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During our Xtreme Hummingbird Xtravaganza Sept. 18 and 25 at the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory in Lake Jackson, I will be banding hundreds of hummingbirds while educating the public about them. These are some of my best “fun facts” about hummingbirds.

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The latest plant-sucking pests to show up on many local gardeners’ plants are mealybugs. These warm climate-loving pests are small in size but are often found in large groups sucking sap out of a plant’s foliage.

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Grasses are featured in many gardens in our area. Gulf muhly, Mexican feather grass, fountain grass and zebra grass are common names. A newly named Texas Superstar can now be added to that list — if you are looking for something big and bold.

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Ruby-throated hummingbird migration is well underway, and we’ve been seeing them regularly at the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory. It’s time to get those feeders out. These birds are not only beautiful to look at, they also have some of the most unique physical and behavioral features in the bir…

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These days you don’t usually find many gardeners outdoors working in their gardens. September is always a very hot and humid time to be doing anything outdoors. But, if you enjoy tomatoes, now is a good fall tomato-planting time that could provide you with a successful fall crop of juicy tomatoes.

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If you have read my previous Gardeners’ Dirt columns, you know I usually reference growing up in southwestern Pennsylvania. When September rolls around, my thoughts begin to turn to autumn leaves, pumpkins and mums. A combination of yellow and red, orange symbolizes endurance and strength.

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Labor Day is coming up this Monday and many of us are planning to celebrate by going to the beach. Texas beaches are beautiful, but as we all know, they are also magnets for trash and debris. Garbage of every size, shape, and material can be found on the beach, from tires in the dunes to pla…

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One of my favorite tasks at the Victoria Educational Gardens is trimming the rock roses in the xeriscape area. This year rock roses are being recognized as a Texas Superstar.

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Have you ever caught a glimpse of a waterbird attempting to swallow a huge fish whole? If so, you might have wondered how in the world it would be able to swallow or even digest a fish that large, bones and all. You might also be curious as to how the bird managed to even catch the fish to b…

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Do rows of vegetables such as green beans, squash and tomatoes interest you? Do you look with envy at farmers market produce? Does the thought of vegetable gardening scare you? Do space limitations prevent you from being a farmer?

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Back in 2012, I became a master gardener. Being older, I have more stiff and sore joints than I did back then. Things change. We change. Our likes and dislikes, the time we have available to garden, moving to a more natural garden, our physical ability and, of course, our weather all change …

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I recently came across a bright yellow mushroom in one of my planter pots. The bright sulfur yellow color caught my eye, and suddenly I was seeing the same mushroom all over the place; it was outside of stores, in my succulent garden, on the side of the road, and on my patio. Out of curiosit…

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When Annabeth and I began thinking about putting in our garden, we decided to keep the color scheme fairly simple. We chose a triadic scheme of red, yellow and purple. How hard could that be?

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We are at the tail end of the beach nesting season along the Upper Texas Coast. The Wilson’s plover are beginning to make their way south to their wintering grounds. At the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, we are studying the Wilson’s plover and least tern for our beach-nesting birds program.

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The newest 2021 Texas Superstar is the ornamental sweet potato vine, Ipomoea batatas. Be aware that the ornamental sweet potato vine is somewhat different from the same species that produces spuds. This plant is grown primarily for its tropical-looking foliage and vining habit.

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If there’s anything that can quickly ruin your time in your garden, it would probably be finding fire ants in the soil. I suspect the majority of gardeners have had to deal with fire ants at one time or another in their landscapes. These little guys can be very aggravating whether in our law…

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Dragonflies, also known as mosquitohawks, snake doctors and devil’s darning needles, have long been a favorite of insect enthusiasts and novices alike. Their bright colors and long, iridescent wings make them fun to watch as they fly around their habitats. There are about 3,000 different spe…

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What’s special about milkweed? Milkweed (genus Asclepias) is the host plant, the only source of food, for the monarch caterpillar. If the monarch butterfly does not find milkweed, it will not lay any eggs, and there will be no more monarchs.

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I know it’s hot out there, but there are still gardening chores to be done. Weeding is probably the main chore most of us have been tending to, and if this rain continues, unfortunately, more weeds will show up. Remember, several inches of mulch on garden beds will help to prevent a lot of w…

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I suspect the past few weeks of rain have certainly kept most lawns well-watered. Unfortunately, our true Texas hot summer weather is coming back. Temperatures are rising; days are very hot and sunny; there are very few cool winds; and more than likely, we won’t be seeing much rain for a whi…

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Just like the birds that make them, bird nests come in many different forms. Depending on the size, habitat, and lifestyle of their maker, bird nests can range greatly in complexity — from simple scrapes in the sand made by many beach nesting birds, to intricately woven hanging nests crafted…

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Let’s roll out our Southern hospitality for the monarchs. Our guests from Canada and all states east of the Rocky Mountains will converge on Texas in September through early November on their flights to the oyamel fir forests in Central Mexico for the winter. Their destination is in the moun…

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Each month, a Gardener’s Dirt column features a different flower color. As authors researched color topics, they discovered “interesting” information about their compositions. When I looked up “interesting,” I found 40 synonyms. I will plant some of these synonyms in this article about fasci…

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When I was a kid, Loudon Wainwright’s song “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road” was a favorite on road trips. Even now, the song still pops in my head whenever I see a dead skunk, which is often on our Texas roads. So why is this such a common sight in these parts?

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

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Not many gardeners want predators in their yards, but having insect predators can be very beneficial. Unfortunately, most people don’t even know a beneficial insect predator from a bad insect.

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Happy pollinator week to everyone. Fourteen years ago, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved and designated a week in June to be celebrated as “National Pollinator Week” each year.

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We are at the peak of beach nesting bird season along the Upper Texas Coast. Gulf Coast Bird Observatory is studying these birds as they nest and raise their young. The species we are focusing on are the Wilson’s plover and least tern. The Wilson’s plover is a shorebird that prefers to nest …

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I suppose if plant parents had high expectations for their offspring, becoming a Texas AgriLife Extension Superstar would rank way up there. On March 25, the celebrity tomato earned gold by being named a Superstar.

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Many times, I find gardeners in a quandary over which fertilizer they should use on specific plants. In today’s world, there are so many different varieties to choose from. For lots of gardeners, especially those who are new to gardening, shopping for garden fertilizers can sometimes be as c…

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Summers can be brutal for Victoria gardens and gardeners. It’s easy to fall into survival mode while struggling to prevent our beloved plants from succumbing to the heat and frequent drought. Here are a few tips.

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If you spend a lot of time outside, especially early in the morning, you probably know that birds can be quite vocal. But have you ever wondered how these small creatures are capable of producing such loud and often complex sounds? For most birds, it all comes down to a tiny water droplet si…

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If you have been looking for a beautiful, colorful, low maintenance, heat-loving plant to brighten up your yard, then I’d suggest one of the beautiful bougainvillea varieties. Bougainvilleas are tropical flowering plants, which means they are heat lovers that are great plants for our hot sum…

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Living in our area of Texas, we realize that summer temperatures are are going to be hot — very hot. We also know that, more than likely, we’ll soon be back to our usual summer drought conditions, even though many landscapes might still be wet.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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