Monday, April 27, 2009

Bring Your Garden to Life

Bring your garden to life by bringing life to your garden. On May 2, the Travis County Master Gardeners present a free seminar open to the public on Creating a Wildlife Garden. Learn how to build a habitat that is more attractive to beautiful songbirds, butterflies, frogs, and other beneficial wildlife. Using native wildflowers, shrubs, and trees will increase the beauty of your property, protect the environment, and provide a nurturing refuge for all types of animals. Requirements for building a National Wildlife Federation certified wildlife habitat will also be covered.

Creating a Wildlife Garden
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Hampton Branch Library at Oak Hill
5125 Convict Hill Rd.

This seminar is free and open to the public. It is
presented by the Travis County Master Gardeners Association, a volunteer arm of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Travis County. For more details, see or call the Travis County Master Gardener's help desk at (512) 854-9600

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sudden Death of Cedar/Juniper Trees

Our office has received quite a few call on the death of Ashe Juniper or Eastern Red Cedar trees across the county, many of which are on deeper soil east of IH 35. In landscapes these trees often die from excessive water, usually associated with flower beds being constructed around them. But out in the "wild" these trees are quite tough and are generally able to withstand poor soil and climate conditions in our area. So when folks notice a sporadic, sudden death of these trees out in nature it causes alarm.

The following comments by Jim Rooni of the Texas Forest Service provide an excellent perspective on why this is happening and what might be done to alleviate such problems in the future:

"The droughty soils of eastern Travis county are notorious for plant mortality during these extend dry periods. Over the years, our staff have documented moderate to severe impacts on native tree communities, namely Post oak and Eastern Red Cedar (juniper/Cedar) in this region.

What can be done? Well, unless these trees are part of a maintained landscape they may benefit from some form of mulching and/or supplemental water, but not too much.

Clients in these areas must understand that this is a natural, cyclic, event that determines the long term plant ecology of a region. Some will say the 'survival of the fittest' concept will eventually dictate the future tree/plant composition for any respective region, including our area of eastern Travis county. Any/all revegetation efforts should seriously consider drought tolerant plant species – native to this region."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

National Pesticide Information Center

How toxic is this pesticide to people? To pets? To birds? To beneficials?
What are some signs of pesticide poisoning? What are emergency treatments for human or animals?
Is you neighbor using pesticides and you’re worried about possible risks?
Are you pregnant and wondering about using a pesticide in your home?

The National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) has a toll-free number 1-800-858-7378 staffed by knowledgeable specialists seven days/week from 8:30 to 6:30 CST. NPIC has real-time access to current, in-depth information for a national audience. They can also address questions in Spanish and several other languages.

Call 1-800-858-7378 or visit them on the web at

The NPIC is a cooperative effort between Oregon State University an the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Go Native in Your Garden!

Having trouble picking the right plants for your Central Texas garden? Attend our Going Native seminar on April 30 and hear more about the beautiful native and adapted plants that can grow well in Central Texas and still be earthwise plant choices. Let us help you discover plants that are drought tolerant and resistant to pests and diseases, yet offer the color and texture you desire in your garden. These plants will allow you to build a breathtaking garden while using plants that require less fertilizing, less watering, and less chemical control. Going native is an experience everyone should have in their garden! This seminar is free and open to the public.

This seminar is presented by the Travis County Master Gardeners Association, a volunteer arm of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Travis County. For more details, see or call the Travis County Master Gardener's help desk at (512) 854-9600.

Going Native in the Garden
April 30, 2009
Zilker Botanical Garden

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

2009 Travis County Master Gardener Training Course

2009 Travis County Master Gardener Training Course
Travis County Master Gardeners work in partnership with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service to provide non-biased, sound horticultural information to the community. More than a garden club, Master Gardeners are a service organization of trained volunteers who give their time in the community to help others garden well and joyfully in Central Texas. To become a Master Gardener, you will need to successfully complete a training course and 50 hours of volunteer service.

The 2009 classes will be taught by Texas AgriLife Extension Specialists, staff and local experts providing you with a minimum of 50 hours of instruction. Topics include lawn care, soil & plant nutrition, entomology, vegetable gardening, urban tree care, plant diseases, home fruit production, plant propagation and water conservation. Classes will held on Tuesday afternoons starting Aug 4th to November 10th from 1-5 pm in Austin. The cost of the training course is $225.00 which is payable upon acceptance to the class.

To receive an application and participate in the interview process, you will need to attend one of the following information sessions at the Extension Office (1600 B Smith Rd):
Tuesday, May 12th @ 12:00 noon
Tuesday, May 19th @ 12:00 noon
Tuesday, June 2nd @ 5:30 pm

For more information about the training course, call the Master Gardeners Desk at (512) 854-9600 or visit