Newspaper Articles

PERENNIAL PLUS: HOW TO DIVIDE AND WHEN

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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LEAF MOLD

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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FORCING BULBS FOR WINTER BEAUTY

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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COMPOST TEA

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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A FROST WARNING ABOUT BASIL

  Barbara Porsch, Permian Basin Master Gardener Herb Enthusiast I want to talk to all of you out there who have basil growing in your garden.  Take this as a warning to use as much of your basil as possible now before the first frost.  Basil will be the first herb to succumb to even a little frost. Basil has been cultivated in Europe for 2000 years and there are at least 200 different varieties.  It has been thought to be poisonous, good for the heart and used for bites of venomous beasts.  Early Greek and Roman physicians believed the only way to grow a good crop of basil was to scatter the seeds while cursing and stomping feet.  Fortunately for us in west Texas, basil thrives


IT’S PANSIES TIME

Carol Siddall, Master Gardener

  To me, it is hard to imagine a garden without some pansies.  These charmers have endeared themselves to gardeners for almost two centuries.  You can't help but smile when you look at their cheerful "faces".  They should be in our local nurseries before too long, and I know I will have to bring some home. The pansies grown today are hybrids derived from several species of Viola.  The common name "pansy" comes from the French word "pensee": a thought or reflection.  This refers to the flower "face" that is created by the bold blotching and veining on the petals. Young plants in bloom at the nurse

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SICK AND TIRED OF PULLING WEEDS?

Ann Parker, Master Gardener A weed is a plant located where it is not wanted.  Have you spent too many hours down on your knees pulling weeds or repetitively spraying weed-killers?  Pre-emergents are a group of lawn products that offer relief from countless hours of handpicking weeds.  It is not an instant fix, but diligence at putting these products on your lawn can pay off in the long run. Typically, applications should occur early spring (February-March) before warm season weeds appear and in the fall for cool season weeds (August-September).  Early this summer, I was surprised when a trusted nursery owner told me that I should be applying a pre-emergent  every three months due to o

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COLD FRAME GARDENING

Carl White, Greenhouse Specialist

Gardeners often think in terms of gardening within the limits of last frost to first frost.  This would normally constitute the spring, summer and fall months for our growing season, but what about the cool weather plants and vegetables we would love to have from our own gardens during the winter months? Vegetables possible include: radishes, leeks, carrots, arugula, lettuce(s), spinach, Swiss chard (Bright Lights), Red Russian Winter Kale, beet greens, and turnips, to name a few. Intermittent harvesting of tender new growth makes some wonderful additions as microgreens as salad. Leaf lettuce is undoubtedly the best crop

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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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