Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Join Us for Earth-Kind Gardening Field Day September 28th

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Travis County Master Gardeners invite you to visit the Earth-Kind Demonstration Garden on September 28th, 9 am to 2 pm at the Travis County AgriLife Extension Service, 1600 Smith Road, Austin TX 78721.

Free and open to the public, this fun, hands-on field day 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.

The field day features an assortment of DIY and demonstration activities, including tool sharpening, composting, grow boxes, and garden art, and information about drip irrigation methods, water conservation, rainwater harvesting, vegetable gardening, Texas Superstar plants and Integrated Pest Management. There are several activities for kids, including an insect identification scavenger hunt. Travis County Master Gardeners are on hand to answer questions and identify plants in the garden. A limited supply of Earth-Kind plants and fall vegetable starts will be available for purchase. Field Day participants also get the chance to sign up for a free rain barrel giveaway.

Workshop Schedule

  • 9 am. Compost Bin Construction. Participants will assemble a 3-bin wood and wire composting system on site. Click here to sign up.
  • 11 am. Build a Grow Box. This will be a demonstration on how to construct a grow box, and a hands-on workshop for those wanting to make a smaller grow bucket. Grow Boxes are self-watering, low maintenance gardening containers for small spaces. They are reusable, last for 5 years or more, and are great for vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers. Click here to sign up
  • 9 am – 1 pm – Bring a gardening hand tool & learn how to clean and sharpen it (no RSVP required)
  • 9 am – 1 pm – Construct a bee house (no RSVP required)
Travis County Master Gardeners getting ready for the Earth-Kind Gardening Field Day

Be sure to meet your Travis County AgriLife Extension Agents: Daphne Richards County Extension Agent – Horticulture (and Augie too); Noel Troxclair County Extension Agent – Agriculture and Natural Resources; bring your bug questions to Wizzie Brown Extension Program Specialist- IPM.

For more information, visit our website or call 512-854-9600. 

Note about Highway 183 construction. We suggest Airport Boulevard or 7th Street as preferred routes to the AgriLife office.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Selection, Planting and Care of Your Trees

Get ready for tree planting season! There are many types of trees, such as ornamental or fruit trees, understory or large shade trees, deciduous or evergreen trees, that are native to Central Texas and will thrive here. Matching a tree’s characteristics and growing requirements with your personal preferences is the first step to successfully adding or replacing trees that will increase the value of your property and bring you enjoyment for many years.

Please join Master Gardener Jerry Naiser, as he takes you through the steps of selecting, planting and caring for your trees. Planting the tree in the right season, ideally between October and April here in Central Texas, allows the tree’s roots to grow and get established before the heat of the summer is upon us.

Jerry will highlight proper steps in planting that help reduce transplant shock and root damage to the tree. Providing care immediately upon planting and regular preventive maintenance ensures the tree’s successful development and growth. Regular inspections, pruning, mulching, and fertilizing will catch problems early and provide the environment for a tree’s long and healthy


September 14, 2019, from 10 AM to 12 PM
Austin Area Garden Center at Zilker Botanical Garden
2220 Barton Springs Rd,  Austin, TX 78746

No registration is required. Attendance to the seminars open to the public with paid park entrance. Park entrance 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.

The lot at the visitor center is often full on Saturdays. Additional parking to the garden is available on Stratford Drive.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Generation Next - Is it YOUR Turn to Ranch?

Have you ever dreamed of being a Texas rancher? Generation Next: Our Turn to Ranch is a 12-week online course to be offered Aug.18-Nov. 9 by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

The agri-business start-up program is aimed at helping new landowners or those who want to start an agricultural operation on an existing ranch. It's all online and taught by professionals in each field and topic. A new topic is covered each week that takes about an hour and a half to complete.

Topics included are:

  • How to start up an agricultural business
  • Understanding business taxes
  • Insurance, finance, and market fluctuations
  • Grazing and wildlife management leases
  • All the latest land management tools and techniques
  • Alternative operations to add to the business

Course Includes: 12 online classes of Expert Instruction, Generation Next t-shirt, and a Generation Next School Completion Certificate.

To secure your spot, please register at: or call 979-845-2604.

The cost is $120 for the entire course.

More information and a printable flyer can be found here:

Monday, July 15, 2019

When should you water your yard? Check out the WaterMyYard resources.

The sporadic rainfall these past two months have kept things relatively green in the Austin area. The warm days and nights of summer have arrived, though, which means yards can dry out quickly.

It's tempting to adopt a "set it and forget it" approach to watering schedules based on the one-inch per week common advice. The truth is that water requirements can vary based on your location, soil type, wind exposure, sunlight, temperature, and plant composition. A better way to approach your watering schedule is to pay attention to the evapotranspiration rate for your location.

Evapotranspiration. or ET,  is the water loss occurring from the processes of evaporation and transpiration. Evaporation occurs when water changes to vapor from soil or plant surfaces. Transpiration refers to the water lost through the leaves of plants. Understanding ET can help you water your plants more efficiently and take the guesswork out of sprinkler operation frequency and duration.

There are smart irrigation controllers and moisture meters that tie in with weather stations that can calibrate your sprinkler system. If you don't have one of those, you can still get the information from some great Texas A&M AgriLife Extension sites that provide calculators that tell you when to water.

The WaterMyYard website ( lets you set up an individual profiles to receive watering recommendations for your type of irrigation system and local conditions. You can even receive their weekly watering recommendations by email and/or text messages. The program is in partnership with area sponsors or municipalities. Austin Water Utility does not participate, but you can still use the website by typing in the area that is closest to you. The primary areas served by this program are as follows:
  • Briarcliff
  • Cedar Park
  • Cottonwood Shores
  • Crystal Mountain
  • Dripping Springs
  • Hidden Valley
  • Horseshoe Bay
  • Lago Vista
  • Lakeway
  • Leander
  • Marble Falls
  • Meadowlakes
  • Point Venture
  • Pflugerville
  • Sandy Harbor
  • Sunrise Beach Westlake Area
The WaterMyYard program is powered by the TexasETNetwork ( ), which has calculators to help you determine your watering schedule. There are nine LCRA weather stations (including the Austin Redbud location) with data and calculators to help you determine the amount and frequency of irrigation.

Use either of these resources to help set the right schedule for your individual yard. Since they are tied in with current weather data, you can be confident that you are not wasting water or letting things get too dry. 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Growing Herbs in Texas Seminar August 10th with Lucinda Rudin

Travis County AgriLife Extension Herb garden at 1600 Smith Rd

Join us August 10th, 10 am to 12 pm at the Austin Area Garden Center in Zilker Botanical Garden to learn the basics of growing herbs in the Austin area. Explore a fascinating group of plants that have been part of mankind’s history for thousands of years.

Master Gardener and past President of the Austin Herb Society, Lucinda Rudin, will cover a comprehensive set of topics, including soil preparation, watering, growing seasons, when to plant, when to harvest and how to preserve and store your herbs. Additionally, she will provide ideas for growing herbs in a variety of situations, from apartment balconies to raised beds, and even to incorporating them into your landscape.

There will be an opportunity to visit the beautiful Herb Garden at Zilker Botanical Garden at the end of the presentation.

No registration is required. Attendance to the seminars is open to the public with a park entrance fee of $2 per adult, $1 per child (ages 3-12) or seniors (age 62 & over), and $3 for non-Austin Residents. Cash or check accepted.

The Austin Area Garden Center in Zilker Botanical Garden is located at 2220 Barton Springs Rd., Austin 78746.

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Nature and Spirit of Japanese Gardens Seminar July 13th with Dr. Molly Ogorzaly

Taniguchi Japanese Garden. Austin, TX

Join us July 13th, 10 am to 12 pm at the Austin Area Garden Center in Zilker Botanical Garden and take a trip to gardens around the world without even leaving Austin. Dr. Molly Ogorzaly contrasts Western and Eastern gardening traditions and explains how religious beliefs influenced the conception and construction of Japanese gardens.

Dr. Ogorzaly, who holds degrees in agriculture, botany and science education, will share design principles and identify adapted plants that can be used in Central Texas. These designs and plants are featured in Austin’s Taniguchi Japanese Garden, which opened in 1969 and was built by Isamu Taniguch.

This great gift to the city is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary. Over these many years, visitors have enjoyed a tranquil, meditative spot in the middle of Zilker Botanical Garden.

No registration is required. Attendance to the seminars is open to the public with park entrance fee. 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.

The Austin Area Garden Center in Zilker Botanical Garden is located at 2220 Barton Springs Rd., Austin 78746.

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