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Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Industrial Hemp in Texas Seminar March 11

First Things – Considerations for Industrial Hemp in Texas

When: March 11 @ 1:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Where: Travis County East Service Center, 6011 Blue Bluff Road, Austin
Cost: Free

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will hold educational seminars on industrial hemp production. The seminar, First Things – Considerations for Industrial Hemp in Texas, is organized by Calvin Trostle, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension agronomist, Lubbock. Dr. Trostle is conducting the seminar at multiple sites throughout Texas. Noel Troxclair, AgriLife Extension agriculture and natural resources agent, Travis County is hosting the Austin area seminar.

The program is set for March 11. Registration begins at 1:30 p.m. registration with program from 2-4:30 p.m. at the Travis County East Service Center, 6011 Blue Bluff Road, Austin. No cost to attend. For more information, contact Noel Troxclair, AgriLife Extension agriculture and natural resources agent, Travis County, at 512-854-9600.

Dr. Trostle notes that “Texas hemp production will become legal within a few months,” with the “Texas Department of Agriculture anticipates opening the online application for licenses the week of March 16.”

Topics Covered
AgriLife Extension does not support or oppose hemp. The educational seminar is designed to provide resources and knowledge to make informed decisions about putting industrial hemp into production.

Seminar speakers will include Calvin Trostle; Bill Thompson, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension economist, San Angelo; and local AgriLife Extension agriculture county agent Noel Troxclair.

Topics covered will include:

  • The background of industrial hemp.
  • Possible opportunities in industrial hemp for fiber, grain and cannabinoids/CBD.
  • Major issues surrounding planting and poor planting seed quality.
  • Preliminary agronomic considerations for production.
  • A short summary of proposed Texas Department of Agriculture rules for hemp.
  • Economic considerations and risks.
  • Comments and your questions and answers about industrial hemp.
  • For those who are unable to attend, more information about industrial hemp production can be found at

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Pruning Fruit Trees and Berry Canes Workshop at Gus Garcia Community Garden

Pruning Fruit Trees
February is the perfect month for pruning fruit trees and berry canes. Travis County Master Gardeners Reed Burnam, Joe Posern, and Sheryl Williams will be conducting a hands-on workshop on how to prune peaches, plums, pomegranates, figs, persimmons, loquats, and blackberries.

Please join us February 15, 2020 from 10am to 1pm. The workshop is held outdoors at the Gus Garcia Recreation Center Community Garden, 1201 E Rundberg Ln, Austin, TX 78753.

Space is limited, please reserve your spot here

The Gus Garcia Community Garden features vegetable beds and fruit. It is a great example of what can be grown in your backyard or neighborhood. The trees and berries planted in the garden were selected from recommended varieties for Travis County.

Here's What to Bring

You will need to bring your own tools and dress appropriately. The workshop will occur rain or shine.
  • Hat
  • Long sleeved shirt
  • Gloves
  • Coat/rain gear if needed
  • Rubber boots or closed toe shoes
  • Sunscreen if needed
  • Water
  • Hand pruners, loppers, and pruning saws that have been cleaned and disinfected with 70% isopropyl alcohol and are labeled with your name. Bring them all if you have them.

Liability Waiver Required

The Austin Parks Foundation requires each participant to sign their liability waiver form. You can download the form here. Please bring a signed copy with you.

Resources to Read Up On

Here is a list of resources you can review prior to the class. Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer questions and provide expert gardening advice to help you achieve success. You can find other great gardening resources on Our Favorite Gardening Resources for Austin and Travis County page.

Please allow time to stack brush at the conclusion of the workshop.

Questions? Please contact Sheryl Williams, 512-854-9600 or

Friday, January 17, 2020

Gardening Seminar on March 7: Drought to Deluge, Creating the Resilient Central Texas Garden

Drought to Deluge in Central Texas
Lake Travis during drought and deluge. Photo courtesy of KXAN.

Date/Time: March 7, 2020  / 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Where:  Austin Area Garden Center at Zilker Botanical Garden,  2220 Barton Springs Rd., Austin 78746
Admissions: (credit card, cash or check):
  • Children (Ages 2 & Under) - Free
  • Youth (Ages 3-17) Austin Resident  $3.00, Non Austin Resident $4.00
  • Adults (Ages 18 - 61) Austin Resident $6.00,Non Austin Resident $8.00
Parking: Parking in the lot is very limited. Overflow parking can be found on Stratford Drive.

Gardening in Austin is tough. Texas meteorologist Isaac Monroe Cline reportedly said back in 1927 that “Texas is a land of perennial drought, broken by the occasional devastating flood.” The extremes of temperature and moisture coupled with the diverse geology of the region means that conventional gardening advice often doesn't apply.

Travis County Master Gardeners Sheryl Williams and Kirk Walden will discuss how to cope with weather patterns and how to work with the soil and gardening site you have. Additional topics include hydrozones, which are garden areas that have specific moisture requirements because of the plantings or natural factors, irrigation best practices and suggestions for a maintenance calendar.  This seminar will include a short walking tour of Zilker Botanical Garden to discuss its geology and water.

About the speakers: Sheryl Williams grew up on a farm and holds a degree in Agricultural Education from Oregon State University.  She is a Compost Specialist and has experience with food production, rainwater harvesting, permiculture, and growing native plants. Kirk Walden is a hands-on experiential gardener.  When he moved to Austin his home had virtually no landscaping, mostly just limestone and cedars.  His determination to beautify it led to an avocation as a serious gardener.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Drip Irrigation Workshop set for January 11, 2020


Drip Irrigation Workshop
Free to the Public

Saturday, January 11, 
10 am to 12 PM
Rain or Shine 

We all know that drip irrigation is an efficient way to conserve water and is an important tool in the Earth-Kind landscape. Come to this free Drip Irrigation workshop to learn how to install a drip irrigation system from Travis County Master Gardener irrigation experts.

Led by Travis County Master Gardeners Joe Posern and Sheryl Williams, you will install a drip irrigation system in the Freedom Home Baptist Church vegetable garden. Along the way you will learn more about drip irrigation best practices.

This is a hands-on workshop to gain practical experience with system design and component assembly. You will also learn tips on types of layouts, plant placement, and system maintenance. No prior irrigation experience or tools needed to attend.

The event is rain or shine. Attendees are to bring work gloves, safety glasses, appropriate weather gear, and water. Reserve your spot now at Workshop Registration.

The garden is located behind the church. Off-street parking is available in front and along the east side of the building.

 Earth-Kind Landscaping Earth-Kind Landscaping uses research-proven techniques to provide maximum garden and landscape enjoyment while preserving and protecting the environment. The objective of Earth-Kind Landscaping is to combine the best of organic and traditional gardening principles to create a horticultural system based on real world effectiveness and environmental responsibility. Click here for more information on water conservation and irrigation practices.  

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will provide equal opportunities in programs and activities, education, and employment to all persons regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation or gender identity. The Texas A&M University System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the County Commissioners Courts of Texas cooperating. Persons with disabilities who plan to attend a meeting and who may need auxiliary aids or services are required to contact Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service-Travis County at 512-854-9600 ten working days prior to the meeting so appropriate arrangements can be made.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Keep Fall Leaves for Year-Round Benefit

The first cold snap in autumn signals Central Texas deciduous trees to drop their leaves. Before you head to the big box stores to buy leaf bags, consider composting instead.

Don't let their brown-ish color fool you. Those leaves can contain 50 to 80% of the nutrients that a tree pulls out of the soil and air during the past year and often contain valuable micro-nutrients according to a Rutgers University study.

There are three ways you can utilize leaves in your landscape.


Mowing leaves is a great way to shred the leaves into smaller sizes, making it easier to just drop them right back on the lawn. Be sure to rake the bits into the grass so that they don't smother the blades completely, much the same way that you apply compost.


Fall leaves can also be utilized as mulch. Mulch will help protect your landscape from winter freezes and helps retain soil moisture. Shredding the leaves ahead of time with your lawnmower will prevent them from blowing away and speed up the natural processes that convert mulch to compost. Another great place to add leaf mulch is in between your vegetable beds where they become walkways during the (hopefully) wet days to come. 


Incorporate composting into your fall maintenance strategy so that no leaf escapes your property. In general, you can use three times as many leaves as materials like lawn clippings, kitchen scraps or coffee grounds. A well-mixed pile that is turned once a week can yield usable compost in one to six months. An additional benefit to hoarding leaves is that you can use them to build layers in your compost or cover scraps as they are added to the pile.

Keeping leaves out of landfills and waterways helps the environment and your garden by recycling nutrients close to where they were taken out of the soil. 

You can find more information on composting leaves at Earth-Kind Landscaping.

Friday, November 1, 2019

It's Arbor Day in Texas!

Collin McMichael, of Treefolks, demonstrates the proper way to plant a tree.
Photo by Caroline Homer, Travis County Master Gardener.

There is a reason that Texas has designated the first Friday of November as “Texas Arbor Day”. Trees planted on National Arbor Day in April have a tough time surviving our hot summers, which is why Texas Arbor Day occurs during cooler, more favorable conditions. With shorter day lengths, cooler temperatures and maybe even a little rainfall, autumn has everything that a tree needs to keep transplant stress to a minimum.

Most of the trees that we plant here in central Texas are deciduous so they will soon be dropping all their leaves and going dormant to avoid the damaging cold of winter. During the winter with no growth happening above ground, trees are free to focus their resources below ground on their roots. If planted in the fall, trees have almost half a year to establish their root systems before the temperatures get overbearingly hot and they start to need more water to survive.

In order to take up water, plants must release water into the environment through a process called transpiration. During the heat of summer, the air is so hot and dry that it practically sucks the water right out of the leaves, which is why during extremely hot weather like we had in August and September of this year, many trees dropped their leaves and went dormant. Dormancy is simply a plant’s way of avoiding stress. It takes a lot of water to support a canopy full of leaves, and if there isn’t enough water, which is a pretty stressful situation, a good strategy is to drop those leaves and go to sleep until the stress passes. We’ve received a lot of calls these past few weeks about trees losing their leaves early and struggling through the summer. However, I bet now that the temperatures have begun to drop and the sun becomes less intense, those trees may take advantage of that short autumn window to get just a little bit of growth before winter and its true dormant season arrives.

The lower temperature and higher relative humidity of fall help to keep trees better hydrated, so planting during autumn gives trees more time to acclimate to their new environment in your yard and get established.

If you’re still deciding what type of tree to plant, here are two resources you can utilize. The first is the tree selector tool on the Texas A&M Forest Service site. The second is the Earth-Kind® plant sector database. Some of my favorite trees like Catclaw Acacia, Cedar Elm, and Lacey Oak are in the Region-F- Hill Country & Central Coast list. 
And check out our throw-back Texas Arbor Day video on Central Texas Gardener, too!