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When I was young, I used to drive my mom and sisters crazy asking them to stop when I saw a turtle on the road. Back then, I wanted to bring them home to live in our backyard. These days, I still stop but now I just give them a lift across the road so they don’t get run over. I hate seeing s…

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Yellow is the color for June, and yellow is my forever-favorite color. Since it makes me happy, I jumped at the chance to write this article. I began thinking about yellow and how it makes me feel. Then I started wondering why things are yellow and loving all things yellow.

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Grackles — they’re those noisy, gregarious, black birds that seem to be everywhere. That’s about as much attention as we pay to them. But there is a world of fascinating behavior and social structures that we can learn about these birds. They are quite fascinating and entertaining.

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The mosquito population the past couple of weeks seems to be out of control, but I think that every spring. People often want to know why we even have mosquitoes and believe there surely couldn’t be anything beneficial about these little blood suckers.

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Good news. Lunch and Learn with the Masters is coming back this month. Yes, after 15 months of “rest” due to the pandemic, the popular series will resume on June 14. The free session will take place from noon to 1 p.m. at the pavilion in the Victoria Educational Gardens, 283 Bachelor Drive. …

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How do you turn black gumbo clay dirt into something that grows vegetables? You add chips, chips and more chips. Wood chips are one of the best kept secrets to successful gardening in the area.

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The beginning of summer means that temperatures are starting to rise, bringing thoughts of vacations and outdoor fun to many people. We aren’t the only ones with warm weather on our mind though — many critters who have been hibernating for winter have already been making their way back into …

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The recent rains we have been experiencing have certainly caused some very soggy soils. I never like to complain about rain, but much more of it and flooding could begin to cause some problems in our soils. Long periods of standing water in our gardens, lawns and crops can suffocate root sys…

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What is chaya? Chaya is a perennial shrub or small tree, Cnidoscolus aconitifolius (or perhaps C. chayamansa, opinions differ) native to the Yucatan Peninsula and now grows in Florida and far South Texas. It is root-hardy to at least 25 degrees. Wild chaya has stinging hairs but the best cul…

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One of Gulf Coast Bird Observatory’s many research projects is the Beach Nesting Birds project. The target species we are focusing on for this project are Wilson’s plovers and least terns. The Wilson’s plover is a shorebird that prefers to nest in the soft sand along the dunes, mudflats and …

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Above-ground planters have become very popular the past few years, especially with older gardeners. Having raised gardens makes it much easier to reach the plants. Raised beds actually make gardening much easier for all ages.

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Palm trees evoke good thoughts of sun, water and relaxation. These images make palm trees very popular in Texas landscapes. Their distinctive trunks and decorative leaves are unique and add living sculptures to outdoor areas.

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This past year, in-person festivals were almost nonexistent. But in their place, we discovered a new form of community event: the virtual festival. Virtual festivals had their downsides of course; you couldn’t walk around, smell the buttery popcorn, or eat a fried Oreo. But they also had som…

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Here we are already in the middle of May, a time that usually takes us into the hot dry weather of summer — a time to prepare our landscapes for the upcoming summer weather. If you haven’t fed your lawn in the past several months, now would be a good time to get it done. Feed now to strength…

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This winter freeze killed hundreds of trees in our areas. Many of those trees were fruit trees, and many were loaded with fruits. I can just imagine how disappointing it could be to lose lots of your fruit crops. Overcropped fruit trees can be just as disappointing.

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Editor’s note: Victoria County Master Gardeners will feature “A Color for the Month” as part of a 2021 series. May is pink. Watch the colors change in Gardeners’ Dirt each month.

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The last week of April and the first week of May are peak migration times for the birds that pass through our area each spring. Most of them are on their way to breeding grounds further north but there’s one that breeds right here and they have just begun to return.

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There’s an old naturalist’s saying that you’re never more than 5 feet from a spider. It’s probably true, as spiders can be found nearly everywhere, indoors and out. Despite their creepy reputation, spiders are largely beneficial and help keep pests and plant-feeding insects under control. Wi…

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One of the main issues gardeners seem to always have is the battle with garden pests, especially if you plant a vegetable garden. We are now in the spring harvesting season. Many varieties of vegetables are either now producing or will be soon. I think that garden pests are as anxious to enj…

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In late spring and summer, you may have noticed a slim, brown bird flying around erratically at dawn and dusk catching insects. If it had long slender tapered wings with a thin white stripe across the wingtip, you may have witnessed the feeding flight of a nighthawk.

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Usually, birds are limited by the tools they are born with — their beaks, wings and claws. But some birds have learned to make use of other objects to help them hunt or forage. We humans tend to think of tools as things reserved for only the most advanced creatures like ourselves or apes. Bu…

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The below-freezing temperatures we all experienced during this past winter have many of us now trying to clean up and replant from all the destruction caused by the extremely low temperatures. I think we all know that we just cannot alter nature, but we can choose plants that are more suited…

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Decisions, decisions and more decisions: To throw away and replace or wait and see what will happen? Victoria County Master Gardener Association members, like all gardeners in this vicinity, have been enduring this dilemma since winter storm Uri blasted into our area in mid-February. Depress…

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I have always thought of peaches as the Texas fruit. When I was young, growing up in San Antonio, I would often hear adults talk about Texas Hill Country peaches. Every spring, hundreds of people would make plans to drive up to Kerrville or Fredericksburg and buy crates of the delicious Hill…

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Although roseate spoonbills are not an unusual sight in coastal habitats, I still get excited when I see these colorful, somewhat bizarre-looking birds. The spoonbill’s pink coloration looks pretty out of place compared to its surroundings but makes sense considering its diet, which includes…

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Editor’s note: Victoria County Master Gardeners will feature “A Color for the Month” as part of a 2021 series. April is violet. Watch the colors change in Gardeners’ Dirt each month.

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I would say that the desire of concerned organic gardeners is to have fertile soil that grows healthy, disease- and insect-resistant plants. When organic gardeners reach this goal they find that they are able to stop using so many insecticides, even the natural ones that are supposedly safe …

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Now that spring is officially here, I wouldn’t wait much longer to start your spring vegetable garden. We are already having temperatures in the 80s, and before we know it, temperatures will be in the 90s. Hot temperatures can be much more stressful for young vegetable plants than cool tempe…

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Well we made it through the freeze, and the trees, shrubs and flowers are coming back to life. The birds are getting busy building nests and laying eggs, so we need to be prepared to help them if help is needed.

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Vultures are big, smelly, and they eat dead animals. They might not the prettiest of birds — some might even say they’re ugly. But they are some of the most important animals in the ecosystem. Vultures clean up after the rest of nature. They can make a carcass of another animal disappear in …

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Some time ago, I was the lucky recipient of a vase of cut flowers, a variety of lilies. They were beautiful, different colors, and long-lasting with a heavenly scent.

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Some time ago, I was the lucky recipient of a vase of cut flowers, a variety of lilies. They were beautiful, different colors, and long-lasting with a heavenly scent.

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Homegrown tomatoes are by far the most popular of all vegetables that gardeners plant in our part of the country. Nothing compares to the sweet taste of these red luscious fruits. Picked straight from the vine, cut into thin slices added to two toasted slices of bread that are slathered with…

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Vultures are big, smelly, and they eat dead animals. They might not the prettiest of birds — some might even say they’re ugly. But they are some of the most important animals in the ecosystem. Vultures clean up after the rest of nature. They can make a carcass of another animal disappear in …

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Homegrown tomatoes are by far the most popular of all vegetables that gardeners plant in our part of the country. Nothing compares to the sweet taste of these red luscious fruits. Picked straight from the vine, cut into thin slices and added to two toasted slices of bread that are slathered …

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It might take weeks, months or even years for many tropical plants to return after the winter storm, but Earthworks Nursery co-owner Laurie Garretson said plant owners will need a lot of patience.

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Spring migration is upon us now, which means that lots of hungry, weary birds will be traveling through our area. You can help these voyagers (and your local resident birds) by putting out water, native plants for them to shelter in and, of course, food.

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I was so happy to transfer with my husband’s job from the cold northern state of New Jersey to sunny South Texas. We moved from a March snowstorm to 80-degree weather. Transferring, however, was a learning curve for me, including developing a knowledge bank of all things that buzz, slither a…

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Lately, I’ve heard many people mentioning how happy they are that the cold weather we have recently had will mean less pest problems this season. That would be nice, but unfortunately, I doubt that the pest populations are going to be much smaller. Most insects, especially the ones we don’t …

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The Gulf Coast Bird Observatory has one more month of surveying for non-breeding shorebirds along the upper Texas Coast. We monitor Matagorda Beach, Bryan Beach, Quintana Beach, Follet’s Island, and Surfside Beach. Our target species are piping plover, snowy plover, red knot, black skimmer a…

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Editor’s note: Blue is the color for the month of March. Other color options will be explored in future Gardeners’ Dirt articles.

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The monarchs are here. Hope you are ready for them because they need our help. Sadly, populations of these beautiful pollinators, as well as other types of pollinators, are declining. Climate change, loss of habitat, overuse of synthetic pesticides, genetically-modified crops and urbanizatio…

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As icy roads begin to thaw, wildlife in search of water may begin to wander out onto them. You may have noticed birds especially doing this, sometimes in large flocks. The warmth of the pavement can also attract birds seeking heat. Many birds and other animals have been lost to collisions th…

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I was watching television the other day (like, what else is there to do?), and one of the DIY channels had an advertisement about refreshing your closet. While my wardrobe is pretty static, I know my wife swaps out her clothes seasonally and occasionally adds a new item or two. My thought wa…

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Well, it appears the freezing weather has come, and, fortunately, gone. But it left behind so much damage to trees, lawns, shrubs, annuals and perennials. Now, we’re into the clean-up, or replace stage, from all the damage. I realize we gardeners hate seeing our plants in such disarray, but …

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