Newspaper Articles


By Karen Miller, Master Gardener Entomology Specialist   Our “Ask a Master Gardener” program has received several inquiries about a pale green to brown or black worm, striped with white to yellowish lines from head to toe and munching on our warm season turf grasses.  These “worms” are actually the larvae stage or caterpillar of nocturnal moths known as Armyworm moths. It seems this insects common name, “the armyworm” describes the caterpillar’s eating habits, they eat until nothing is left, then the entire group will “march in line” to the next available food source.  Four common species found in Texas are the fall Armyworm moth, the yellowstriped armyworm moth, the beet armyworm

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Karen Miller, Entomologist Specialist Master Gardener   As Master Gardeners we are here to answer questions regarding gardening. This summer we have been bombarded with questions regarding squash bugs. I hope this article will answer some of those questions. The squash bug (Anasa tristis) is in the Order Heteroptera and Family Coreidae, known as true bugs, the squash bug can cause havoc on all vegetable crops in the cucurbit family, i.e. squash, pumpkin, zucchini, cucumber, melons and some gourds. The squash bug is common throughout the United States. The adult is a large flattened insect dark gra

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  By Debbie Roland, Compost Specialist Permian Basin Master Gardener You stand at the garden center and stare at the bag, potting soil, garden soil, compost. Gardeners have their own lingo. Knowing the difference between soil, dirt, compost and potting soil will give you the edge you need to grow your best yard yet in West Texas. Dirt is something we sweep out the door. Dirt is debris, something undesirable. As an experienced gardener you will learn to call the substance we grow plants in soil.  Soil is the earth beneath our feet. It’s a mixture of rock broken into small particles and decayed organic matter. It may also contai


Karen Miller, Entomology Specialist Mud dauber is a common name given to a number of wasps that build their nest from mud. Also called “dirt dauber”, “dirt dobber” or “mud wasp”, these wasps are from the order Hymenoptera and the family Sphecidae. Adult mud daubers are ¾ to 1 inch in length and, depending on the species, vary in color from dull black to black with bright yellow markings to iridescent blue black. The feature that best identifies the mud dauber is its long, narrow waist – the section between the thorax and abdomen. Mud daubers are solitary insects and like most wasps, they are predators. They sting their prey with paralyzing venom. The venom does not kill, but paralyz

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By Debbie Roland, Compost Specialist Permian Basin Master Gardeners Landscaping has changed in the last twenty years. As West Texans have become conscious of conserving water and preserving the native habitat, wildflowers and native plants have become popular. Formal, squared-off landscape designs are fast becoming a thing of the past. One of the new trends, along with perennial flowering plants, is the use of ornamental grasses in the landscape. Grasses are no longer just to walk on. Almost all ornamental grasses are perennials, coming up in spring, from their roots. Whether you’re planning a new landscape or rejuvenating an established one, ornamental grasses can add pizzazz. M

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Barbara Porsch, Master Gardener   There often is a time about now when the garden has been producing like crazy that you liken it to a political campaign. Cannot wait for this madness to be over! I am not ashamed to admit it has crossed my mind. Your poor counter top hasn’t seen the light of day for weeks because it is covered up with squash, cucumbers and now maybe okra, or whatever is going crazy out in the back yard garden. WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO WITH ALL THIS? I feel like the little guy who was peddling Blue Bell Ice Cream….. “Eat what you can and save the rest”. Well, he said sell, but save is better. I feel you can never have too many tomatoes because they are so easy to

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  Carol .Siddall Master Gardener I learned something this week that I did not know, and I wanted to share with you. Neil Sperry, horticulturist from McKinney, Texas, and the Natural Gardener in Austin, Texas, say you can still plant pumpkin seeds July 4th. We will have missed that by the time you read this, but I bet you can still plant the seeds the first week of July. They need that warm soil to germinate so I feel you are safe. This will give you a harvest in October. Don't plan on planting the HUGE pumpkins as they won't have time to fully develop. Daphne Richards, horticulture extension agent for Travis County, recommends not planting much right now, but pu


  Debbie Roland, Compost Specialist Have you ever thought about raising a plant or two in a bale of hay? Well, you can and it’s easy and fun, and avoids some West Texas problems like bad soil, weeds, lack of water and limited space, and is great for people who can’t get down on the ground or bend over but still want to garden. You can have just one bale or stack them several high. Joel Karsten developed this process after watching what happened at his farm when they lost a hay bale on the way to the barn. Before you knew it there would be plants growing from the bales themselves. The hay was decomposing and becoming the planting mix that was growing great plants. He started exp


Karen Miller, Entomologist Specialist

  Which red butterfly have you had in your garden? Is it a Monarch, a Queen, a Viceroy, or maybe a Soldier? All often these are considered “red butterflies”, but the favorites here in West Texas have to be the Monarch and the Queen. Do you know which is which? The Queen butterfly (Danaus galippus) and the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) are both brushfooted butterflies and are sometimes called milkweed butterflies. Both species consume milkweed and sequester toxins from the plant in their bodies. This toxin makes these butterflies distasteful to predator such as birds. Both the Queen and Monarch use a warning coloration of brigh

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