UNDERSTANDING HUMMINGBIRDS–CAN THEY SING?
Carl White, Master Gardener and bird EnthusiastThe hummingbird tongue extends and retracts some 20 times per second when drinking. The tongue separates so as to trap the sugar water and draws that up into its mouth. Scientists are still puzzled as to how the drawing of the water and swallowing are coordinated. So extends the mystery of the amazing little birds we so enjoy each summer. First, that the common habitant of the West Texas area is the Black-chinned species, which spends its winters in Central America and also on the Gulf coast. The greatest traveler is the Rufous, traveling some 4,000 miles from Mexico to Alaska. Being well adapted to cold, this migration Read More
HERBS – MEDICINAL OR CULINAR
Barbara Porsch, Master Gardener and Herb EnthusiastI love herbs and love to grow and use them in my culinary adventures. In fact, I hardly thought of them as being advantageous medically. But more and more today I see references about certain herbs being helpful to combat medical problems. Looking back, I have always seen a historical use of herbs for medicinal purposes. It is hard to know which use came first…… the culinary or the medicinal. Let’s look at Lavender. In ancient times, the Greeks and Romans used it to perfume their baths. During the renaissance it was overshadowed by the medicinal herbs of the day. Then later it was rediscovered Read More
Roger Corzine, Master GardenerSucculents are an interesting group of plants that seem to be earning more gardener interest at present. However, there also seems to be some misunderstanding about the word ‘succulent’. I have found that many people seem to equate the terms "cactus" and "succulent". There is a statement in botanical circles that says, “Nearly all cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti,” so let me explain. First, the term succulent is not a scientific name. So any plant that stores water in its leaves or stems or roots can be called a succulent no matter what plant family it is in.
HOW TO MAKE A BUTTERFLY FEEDER
Shan Wheeler, Master Gardener InternIf you love butterflies but have either a shady garden with little sun to induce flower production or mostly evergreen flowerless bushes, you can still lure those beautiful creatures to their very own butterfly heaven by a couple of simple methods. Every gardener enjoys seeing butterflies coming to their garden. A butterfly feeder can be fabricated from a Mason jar. Using twine, cut two pieces of string that are 48" long. Wrap each string around the neck of the jar and tie a knot. The two knots should be opposite each other. You will now have four ends of string extending from the jar; take one string from opposing Read More
KEEPING A GARDEN JOURNAL
By Debbie Roland, Master GardenerMy friend asks “That’s pretty! What is it?” My response: “I have absolutely no idea.” Thus began my garden journal. After taking a class on journaling at the Master Gardener State Conference, I knew it was the answer to my problems – or at least part of them. I remembered that my now gone gardening neighbor, Buddie, kept a record of how much rain we got each year and when we got it. He also recorded what he planted and when. There are expensive, formal journals available, but I have found that a five subject spiral notebook does the trick. In one section I keep track of the rainfall, its date and how bad the stor Read More
FOR LOVE OF COLEUS
By Carol Siddall, Master GardenerOne of my favorite plants for the shade garden is Coleus. I sometimes feel it is a little forgotten. I haven't been able to find many varieties at all in the nurseries I have been to, and that is a shame as there are lots more varieties to choose from now, some even like the sun! Coleus is native to Southeast Asia. They are tender tropicals that are generally grown as annuals. They like warm soils with decent drainage. They are not real happy with overly dry conditions. There are tall varieties, low-growing good for borders, midsize which are good for filling gaps, and trailing ones that are great for con Read More
FARMERS ALMANAC, YOUR GARDEN RESOURCES
By Debbie Roland, Master GardenerGardening questions? I first turn to the Texas A&M website. It is a wealth of printable articles and information. There is a spot for each department where you can ask questions by e-mail and receive a response. Another favorite is The Old Farmer’s Almanac. You’ve all seen them at the checkout counter at the grocery stores and feed stores. It is an annual magazine that has been published since 1818 and is full of folk wisdom. It is a blend of funny stories, American history, fishing, conservation, sustainable and simple living that have been American favorites through almost two centuries. I think Read More
By Master Gardener Herb Enthusiast Barbara PorschWe haven’t talked about parsley in a long time, so let’s talk about parsley this month. It is without a doubt, the most used and least eaten herb in the world. It is always used as a plate garnish and then promptly scraped off with the remains. “But wait… There is more.” Eat the parsley on your plate. It is like a vitamin pill; rich in vitamins A, C, and B and is a good source of calcium, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin, a natural source of potassium and magnesium and reportedly fights cancer. Added bonus is that it deodorizes your breath especially after eating garlic o
LET’S GROW SOME PEPPERS