The approach of spring generally brings excitement to gardeners. It’s different after an extreme freeze.
American robins seem to be everywhere this winter and in large flocks. We normally get some robins along the coast in winter, and they breed in Houston. But this year, there seem to be unprecedented numbers along the coast, at least with respect to recent history. Why are there so many?
One component of creating a picturesque garden is choosing colors. Colors evoke an emotion, provide an aesthetic appeal, awaken a memory, express a traditional custom or grab our attention. Red is the color we’ve selected for the month of February. Other color options will be explored in fut…
A few weeks ago, we wrote an article about winter bird adaptations. But with the recent freeze, we thought we could talk even more about how birds stay warm and how you can help them through this tough winter.
What a week it has been. Temperatures colder than many gardeners have ever seen and probably never care to see again. Who would have ever thought we would experience so long a period of freezing cold weather?
Yes, planting season is here. Successful herb and vegetable gardens require planning, preparing the soil, selecting gardening equipment, choosing and handling seeds and transplants appropriately, irrigating, fertilizing, and controlling weeds.
Spring will officially be here before we know it, and there are a lot of garden chores to be done before it arrives. Now’s a good time to add compost and some organic fertilizer into your flower beds and vegetable gardens. There is still time to spread that thin layer of compost on your lawn…
As a parent to both dogs and cats, I like to be conscious of whether or not a particular plant will potentially cause them harm. Three common plants are severely toxic to pets. Pet parents should try to avoid placing these in or around their home and garden.
The Gulf Coast Bird Observatory continues to survey 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, and American …
We are quickly approaching tomato season, one of a gardener’s most sought-after vegetable plants to grow. The past few years, I have seen a great increase in the demand for heirloom variety tomatoes. Heirloom tomatoes are tomatoes that have not been crossbred or hybridized for at least 40 ye…
We share the same first name, we’re both Master Gardeners and we are next-door neighbors. We share something else: crazy ants. We wish to share some of what we’ve learned about these tiny nuisances.
Recently, I had the pleasure of going birding at Brazos Bend State Park with friends. One of our first sightings of the day was a flock of what had to be at least 500 tree swallows congregating on a small lake.
Do you like tomatoes? Do you grow your own tomatoes? Did you know that tomato plants are usually the most popular plants grown in vegetable gardens? Do you also know that tomato plants are poisonous? Yep, that’s right. One of the most popular plants found growing in vegetable gardens is poisonous.
The visits to my daughter and her family in Chelmsford, England, have developed my interest in British daily activities like gardening. A documentary on the “Garden at Buckingham Palace” further drew my attention.
Winter is a great time to put out bird feeders. This year, with a lot of us staying home more, there’s even more incentive to have some fun with winter birds at your feeders. This winter we are getting a lot of goldfinches. The name comes from their bright yellow plumage in spring. During wi…
If you’re a gardener who is anxious for warm, spring weather to arrive so you can work in your garden, stop wishing and take advantage of the sunny, warm, spring-like days we occasionally do have this time of year.
It’s estimated that more than 1 billion birds die each year in the United States alone from striking man-made objects. Bird strikes can be the result of collisions with windows on buildings, cell towers, guy wires on such towers, power lines, vehicles, wind turbines, lighthouses and similar items.
As the new year begins, resolve to improve yourself and the environment by planting a pollinator-friendly garden. The flowers will add beauty to your environment and will provide food sources and habitat for butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, bees, wasps and other beneficial creatures. Your g…
I love to visit with new gardeners. Many times their excitement and enthusiasm actually become contagious. Just the other day, I had the opportunity to have a long visit with a very excited young man who wanted to learn how to grow plants that he and his wife could eat. He nor his wife had e…
Editor’s note: Victoria County Master Gardeners will feature “A Color for the Month” as part of a 2021 series. January is green. Watch the colors change in Gardeners’ Dirt each month.
In this part of Texas, we can generally wear shorts in the winter. But there have been a few cold spells lately that have forced me to bundle up when I go outside. This got me thinking: How do animals, especially birds, keep warm in cold weather?
I’ve noticed lots of full leaf bags out on curbs waiting to be picked up and taken to the landfill while driving to and from work. What a waste. Why take up unnecessary space in a landfill when your leaves could be so useful in your gardens and on your lawns? Fallen leaves are a wonderful fr…
I have a big dark secret and can no longer deny it. I crave starches. I dream of pasta and potatoes. I get giddy over bread. Cupcakes can rescue a horrible day. I will not be living a Keto lifestyle. The South Beach diet was difficult. The Atkins diet is torture. Maybe you want to admit that…
Since the beginning of August, the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory has been monitoring nonbreeding shorebirds. GCBO’s intern Sarah Belles and I survey along Matagorda Beach, Bryan Beach, Quintana Beach, Surfside and Follet’s Island. We monitor for threatened and endangered species, and species o…
A new year brings another opportunity for all gardeners, new and experienced, to try their hand at growing their best garden yet. Gardeners that have planted lots of gardens over the years always seem to be very optimistic and have positive expectations for that next garden.
While looking back on 2020, I am proud of the learning opportunities Victoria Master Gardeners were able to provide in the early months of the year.
In small ponds, lakes and marshy areas, pied-billed grebes are a relatively common sight. A rather solitary species, pied-billed grebes are not usually seen in large flocks and are often observed alone or in small groups. These birds are fairly shy and frequently dive down in the water witho…
This month, my articles have all been about different types of Christmas flower traditions. Today’s article is about another type of Christmas tradition — a very different, weird tradition. I doubt there is anywhere else in the world that you’d find this tradition.
When you think of chrysanthemums, mums for short, it’s hard not to think of a front porch in the fall beautifully decorated with pumpkins and mums of a variety of autumn colors.
The past few weeks, my articles have been about different varieties of plants that typically are popular during the Christmas season. Today, I’ll continue the theme and pass along some tips for growing amaryllis.
Mention Christmas flowers to most people, and many will usually think of poinsettias, which are pretty red, or other colored, festive plants that are common this time of the year. After a few weeks, when poinsettias have dropped their colorful bracts, which are thought of as leaves, they are…
This is shaping up to be a very good year for seeing wintering birds from the north. We are seeing American robins, American goldfinches and pine siskins in much larger numbers than most winters. We are also seeing more than usual western bird species. It’s been quite busy for those birders …
This month, when I walk into nurseries or garden centers, I’m immediately attracted to the vibrantly colored cyclamen. As a relatively new holiday plant, cyclamen is a unique and handsome plant that brings “flower color” indoors for a month or more.
Texas beaches are a magnet for trash. Beach-goers leave their fishing line and food containers on the sand, storms bring trash from inland out to the coast, and waves and currents bring trash from the Gulf of Mexico to the shores of Texas. This trash in our waters and on our shores is known …
Poinsettias are often known as Christmas plants because they are one of the most popular of the holiday plants, with red poinsettias being the most popular color. As of now, there are more than 100 different color varieties with new varieties introduced each year.
About 20 years ago, we visited a small town in the Hill Country and stayed in a bed and breakfast, surrounded by an old-fashioned garden. A pomegranate bush with dark orange fruit caught the setting sun, and I was struck by the simple natural beauty of the pomegranates existing side-by-side …
The gifting season is fast approaching and many people are wondering which plants make the best gifts for their plant-loving friends and family.
Gulf Coast Bird Observatory is currently surveying for non-breeding shorebirds that spend the winter in the Upper Texas Coast along Matagorda Beach, Follet’s Island, Bryan Beach and Quintana Beach. Along with plovers, oystercatchers and red knots, we often come across the humble and majestic…
Believe it or not, the holiday season is here again, even though it seems like we just took the 2019 Christmas tree down. Christmas tree lots are back in town and loaded with cut trees for the holidays.
If you have walked along the beaches of the Texas coast, you may have noticed jelly-like blobs in the sand near the shore. If this strange jelly-like dome has a visibly darker four-leaf clover shape in its center, chances are you have probably stumbled across a beached moon jellyfish.
The biggest benefit of growing your own vegetables is that you get to eat them. It is no wonder that some of the best cooks are also gardeners, and Victoria County Master Gardener Association members are no exception.
If you really ever do “stop and smell the roses,” I bet you have discovered just how interesting, wonderful and just plain unbelievable nature can be. On a recent trip to the Texas Hill Country, I was again reminded of all this as I walked the banks of the Guadalupe River. Huge cypress trees…
Now that the cooler weather is here, it’s time to get out and get some fresh air and exercise. November is a great time to go in search of wintering waterfowl. The Texas coast regularly hosts three to five species of geese and 20 species of ducks during the winter. The most common geese are …
Vegetable gardeners in our areas still have time to plant beets, carrots, spinach, turnips and mustard. Keep a close eye on all your garden vegetables because worms and caterpillars will come from far and wide to feed on all these delicious, sweet and tender vegetables. In just one night, th…
As cooler weather and shorter days arrive, gardeners change their focus from harvesting fruits and seeds to harvesting and eating flowers, stems, leaves, and roots.
Did you know that Brazoria County has been the subject of a long and spirited botany debate? Palm botanists puzzled over (or pointedly ignored) the problem of the Brazoria palm for years. They couldn’t agree on exactly what it was or where it came from.
Fall weather brings lots of beneficial items to us that can make great additions to our compost piles. Fallen leaves can be found in most yards and adding them to your compost pile, instead of your trash can, can help to limit what goes to our landfills.
Driving through local neighborhoods, it becomes obvious that some trees are more popular than others. I conducted an unscientific poll of several local nurseries and asked what trees were the most requested in the nursery and on landscape jobs.
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