coloration can vary dramatically, but they are typically jet black with two reddish-orange triangles on the underside of the abdomen, forming an hourglass shape. The triangles sometimes do not touch each other creating a broken hourglass shape. Males and juveniles are smaller and often show more color, with bright markings on their sides or back.
Females lay eggs in an oval sac which can hold from 25 to over 900 eggs. De-pending on temperature and time of year, eggs usually hatch after about 20 days. Spiderlings will stay near the egg sac for several days where they can be seen consuming their brothers and sisters. The survivors throw a thread of silk to the wind and are carried off in a process called "ballooning". They eventually locate a sheltered spot where they build a loosely woven web and remain for the rest of their lives. As time progresses, the spiders build larger webs to cap-ture larger prey. Males eventually leave their webs to find females for mating. Most females do not eat the male after mating.
Widow spiders do not like being in the open. They can often be found outside in protected areas such as rainspouts, shrubbery, firewood piles or unused BBQ pits. It is also possible to find them in garages, cellars, attics, furniture or electric or wa-ter meter boxes. Widows are shy creatures and often people are bitten when they accidentally disturb a web.
The bite of a black widow sometimes is not noticed, but when it is, it often feels like a pin prick. The bite location will have two red marks surrounded by redness and swelling. The bite reaction is systemic and intense pain usually occurs within 1-3 hours and continues for up to 48 hours. Other symptoms include tremors, nausea, vomiting, leg cramps, ab-dominal pain, profuse perspiration and rise in blood pressure. It is also possible for breathing difficulties and uncon-sciousness to occur. If bitten by a black widow, immediately seek medical attention. When working in the yard, it is best to wear leather gloves to avoid being bitten by venomous arthropods.
Photos and article by
Wizzie Brown, BCE Extension Program Specialist- IPM
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
NewTexas Superstar plant cobalt blue
FROM PLANTANSWERS.COM, AN ARCHIVE OF GARDENING INFORMATION ASSEMBLED BY
DR. JERRY PARSONS
Texas A&M horticulturists, in cooperation with local plant producers and nurserymen, have "struck a blow" for the salad lovers of south central Texas. For years a great injustice has been inflicted upon the gardening population who know they should be partaking daily of a health promoting leafy crop in salads but are not satisfied with the homegrown lettuce they try to produce.
Photos courtesy of: The Scientific Gardener blog_A Tucson AZ Gardener applies research to organic gardening-scientificgardener.blogspot.com
So what's the answer? Texas gardeners need to find a leafy salad crop that grows here optimally, and is more nutritious than lettuce as well. We have such a crop in spinach. Nutritionally speaking, spinach is a super champ of the vegetable garden. Spinach has nearly twice as much protein, calcium, iron, potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B, and B2, niacin and Vitamin C as any other of the leafy greens. Spinach is easy to grow, especially in this area of Texas, since spinach plants actually thrive in alkaline soil types and are more productive here than anywhere else in the world. Commercial growers in this area produce 20 percent of all the spinach consumed in the United States. Spinach can be killed by temperatures around 12 degrees F. so the mild winter that is normally experienced in this area of Texas, ensures a continuous cool season harvest of gourmet quality product.
If all of this is true, why haven't gardeners been growing spinach for years? The answer to this question is, “past experience”. Most people plant too early, and even if seeds do germinate, plants soon die in the heat. The other "experience" which keeps spinach from being all that it should be is the childhood memories of being force fed spinach because "it is good for you". Some of us made a silent, if not loudly vocal, vow that if we ever lived to reach voting age, we would NEVER eat spinach again! Because of those horrors of youth and a lot of negative conditioning, we are punishing our bodies and our palates by ignoring the best tasting, most nutritious salad crop in the world.
Spinach is classified as a "very hardy cool season crop." Although it can be grown almost anywhere in the Unites States, it does best at mean temperatures of 50 to 60 degrees F. If planted in late winter or in spring, with lengthening days and the approach of hot weather, the plant will quickly form a flower stalk, going to seed after the development of only a few leaves.
Spinach is a cool season crop with seed that germinates very poorly, if at all, in hot soils. Therefore, to avoid a poor stand, the first planting should occur when soil temperatures are 85 degrees F. or below. As mentioned earlier, gardeners have had bad luck growing spinach because they ignored this growing requirement. People plant fall gardens in August and September and are actually harvesting fall produce before spinach planting should even be considered. Gardeners are out of the planting mood when optimum spinach planting time arrives. They are discouraged by the zero success of earlier spinach planting attempts so they bypass the opportunity of planting the most nutritious, Texas-salad vegetable--spinach.
Transplants in October solves most of the spinach growing problems. Spinach transplants should be planted in rows on top of raised planting beds. Planting in rows is preferable since weeds that emerge near the spinach plants can be more easily removed. Transplants of hybrid spinach varieties should be spaced 4 to 6 inches apart.
For all of you non gardening types, plan to transplant some spinach into a sunny flowerbed or patio container so you too can eat yourself to health. Spinach will tolerate and produce in a partially shaded planting location, and produce a fair crop with less than full sunlight. If planting in a soilless mix in containers, pre-mix into the container mixture copious amounts of a slow-release fertilizer such as Osmocote which is specifically for containers. Then water with a water-soluble fertilizer such as 20-20-20 every time you water the plants. REMEMBER: Spinach is a leafy vegetable and nitrogen is the main nutrient required for leafy green crops.
Before planting in the garden, mix 3 or 4 pounds (3 or 4 cups) of a 50 percent slow release fertilizer such as 19-5-9 per 100 square feet of planting area. About 2 weeks after transplanting, you should stimulate the growth of the spinach with a light application of nitrogen fertilizer. Use a pound or one cup of a 50 percent slow release fertilizer such as 19-5-9 for each 30-foot row of planted spinach. Apply the fertilizer to the soil near the side of the plants and then water it in lightly.
Most people will want a continuous supply of garden fresh spinach salad and they want it as soon as possible. Approximately 6 to 8 weeks after planting, depending upon the weather, it is harvest time. You will note that as the weather cools down your spinach will take a little longer to fully mature and will grow more upright. Generally, spinach that matures when temperatures average between 50 degrees and 60 degrees F. will be fuller-bodied with thicker, more tender leaves.
This year gardeners can try a faster growing spinach variety named Monstrous or Viroflay. The relatively slow growth of hybrid spinach can be a problem for impatient gardeners. To help speed up the spinach growing process, a different, heirloom spinach variety named Monstrous will be tried in the fall of 2013. Monstrous is the largest, most vigorous spinach variety, and is harvestable earlier.
Viroflay’s scientific name is Spinacia oleracea 'Viroflay'. Viroflay is generally thought of as a heirloom open-pollinated variety -- France is believed to be where Viroflay originated in 1866. Known as simply, "Viroflay" or “Monstrueux de Viroflay” spinach, the huge, deep green, tender leaves are a spinach lover’s gourmet delight! Give it more room in your garden; the plant can get up to 24 inches wide, and with 10 inches long, tender leaves, spinach production is a snap! Extremely vigorous, and particularly good for fall plantings. Use the thinned out seedlings fresh in salads.
Days to Emerge: 6 - 21 days
Spacing: A group of 3 seeds or one transplant every 12-18 inches
Row Spacing: 1 foot apart
Thinning: When seedlings are 4-6 inches tall, thin to 3 inches apart every 12-18 inches
Days to Maturity: 40 – 50 days
This very large spinach plant grows to 18-24 inches tall. Of all the spinach, this one is lowest in oxalic acid, so its leaves are sweet and stay sweet as the plant matures. It has large dark-green crisp leaves, slightly savoyed -- flavorful, tender and succulent even when large. It is very day length sensitive, and will bolt when temperatures reach 75 degrees F. in the spring so it must be grown in South Texas mild winters.
Gardeners should plant in a location that enjoys full sun. Keep in mind when planting that Viroflay is thought of as half hardy, so protect with a row cover such as the DeWitt Plant & Seed Guard (10 feet by 12 feet sheet costs $13) which is a plant protection blanket whenever the temperatures drop much below freezing.
When to Plant: Plant or transplant in late September or October in South Texas. Make successive sowings of seed thereafter every 3 weeks until 4 weeks before the first hard freeze in December. Sow on top of a well prepared (fertilized) and moistened (pre-irrigated) soil.
Seed can be found in local nurseries on Botanical Interests seed racks under the name of Monstrueux de Viroflay Spinach or can be ordered online from: http://www.botanicalinterests.com/products/index/category:vegetables/page:4
Germination can be tricky. Soak seeds for an hour or two in warm water before planting, and plant extras just in case. Germination will be poor when temperatures are over 85 degrees F.
Harvesting: Pick individual leaves from outer edges of plant as they become big enough to use, or cut the whole plant one inch above the ground, and new leaves will be produced. Harvest before the plant sends up a flower stalk.
Possible Problem: After moist weather, spinach can develop yellow spots on the upper foliage. On the underside of the leaf are white spots which some gardeners say resembles bird scat. This is white rust, a serious problem on spinach caused by the water mold Albugo occidentalis. Entire leaves can develop symptoms. The disease is favored by cool temperatures, dew, intermittent rain, and overhead irrigation. Once the disease is observed in a planting of spinach, the affected leaves should be stripped from the plant so they will not serve as a source of secondary infection. For further information about white rust, see: http://plantanswers.com/Articles/Spinach-White-Rust-Disease.asp
October IS the month to plant the most nutritious garden vegetable--spinach. And now that you know how to plant from seed and have the right transplants to assure spinach growing success, the fault of malnutrition is yours only if you don't plant this most healthful of the vegetable crops. Compare “Monstrueux de Viroflay” spinach to your favorite standard hybrid variety.
Gardening teaches kids where food comes from, healthy eating and raises their environmental consciousness. A great way to get kids started in the garden is the National Bonnie Plants Third Grade Cabbage Program, it’s free to any third grade classroom in the country and teachers can register NOW at http://bonniecabbageprogram.com/ for the 2014 program. Bonnie Plants will truck 2”cabbage plants to every third grade classroom in the country, inspring, whose teachers register for the program.
In 2002, Bonnie Plants initiated the 3rd Grade Cabbage Program with a mission to inspire a love of vegetable gardening inyoung people. Each year, Bonnie trucks more than one million free O.S. Cross cabbage plants to 3rd Grade classrooms across the country. (O.S. stands for oversized… these cabbages can grow upwards of 40 pounds making the initiative engaging and fun for kids)!
2012 Florida State winner Chase Newton
Teaches distribute 2” plants with instructions, provided by Bonnie, to students to carry home and grow. At the end of the growing season, teachers select a class winner, based on size, appearance and maturity and that submission is entered in a state scholarship drawing. The state winners are randomly selected by each state’s Director of Agriculture, and Bonnie Plants awards a $1,000 scholarship foreducation to one student in each state.
2012 Indiana State winner Conner Campbell
As one of the first companies to sponsor a national vegetable gardening initiative for kids, Bonnie Plants has delivered over 11 million cabbage plants, nationwide, in the past 12years, fostering an interest in gardening, healthy eating, and the environment.“The Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program is a wonderful way to engage children’s interest in agriculture, while teaching them not only the basics of gardening, but the importance of our food systems and growing our own”, said Stan Cope, President of Bonnie Plants. This unique, innovative program exposes children to agriculture and demonstrates, through hands-on experience, where food comes from. The program also affords our youth with some valuable life lessons in nurture, nature, responsibility, self-confidence and accomplishment”.
Why a cabbage?
Cabbages were the first plant sold by Bonnie in 1918. The cabbages used for the 3rd grade program are OS Cross (Over-sized), which is known for producing giant, oversized heads, makingthe process even more exciting for kids. The biggest cabbage grown in the contest weighed in at 65 pounds!
The conventional system for growing tomatoes for Thanksgiving is: “Tomato transplants should be in place by no later than August 15 if you expect to harvest a good crop before cold weather arrives in the San Antonio area. Hill Country gardeners should have planted by July 15th and South-of-San- Antonio gardeners should have their tomatoes transplanted by no later than September 15th.” All of these dates are determined by “typical weather patterns” experienced in these regions by vegetable growers.
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David Rodriquez has everything you need to know about Fall Veggie Gardens. Just click here and get going!