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Urban Dirt

Bookstore Offers Information Bonanza

o you know how to plant asparagus? Or what a broad bean is? Or what causes flower stalks on cabbage? Or the difference between collard greens and kale? The AgriLife Extension publication "Everything Texans Ask About Gardening" by Joseph Masabni and Patrick Lillard answers all these questions and hundreds more. And the best part is the price: it's free to download the 67-page PDF file from the AgriLife online bookstore ( In fact, most of the publications on the site can be downloaded for free, and many are available in Spanish with a few even translated into Vietnamese. All are written to disseminate research-based information to help Texans improve their lives, businesses and communities. While many topics aren't of interest to the average urbanbased Master Gardener (brush control in rangelands anyone? or perhaps a treatise on home wastewater treatment?), there is an entire "Lawn and Garden" section packed with nearly 200 titles. Some delve into the scientific nitty gritty, such as the 12-page illustrated classic "Aphids on Cruciferous Crops - Identification and Management" by T.-X. Liu and A. N. Sparks, Jr. Others have more appeal for the garden hobbyist, such as the 30 titles in the "Easy Gardening" series covering the how-tos of popular crops

Photo by Texas AgriLife Extension


and basic gardening techniques. These booklets are what you need if you want to quickly brush up on growing everything from artichokes to tomatoes, or a quick primer on composting. You could even nab a copy of "WarmSeason Turfgrass Disease Management in Urban Landscapes" by Young-Ki Jo and our very own Anthony Camerino. (Maybe he'll even autograph it for you if you ask nicely.)

New publications come out on a regular basis. In September, 11 new titles were published including the two-volume "Texas Pecan Handbook" edited by Larry A. Stein and George Ray McEachern (available only in hard copy for $20), and the 11-page "Fall Vegetable Gardening Guide" by Larry A. Stein, Joe Masabni, available as a free download. Like exploring the stacks of a bricks and mortar library, you never know what title might catch your eye. Perhaps "Making a Rain Barrel" or "Pine Straw as a Ground Cover Mulch." Or a sixpage pamphlet on "Chinch Bugs in St. Augustine Lawns" to lull you to sleep at night. The handy search function makes it all easy to find. And it's a great resource if you're working the phone room and want to send a caller some in-depth info.

AgriLife Bookstore ......................... 1 From the Orchard ............................. 2 Fall Plant Sale Photos ..................... 3 Precinct 2 Happenings ..................... 4 News Briefs .................................... 5

Garden Gifts .................................... 6 Master Gardeners of the Month ...... 7 Continuing Ed Opportunities .......... 8 Bear Creek Demo Gardens ............ 10 Events Calendar ............................. 11

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From the Orchard

by Yvonne Gibbs Harris County Master Gardener


itrus fruits will be the next crop ripening in the orchard. We have some very good hardy citrus and orchard coordinator Doug McLeod and his crew should have a good crop soon.

Texas AgriLife Extension Service Horticulture Program in Harris County

3033 Bear Creek Dr Houston, TX 77084 281.855.5600 fax 281.855.5638

One citrus fruit in the orchard that you won't want to taste comes from the Flying Dragon, a variety of trifoliate orange. It is exceedingly thorny with large curved thorns on twisting branches. We just finished cleaning out some dead branches. Each year it has a large crop of small hard round fruits, each of which is full of seeds. Why do we keep this gnarly tree around if the fruit is so unpalatable? This is a source for new root stock for citrus trees. Flying Dragon is one of the two primary dwarfing root stocks used in our sandy and loam soils. The other is Trifolata (Poncirus trifoliata), the least dwarfing of the two. Both are compatabile with most of the citrus we can grow. Trifoliate orange varieties can dwarf tree size by 25-50 percent. Trifoliata also imparts the most cold hardiness to the scion variety. Flying Trifoliate (named for its Dragon can reduce plant size by 75 three-part leaves) makes percent. The drawbacks are that it is slow growing and hard to bud. The great root stock, but home grower doesn't mind, as dwarfed terrible fruit. trees can be grown in limited space and even pots. However, the amount of dwarfing is not always predictable, as growing conditions, variety vigor and climate greatly affect how big a tree will grow. Thomasville Citrangequat has also been used as a root stock. The cross between trifoliate orange and sweet orange is the most cold hardy of all citrus, followed by the Satsumas and Mandarin oranges. Its fruits can be used as a lime substitute. This variety is even more hardy than kumquats. Citrus, like most fruits, have early, mid-season and late-season ripening dates. Citrus is an easy care tree, little pruning, with proper care and management you are rewarded with many years of delicious fruits. Grafted trees go into production very quickly, and you get your fruits seven years earlier than with seeds of oranges and 15 years earlier than with grapefruits grown from seed. Be sure to shop at the Fruit Tree Sale on Jan. 28 for the best choices of trees for your backyard orchard.

Photo by Texas AgriLife Extension

CEA--Horticulture............................. Dr. Anthony W. Camerino 281.855.5600 CEA--Horticulture.......................................Robert "Skip" Richter 281.855.5600 Volunteer Coordinator .................................................. David Parish 281.855.5611

Harris County Master Gardener Association 2011-2012 Board of Directors

President .........................................................................Linda Brewer 832.276.1050 First Vice President ......................................................Louis Mickler 281.482.7133 Second Vice President ........................................................Teresa See 713.464.8338 Past President ....................................................................Ross Palmie 713.236.1010 Secretary .............................................................................Judy Franco 281.463.7504 Treasurer ...............................................................................Jo Huskey 281.829.2956 Directors: Karen Breneman, Sid Kapner, Ori Klein, Peggy Moore, Lisa Rawl and George Williams. · Precinct 2 Steering Committee Chair ............................Jan Kapner 281.487.2065 · Urban Dirt Editor .............................................................. Rob Lucey [email protected]


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Scenes from the Fall Plant Sale

The sale grossed more than $18,000 with expenses under $11,000, netting more than $7,000 to support the MG program.

Photos by Henan Franco


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Precinct 2 Happenings

by Eileen Donovan Harris County Master Gardener


fter a long, hot and dry summer it is finally cooling off. Although the drought remains a problem, it feels less unbearable. There are many flowers in the garden. Mexican butterfly vine, fennel, shrimp plant, thryalis, senna, sunflowers, okra, rudbeckia, zinnias and others. It is a lovely sight, reminding us of how gardening feeds our souls. Much of the garden work has been maintenance: mulching, weeding, battling Bermuda grass, trimming, fertilizing and weeding again. Beds continue to be prepared for cold weather vegetables and upcoming planting trials. Dr. Paul Nester is still waging war on the crazy ants, abetted by Sid Kapner. So far, although their numbers have lessened, the ants have not lost the war. Three special work dates were planned for September and October. As of this writing only one had been completed, but it was a rousing success. Most of the attention was devoted to the rose garden. MGs deadheaded, tied up climbers, dug out volunteer hackberries, tackled pesky Bermuda grass and vines, mulched and, in general, spiffed up the area. Workers enjoyed a full fajita lunch following their work. The orchard, butterfly and desert gardens will be targeted next, followed by the garden structures and the classroom. Susan Delcambre brought a guest, Patty Steinke, to tour the gardens and visit with the gardeners. Patty teaches biology at San Jacinto College and is starting a vegetable garden to augment classroom instruction. She also plans for it to benefit the culinary department at the college. Seventeen P2 Master Gardeners attended the field trip to several Heights area nurseries that specialize in native plants. They toured the facilities and shopped until all available space in their vehicles was filled. Then they stopped at the Carter and Cooley Deli for lunch and fellowship. A big thank you goes to Alice Marinos for organizing the field trip. The next trip will be in mid-November to the Rose Emporium. Look to the P2 emails for details. Dr. Anthony Camarino, Jan Kapner and Sid Kapner have met with the new management of the Precinct 2 County Road Camp, where our garden is housed. Since the change in management that occurred on Jan. 1, there had been some gaps in our hosts' understanding of our garden's purpose and how it came to be located in the middle of a road camp. The

meetings have been very positive. There will be some structural changes involving fencing and gates. Also, with the exception of Open Garden Day, only certified Master Gardeners and interns will be allowed in the garden and all Master Gardeners must wear their official nametags while on the premises. Future meetings to include our new Extension Agent are in the planning stage.

The Sept. 23 field trip included several stops and plenty of fellowship for Precinct 2 gardeners. Next trip is Nov. 17 to the Antique Rose Emporium and and Ellison's Greenhouse in Brenham.


Photos by Jo McGinnis

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Introducing Your Proposed State Leadership


he Texas Master Gardeners Association Nominating Committee has announced the proposed slate of 2012 officers to be considered at the quarterly directors meeting to be held at 11 a.m., Dec. 3, at the Hort/Forest Science Building on the A&M Campus in College Station. The proposed officers are:

Brenda Cunningham for position of President. She belongs to Dallas County but also lives in Wise County. She became a Master Gardener in 1998 and was secretary on the Executive Committee in 2008-2009. Ginger Bason, for First Vice President. She has been a Master Gardener since 2002 after being a teacher, always a gardener and is presently the Second Vice President. She lives in Tarrant County. Dick Coup for Second Vice President. He became a Dallas County Master Gardener in 2003. He is originally from Kansas and has an agriculture degree. Karen Colwick for Secretary. She is a brand new, spring- trained Master Gardener getting all her hours quickly including Rainwater Specialist certification. She lives in Bell County and had been a teacher.

Donna Hagar will continue as Treasurer on the Executive Committee. Her Master Gardener training was in 2007 in Somervell County where the Master Gardener Conference was held this year.

Statewide Calendar Promotes MG Chapter Activities

If you've ever wondered what all of the other Master Gardeners are doing throughout the state, you now have an easy tool to find the answer. A new statewide Calendar of Events system on the Texas Master Gardener Association website ( provides a repository for all local events, as well as all statewide Master Gardener activities. The scrollable calendar is located in the lower righthand corner of the home page. To simplify adding events, this system has a submission form reachable via a link on the lower lefthand side of the home page. Barbara Buckley, a Master Gardener from Fort Bend County, is coordinating this new effort between the TMGA newsletter and website.

Question of the Month:

A teacher in the Cylinder Gardener program asked if it would be okay to use water that is leaking out of the air conditioner at her school to water her cylinders. ANSWER: That should be fine. The water is condensate from the atmosphere and is probably cleaner than the city water. This practice is not only good for saving water and preventing disease, but is also good food safety. The only concern is if there is any scum or bacteria in the drip pan where it gathers or pipes it runs through. If applied to the soil rather than the plants, however, this should not be a concern, especially if the food is washed before consuming.

Master Gardener Birthdays Celebrated in November

Master Gardeners and Interns who celebrate a birthday during November include the following. Wish them a Happy Birthday!

Loyal Ayers, Gaynor Beesley, Sara Brana, Beth Braun, Elizabeth Danforth, Susan Darby, Holly Del Monico, Elizabeth Duffner, Judy Elliott, Marilyn Farrell, Daryl Field, Virginia Galyean, Carolyn Gandy, Linda Garren-McKillip, Theresa Gellerman, Nancy Graml, Connie Kivell, Earline Lane, Bea Lindzon, Margaret Lloyd-Bingham, Patricia Metzinger, Frances Mount, Angie Norman, Pierre Nys, Judy Padar, Dian Parker, Pam Patrick, Mark Ramey, Nancy Russell, Lynda Sal, Betty Sigler, David Singleton, Debra Suhl, Chevvy Tang, Patricia Usnick, Patricia Vavra, Robert White and Susan White.


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News from Our Outreach Gardens

by Kenneth Dorman Harris County Master Gardener

Garden Gifts


hhhh, you could almost hear the plants sigh with relief after the three-inch rain and cooler weather came to our gardens. Overnight, it seems that plants put on a surge of growth, flowers bloomed, fruit formed, and all the volunteers and I got in a much better mood. And the weeds ­ the weeds jumped from the earth filling up all the nice clean areas we had. We have two beds of mixed winter squash that are about to take over the garden. They have spread across the sweet potatoes on one side and the chilies on the other side and are climbing the fence and covering the walkways. They have a lot of fruit we can see on the fringes, and I am sure there are many more back under the vines, but we are afraid to go in there to look. These squash keep for several months so I think we will let the vines die and then look for the squash. The multiplying onions Bob Kish gave us a month or so ago are almost big enough to start harvesting. They are a great favorite with the clients of the Pantries and by the time they begin to die back in June we will have harvested several hundred pounds from this one bed. All the peppers have revived and have begun to produce again which is good because they, along with the sweet potatoes, are the only things we have to take in right now. We dug one bed and the potatoes are large and well formed. The pole beans and bush beans are blooming, the cilantro and cabbages have sprouted and we are planting three kinds of lettuce, carrots, radishes, arugula and Egyptian beets. In order to take out the Zeebest okra we had to use loppers to cut off the branches then use shovels to dig out the stumps, and stumps they were, all of them several inches around. I found out why the winter melons didn't do too well. All the information I had said they could be planted later for harvest in the fall and I guess that is correct in the Canary Islands, Spain and California, but not here. I finally discovered some information under commercial crops on the Aggie Horticulture website that said they should be planted at the same time as cantaloupes here. So, we all decided we would rather have

Photo by Kenneth Dorman

Kathryn Boyer ventures into the winter squash and

African Blue Basil patches.

cantaloupes anyway and cancelled that program. So far this year three experimental (for us) crops have failed, but that is what gardening is about; you have to keep looking for something different. The kittens are getting bigger, as most kittens will do, and they make walking hard for me when I get there before they have been fed in the morning. I have one on or under each foot as I am trying to walk in to feed them. After they are full they put on a show, running through the garden playing with each other and getting in everyone's way. They especially like to help plant seeds or pick peppers or dig weeds or anything else someone is doing. Beth Weidner wrote, "The only thing different about having a green thumb is that you don't get discouraged by failure. When something doesn't work, you try again." When life seems tough, stop and rest and love yourself.


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Master Gardeners of the Month

Lisa Lawrence - Extension Office

Lisa Lawrence is one of many Master Gardeners who stepped up to make the Fall Plant Sale a smooth-running success. The recent recruit, who joined us from a Louisiana MG group, saw a need to refine the order entry tickets so that they would match the back end data entry program for tracking and entering the sales results. Using her retail sales expertise, she made those changes. She then went on to compile the 20-page Plant Catalog for the event, working many long hours to get it done before the tight deadline. She also prepared the power point presentation for the Saturday morning overview and, at the last minute due to a communication error, also prepared the PowerPoint for the Tuesday night meeting. As if this were not enough, on her own, she designed a short questionnaire for customers and trained the volunteers to implement it in order to obtain demographic information. Lisa has also put in many hours in the Lisa Lawrence (left) in action. phone room. Always cheerful, she's gone above and beyond the call of duty!

Photo by Henan Franco

Janice Muhm - Precinct 2

Janice Muhm is Precinct 2's Master Gardener of the Month for September. After listening to Bill Zak (a native Texan who speaks and writes for Texas gardeners), Janice wondered about the Master Gardener program and seized the opportunity to join the ranks. She completed the class in 2005. She currently holds the position of Herb Garden lead and Wednesday workday coordinator/reporter. She has served as the plant sale layout architect and has received much positive feedback from the

Photo by Christa Kaiser

customers, but she never stops making plans for improvements to the sales floor. Janice is a member of the Precinct 2 Steering Committee and the Garden Planning Committee where her architectural skills are again put to use. When a call goes out for assistance, she always steps forward. Her Wednesday workday crew has nearly quadrupled, demonstrating her ability to rally the troops.

Nominate a Master Gardener of the Month

Volunteers are doing a wide variety of great work, some quietly, some behind the scenes. Do you know of such an individual? Help shine a light on their efforts. Submit MG of the Month nominations to the Membership Committee by placing the individual's name and why they should be selected in the suggestion box in the Master Gardener room or email them to [email protected] (Ext.) or [email protected] (P2).

Janice Muhm

A graduate of Midland Lee High School in 1972 and Rice University in 1977, she holds a BS in Chemical Engineering. She has worked for Celanese Chemical in Corpus Christi and, after earning a master's in architecture, worked for The Strand Properties in Galveston. Most recently she has been a stay-athome mom and remodeled her home on Dickinson Bayou twice. The latest redo was forced after Hurricane Ike flooded it. Married for 27 years, she and her husband Philip have three children.


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Continuing Education Events


ecertification is coming up. By the end of the year, all Master Gardeners need to have completed 15 volunteer hours and three hours of continuing education units since July 1. David Parish will be sending out status letters soon. If you plan to attend a non-Master Gardner event that you hope will count toward CEU requirements, it must be preapproved. A pre-approval form is on the website under the CEU tab when you sign in. The form must be filled out completely including topic, speaker and speaker qualifications. The information must fit in the space provided, so be concise.

November 2011

Master Gardener Lecture Series

Nov. 1. Raised Bed Gardening by Joe Masabni. Extension Office, noon. Nov. 16. Landscaping with Texas Native Trees,Shrubs and Vines by Joe Blanton, Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. The Meeting Room at Clear Lake Park (lakeside) 5001 NASA Road 1, Seabrook, 10 a.m.

MG Specialist Training Workshops*

Nov. 16-18. Greenhouse Management. Greenhouse Management training was created as a hands-on, intensive multi-day training. The course will include high-quality training combined with hands-on experience. It will be held at the Walker County Storm Shelter and Conference Center; 455 SH 75 North in Huntsville. The course is limited to the first 40 paid applicants with a maximum of two Master Gardeners from any one county. Cost is $175 per person. For more information, contact Duane Robinson, 903.720.3181 or ddrobin- [email protected]

December 2011

Master Gardener Lecture Series

December 6. Junior Master Gardener Program by Sheryl A. Nolen, AgriLife Extension. Extension Office, noon. * Visit or contact the Harris County Extension Office, 281.855.5611, [email protected] for registration details.

Cylinder Gardening Manager Anna Perry shows her crew of volunteers how to harvest a radish in the cylinder demonstration garden.


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

Photo by Rob Lucey

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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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The Many Facets of the Bear Creek Gardens

by Judy Hill Harris County Master Gardener


uesday mornings are work times for the gardens at the Extension Office at Bear Creek. If a garden coordinator has a special need for workers they list their requirements on the volunteer sign up forms in the Master Gardener room. Most days the coordinators are just weeding and doing routine maintenance, but helpers are always welcome. The following is a little information about each of the gardens. Anne Ashworth is the coordinator for the Entry Bed and Teresa See is the Welcome Garden coordinator, both located directly in front of the building. They invite visitors into the gardens. The Entry Bed features plants that thrive in deep shade. The Millennium Garden on the south side of the building is made up of several smaller gardens. Carol Singleton tends the Shade Garden, which features plants that bring beauty and color to shady areas. The Heirloom Garden, coordinated by Kay Tyner, is a display of old-fashioned plants adapted to the Houston climate and soils. The Color Garden, coordinated by Susan White, is a sampling of many plants gardeners can use as borders and is primarily used to display seasonal color. The Texas SuperStar Garden, coordinated by Lourez Bullock, contains trial plantings of ornamentals that may eventually receive Texas Superstar designation. Heman Wai cares for the Meditation Garden, creating a serene oasis of calming plants and features. Lucia Hansen oversees the Daylily Garden, which features several complimentary low-maintenance plants including many varieties of daylilies and roses. The Herb Garden is located in the terraces on the south side of the building and is always changing with different herbs planted each season. Jeannie Dunnihoo heads up the herb enthusiasts working in that bed. Bog gardens show how to turn low areas into beautiful garden spots using the many attractive plants that prefer their feet to be moist at all times. The coordinators for the Water and Bog Garden are Chris Liles and Grady Joiner. The coordinator for the Native Bog Garden is Karen Breneman. Carl Meyertons, Vegetable Garden coordinator, and his crew are constantly testing new varieties of favorite vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, peas, cabbage, cauliflower and many others.

The Rose Production Garden contains pots of young rose plants produced from cuttings taken from the mother plants. Several mother roses are also planted in the ground around the rose deck. These and other mother roses throughout the garden are used for propagation to produce roses for plant sales and to demonstrate growth habits of the various roses. Virginia Joiner is the coordinator for this area. The Cylinder Garden demonstrates methods used in our Cylinder Garden program in local schools. Flowers and vegetables are grown in bottomless containers filled with good soil. Cylinder Garden coordinator Anna Perry is working to get the area in shape and organized. The Greenhouse and other support areas are located behind the building and near the northwest corner of the building. Earl Goodson, coordinator for the Garden Tools and Equipment, keeps the tools organized and in good repair. Irrigation coordinator Dave Mason takes care of any problems with garden plumbing. Cathy Preator is our new Greenhouse coordinator. The Greenhouse produces plants for the demonstration gardens and for seasonal plant sales and is a teaching resource for Master Gardeners. Jean Fefer is the coordinator for the Shade House. The Butterfly Garden is located on the south side of the building. Patti Usnick is the coordinator for this garden, which includes both host plants for butterfly eggs and larva and nectar plants for the adults. The area behind the Harris County Community Center and the small Memorial Garden across from the Butterfly Garden is comprised of two gardens. Janet Eshelman is the coordinator for the Flower and All-American Selections Garden and Judy Hill is the coordinator for the Heritage Rose Garden. When new All-American Selections are named, the AAS Garden is among the first to receive the seeds so that these new cultivars can be grown for all to see along with other flowering plants. The Heritage Rose Garden is dedicated to antique and old garden roses. The two gardens complement each other well. Keeping all of the gardens running smoothly is Chris Liles, the Garden Manager. If anyone has a problem in a garden, Chris can quickly fix it or find someone who can.


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November 2011

Tue Wed





Work day: Ext Off. MG Lecture: Ext. Off. Raised Bed Gardening by Joe Masabni. Noon.







Work day: P2


Work day: Ext Off.


Work day: P2



Newsletter deadline




Work day: P2


Work day: Ext. Off.


Work day: P2 MG Lecture: Mtg Rm at Clear Lake Park . Landscaping with Texas Native Trees,Shrubs and Vines by Joe Blanton. 10 am


P2 Field Trip to Brenham





Work day: P2


Work day: Ext. Off.


Work day: P2


Happy Thanksgiving





Work day: P2


Work day: Ext. Off.


Work day: P2


Texas agriLife exTension service

3033 Bear creek Dr. HousTon, Tx 77084

281.855.5600 fax 281.855.5638

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Mark your calendar to attend the Hamburger Tuesday meeting at noon on Jan. 3. 'Getting Volunteers Involved' is the theme as managers of the various Master Gardener areas each talk about opportunities they have available. Make a resolution to do your part for the Master Gardeners in 2012.


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