Newspaper Articles

FALL CAN BE FABULOUS IN THE GARDEN

Carol Siddall, Master Gardener

I love fall.  It is probably my favorite season for more reasons than gardening.  The cooler temperature is a welcomed relief to both humans and the garden. Fall is far from a forgotten season.  There are less insects, and there are weeks (sometimes) when our weather is pleasant and a relaxing time to be outside working in your garden or just sitting and enjoying it.  Even in West Texas we do have some color changes in a few trees and shrubs. This is a perfect time to deadhead your annuals, pinch back perennials, and maybe set out some new containers of chrysanthemums, asters, sedums, purple kale, and ma

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PLANT YOUR FALL VEGETABLE GARDEN

Jim Longstreet,

Master Gardener and Vegetable Specialist

  Now is the time to plant your fall vegetable garden.  The summer heat is finally all but over as the average overnight low temperatures are finally below 70 degrees.  The soil temperature is dropping as well and it is now safe to plant many vegetables for a fall crop. I recommend the following vegetables, many of which you can buy as transplants in our local stores: arugula, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, celery, collards, garlic, kale, lettuce, onions, peas, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, tomatoes and turnips.  I also recommend the following herbs for

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RAINWATER HARVESTING

Bruce Shearer

PBMG Rainwater, Earthkind, and Irrigation Specialist

“Rainwater Harvesting” is the capture and collection of rainwater to be used at a later date. To our ancestors, using cisterns to capture and hold rainwater was a way of life.  It is hard to think of doing this after receiving over 3" of rain this last week, and a hurricane going on, but in West Texas it is needed. Rainwater is great for landscape use. It is free of salts, minerals, chemicals, etc. which are used to treat our public water supplies. Rainwater often has a nitrogen content which promotes a fertilizing effect for plants. Rainwater is helpful in attracting wildlife (

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SCHOOL HOUSE LILIES

Carol Siddall, Master Gardener

This bulb is also known as Oxblood, Hurricane, and Red Spider Lilies.  It is in the Amaryllis plant family, and it is native to Japan.  You sometimes see them sold in nurseries across Texas and they can be ordered from out of state nurseries, or you can try talking  your friends into sharing some of their bulbs!  They are one of my favorite bulbs to plant.  They are unusual from other bulbs as the flower appears first.  It is such a treat to look out one morning in fall and see that beautiful red bloom showing.  (My experience has been that they do not bloom every year.  Probably depends on how much rain we get and when it falls.) The dark gre

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A BEAUTY IN THE NIGHT

Barbara Porsch, Master Gardener  The night blooming cereus is certainly not the most beautiful foliage plant.  It is quite often rangy, even unsightly.  Then for a one night stand it blooms and compensates for all of its disadvantages.  The egg shaped bud covered with tan sepals grows out of a vein on the leaf, slowly unfurls during the day and opens about 10 o’clock at night, regrettably fading shortly after the sunlight strikes it the next morning. There are several flowering cacti called night blooming cereus that all have breath taking white flowers centered by innumerable delicate stamen. They may measure up to 12 inches in diameter and ar

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BEWARE: INVASIVE PLANTS

By Debbie Roland, Master Gardener

If a plant could be my nemesis, it would definitely be the Mexican Petunia.  My Mom gave me my plant in 1990.  It was only one small stalk.  Fortunately, I planted it in a bed that is surrounded by concrete.   However, I am still constantly thinning it to keep it from spreading and invading the rest of the flowerbed and the yard.   The picture of it growing out of the concrete 15’ away from where it is planted will give you a hint about the battle I am fighting. Another is Queen Anne’s Lace.   A fellow Master Gardener gave me a few seeds with this warning:  “Be careful with these.  They can be a little invasive.”  Well,

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DAHLIA–A SOMETIMES FORGOTTEN FLOWER

Carol Siddall, Master Gardener

The dahlia, in my book, is one of the prettiest and showiest flower in the family garden.  My mother could grow beautiful dahlias that would have taken prizes if she had ever entered them.  Me, I am not so fortunate, but that doesn't keep me from trying!  Dahlias are gorgeous heat lovers that provide color summer through frost. The dahlia was named in the late 1700s for Swedish botanist Andreas Dahl.  The dahlia began to be popular in American gardens around 100 years ago with good reason.  They are easy to grow in full sun and thrive in any soil type.  Their blooms can last up to a week, and they make wonderful cut flowers

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UNDERSTANDING HUMMINGBIRDS–CAN THEY SING?

Carl White, Master Gardener and bird Enthusiast

The 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

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HERBS – MEDICINAL OR CULINAR

Barbara Porsch, Master Gardener and Herb Enthusiast

I 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

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