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Archives for March 28, 2013

Bales and Bits: Master Gardeners

Posted: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 10:00 am

Bales and Bits: Master Gardeners

By Amanda Bailey-Mosiman – Extension Educator

Tri-State Media


Trees and shrubs add beauty and value to residential and commercial property.

They help modify microclimates around buildings and outdoor living areas.

Best of all, trees and shrubs are not difficult to establish and maintain.

But, landscaping is not only about plants. Hardscapes — walkways, paths, structures — are also very important to a proper and functional landscape.

Please considering joining the Warrick County Purdue Master Gardeners for an upcoming educational program on these topics. “Thinking Outside the Flower Pot” Landscaping Ideas will be held Saturday, April 6 from 9 a.m. to noon in the Homemakers Building at the Warrick County Fairgrounds.

Warrick County Purdue Master Gardeners invite you to join them for an educational program on landscaping ideas for your home. Areas to be discussed will be flowering trees and shrubs, hardscape DIYs, native plants and more. Seminar counts for three hours of continuing education credits for Master Gardeners. Cost is $5 per person. For more information and to register, call Amanda Mosiman at 897-6100 or e-mail


Amanda Bailey-Mosiman is the Extension Educator — Ag and Natural Resources for Purdue Extension of Warrick County. She can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 897-6100.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013 10:00 am.

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Lots of upgrades in Kendall Lakes

Property offers modern appliances, formal areas: 4702 High Creek Court, Alvin, $158,500

Built in 2008, this single-family home in Kendall Lakes offers many upgrades including a mahogany door, tile flooring and modern stainless steel appliances in the kitchen.

Upon entrance, the foyer area features high ceilings, arched doorways and leads toward the open floor plan consisting of the spacious formal spaces of the dining and grand living rooms.

The living space includes vaulted ceilings with cooling fan.

Next to the living area, the formal dining area features a set of French doors that lead to the gourmet kitchen.

The kitchen has ample cabinet space with granite edges, an eat-in space and access to the covered patio area.

The master bedroom also feature high ceilings and a set of French doors that open toward the bath suite that include dual sink vanities, separate tub and shower and a large walk-in closet.

A fenced-in backyard offers lots of room and several landscaping ideas with a ready-made flower bed.

Listing agent: Gayla Gayden, Keller Williams Signature, 281-698-7787

Beds: 3
Baths: 2 full

At A Glance

Subdivision: Kendall Lakes
Homes: 29
Schools Ratings:
Mark Twain Primary: Recognized
G. W. Harby Junior: Acceptable
Alvin High: Acceptable

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Breed ideas, not bugs: Greenbug and the Don Ryan Center for Innovation

Sometimes inspiration is just the start of something big, and all it needs is the right encouragement and support.  Just ask Dan and Louise Hodges. The Hodges family moved to Beaufort from Charlotte in 2007, with their two daughters, Hunter and Ellen. They formerly owned a landscape design/construction business and relocated to the coast to cater to the second homeowner market. But their timing couldn’t have been worse. It was the beginning of the economic crisis, and their business began to suffer.

They started brainstorming new business ideas while learning to adapt to the coastal environment. Given their background in landscaping, they couldn’t help but notice the relative absence of outdoor living spaces as compared to their home in Charlotte. 

“People don’t utilize their backyards as much here, and I don’t think it’s because of the heat,” says Louise. “It’s because of the bugs.”

And right there, that was the moment of inspiration.

The Hodges  wanted to find an all-natural, safe solution to combat outside and inside pests. Thorough research zeroed in on cedar, which is deadly to pests yet harmless to humans, animals and the environment.  They hired a chemical engineer and created a proprietary formula, which is University tested and proven 100% effective in killing pests. They called their new venture Greenbug.

Louise came up with the name and trademarked the eco-friendly products for people and pets, indoors and outdoors. 

The moment on inspiration had yielded a business, but the Hodges knew the Lowcountry wasn’t just home to bugs; it was home to one of the finest business incubation tools around.

Last year, the Don Ryan Center for Innovation, a collaboration between the Town of Bluffton and the Clemson University Institute for Economic and Community Development, accepted Louise and Dan Hodges as new innovators.  The Don Ryan Center links innovators to intellectual property, technology evaluation, product development services, seed financing, business mentorship, corporate relationships and recruiting. The center’s philosophy is simple: the better the idea, the faster you need to get it to market.

While working with the Don Ryan Center, Dan and Louise pitched their revolutionary invention to its Board of Directors, an injector system that integrates their formula with existing irrigation systems. 

They have a provisional patent on the Greenbug Injector System that distributes the Greenbug formula everywhere water is directed, creating an inhospitable environment for pests to breed. The formula is EPA-exempt and does not require a professional license to apply. It’s also harmless to beneficial creatures such as butterflies, honeybees, and ladybugs.

The result? Pest-free landscaped areas and happy outdoor enthusiasts. 

Both Louise and Dan are working with landscape professionals to install and service the injector systems, giving the landscape companies opportunity to sell the all-natural product and create revenue for their businesses. 

They already have landscape partners from Savannah to Charleston, and more landscaping companies are signing up.  With the help of the Don Ryan Center for Innovation, the Hodges hope to sell their patent-pending Greenbug Injector Systems internationally.

“Working with the Don Ryan Center has been amazing. They have opened doors we couldn’t have opened, provided legal and financial advice and given us the jumpstart we needed to grow our company.”

Started in January of 2012, Greenbug now has more than 14,000 customers including homeowners, professional pest control operators, property managers and landscape professionals, is sold in more than 130 retail locations and has a growing online presence. 

And it all started with that one moment of inspiration.   

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Lowenfels: Start stepping up the gardening prep


There is so much more daylight these days that I swear even the hair on my head has started to grow. Things are melting out there, believe it or not, and even things under snow are reacting to the light. Finally, there is enough hours of it the indoor plants don’t really need to be supplemented any more (that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea to continue supplementing both for germinating and for growing seedlings, as you will get better plants).

You know the rule. If you are going to call yourself an Alaska gardener, you have to grow something from seed or start. This week, things really get into swing and the choices open up, not just because the lights requirement has been dropped. Not only can tomatoes and peppers be started, but all sorts of other goodies that don’t require a greenhouse for summer support are also up to bat.

First, as all who listen to The Garden Party (hey, good excuse to peddle the fact that it is starting up again for the season, 10 a.m. Saturday, April 6,  on KBYR AM-700), knows I am crazy about baked kale or kale slathered with olive or coconut oil and baked for five minutes at 375 degrees or so. Nothing is better, however, than fresh, home-grown kale. Now is the time to start yours, and it is a no-fail plant to grow.

There are lots of varieties of kale available, and each and every one will be attractive in a container setting should you desire to mix and match edibles with ornamentals. You are not limited here by either greenhouse or garden and can grow yours on the deck. Don’t limit yourself to one variety, either. Crinkled, smooth, variegated, red and white — the world of kale has gone crazy in the past few years.

This is also the time to start Brussels sprouts (which by the way, can be cooked exactly the same way: single leaves dipped in olive oil and baked). These are really a late fall crop, so they are going to be around a long time should you decide to start your own. Don’t bother starting them unless you are going to give them the care and feeding they require to produce. We still have eight weeks or so indoors before transplanting.

Still, if you want a special variety of Brussels sprout, now is the time to act. Local nurseries have starts and seeds. All will do just fine here. Incidentally, I did see an interesting set of container gardens with Brussels sprouts providing the vertical element. They looked great and added the edible element that is becoming the rage in display containers.

Lots of folks try their hand at lupine once they see the displays along the highway. These are nitrogen-fixing legumes and can put on quite a display. Unfortunately, they are a bit finicky to get growing and take up a bit of room when they do. They don’t like transplanting. Still, if you can find a  big container, it is possible to grow a spectacular display if you start now. Use local soil if possible in your mix. Roll seed in mychorrizal fungi and nitrogen fixing bacteria. Soak seed for 36 hours in warm water (use a thermos).

I love pansies. Perhaps it is because they usually come in colors that my color blind father could see ,so we had them all over the place. Now I wonder if it was their color or their ease of growth that made dad like them so much. 

Pansies take a bit of time to germinate and grow to decent size, so get going on them now. There are literally hundreds of different color combinations to choose from. Look for your school colors to put in pots or something that will fit in with your landscaped gardens. Who knows, maybe you will find one that does both. There are plenty of choices.

Parsley is another plant that takes a long time to get growing but is well worth the effort once it does. Again, this is a seed that will grow into a plant that will do great in a large container or out in the garden. Personally, I love munching on a sprig while puttering around and little ever makes it to a plate. 

Finally, if you are so inclined, head lettuces need a long start, so now is the time. These fit in to what seems to be a theme: edible plants that you can grow with ornamentals. Its a direction that gardeners seem to be heading. (Read Rosalind Creasy’s blog,, and her book “Edible Landscaping.”) 

Anyhow, head lettuces are beautiful. They take some care to be that way, so they are not for everyone. Still, the hues of green and red available make them blend in or stand out in a container garden. Some would say success depends on what kind of slug season we have, and that may be correct, but at least with a container full of other plants, you have a fighting chance for a decent salad no matter what.


Jeff Lowenfels is author of “Teaming With Microbes: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to The Soil Food Web.” 


 Garden calendar

Veggies to start: Peppers, tomatoes, kale, Brussels sprouts

Herbs to start: Parsley

Flowers to start: Tuberous begonias, pansies and viola, petunia, cosmos, aster, phlox, celosia, malva, salvia, lupine,snapdragons, ageratum, seed dahlias, godetia, matricaria

Alaska Master Gardeners Conference: Saturday, April 6, Palmer Community Center. Keynote speaker is Tim Meyers of Meyers Farm in Bethel and topics will include sustainable Alaska agriculture, backyard seed collecting, chickens, native pollinators and fruit growing. Space is limited. Go to to register and see the complete schedule of events. 

Garden Lessons Learned Along the Way: 10 a.m. Saturday. Alaska Mill and Feed. Robbie Frankevich has been designing, installing and managing gardens in Alaska for more than 20 years. Get inspired by a great slideshow and learn some of the secrets of this inspired gardener. Class is free; call 276-6016 to register.

Dahlias, DahliAs, Dahlias: 10 a.m. April 6, Alaska Mill and Feed. Join Alaska State Fair winners, the Morrows, to learn to divide, plant, grow and store beautiful tubers. Dahlias make a great cut flower and bright addition to every garden. Class is free; call 276-6016 to register.




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Home Inspections: Avoiding a snaky situation

Tired from working his 135-acre homestead, Clem Weber pulled off his dirty work boots, stood them just outside the back door and settled inside for an early spring lunch.

When he later slipped his right foot back into the 12-inch tall boot, he felt something squishy, something wrong. Before Weber could recoil, a 2-foot-long copperhead snake sank a venom-packed fang into his foot.

Weber, a 68-year-old DeWitt County rancher, is living proof that failing to follow the rules regarding snakes can literally come back to bite you.

With snake season almost upon us, I hope his story motivates you to take simple steps to limit venomous snakes inside and outside your home.

Snake season – or the period in which snakes are most active – usually begins in early spring and lasts until late summer.

Because my job takes me to the nooks and crannies of homes and properties all across the region, I’ve seen and heard firsthand snakes will occupy any decent hiding spot.

“We’re going to see snakes start to move here again really soon,” Peter McGuill, Victoria County extension agent, said. “And we do see snakes in town, no doubt about it.”

Venomous snakes aren’t limited to the country. I recently inspected a property for a man who found a rattlesnake inside his home, located just off John Stockbauer Drive.

In town, undeveloped fields, ditches and culverts present prime snake settings. With new development pushing critters out of once-untouched land inside city limits, it’s possible for increased snake-human encounters.

With some regularity, I find snake moltings – or the skin they shed – in attics, between exposed ceiling and floor joists, in pier and beam crawlspaces and under decks.

Weber, the rancher, and I recently walked a property near Rockport. We swapped snake stories and stared at woodpiles, thick brush and other ground debris.

Snakes love clutter – both natural and manmade. At his homestead, Weber often finds copperheads among the leaves, weathered barns and brush.

Snakes also find comfort in overgrown flowerbeds, dense gardens and other common landscaping elements.

Like any animal, they seek food, shelter and water. They can travel vertical surfaces, such as a home’s exterior wall, if they feel it’s worth the trip.

Despite the fear venomous snakes invoke, they kill on average very few Texans – about one to two per year, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

If you are bitten, experts say to keep calm and seek immediate medical attention.

The best strategy, of course, is to avoid a snake bite altogether.

To help limit snakes outside your home, keep grass cut short. Maintain flowerbeds, gardens and other landscaping elements. Trim shrub canopies so you can easily see underneath them.

And don’t forget to remove clutter, clear brush and elevate woodpiles.

“The biggest thing, though, is food source,” McGuill, the extension agent, said. “If you have a rodent problem, you’re fixin’ to have a snake problem.”

By maintaining exterior landscapes, rodents have fewer places to hide. By better sealing your home, those same rodents are less likely to enter it.

Install screens inside brick weep holes and over attic vents. Fix sagging soffits. Ensure doors have proper sweeps and weather stripping. Ensure your clothes dryer vent cap properly closes.

Cats are also a great asset for limiting rodents and snakes.

After being bitten in April 2009, Weber’s wife drove him to a Cuero emergency room.

“It happened so quickly,” Weber said. “It feels like a little razor cut – sharp, and then the real pain sets in.”

Within an hour, Weber received multiple vials of antivenin. His toes, foot and ankle swelled. His skin felt tight. At the slightest touch, even the hospital bed sheet sent searing pain into his lower leg.

Within a week, however, most symptoms of the run-in vanished.

“I don’t leave my boots sitting by the back door. They come inside now,” Weber said. “I’m more careful when moving hay bales in the barn. I just take more care digging around in any places where snakes might be.”

Gabe Semenza is Texas Licensed Professional Inspector No. 20326 and owner of Semenza Inspections. Contact him at 361-676-1480 or

  • Have stories or lessons regarding homes – their operation or importance in daily lives? Contact Gabe Semenza at 361-676-1480 or

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A place to leave behind worldly turmoil, and linger in serenity

<!–enpproperty 2013-03-28 07:40:46.0Raymond ZhouA place to leave behind worldly turmoil, and linger in serenityA place to leave behind worldly turmoil, and linger in serenity1811044809Life2@usa/enpproperty–>


The architecture next to the pond provides a backdrop of quiet splendor when viewed from the other side. Raymond Zhou / China Daily

To say the Lingering Garden is a typical Suzhou garden is like saying Coca-Cola is a typical soft drink. All classical gardens in Suzhou share the same style.

A first-time tourist need visit only one, but a discerning traveler may be able to detect the nuances that differentiate each one.

Now I’m no connoisseur in garden landscaping, so I’ll offer my personal opinion, which is totally subjective.

The best spot in this 400-year-old garden is the hexagonal-roofed pavilion on top of the very small hill. From here, you can take in the view of the pond, with the houses in the background. The angle is roughly that from a treetop, but it puts the water in proper perspective, right in the middle of your mental frame, neither too big nor too small.

Perspective is not used in traditional Chinese painting, which rarely separates foreground and background. But a Suzhou garden resembles a Chinese scroll only when examined from a bird’s-eye view. At ground level, it is more like a Western landscape, but with ever-shifting foregrounds and backgrounds.

The slightly elevated viewpoint from the mound provides a kind of in-between state. If you brush away plants and twigs, it’s more Chinese; if you gaze behind the pillars of the pavilion, you gain a foreground.

Tiptoeing down the hill into the back garden gives me the best feeling about this urban oasis.

It’s not the priceless gingko trees, but the pebbled path that stimulates a special tingling in my feet. It can be slippery when wet, yet it provides enough traction to keep balance. The intricate patterns of varying shades of gray are the visual equivalents of New Age music – stimulating and mesmerizing at the same time.

The pond, with its de rigueur rockeries and red fish jostling for food, is a natural hub for tourists. Unless you come on an early morning or a drizzling day, it is a spot for people watching as well.

To get away from the crowd, I aimlessly wandered the back garden along its long corridor. The scenery here is less intense. You don’t feel the need to capture every step with a click of the camera.

If crowds are thin, the walk through the main building – from the main entrance to the pond side – should be slowed down and absorbed.

Hopefully this is not done in winter, because this part of China does not have central heating and the houses were so obviously designed for maximizing summer cool. The buildings and rooms are more closely connected than a typical courtyard house or a temple compound. Some of the passages appear quite dim, with a tiny yard inducing a shaft of light.

It is difficult to define the hierarchy in this kind of design aesthetic. But as an abode for a retired official, which was the case with the estate’s many owners, it reflects the mentality of the mature and the sophisticated.

You may not want to raise your kids here, but you have a hunch that local Marcel Prousts would find it comfortable to compose their multi-volume tomes and be immune from the hurly-burly of the fast-changing world beyond the brick wall.

(China Daily 03/28/2013 page19)

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Easter gardening tips from the Royal Horticultural Society

Busy Easter getaway

– last updated Thu 28 Mar 2013

  • UK
  • Gardening
  • Easter
The early spring chill could have a big effect on our gardens according to the Royal Horticultural Society. Photo: Peter Sutherst

Gardening experts are warning we need to brave the chilly weather over Easter if we don’t want to get caught out when spring finally arrives.

The Royal Horticultural Society says spring may be running at up to 20 days behind but gardeners who get disheartened by the cold weather and neglect their gardens now do so at their peril.

“There is no guarantee that spring, when it arrives, won’t be warm and sunny and gardeners who don’t get ahead on their plots now could find themselves struggling to catch up when spring finally arrives.”

– Guy Barter, RHS chief horticultural advisor

Click here for the latest Anglia Weather forecast.

A frosty March morning at Graveley near St Neots in Cambridgeshire Credit: Frank Hay

Easter is traditionally a time when the nation heads out to garden centres on masse, shopping for plants and seeds and heading outside over the long weekend to start getting their garden into shape ready for a colourful and fruitful summer. Although Easter is early this year and spring late, the RHS has put together some advice on what you can do to get your garden ready, despite the weather, to ensure you have a summer of colour.

  • Use windowsills as mini-greenhouses to sow seeds in pots in preparation for spring
  • Be prepared for an onslaught of slugs
  • The cold has held back budding roses so there is still time to finish your pruning
  • Spike, feed and moss–kill ailing lawns, so that, if need arises, you can over-seed (sprinkle extra grass seed onto turf) to fill in thin spots once the warm weather comes
  • Buy and plant hardy trees, shrubs, climbers and perennials – they will still be nicely dormant and as they are cold hardy
  • Dead-head any spent bulbs so all their effort goes into producing bulbs for next year rather than seeds
  • Mulch plants with bark chips or other well-rotted organic matter to feed them, suppress weeds and conserve moisture in summer
  • Use very cold days to stay in and re-pot house plants now that light levels are creeping up
  • Winkle out dandelions, docks and other deep-rooted weeds – their grip is less tenacious at this early season
Budding aconites in January at Thurlton in Norfolk Credit: Sandra Bell

The RHS added:

Remember, if it’s a very wet day you should avoid walking on your soil as you will compact it, reducing drainage and doing more harm than good. Instead lay a plank or, better, a sheet of exterior grade plywood on your soil and work from that to spread out your weight.

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Container gardening tips offered on April 6

Missouri City Branch Library will present a program on “Container Gardening,” on Saturday, April 6, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm, in the Meeting Room of the library, located at 1530 Texas Parkway.

James (Boone) Holladay, County Extension Agent with the Texas Agrilife Extension Office in Fort Bend County, will discuss container gardening for inside and outside the home. Whether the gardener has limited space, limited mobility, or simply wants to enhance the landscape with different types of plantings, container gardening offers a variety of alternatives.

Holladay will also demonstrate how to properly build and maintain the container structures. Gardeners of all experience levels who are interested in learning more about container gardening are welcome to attend.

Holladay received his undergraduate degree in Horticulture from Stephen F. Austin State University and his graduate degree in Agricultural Education from Texas AM University. He helped to develop an urban youth horticulture program in Houston, and has also worked at Moody Gardens in Galveston.

The program is free and open to the public. For more information, call the branch library at 281-238-2100 or the library’s Public Information Office at 281-341-2677.

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Garden Calendar: Get tips on successful containers from P. Allen Smith

KIDS’ EASTER FUN: Children ages 3-9 are invited to hear egg and chicken stories and make an egg craft. A live chicken will be present for photo opportunities. 7 p.m. Thursday, North Richland Hills Public Library, 9015 Grand Ave. 817-427-6818. Free.

HERBS: The Greater Dallas Organic Garden Club welcomes Homegrown magazine publisher Judy Barrett of Taylor, Texas, for a presentation on herbs and how they can be used in the garden, kitchen and around the home. 6:30 p.m. Thursday. REI, 4515 LBJ Freeway, west of the Dallas North Tollway. Free.

BUNCHGRASS PRAIRIE:The Trinity Forks Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas’ monthly meeting will include a presentation on the largest bunchgrass prairie in North America. 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Texas Woman’s University, Ann Stewart New Science Building, Denton. Free.

IKEBANA DEMONSTRATION: A presentation on creative ikebana will be presented by a visiting, high-ranking instructor in the Sogetsu school. 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday. Bent Tree Country Club, 520 Westgrove Drive, Dallas. Morning demonstration and lunch, $45; demo, lunch and afternoon workshop, $65. Advance registration requested. 214-750-7236 or email

CONTAINER GARDEN: Award-winning gardening and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith will present a free container garden demonstration, using plants from his Proven Winners collection. Containers will be raffled after the session ends. 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Book signing 11:45 a.m. Calloway’s Nursery, 2460 Highway 121, Plano. Free.

PROVEN WINNERS: Learn about the brand’s spring collection and how to use them in the garden or in containers. 10:15 a.m. Saturday. All Calloway’s Nursery locations. Free.

CELEBRATING BIRDS: Meet owls, hawks and egrets up close, fly homing pigeons, take a guided hike and more at Trinity River Audubon Center’s annual bird celebration. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. 6500 Great Trinity Forest Way, Dallas. Free admission with $5 parking.

KIDS CAMP: Promise of Peace Community Garden will begin its kids’ spring camp, which teaches children about bee- keeping and backyard chickens. Noon to 2 p.m. on Saturdays for five weeks. 7446 E. Grand Ave., Dallas. $75.


North Haven Gardens, 7700 Northaven Road, Dallas, offers these classes. 214-363-5316.

Landscape design consults, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday. $60, reservations required

Mosquito control,10 a.m. Saturday. Free

Growing tomatoes,1 to 2 p.m. Saturday. Free

Butterfly gardening,1:30 to 2 p.m. Sunday. Free

SQUARE-FOOT GARDENING: Learn how to grow vegetables in a raised bed for maximum production. 9:30 a.m. to noon Saturday. 1106 Almond Drive, Mansfield. Advance registration required. 682-234-3873. essentialsforenduringhealth .com.

PICKING TOMATOES: The First Tuesday in the Garden lecture series by the Smith County Master Gardeners will help you select the best tomato plants for your garden. Planting, fertilizing and pest control also will be covered. noon Tuesday. Tyler Rose Garden, 420 Rose Park Drive, Tyler. Free.

PLANT SALE: Brookhaven Country Club’s ClubCorp Charity Classic plant sale will have locally grown herbs, flowers, perennials, color containers and more. Bring your own containers to have them designed and planted, for a fee. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 4-6. 10 a.m. until close. April 7. Brookhaven Country Club, 3333 Golfing Green Drive, Farmers Branch.

TREE PLANTING: Volunteers are needed to help plant more than 100 trees in southern Dallas. 8 a.m. to noon April 6. Kiest Park, 3080 S. Hampton Road, Dallas. Free; breakfast will be served. Register at southerndallastreeeplanting

BECOME A MASTER GARDENER: The Dallas County Master Gardeners Association is accepting applications through May 28 for the 2013 Master Gardener Training School. Classes will meet 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, July 29 through Oct. 28. In addition to the 78 hours of class time, participants must contribute a minimum of 72 hours of approved volunteer work through the DCMG over 12 months. Applications are available at dallascounty or by calling 214-904-3053.

WATER-WISE LANDSCAPE: Enter the 19th annual Water-Wise Landscape Tour. The event, sponsored by Dallas Water Utilities, is open to all landscapes within Dallas city limits and the city limits of Dallas’ wholesale customers or reciprocal cities. Judging criteria include design (aesthetic appeal; composition; use of color and plant variety); water conservation (water use; nonvegetative materials such as fences, walls, walks; use of native or adapted plants; reduced turf area; and use of mulches); and appropriate maintenance landscape (healthy, disease- and pest-free plants; no weeds; plants pruned as appropriate). Entry deadline is April 12. Visit to apply online. Entries will be judged in mid-April. The public tour of landscapes will be June 1.

AZALEA TRAIL: See 10 miles of azaleas, dogwoods and spring flowers in Tyler during its 54th annual event. Through April 7. 315 N. Broadway, Tyler. Complimentary visitor packets are available by calling 1-800-235-5712 or at

ROAD TRIP: The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center will host a public plant sale. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 13 and 14. 4801 La Crosse Ave., Austin. For a list of plants that will be offered, visit

Submit calendar information at least 14 days before the Thursday publication date to garden

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Top 10 gardening tips for a bountiful summer harvest despite the weather

SPRING is here, (though it may not feel like it) and gardeners and food lovers who want to enjoy a feast of fruit and veg in the summer need to brave the wet and the cold and start work now.

Ian LeGros, Hyde Hall curator, gives us his tips for what to do in the garden in March.

  1. Hyde Hall

    Hyde Hall

1. Strawberries: Wimbledon and Pimm’s may seem like a very long way away but believe it or not March is a really crucial time for those who want to enjoy strawberries in the summer. Normally you have to wait a year to get a crop, but by buying ’60 day’ plants that have been kept refrigerated you can get a crop as quickly as, well, 60 days.  After cropping the plants can be left to crorp for another few years.

2. Gardeners who have planned ahead can gather Parsnips, leeks, spring onions, sprouting broccoli and kale are all at their best. And if you fancy something sweet forced Rhubarb is delicious right about now.  New gardeners can start sowing parsnips now and planting rhubarb for 2014.

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3. Apply a nitrogen feed to plums, cherries, cooking apples and pears as they’re hungry feeders. This will help fruit swell this year and encourage flower buds for 2014.

4. Give raspberries, blackberries, loganberries and blackcurrants a treat and mulch with well-rotted farmyard manure or garden compost

5. Plant onions, shallots and garlic sets as well as Jerusalem artichoke tubers. Red onion sets are tricky and best planted at the end of the month.

6. Make sure you have a steady supply of potatoes by laying out both early and second early varieties in a light cool place, like an attic or conservatory, and waiting for them to sprout.  Maincrop potatoes are also best sprouted, but the tubers are gathered in early autumn for storage over winter.

7. Spring is a bit late this year so it’s not quite time to start sowing new vegetables. You can get the earth ready though by digging it well and covering for a couple of weeks with cloches, clear polythene or fleece to warm it up ready for your seeds.

8. If the weather has been wet avoid walking on your soil as you’ll compact it and just create work for yourself later on.  Alternatively by using some planks to work off you can avoid damage.

9. Slugs absolutely love the wet weather we’ve been having and will be poised and ready to much their way through any new seedlings you may plant out as soon as if the weather gets warm enough. There are all sorts of ways to protect your crops, pick the one that works best for you and get it in place now or you’ll be feeding the slugs, not your family.

10. Weeds should start shooting up now and if not tackled, will quickly take over your garden. Little and often is the key to effective weed control so begin now, winkling out dandelions and docks, and hoe off weed seedlings through the summer.

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