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Urban Dirt

Extension Service Personnel in Flux


by Rob Lucey Harris County Master Gardener

arris County Master Gardeners face a period of transition as the County Extension Service adjusts to recent personnel changes. Those include the loss of the secretarial position formerly held by Sheronda Bryant due to budget constraints and the expansion of David Parish's part-time role to cover some of the support duties she had handled. But the biggest change is the departure of Dr. Carol Brouwer who has served as the County Extension Agent-Horticulture since December 1999. Brouwer, who has worked to bolster the web presence and computerized record keeping for the Extension program, is leaving to work fulltime with her husband Larry's web development business. But she promised to continue to give her popular landscaping and horticulture lectures when invited. "My work will become my hobby and my hobby will become my work," she said. Dr. Anthony Camerino will oversee Brouwer's duties until a replacement can be found. A farewell event for Dr. Brouwer is set for 11 a.m. on Friday, April 1, in the Bear Creek auditorium. Her last day is April 6. "Carol has provided outstanding leadership to the residential horticulture program for ten years and this has contributed greatly to the excellent visibility that Extension now enjoys in Harris County in general and particularly in the Houston

Continued on pg. 10

A Note From Carol: December of last year marked 11 years for me here in Harris County. As you can imagine, the decision to leave was not an easy one to make. There are so many wonderful aspects to my job including the opportunity to meet and work with the amazing and talented people that choose to give their time to their community as Master Gardeners. I love that my job has been to teach and learn about landscape, gardening, botany and horticulture ­ all topics that inspire me. It will be difficult to leave these things behind. I am going to work for my husband's software development company to do some web design, something some of you may know is also an interest of mine. Working in that capacity will allow me to spend more time with our families that both live just a little too far away. I want to thank all of you for all of the help, support and kindness you have shown me through the years. Many of you have become dear to me and I will miss working with you. I hope that I will see you from time to time as I plan to honor my upcoming speaking engagements and take on more as time permits. All my best to you all. ~Carol

Spring Plant Sale Report ................. 1 Spring Plant Sale Photos ................. 2 Volunteer Opportunities .................. 3 Precinct 2 Happenings ..................... 4 News Briefs .................................... 5

Garden Gifts .................................... 6 Master Gardeners of the Month ...... 7 Continuing Ed Opportunities .......... 8 Volunteer Hours Form ..................... 9 Events Calendar ............................. 11

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A long line stetches around the site before the sale opens.

Texas AgriLife Extension Service Horticulture Program in Harris County

3033 Bear Creek Dr Houston, TX 77084 281.855.5600 fax 281.855.5638

Plant Sale Day in Photos

Harris County Master Gardener cameraman Hernan Franco kept busy capturing the bustle of the blustery Spring Orchard and Garden Sale on March 5. (See story pg. 10)

Success: Herbs and a fig tree!

CEA--Horticulture............................................ Dr. Carol Brouwer 281.855.5600 CEA--Horticulture............................. Dr. Anthony W. Camerino 281.855.5600 Volunteer Coordinator .................................................. David Parish 281.855.5600 Horticulture Secretary ................................................281.855.5600

Harris County Master Gardener Association 2009­2010 Board of Directors

President ............................................................................Ross Palmie 713.236.1010 First Vice President ......................................................Louis Mickler 281.482.7133 Rachel Hunn checks the inventory lists. Second Vice President ........................................................Teresa See 713.464.8338 Past President ................................................................... George Frey 281.888.1699 Secretary ..........................................................................Linda Brewer 832.276.1050 Treasurer ...............................................................................Jo Huskey 281.829.2956 Directors: Kristina Baldwin, Judy Franco, Ori Klein, Georgia Lau, Peggy Moore, Susan Delcambre. · Precinct 2 Steering Committee Chair ............................Jan Kapner 281.487.2065 · Urban Dirt Editor .............................................................. Rob Lucey [email protected] Master Gardeners doing the dirty work.


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Volunteer Opportunities

State Conference in Glen Rose to Feature Country Roads Theme

There are still spots available for the 2011 Texas Master Gardener Conference being held April 27-29 in Glen Rose. Among the latest updates to the conference schedule is a session on the state's new fees for Texas AgriLIFE Extension programs. Texas Master Gardener Coordinator Jayla Fry has changed the subject of her program from "Enjoying the Fruits of Our Labor, Seeds for the Future" to "Partial Cost Recovery Initiative." Fry will be joined by Doug Welsh, Associate Dept. Head for Extension Horticulture. The session will include a discussion of the Partial Cost Recovery Initiative established by Extension to help sustain the agency's program delivery capacity. There will be an opportunity to ask questions about how this will impact your local Master Gardener program. All conference information and online registration is available at

Herman Park Recruiting Summer Garden Helpers

Brent Moon, Horticulture Superintendent at Hermann Park, said he greatly appreciates the help he received from Master Gardeners at Hermann Park last summer and is in need of volunteers to help out again at the Japanese Garden, the Garden Center and elsewhere in the park. Interested volunteers can call Pat Kidd, horticulturist at the Garden Center, at 713.284.8680. He is not always in the office so repeat calls may be necessary. He may also be reached via e-mail at [email protected]

Have You Answered the Call of Springtime Phone Room Duty?

Phone room volunteers are urgently needed as the call volume picks up this spring. In early March, volunteer coordinator David Parish reported that phone call volume quadrupled. "It is one of the most important services we provide to the public," Parish said. "With 500 active members there is no reason that it can't be done on a voluntary basis." Consider signing up for one or two shifts each month. Two volunteers are needed each day: a Master Gardener to serve as a mentor plus one intern or Master Gardener. If you can't work a full day, half days are available. Sign up online at or contact Parish at 281.855.5635 or [email protected] Sign-up prior to arrival is required.

Association Supports Food Bank and Animal Shelter

Harris County Master Gardeners are now doing something extra to support the hungry in our community. A box will be put out in the auditorium at each Hamburger Tuesday to collect non-perishable food donations for the food bank and/or for an animal shelter. Volunteers will sort out the food before delivery.

Experienced Gardeners Sought

Ace Hardware 11655 Jones Rd. is looking for a Master Gardener to work part time tending the greenhouse and answering questions from customers. Contact Bill Murff or Renee at 281.469.8020. The Recipe for Success Foundation is hiring a garden coordinator to help teach its Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education curriculum at Houston elementary schools and community centers. Send resume and cover letter to [email protected]


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Precinct 2 Happenings

by Eileen Donovan Harris County Master Gardener

We estimated about 175 customers inside the hall listened to Heidi Sheesley's talk about fruit trees and grapes. There was a very long line of customers outside waiting to enter. When we opened the sale at 9 a.m., people raced down the center aisle and descended on the tomatoes and peppers. That area was a mob scene and every plant was gone before the sale was halfway over. Jan Kapner estimated that it took almost 15 minutes for the entire line to make it into the building. Despite the appearance of chaos, it was really quite orderly. The "store" sold out of a number of items. After the sale was over, volunteers packed up The Summer Snowflakes (Leucojum aestivum) are blooming everywhere. the remaining plants and equipment and cleaned up the and turnips. They planted sugar snap peas, snow peas, russet hall. Thanks to everyone who worked. Special thanks potatoes, lettuce transplants, carrots (Danvers, Dragon and to the hospitality committee headed up by Bev DeMoss and Nantes) and radishes (Early Scarlet Globe, Crimson Giant and Jen Cross and their helpers for keeping us well-nourished and Cook's Custom Mix). This group also gets credit for some of hydrated. The estimated gross from the sale was $50,000. If you those beautiful tomatoes and peppers that were such a hit at the have any suggestions to improve future sales, please contact sale. Georgia Lau at [email protected] The hard freezes in early February required a lot of work by our volunteers. Moving plants, mulching, covering and uncovering and moving again, all took time and muscle. Now we are in the process of assessing the damage and trimming or removing injured plants. In the orchard, the Anna apples are in bloom and gorgeous. Two Tropical Snow Peach trees and one Red Baron were planted in the new peach bed. The orchard team decided to use recycled railroad ties to border the built up beds and is in the process of obtaining those. All citrus trees were pruned and the blackberries weeded and mulched. The production gardeners harvested green beans, broccoli, Bok Choy, cilantro, lettuce, mustard greens, collard greens, snow peas, sugar snap peas, radishes, cabbage, spinach, onions In the other gardens plants are being trimmed, divided and thinned. Some plants have been relocated. Soil has been replenished and weeding continues. Eileen Stade, our researcher and sign maker, worked on new and replacement signs. The purple martins have returned to their freshly cleaned birdhouse and are trying to chase away anyone who comes near. Becky Barton has accepted the responsibility for recording plantings in the production garden and Ann Abernathy will be doing monthly and yearly reports on the produce sent to the food bank. Keith Homan has taken on the job of maintaining our irrigation system. Thank you to all of them. As usual, all of the garden areas would appreciate more help.


Photo by Christa Kaiser


e had a really great Spring Sale. Georgia Lau says it is the biggest we have ever had. Set up on Friday went smoothly thanks to many helping hands.

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Cylinder Gardening Program Tops 9,000 Students Served

arris County Master Gardener volunteers served 9,098 students through the Cylinder Gardening program this spring. That's up 14.5 percent from last spring when 7,946 students were served and close to the peak of 9,394 students served in spring 2009. The strongest growth this year came among fifth graders, which more than doubled to 5,825.

It took a coordinated effort by a group of dedicated volunteers to cut all the buckets, sort and count all the seeds and deliver them to the schools. Leading the charge for the last time was Louise Rugaard who announced that she was stepping down after chairing the group for the past three years. "She has done an exceptional job and has helped to make our work fun!" said Anna Perry, who has stepped in to take the reins. "Hats off to you, Louise!" Perry had been heading up data entry and seed orders for the group previously. At their March meeting, members of the cylinder group were given some of the seed packets the students use in order to conduct germination tests. Perry will tabulate the results.

Master Wellness Volunteer Program Launching in Harris County

In working to promote more educational programming to Harris County residents, we are looking to recruit dedicated volunteers to help kick off our new Master Wellness Volunteer Program. The Master Wellness Volunteer Program is an educational campaign with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service (AgriLife Extension) focused on helping Harris County residents learn how to make healthy lifestyle choices. The mission of AgriLife Extension is to improve the lives of people, businesses, and communities through high quality, relevant education. Volunteers are critical to fulfilling this mission, and they will assist in delivering wellness programs to area organizations, businesses, and other community groups. Participants in the Volunteer Program will receive 40 hours of health and wellness education. Upon completion of the training, participants are expected to return 40 hours of volunteer service. There will be numerous opportunities and methods for participants to volunteer within the program. Four training classes will be conducted for two weekends, May 14-15 and 21-22, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The training will be a combination of in-class and self-study education. It will include information on basic nutrition, food safety, health education, weight management, trends in health and nutrition, public speaking, and more. After completing the training and giving back 40 volunteer hours, participants will become a Master Wellness Volunteer. There is a $50 application fee that covers the cost of training, including all educational materials. If you are interested in participating, call 281.855.5624 to request a schedule and an application form. Complete the form and return it to: Abneshia Steele, FCS, 3033 Bear Creek Dr., Houston, TX 77084.

Master Gardener Birthdays Celebrated in April

Master Gardeners and Interns who celebrate a birthday during April include the following. Wish them a Happy Birthday when you see them!

Ann Abernathy, Kristina Baldwin, Barbara Isabel Campbell, Vicki Lynn Campbell, Kathleen Collins, Kenneth Collins, Rebecca Anne Cooper, Vivian Cromwell, Catherine Edwards, Judy Ann Franco, Carol Fraser, Dolores Gordon, Donna Hubbard, Gail Huggett, Philip John, Grady Joiner, Patti Jones, Janice Kapner, Nathan Keiser, George Manuel, Louis Mickler, Cindy Moore, Marleine Oren, David Pena, Diane Perez, Georgette Person, Barbara Pierson, Karen Marie Pol, Hazel Potvin, Donna Price, Charles Redd, Susan Lederer Russell, Nicole Smith, Patricia Cooper Stier, Toni Lee Wessel and Paul Wilson.


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Garden Gifts

News from Our Outreach Gardens

by Kenneth Dorman Harris County Master Gardener


The cover crop growing on the fruit tree and grape berms has been mowed and we dug it in along with some compost and cottonseed meal and planted with the jicama, muskmelons and watermelons in anticipation of a huge harvest. Since the jicama is a legume, we cut back on the nitrogen fertilizer and added a little extra potassium and phosphate. The folks at Precinct 2 are growing jicama also, and we are communicating to see if we can help each other get a crop. I think it is going to prove more trouble than it is worth since we have to keep the flowers picked off in order for the tubers to grow and the flowers and seeds are poisonous, but the plants are in the ground and growing. We are preparing the site to move the Central Presbyterian garden over to Gethsemane and hope to have it planted for our fall and winter crops. The rebuilt garden will be quite a bit larger than the old one and we are going to change the configuration of the beds to better utilize the space we have. We are all anxious to get going on it. The wind is so terrible in this location we have gone to extra lengths to protect the plants this year. Last year we had some of the squash and cucumber plants actually get broken off by the wind along with a couple of tomatoes and peppers. Once the plants were large, the cages blew over more than once because we could not drive the stakes deep enough to hold them up. If only the wind would blow hard enough to keep away the leaf footed bugs I wouldn't mind it so much.

Beware the infamous moth of the Squash Vine Borer.

This year we staked everything, even the vine plants, and surrounded the beds with row cover, and found a way to make the stakes support the cages so they are not blowing over. So far, so good. Even without the Central garden we have a huge amount of stuff planted and more planned throughout the summer and fall. We expect a lot of insect and disease challenges and are prepared to combat them with a variety of new organic remedies. The two groups of volunteers have melded and are accomplishing great gardening together. They seem happy, and I am happy along with them. Of course everyone is getting their vacation plans together just at the time the real work is about to start, but we have enough people to overcome that. I may even take a vacation this year. Speaking of happy, remember you alone are responsible for your own happiness so be good to you and love yourself.


Photo by Barbara Harms

ell, it was another tough winter, but it is finally over and the crops are growing. We have the last of the swamp at Gethsemane filled in and some nice beds built and planted. It is looking good, and as funds become available we will begin building paths covered in decomposed granite. Ruby Summers gave us a load of bricks left over from one of her condos and we are going to use them to pave a storage area for tomato cages when they are not in use.

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Master Gardeners of the Month

Barbara Morrison - Precinct 2

Barbara Morrison is Harris County Precinct 2's Master Gardener of the month for February. The graduate of the Master Gardener class of 2002 has had a lifelong interest in gardening. She was born in Longview and raised in Deer Park, where she and her husband Marvin still reside. A true gardening dynamo, Barbara is at the P2 production garden nearly every workday on the calendar. She never shies away from the most labor intensive job. Having been around the Friendship Garden for many years, her many roles have been varied. Currently, her section of the production garden is a great source of pride for her, and she is there for every planting and harvesting in Plot C. She has also made contributions, along with Marvin, in the Rose Garden. The Tree Alley has benefitted from her hard work as well. She is looking forward to being able to lend her expertise in the Perennial Garden in the future. Barbara is indispensable at the Precinct 2 plant sales. Wrapping trees and loading and unloading wagons among other duties make her essential plant sale personnel. She often sits in on Steering Committee meetings and is valued for her long time experience in the organization and the garden. She and Marvin have Barbara Morrison working the plant sales. an extensive family with seven children, 10 grandchildren and four great grandchildren. We congratulate and appreciate the very, very busy and hard working Barbara Morrison.

Jo Huskey - Extension Office

Jo Huskey, a member of the Fall 1998 Master Gardener class, is the Extension Office Master Gardener of the Month for March. For the last four years she has been the HCMGA Treasurer on the Board of Directors. To do this complicated job she willingly learned Quick Books Pro. Among her duties is keeping the budget and she periodically updates all involved about the current status of their funds. She also writes all the organization's checks as well as reimbursements for expenses ­ always done in a timely way with a smile. Jo has also been a valuable member of the Publications committee for the last 5 years. She has created some of the fliers, post cards, brochures and other publications that the committee has produced to promote our events and educate the public. She is one of the able Urban Dirt copyeditors. She also works willingly to help facilitate changes. When a change was required with the procedure for the bus trips, she made sure all was understood and handled as easily as possible. Jo is a dedicated, pro-active, valued Master Gardener. Thank you, Jo, for all your hard work.

Jo Huskey honored at March Hamburger Tuesday.


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Continuing Education Events

May 18. Herbs by Jeanie Dunnihoo, HCMG. Extension Office. 6:30 p.m.

Photo by Rob Lucey

Green Thumb Lecture Series

May 10. Landscape Pests and Diseases by Dr. Anthony Camerino, County Extension Agent - Horticulture. The Meeting Room at Clear Lake Park (lake side). 6:30-8:30 p.m. May 19. Earthkind Landscapes by Dr. Carol Brouwer, County Extension Agent - Horticulture. Trini Mendenhall Sosa Community Center, 1414 Wirt Rd. 6:30-8:30 p.m.

MG Specialist Training Workshops*

May 20-21. Plant Propagation Specialist Training. Montgomery County Extension Center, Conroe. $125 fee. Registration deadline Feb. 25.

Jean Fefer repots seedlings at Bear Creek.

April 2011

Master Gardener Lecture Series

April 5. What's Blooming in the Lazy Gardener's Garden by Brenda Buest Smith - The Lazy Gardener. Extension Office. Noon-1 p.m. April 19. Buffalo Bayou Watershed by Richard Long, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Extension Office. 6:30 p.m.

June 2011

Master Gardener Lecture Series

June 7. Bromeliads by Gary Gallick-Past President Bromeliad Society. Extension Office. Noon-1 p.m.

Green Thumb Lecture Series

June 14. Growing Plants from Seeds and Cuttings by Louis Mickler, HCMG. The Meeting Room at Clear Lake Park (lake side). 6:30-8:30 p.m. June 16. Lawn Care by Dr. Anthony Camerino, County Extension Agent - Horticulture. Trini Mendenhall Sosa Community Center, 1414 Wirt Rd. 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Green Thumb Lecture Series

April 12. Earth Kind Landscapes by Louis Mickler, Harris County Master Gardener. The Meeting Room at Clear Lake Park (lake side). 6:30-8:30 p.m. April 14. Great Plants for Houston by Dr. Carol Brouwer, County Extension Agent - Horticulture, and Karen Breneman, Harris County Master Gardener. Trini Mendenhall Sosa Community Center, 1414 Wirt Rd. 6:30-8:30 p.m.

MG Specialist Training Workshops*

June 9-10. Rainwater Harvesting. Williamson County. * Visit or contact the Harris County Extension Office, 281.855.5600, [email protected] for registration details.

May 2011

Master Gardener Lecture Series

May 3. Hydroponics by Carol Fraser. Extension Office. Noon-1 p.m.


All activities listed here are eligible for Master Gardener CEU's.

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Volunteer Hours

Service and continuing education

Instructions: ·Youcansubmitandcheckyourhoursonlineanytimeat Parishat3033BearCreekDr.,Houston,TX77084orbyfax:281.855.5638. ·ThelistofApprovedServiceandEducationalActivitiesisonthebackoftheprintedform(nextpageifelectronic.)Additional qualifyingeventsarelistedineachissueofthenewsletter(UrbanDirt.)AnyexceptionsmustbeapprovedinadvancebyVolunteer CoordinatorDavidParish. ·Includeaddressandphonenumberonlyifyourinformationhaschanged. ·Call281.855.5600ifyouhavequestions. Name: Address: Home: Cell: Work:

Service Hours


Date Job Task Hours* Contacts**

* Number of hours volunteered ** Number of people you educated during volunteer activity


Continuing Education


Date Event/Location Topic & Speaker Hours*


* Remember to include education hours only (i.e., don't include travel time to/from event, or transportation time during a tour.)

090724 v2


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Blustery Sale Deemed Success

ton of preparation goes into getting ready for the plant sales the Bear Creek Extension Master Gardeners hold throughout the year. The sales are supported by the staff at the Bear Creek Office and all the Master Gardeners affiliated with the Extension Service. Everyone involved in the latest event on March 5 should feel a sense of pride for a job well done on an extremely cool and windy day. These sales are fundraisers for the Extension and the monetary figures will be available after all the invoices are paid and profits are certified. The weather doesn't always cooperate with our efforts on the day of the sale, and this was one of those times. The cashier tents took flight, receipts were caught in the wind and fruit trees blew over. It was definitely not a good hair day for folks, although everyone seemed in good humor (see photos on pg. 2). Rachel Hunn and a herd of volunteers helped secure plant identification signs so the wind wouldn't catch them. Once the gates were opened and customers descended on the site, Rachel found herself helping select bare root berry bushes, inserting them in plastic bags and shoveling soil in the bag so the roots

By Jeri Shaw Harris County Master Gardener

wouldn't be exposed; then back to the signs. She is great at multi-tasking and a valuable Master Gardener volunteer. On over to the check-out lines. Jim Stevens was waiting patiently and laughingly said, "Now I know what women go through the day after Thanksgiving." Harley Spencer, Jim's friend, wanted me to know that he has 32 years of organic gardening experience. Harley also said these plant sales reminded him of Black Friday. A man named Claude Griffin caught my eye because he brought his lunch with him and enjoyed eating while waiting in line. Claude told me he specializes in killer bees and talks about them on channels 2, 11 and 26 regularly. The sale grossed more than $36,000. The profit after expenses are deducted will be used to fund ongoing Master Gardener programs. In a meeting after the March event, the Sales Committee voted to cancel this year's spring perennial sale which had been scheduled for April 23. Volunteers are being sought to coordinate future sales including the Fall Sale scheduled for Sept. 24. If you can help fill this crucial role, contact David Parish at 281.855.5635 or [email protected]


Continued from pg. 1

Metroplex," said County Extension Director Linda WilliamsWillis, Ph.D. "She has implemented many numerous and innovative ideas with the Harris County Master Gardener Program including the Green Thumb Lecture Series. Most recently she provided leadership for our Horticulture Certification Program, a partnership with the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department. Carol's technological skills have greatly benefited the horticultural program and the entire Extension office and she will be missed tremendously." Originally from Las Cruces, New Mexico, Brouwer received both a Bachelor of Science Degree in Horticulture and a Masters Degree in Agriculture and Extension Education from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. In 1998, she completed her Ph.D. in Horticulture at Texas A&M University and launched her teaching career as the Extension Agent in Albuquerque, N.M. While attending a Master Gardener conference in San Antonio that first year, she met Bill Adams who was retiring after 31

years as the Harris County Extension Agent. Adams saw her talent and recruited her as his replacement. "I remember when I came for my interview we rode on the Gator and he took me on a tour of the orchard where we ate jujubes," Brouwer said. "I don't think I've eaten any since then." She has, however, overseen the completion of the Millennium Garden, the growth of the Cylinder Garden program to serve more than 15,000 children per year, improved tracking of the Master Gardeners' volunteer efforts, launching of the Chilli thrip research project, and expansion of the public education mission including more lectures and the kickoff of the Houston Rodeo booth. Association President Ross Palmie said Carol will be greatly missed, citing the classic Joni Mitchell lyrics, "don't it always seem to go you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."


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April 2011






Newsletter deadline




Work day: P2

5 Work day: Ext. Off. 6

Spring Mulch Day! MG Lecture: Ext. Off. What's Blooming in the Lazy Gardener's Garden by Brenda Buest Smith. noon Work day: P2






Work day: P2


Work day: Ext. Off. Green Thumb: Mtg. Rm. Clear Lake, lakeside. Earth Kind Landscapes by Louis Mickler, HCMG. 6:30 pm


Work day: P2


Green Thumb: Sosa Cntr. Great Houston Plants by Dr. Brouwer and Karen Breneman, HCMG. 6:30 pm





Work day: P2


Work day: Ext. Off. MG Lecture: Ext. Off. The Buffalo Bayou Watershed by Richard Long, US Army Corp of Engineers, Ext. Off. 6:30 pm


Work day: P2






Work day: P2



Work day: P2 Texas Master Gardeners Conference


TMG Conference Continues


TMG Conference Concludes



Texas agriLife exTension service

3033 Bear creek Dr. HousTon, Tx 77084

281.855.5600 fax 281.855.5638

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Fruit Study Group Takes First Look at Cherries

Dr. Ethan Natelson leads the group's first talk on varieties of this healthful fruit being tested for our region. March 29, 5:30 p.m. at the Extension Office

Photos by


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