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Straw Bale Gardening: Soiless Gardening ~ Texas, Ellis County Master Gardener

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  • 1.Welcome to the Ellis County Master Gardeners E-Gardening Newsletter. The purpose of this newsletter is to give you a month-by-month agenda of what you should be doing with your landscape. We will feature horticul- tural articles that we hope you will find interesting, and important dates where you can find the Master Garden- ers speaking, demonstrating, and passing out information relative to your garden. If you would like to receive this newsletter monthly via your email address, log onto our website www.ECMGA.com, click on subscribe, and it will be sent around the 1st of every month. Best of all; its FREE! Susan Clark, Editor Volume VIII, Issue Four April, 2014Official E-Newsletter of the Ellis County Master Gardeners Association, Waxahachie, Texas Inside this issue: Its April, What Needs to be Done? 2 Wildflower of the Month 3 Lighthouse for Learning Classes 3 Herb of the Month 4 Expo 2014 Report 5 Insects...Good or Bad? 6 Whats Happening in April 7 Superstars 8 Landscape Gardening 9 Straw Bale Gardening 11 Listen to KBEC Saturday mornings at 9:00 a.m. on 1390 AM. The Ellis County Master Gardeners have a five minute segment every week, offering you helpful infor- mation on what you need to be do- ing in your landscape, as well as happenings around the county. Be sure to listen in! Melinda Kocian Thank you to everyone who attended the 14th Annual Lawn & Garden Expo! It was a great day and the Ellis County Master Gar- deners appreciate your support. See you next year! Congratulations to the winners of the Most Outstanding Booth and the Most Creative Booth of the 2014 Expo. Earthtones Greenery Garden Inspirations

2. Page 2 April, 2014 Ellis County Master Gardeners E-Gardening Newsletter Its April.What Needs To Be Done? Planting Plant St. Augustine and hybrid Bermuda sod. St. Augustine can take some shade, but Bermuda needs full sun (six hours or more of direct sun). Sod must make good contact with the soil (use a roller) and keep sod moist until new roots are established. Common Bermuda can be started from seed, but it is best to hydro-mulch. Keep the area moist until grass begins to grow. Plant okra seeds directly into the ground. Herbs such as dill, parsley, fennel, mint, oregano, thyme, basil, and Mexican mint marigold can be planted from transplants. Fertilizing and Pruning Apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer to lawns. This is usually after the third mowing when the entire lawn is green. Follow up with addition- al fertilizer in June (optional) and again in September. St. Augustine and Bermuda grass need one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet, two to three times a year. Mow Bermuda grass frequently at 1 inches to keep thick and healthy; mow St. Augustine at 2 inches. Raise the mowing height one notch later in the summer to reduce water requirements and to make the grass more drought tolerant. Leave grass clippings on the ground. They will provide a source of nitrogen to feed the lawn. Six weeks after flowering, thin peaches to one fruit every 12 inches. Garden Watch Closely inspect plants for insects. Treat only if you see the insect and if damage has occurred. Many insects are beneficial such as lady bugs, garden spiders, praying mantis, and assassin bugs. After identi- fying the pest, and if it is one that must be controlled, use an appro- priate insecticide. Most insecticides must make contact with the in- sect while it is feeding on the foliage. For fire ants, use the Texas Two-step Method. First, apply fire ant bait to the area with a hand spreader. Use fresh bait from unopened containers. If fire ant colonies are still active after using the bait, treat the individual mounds with an appropriate insecticide. There are or- ganic and chemical types available. If only a few mounds are present, avoid treating the entire lawn with an insecticide. It can kill earth- worms and other insects that are not harmful. Blue Mist Blue mist flower (Conoclinium coelstinum) or (Eupatorium coelesti- num), native to the southwestern U.S., can grow to three feet tall. Flowers bloom from late spring until frost with small fuzzy clusters that are more lav- ender than blue. Leaves divide in three lobes approximately five inches long. It grows better in areas with some shade and supplemental watering will be necessary, but can withstand some periods of drought. The blooms attract a wide variety of butterflies like queen, sulfur, crescent bordered patch, and skippers as a source of nec- tar, and can be covered with monarch butterflies during their migration. The plant spreads through underground stems and may sprawl in ideal grow- ing conditions. It can also become invasive. Final Tips and Little Known Facts Operation NICE (Natives Instead of the Common Ex- otics) chose blue mist as winner for September 2008. Blue mist is native to the moist woody areas from Central Texas to New Jersey and north to Kansas. Plant seeds in the fall or plant rhizomes in the spring. 3. Ellis County Master Gardeners E-Gardening Newsletter April, 2014 Page 3 Featured Texas Wild Flower of the Month Submitted by Melinda Kocian Ellis County Master Gardener Light House for Learning (With the Ellis County Master Gardeners) For reservations, call Melissa Cobb at (972) 923-4631. Register online at http://www.wisd.org/default.aspx?name=CO_LighthouseforLearning Monday, April 14, 6:007:30 Seed Saving. Learn to harvest, clean and store seeds for successful germi- nation. Learn how to save heirloom vegetables and perennial flowers. Determine what plants are best for seed saving and when to propagate from existing plants. Instructor: Monica Nyenhuis Cost: $12.00 Monday, April 21, 6:007:30 Earth-Kind Roses and Companion Plants. The Earth-Kind program pro- vides plant choices for the gardener which have been field tested in Texas and proven to be less susceptible to pests, diseases and other problems. Recommended rose varieties come as dwarf, small and medium shrubs as well as climbers which will meet the needs of the home gardener. An assortment of companion plants for the roses which are equally durable will also be discussed. Instructor: Maureen Nitkowski Cost: $12.00 Monday, April 28, 6:007:30 Container Gardening. Imagine walking out on your own deck or patio and harvesting vine- ripened tomatoes, fresh herbs, or crisp cucumbers. Growing vegetables in containers is not difficult. Let us show you how to bring the farmers market to your own back door. Instructor: Robin Smith Cost: $12.00 Tuesdays, April 829, four classes, 6:00- 8:00 Ag 101Beginning Farmer/Rancher. Join this experienced instructor as you cover these topics: soils and soil fertility, soil testing, pasture management, basic livestock productions and pond management. This class will be held at the Ellis County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office at 701 S. I-35E, Suite 3 in Waxahachie. Instruc- tor: Mark Arnold, County Extension Agent, Agriculture & Natural Resources Cost: $22.00 Mealy Blue SageMint Family (Lamiaceae) Salvia farinacea Benth Region: 28, 10 (Ellis County is Region 4) Size: 636 inches Blooms: MarchNovember, Perennial This two to three foot upright or sprawling perennial, usually forms a mound as wide as the plant is tall. Mealy sage is named for the mealy-white (sometimes purple) ap- pearance of the sepals, which are covered with felted hairs. The blue flowers are five- lobed and two-lipped, 2/33/4 inch long, with two stamens and one pistil. They have the usual sage fragrance. The long, narrow leaves grow in clusters, out of which grow the flower stems. The leaves may or may not have teeth. Dark blue to white, tubular flowers are densely congested in whorls along the upper stems, creating a three to nine in. spike. Gray-green, lance-shaped leaves are numerous, especially in the lower por- tion of the plant. Mealy blue sage is widespread on limestone soils. Because it flowers for an exceptionally long time and is not readi- ly browsed, it is of great value to pollinators. It is a favorite plant for xeric gardens and is often available in nurse- ries. Sage tea is said to reduce bodily secretions and is useful in decreasing lactation during weaning, as well as re- ducing sinus mucus. The tea can be gargled or drunk to treat sore throat. 4. Page 4 April, 2014 Ellis County Master Gardeners E-Gardening Newsletter Herb of the Month By Arlene Hamilton Ellis County Master Gardener Herb of the Month Artemisia Since 1995 the International Herb Association has designated an herb of the year. As a result herb societies, groups, and organizations from around the world, work together to educate the public about these im- portant herbs throughout the year. The 2014 Herb of the Year is Arte- misia. You may think this is an unfa- miliar plant, but actually there are over 300 species some of which are common flavors to the table. Artemi- sia is referenced in the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments. Artemi- sias are among the bitterest of herbs due to their thujone content. Because of their bitterness they became associ- ated with sadness, suffering, and mis- fortune. Historically, Artemisias were used as strewing herbs in the home to repel insects. Today we rarely strew them, but they continue to be popular insect repellents both in the home and in the garden. Artemisia is a vermifuge and repellent. Many Artemisias are highly fragrant with a camphor-like, clean and refreshing aroma. Culinary Artemi- sia dracunculus sativaFrench Tarragon has a wonderful anise- like aroma and taste, which is prized by chefs worldwide. It is an essential in- gredient in bar- naise sauce and fines herbes. Tar- ragon flavored vinegar makes a delicious salad dressing or splash some on vegeta- bles. Because of the selection process the plant is sterile and cannot produce seed. Therefore it is propagated by cuttings. If you find tarragon seeds, they are likely Russian tarragon and are a poor substitute. Tarragon does not like the hot Texas summers and prefers colder wint