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By Delmos Hamilton-Permian Basin Master Gardener As spring approaches, we all begin planning for obtaining plants—whether from the seed catalogs that come in the mail, remembering that special plant from a neighbor’s garden, or something that you saw in the local nurseryman’s display. Remember that you are not limited to planting seeds. There are multiple ways to reproduce plants. Although the planting of seeds is probably the easiest, division, root cuttings, stem cuttings, and layering are all effective methods. Best results for all these methods can be obtained by creating a microcosm (little world) where the newly developing plants have a totally prot

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Carol Siddall, Master Gardener Those with green thumbs have long known that gardening is good for you both physically and mentally.  Researchers have found that smelling the roses and pulling up those nasty weeds can lower blood pressure, increase brain activity, and produce a general good feeling. This evidence has become so compelling that the health factor has been given its own name - HORTICULTURAL THERAPY. Doing research for this article I found many different topics of why gardening is good for us and can prolong our lives. One blog I read stated there is evidence that gardeners can live up to 14 years longer than non-gardeners.


Barbara Porsch, Master Gardener I wouldn’t trade my beautiful big trees for anything. Over the years through trial and error, I have found my favorite half dozen plants that give me more bang for my buck in the shade.

  1. Holly Fern (Cyrtomium falcatum) is a dependable foundation plant that is evergreen and requires little care except trimming out damaged fronds at the beginning of new growth. Too much sun can scald the fronds and burn them.  When planting, the crown of the plant should rest at the surface of the soil when watered in.
  2. Cast Iron (Aspidistra elatior) is another evergreen plant that doesn’t like the sun at all. A native of China, it is

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Carol Siddall, Master Gardener Being a gardener and loving the Christmas season, you can bet money I have a poinsettia in my home.  I am known to give them as gifts also.  They were the flowers for my December wedding, so they hold a special place in my life. This plant was first introduced to the United States by Joel Poinsett, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico.  Thus it was subsequently named the poinsettia.  Back in the 60's most of the poinsettias grown and sold were still the tall red ones.  They were hard for the florists to manage, so we started seeing shorter types coming into the market.  Growing poinsettias became easier. Today poinsettias are a major crop for greenhouse produ

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  Gardening in the fall is the best time of the year for many projects.  The weather is cooler (mostly), the night time temperatures are getting down into the 60’s or lower and many bugs are flying south or going into dormancy.  But best of all bargains are to be had at the nurseries and garden centers as they are marking down plants to lower winter inventory. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Shrubs and roses are best planted in the fall because the roots have time to develop a good system without the stress of the high temperatures. Plants need less water due to the lower temperatures.
  2. It is a good time to reevaluate the home landscape to take out those plants


Bess Barlau, Master Gardener Tried and true plants or adapted to our area are always welcome additions to beautify and simplify our lives because  they survive and thrive in our harsh climate.  Some can be found in local nurseries. Some favorites and reliable ones are: Chili pequin (Capsicum annuum), our original native chile pepper.  It is loved by both birds and Tex-Mex gourmets. Silver pony foot (Dichondra argentea) forms ground covering mats that can tolerate moving.  It also grows well between flagstones and looks good draping from pots. Blonde ambition (Boutelouea gracilis)  is a grass that has curvy blonde eyelashes, movement, and usually holds its blooms through winter

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By Debbie Roland,  Master Gardener The Permian Basin will soon be raking and bagging leaves.  If you don’t have a compost pile to put them in or a friend who wants them, why not make leaf mold?  It is an excellent and free-soil amendment which will have a huge impact on your soil health and is simple to make. Leaf mold is what happens when you let leaves decompose.  It is dark brown to black, crumbly and has an earthy smell.  Simply, it is composted leaves but instead of adding organic matter as you would in a compost pile you just use leaves. It is a soil conditioner and increases water retention, improves soil structure, and provides a habitat for earthworms and beneficial bacteri

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Carol Siddall Master Gardener In the middle of winter, a few spring blooming flowers can put a smile on everyone's face.  Now is the time to start forcing those bulbs. Choose a bulb that is forcing-friendly like grape hyacinths, daffodils and hyacinths.  Bulb sellers will often note which bulbs are best for forcing.  Check the number of weeks needed from planting until bloom before you buy or order. Spring blooming bulbs need a chilling time so they will form flower buds.  You can order them pre chilled or you can chill them.  I chill mine in the refrigerator (don't freeze them).  It may take 10 to 18 weeks depending on your bulb you want to force.  If you do chill in the refrigerat

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Shan Wheeler, Master Gardener The rains we had this summer were so much better for plants than our West Texas hard water! After one of our big rains, I was dutifully making the rounds emptying everything that could hold water to help deter mosquitoes, pouring each into flowerbeds or collecting it in a five gallon bucket to use later. But the compost container is a large wash tub which was heavy so I just lifted up one end and drained it. Then I thought, that was dumb – that could have become compost tea! In Master Gardeners’ Trainee Class we had discussions regarding the effectiveness of the tea; some said great and  others said so-so. There are numerous compost tea recipes on the inte

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