Thursday, February 28, 2019

Spring is here! East Austin Garden Fair set to bloom

Welcome all gardeners!  Whether you are new to, or an old-hand at gardening, the “East Austin Garden Fair: A Passion for Plants” is perfect for you.  Experts from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Travis County Master Gardeners and Austin Parks and Recreation will be available to answer your questions and share their gardening expertise. 

Admission is free and the event is open to the public. The theme for this year’s fair is “Learn. Teach. Grow” and will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 13 at the Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center, 2608 Gonzales St. in Austin.

With over 50 booths exhibiting on a variety of topics, the fair will appeal not only to the traditional homeowner but also to those who favor more urban lifestyles.  A special section just- for-kids brings lots of family-fun activities.  There will be a plant giveaway, lots of free gardening materials, and complimentary soil screening.

“This fun, hands-on fair involves community members in creative, low-cost ways to grow foods to improve their family diet, as well as providing people an opportunity to learn about EarthKind landscaping,” said Daphne Richards, AgriLife Extension agent for horticulture, Travis County. Richards said EarthKind landscaping combines the best of traditional and organic techniques while emphasizing reduced use of chemicals.
Daphne will be available to answer questions about gardening and horticulture and to talk about the Master Gardener volunteer program as part of the “Meet the Horticulture Agent” feature at the fair. 

Travis County Master Gardeners will provide information on a variety of horticulture topics, while community partner organizations will provide information on related services, programs and projects.

“The fair’s demonstration activities will include straw bale gardening, tools and techniques, and composting, as well as learning about best irrigation methods and how to garden using containers,” Richards said. “Attendees can also learn how to care for their fruit trees, house plants and vegetable gardens, plus learn about subjects like backyard chickens and beekeeping.”

Richards said free soil screening for gardeners will be offered through Austin Resource Recovery. To have soil tested for metals, pH and nutrients, attendees need to bring a 2-cup soil sample in a quart-size zip-lock bag. Instructions for soil sampling can be found at

Free vegetable, herb or ornamental plants will be given to attendees while supplies last.

For more information, call 512-854-9600 or go to AgriLife Extension’s Central Texas Horticulture site at

Free Seminar - The Challenges of Tomatoes Blight - Blossom End Rot - Bugs

10 AM to 12 PM at the Austin Area Garden Center, Zilker Botanical Garden.

Master Gardener Vegetable Specialist Patty Leander will kick-off this year’s seminar series on March 30, 2019, with a presentation on tomatoes.  She will share her knowledge of how to overcome some common challenges that adversely affect tomatoes, such as common bugs and diseases.  In addition, Patty will share harvesting tips and some of her favorite recipes for enjoying your tomato bounty.  Austin newcomers and long-time residents will benefit from the seminar, whether you have a large backyard garden, participate in a community garden, or have a few potted tomatoes on your balcony.

Part of the Travis County Master Gardener seminar series. Presentations this year will feature a breadth of gardening topics, such as growing tomatoes, dealing with drought conditions, and Japanese garden design, that will be of interest to both new and experienced gardeners. 

The Austin Area Garden Center in Zilker Botanical Garden is located at 2220 Barton Springs Rd., Austin 78746.  A park entrance fee is required.  The fees are $2 per adult, $1 per child (ages 3-12) or seniors (age 62 & over), and $3 for non-Austin Residents. Cash or check accepted.

Attendance to the seminar is free.  No registration is required.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Demonstration Garden Open House and Plant Sale

The Travis County AgriLife Extension Service will be hosting its annual Demonstration Garden Open House and Plant Sale from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on October 20, 2018.
Daphne Richards, Travis County Extension Horticulturist, will be on hand to answer your gardening questions and Travis County Master Gardener Specialists will host informal discussions on a variety of topics, such as, rainwater harvesting, composting, herbs, vegetables, native and adapted plants and roses.
Additionally, the Travis County Master Gardener Association will be holding a Plant Sale featuring pollinator-friendly perennials, such as Duranta, mistflower and Mexican mint marigold. All the plants have been propagated by Travis County Master Gardeners.
The Demonstration Garden is full of plants that fill many different needs, including drought tolerance, brilliant color, plants for full sun or shade and plants of varying heights. There are ornamental trees, flowering shrubs, perennial and annual flowers, roses, vines, herbs, ground covers and vegetables, all watered by a drip irrigation system and harvested rainwater. The best organic and traditional gardening and landscaping principles are combined to create an effective and environmentally responsible garden which encourages water conservation, reduced fertilizer and pesticide use, energy conservation and reduction of waste in landfills.
The Demonstration Garden is located in front of the Travis County AgriLife Extension Service offices at 1600B Smith Road, Austin, 78721. The garden was designed and is maintained by the volunteer efforts of the Travis County Master Gardeners. It serves as a test area for plants, including a newly planted rose garden, and as a demonstration tool for the citizens of Travis County.
For more information contact Daphne Richards at or 512.854.9600.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Care of Trees and Adding Roses to Your Garden - Free Seminar

The Travis County Master Gardeners Association is sponsoring a free gardening seminar on October 6, 2018, on “The Care of Trees,” and “Adding Roses to your Garden.” The seminars will be held in the North Village Branch Library at 2505 Steck Ave., Austin, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Trees improve our environment, provide shelter from the hot Texas sun and add beauty to our
landscapes, so keeping them healthy is extremely important. Travis County Master Gardener
Wendy Buck will share tree maintenance procedures, such as mulching, proper pruning, limiting fertilization and supplemental irrigation techniques that will increase your trees’ chance of withstanding our extreme weather swings.

Growing roses in Central Texas is easier than you thought!  Today there are many hybrid
varieties that need little maintenance and have abundant blooms. Travis County Master
Gardener Cher Coleman, who has 30 years’ experience working with roses, will teach methods
for proper selection of rose varieties, site prep and maintenance like pruning, pest control and

For more information or questions, call the Travis County Agrilife Extension Office at

The seminar is free and open to the public.  No reservations are required.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Free* Seminar: Creating Sustainable Designs with Permaculture

Permaculture looks to the flows of nature, such as the sun, wind, and water, as the foundation of design to create regenerative systems that are both productive and beautiful. Its design principles integrate sustainable and self-sufficient gardening practices to create an ecosystem that minimizes its impact on the environment.  Please join us, along with our presenter, Taelor Monroe, Executive Director, Austin Permaculture Guild, as she shares gardening strategies and practical tips, such as companion planting, that can be incorporated in your own garden designs, whether you are updating your landscape or starting anew.

DATE:            Saturday, August 11, 2018
TIME:            10 am to noon
LOCATION:   Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX

*The seminar is free with regular park admission, paid upon entry to Zilker Botanical Garden. Admission fees are $2 per adult, $1 per child (ages 3-12) or seniors (age 62 & over), and $3 for non-Austin Residents. Cash or check accepted.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Free Seminar: The 6 D's of Container Gardening

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and the Travis County Master Gardeners are sponsoring a free gardening seminar on July 14 on “The Six D’s of Successful Container Gardening.”  Whether you want colorful winter flowers or tasty summer vegetables, you can grow them in containers. Travis County Master Gardener, Kirk Walden, will highlight the major considerations and decisions that lead to gardening success – from design and soil to irrigation and sunlight. Participants will come away with a list of recommended plants and resources suitable for Central Texas. 
The seminar will be held from 10 am to 12 pm in the Austin Area Garden Center at the Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Spring Road, Austin, TX 78746.  A park entrance fee is required. Fees are $2 per adult, $1 per child (ages 3-12) or seniors (age 62 & over), and $3 for non-Austin Residents. Cash or check accepted.
For more information on location see Zilker Botanical Garden.

          When:       July 14
          Time:         10 AM to 12 PM
          Cost:          Free Seminar!     $2.00 to $3.00 park entry fee
          Location:   Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Rd

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

It's Time for the East Austin Garden Fair!

A Passion for Plants: An East Austin Garden Fair
April 14, 2018   9:00 am – 2:00 pm

Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center
2608 Gonzales Street, Austin, TX 78702

Rain or Shine – come enjoy this great event.

Ask the experts and get garden ideas.
Kid-friendly activities!

Free Admission
Free Plants
Free Garden books, magazines, seed catalogs and plastic garden buckets
Soil Screening for food gardeners  – Bring a 2-cup soil sample in a quart zip lock bag.
            Easy instructions for soil sampling at

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Travis County Master Gardeners, and Austin Parks & Recreation present the 12th annual East Austin Garden Fair.

Free and open to the public, this fun, hands-on fair involves community members in creative, low-cost ways to grow vegetables, herbs and fruit to improve the family diet as well as information about Earth-Kind landscaping. Travis County Master Gardeners offer University-based information to fairgoers on a diverse variety of horticulture topics, while Community Partner Organizations provide information on closely-related services, programs and projects.

The fair features an assortment of DIY and demonstration activities, including building a rain barrel, raised bed or compost bin, and information about waterwise irrigation methods and gardening in containers and straw bales.  Learn how to care for house plants as well as your garden tools!  Booths on backyard chickens and beekeeping are a big hit with all ages and there will be plenty of activities for kids.

Long-standing community partners and new participants include the Sustainable Food Center, Green Corn Project, Home Depot Kid’s Workshop, Austin Public Library, Austin Resource Recovery, City of Austin-Urban Forestry,  Austin Herb Society, 4-H CAPITAL AmeriCorps, Travis County 4-H, Travis Co Master Wellness Volunteers, Travis County Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program and Travis County Cooperative Extension Program-Prairie View A&M University.

For more information, please call 512-854-9600