Extension Agent column: Tips for garden soil preparation

Jan. 3, 2012 at midnight
Updated Jan. 2, 2012 at 7:03 p.m.

Monday will begin our fifth year to host the Master Gardener's Lunch and Learn training topics. Held every second and fourth Monday from January through May and every second Monday thereon through August for the past four years, these hourlong programs have attracted more than 3,300 people from as many as 13 counties.

What can you learn in an hour? A lot . and we all learn from each other, too. In this week's topic, we'll address tips on proper soil preparation and fertilizing, including taking a soil sample. That is one of the major keys to success is collecting a soil sample and doing it properly and then following the recommendations.

The Victoria area is quite unique, with many different types of soils that have many different levels of nutrients and characteristics. There are not many blanket recommendations that will cover all types of gardening much less the many types of soils. We'll try to give you recommendations or guidelines that will assist you to a gardening success.

An ample supply of soil test kits and forms will be available at the meeting so participants can have their soil tested.

The program will be from noon-1 p.m. Monday at the Dr. Pattie Dodson Public Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro St., in Victoria. Of course, bring your lunch, and come learn with us all.

Feral hog exclusion

A team of experts has developed a new Texas AgriLife Extension Service publication focused on keeping feral hogs from raiding wildlife feeding stations. The four-page "Using Fences to Exclude Feral Hogs from Wildlife Stations" publication was developed by Texas A&M University System and U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service wildlife experts.

It provides advice and direction on how landowners can protect corn and protein pellets intended for wildlife from being eaten by feral hogs. A result demonstration was conducted to determine appropriate fence heights of exclosure fences around wildlife feeding stations, and the publication provides results of this study.

The publication also has photos, a list of materials, fence height recommendations and cost estimates related to building an exclosure fence.

The new publication and about 12 others related to feral hog control may be downloaded from the Texas AgriLife Bookstore website at agrilifebookstore.org or Plum Creek Watershed Partnership website at pcwp.tamu.edu/feral-hogs.

These publications were developed for the Plum Creek Watershed which is around the Austin-San Marcos-Lockhart area, but they can be utilized in nearly any part of the state and provide an excellent resource to learn more about how to cope with these pests.

Feral hogs damage landscapes, pollute the water, and hinder farming, ranching and wildlife management. Using fencing to exclude them from supplemental feed should be a part of every ranch-management plan. Feral hogs are responsible for more than $52 million in damage to the state's agriculture industry each year.

Research conducted in South Texas brush country showed that fencing around feeding stations that excludes feral hogs is an effective way to keep them from corn and other supplemental feed landowners put out for wildlife. While exclosure fences are time and labor intensive, they will pay for themselves in feed savings.

Beef 706 - Beef Quality Management: Jan. 11-12, College Station, contact 1-800-846-4113.

Texas Pecan Short Course: Jan. 23-27, College Station, contact 979-845-7694.

Educational Webinar: Jan. 5, noon-1 p.m. (every first Thursday of the month), "Brush Management: What to Do and Not Do in a Drought," 1 CEU, go to site naturalresourcewebinars.tamu.edu.

Joe Janak is a Victoria County extension agent.



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