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WATER FEATURES IN YOUR LANDSCAPE

John and Shirley Kelley

Winter is a great time to start planning your landscape for a nice water feature. A water feature can be a small urn or fountain, a water garden with a waterfall, fish & plants.

A water feature can be a great asset to any home. It makes a great gathering spot when having a party or friends over. It can add value to your property, compliment any landscape, and reduce your lawn maintenance.

But you are saying to yourself that takes too much water! Not really.  It takes less water for a water garden in a year than it does to maintain a lawn. Ponds need to be installed in the right place. To be considered:  Child safety (only 24" deep

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SPRING IS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER

Carol Siddall, Master Gardener

This time of year is a good time to think about preparing our beds for spring planting.  If you have never had your soil tested, this might be a good time to do so. You can go to the AgriLife office in Odessa,   1010 E. 8th, or Midland, 2445 E. Highway 80, to pick up a soil testing kit.  There are instructions on the kit on how to do it complete with  mailing instructions.  They will email you back the results in about a week if you choose that route.  Or you can also go to soiltesting@tamu.edu.  They will give instructions also. There is a $10 charge for a routine analysis.

After you have found out the state of your soil, there are some

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YARD ART

Shirley Kelley, Master Gardener

The cold days, cold winds, and then a few warm days gives you the feeling that warm weather is on its way, unless the silly ground hog messes it up.  Strolling through your garden to check to see if anything has survived, sure enough there sets the brightly painted chair that you added to the bed.  The flowers in the pot setting in the seat may be dead but you still have some color to add to dormant plants surrounding it.

Farm equipment seems to be very popular in the landscape. Maybe it is just a rusty piece without any color, but it stands out among the dead plant material.  On second thought maybe it had a hidden color of a fond memo

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MEDICINAL HERBS PART 2

by Herb Enthusiast Barbara Porsch

This week we will continue three more herbs that are easy to grow and are good for you also.

First is Sage (Salvia officinalis) which they say can improve your memory. Boy howdy, do I need to eat a lot of that!  Studies show it is a strong antibacterial, especially against such as salmonella and staphylococcus.

Like most herbs, Sage is native to the Mediterranean area and will survive winters most anywhere.  It wants lots of sun and good drainage.  In fact it wants sun so much, that it would be a hassle to grow indoors even with a grow light.  There are quite a few varieties of the common culinary s

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MEDICINAL HERBS

Barbara Porsch - Herb Enthusiast A while back I received a newsletter from motherearthliving.com talking about 6 medicinal herbs that are easy to grow.  You know, I am more into the eating than the healthy stuff so I haven’t written about that.  But, why not?  They listed 6, so I will do 3 this week and the remaining 3 next week. I know that using fresh herbs does qualify as being healthier because you can really cut down on the salt and fat in some recipes by using herbs to brighten the flavor.   And growing your own is the frugal thing to do.  Compare the price of a transplant that lasts all season to the few twigs or leaves that you pay big bucks for at the grocers.

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A GREENHOUSE FOR EVERY GARDENER

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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GARDENING IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

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.

PLANTS FOR SHADE

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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THE BEAUTIFUL AND MAGICAL POINSETTIA

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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