October 21, 2015
Potting soil options evolve to use less peat
Soil Science Society of America
When you travel down a road, poor infrastructure and maintenance becomes more than a nuisance - it is a hazard. The same is true with indoor potting soils. The right choice with good maintenance makes all the difference.
As an horticulture advisor and expert on potting soils, Bill Carlile explains it this way: "A good road surface allows cars and trucks to run well without damage or slowing down. Equally, a good potting 'soil' allows good, constant plant growth," he says. "Badly structured potting soil is like a road with potholes that can damage cars; it can hinder plant growth. Equally, poorly fertilized potting soils, like inferior gas in trucks and cars, may lead to poor performance and damage."
Truthfully, many potting soils aren't "soils" at all, but a mix of ingredients. Together, these ingredients can smooth the road to good plant growth.
"Good potting soils have an open structure, allowing air to the roots, but at the same time retaining water, essential for plant growth," Carlile explains. "Of course, they need added plant foods, and need to have a suitable pH, the balance between acid and alkaline conditions."
Home gardeners may be tempted to simply fill their pots with soil from their yard. "We don't raise potted plants in backyard muck," Carlile cautions, "because of poor structure, lack of nutrients, weed growth from seeds in soil, and diseases and pests lurking there."
Peat is currently a major component of many potting soil blends. Peat is the layered accumulation of partially degraded organic material over hundreds of years. But in some parts of the world, peatland habitats are shrinking. The harvest of peat may also release additional carbon, contributing to climate change. Efforts are underway to find suitable replacements - a considerable challenge given the airy, absorptive nature of peat that is ideal for plant growth.
Carlile, who works in Ireland at Bord na Mona (translated as "Peat Board"), is no stranger to this challenge.
"In this quest for peat replacements, researchers have looked at a vast range of organic materials. With one major exception, all materials so far have been considered as additions rather than direct replacements. It has proved almost impossible to find a material for use in potting soils that is as readily available at the same cost and with the same physical and benign chemical and microbiological properties as peat."
That one exception? Coir. Formerly regarded as a waste product, coir (pronounced "koi-er") is the outer husk of coconuts. Sri Lanka, India, Mexico, and Costa Rica have made this a valued export to European and North American markets. Once the husks are washed to remove natural salts, coir is dried and compressed. In the country of import, it can be wetted and it then swells to make a good potting soil base.
"Because it wets up and retains water well, it's even better than peat for some uses, especially cuttings from plants," Carlile says. "In Europe it's becoming the potting soil of choice for the rapidly expanding strawberry market. The cost of coir, however, is at least twice that of peat."
Bark and shredded wood fiber are other options. They are lightweight and easy to transport. But their age may affect their usefulness. "One of the problems in using wood fiber and bark is its ability to mop up nitrogen added as part of the fertilizer package," Carlile says. Without access to the necessary nitrogen, plants suffer.
Other composted materials are valued as mulches, but can be deadly to young plants if not properly matured. "Raw composted materials can be drastically harmful, where seeds and young plants may be killed," says Carlile.
Some solutions may be as close as the waste pile. Bord na Mona has created an aged compost blend of green waste (anything from grass clipping to shredded trees), dairy plant sludge, and brewery grain waste with peat that provides a good balance. "Here organic wastes, some with major problems of disposal, have been transformed into a valuable resource that has received many compliments for its quality, with the additional benefit of reducing landfill problems: a triple win!" Carlile says.
But raw materials for potting soils are needed in bulk. One material sold in the United Kingdom had its base in recycled tea bags. However, no matter how much tea the English drink, there will not be enough tea bags to supply the potting soil market. Other options still exist, Carlile says. "Interestingly, a huge amount of coffee grounds go annually to landfills in the USA and Europe, and in mixture with peat and other materials, coffee grounds can produce a very effective growing medium."
Composted wastes of human and animal origin, charmingly nicknamed "night soils," may also be included in potting soil as biosolids. Proper treatment, however, is key to avoid human pathogens. Some municipalities in the United States sell "biosolids" after applying a pathogen-fighting combination of helpful bacteria and high temperatures in compliance with biosolid safety standards.
Finding a long-term replacement for peat remains an important environmental goal, but a lot of material of good quality is needed to make a good potting soil.
Carlile urges caution - and careful consideration of the plant's stage of life. "Seedlings and young plants may be stunted in an inferior potting soil, but mature specimens may still grow. Very badly produced potting soil may reduce growth or in some cases even kill plants."
On the road of plant growth, that is clearly a wrong turn.
Pumped about pumpkins: Hype, or the real deal?
Baylor University
Pumpkin purveyors have reason for grins as wide as those of jack-o'-lanterns. Pumpkin products proliferate this time of year - and not just for traditional pies, breads and Halloween décor, but for whimsical goodies that may not live up to the pumpkin's healthy reputation.
Appealing to palates are pumpkin donuts, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin latte - even chocolate pumpkin candy.
"If you believe the sales pitch, the pumpkin is the happiest, healthiest food," said Suzy Weems, Ph.D., registered dietitian and professor of nutrition sciences in Baylor University's College of Health and Human Sciences.
But a balancing act is important, Weems said.
Pumpkin pluses:
  • Fiber? Check. Nice thing for dieters who want a full feeling.
  • Zeaxanthin? Check. Hard to pronounce, but a boon for Boomers seeking a weapon against age-related macular degeneration and impaired eyesight.
  • Low in cholesterol and high in Vitamin A? Yes, for healthy skin and eyes - and an aid in fighting cancer.
  • Heart-healthy phytosterols? They're in pumpkin seeds.
  • Magnesium, manganese, copper, phosphorus, protein, zinc and iron? "On the USDA/FDA rating schedule, pumpkins are a good source of all those," Weems said. Add them up, and you've got a cocktail for energy, growth and a top-notch immune system.
Pumpkin pitfalls:
  • Pumpkin snacks: "Pumpkin-laced candy is still candy," Weems said. "Pumpkin seeds are good for making you feel full, but the fat doesn't disappear when you roast and eat them."
  • Pumpkin desserts: "Be sure to notice how much pumpkin is really is in it, that it's not just the flavoring."
  • Pumpkin in coffee or for breakfast: "A pumpkin latte is not going to mean any fewer calories if it's made with a full-fat milk or syrup," Weems said. "And pumpkin doughnuts still have sugar."
  • Pumpkin as a magic bullet. "Take a look at the total calories: If you have diabetes, you look at the sugar and total carbohydrates. And if you have cardiovascular disease, look at the fat."
Still, "pumpkin is delightful," Weems said. "Just be sure to read the container or the wrapper."
Fall color comes with NICE! plants

Lindheimer and Guadalupe County Chapters of the Native Plant Society of Texas
After our long, hot summers, fall color is always desirable in our gardens. It's time to plant some native plants that bring on lots of beautiful fall color!
Autumn Sage, Salvia Greggii, is a beautiful flowering perennial growing 2-3 feet tall. It comes in a variety of colors, from red to pink to white. It blooms periodically from spring to fall. You can count on it being very drought tolerant once established. Deer generally leave it alone and it attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees.
Chinquapin Oak, Quercus Muhlenbergii, is a large tree that grows 50-70 feet tall and 30-40 feet across. It needs full sun and requires additional moisture until established. The foliage is stunning with the leaves turning rust color and yellow in the fall. One plus for wildlife is that the acorns support a wide range of mammals, and it is also the larval host plant for the Grey Hairstreak butterfly.
Fragrant Sumac, Rhus Aromatica, is a mid-sized deciduous shrub which grows 6-12 feet tall and 4-6 feet across. The red, orange, or yellow fall foliage will delight owners. The small early spring blooms provide nectar and the berries are enjoyed by birds and small mammals.
Virginia Creeper, Parthenocissus Quinquefolia, is a tall growing vine that can grow to over 40 feet tall. It needs full sun for the best fall color and berry production. The scarlet fall foliage is an eye catcher. The berries are enjoyed by many birds, and it is moderately deer resistant. It clings by adhesive tipped tendrils, so it is not recommended for wooden structures.
Gardening tips

October is the best time to plant bulbs, particularly those that bloom late winter to spring. Some species of narcissus, rain lilies, copper lilies, schoolhouse lilies, crinums and amaryllis may naturalize in your area. Hyacinth and tulips are one-shot wonders but are among the most popular. They do best if placed in the refrigerator salad bin (no apples, please) this month. Pull them out around Christmas and plant for some early spring blooms.     
Have a favorite gardening tip you'd like to share? Texas Gardener's Seeds is seeking brief gardening tips from Texas gardeners to use in future issues. If we publish your tip in Seeds, we will send you a free Texas Gardener 2015 Planning Guide & Calendar. Please send your tips of 50 words or less to the editor at: Gardening Tips.
Upcoming garden events
If you would like your organization's events included in "Upcoming Garden Events" or would like to make a change to a listed event, please contact us at Garden Events. To ensure inclusion in this column, please provide complete details at least three weeks prior to the event.

St. Francisville, Louisiana: The Southern Garden Symposium, offering prestigious speakers amid gracious surroundings, will be held October 23 & 24, in St. Francisville, La. With featured speakers including LSU Ag Center's Allen Owings, award-winning floral designer Scott Hasty, and noted author Larry Mellichamp, no other gardening program brings together top quality speakers and historic plantation settings as well as the Southern Garden Symposium in St. Francisville, La. Known as much for its engaging social events and historic venues as for its outstanding gardening lectures and workshops, the Southern Garden Symposium - now in its 27th year - has become an annual tradition for garden enthusiasts from across the south. While the symposium's workshops and lectures provide ideas and inspiration for the gardener, the social activities surrounding the event are classic southern elegance at its best. From the home-baked breakfast breads served in the morning, to the sumptuous fare of the evening gala and the delightfully relaxed Saturday afternoon tea, not a single detail of southern hospitality is overlooked. Located about 45 minutes north of Baton Rouge, La., St. Francisville was established in 1809. Set in a unique location on a bluff of the Mississippi River and often described as a town "two miles long and two yards wide," the quaint community offers southern hospitality, fantastic shopping, and breathtaking scenery. Symposium events are held at several historic and picturesque locations, both public and private, including Afton Villa Gardens, Rosedown Plantation, Grace Episcopal Church, Wildwood, Underwood Cottage, and more. For complete program information and registration forms, visit www.SouthernGardenSymposium.org, call 225-635-3738, or email luciecassity@bellsouth.net. For information regarding overnight accommodations in St. Francisville, visit www.stfrancisville.us  or call 225-635-4224, toll free at 800-789-4221. Seating is limited and hotel rooms can be scarce in St. Francisville in October, so register now!

Bryan/College Station: The Brazos County Master Gardeners' Association will host the 3rd Annual Garden Tour, "Beyond the Garden Gate," on Saturday, October 24, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. This year's garden line-up will offer four diverse home gardens and the Master Gardeners' Demonstration Idea Garden (The DIG). The Demonstration Idea Garden (DIG): "The DIG," the garden created and maintained by local Master Gardeners, is located at 2619 Hwy. 21 West, Bryan, and will offer fun-filled and educational addition to this year's tour. There will be a family pollinator hunt with prizes from 9 a.m.-11:45 a.m. Then from noon - 1 p.m. Chef Tai, owner of Veritas Wine & Bistro will hold a demonstration of garden cooking. From 1:30-2:30 there will be a demonstration by a local beekeeper and door prizes will be announced at 3:00p.m. Wildlife Habitat and Garden: This 5.5 acre property, located at 10100 White's Creek Rd., College Station, is certified as a Wildlife Habitat, a Texas Wildscape and Best of Texas Backyard Habitat and as a Butterfly Garden. The homeowner has augmented the natural setting with native Texas plant species selected to entice and sustain local and transient wildlife with food, water and shelter. The owner is a die-hard composter and loves to teach others the art and science of composting. Garden of Easing: The Garden of Easing, located at 11737 Durrand St., College Station, provides an inviting setting for relaxation, contemplation, and entertainment. The owners designed a long-term functional structure for the garden that protects the large post oaks, elms and other trees, shrubs and vines that are on the property. The lawn was reduced to a minimum to lower irrigation requirements while providing a drainage swale that directs water from front to back. Seasonal splashes of color are provided by annuals in the ground and in decorative containers. To avoid mud trails and increase the backyard entertainment area, a circular concrete paver patio is extended with connecting flowing cobble. As the name indicates, this gardener was looking for function, aesthetics and ease of gardening. The Rescue Garden of Hidden Dimensions: The Rescue Garden of Hidden Dimensions, located at 3927 Hawk Owl Cove, College Station, demonstrates the infinite dimensions possible in a small garden created from discounted plants lovingly resuscitated by the gardener. Hundreds of plants grow in a riotous beauty that brings joy to the beholder. Plants can be seen at many vertical levels and raised beds are framed by white stones. Water features and soft night lighting are embedded into garden environments. With careful nurturing in winter, the gardener has successfully grown an abundance of subtropical and potted tropical plants, rewarding visitors with a splash of leaf and flower colors and textures through most of the year. Sanctuary Rose Garden: Taking inspiration from Europe and Savannah, the homeowner of this garden, located at 4605 Oakmont Circle, College Station, has designed a tranquil, rose-filled, walled sanctuary, using classical elements of symmetry, structure, and stone. Roses, emblematic in Catholicism, predominate, but under, above and through the canes is a rich diversity of plants, including fruit trees and hard-to-grow specimens of camellia and hydrangea. A six-foot statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel surmounts the Italianate fountain at center stage. Bricked and gravel paths lead past the statue to roses and clematis climbing the fences. A compact vegetable garden is tucked in next to the rain capture system that waters the yard by means of drip irrigation. Ticket Information: Tickets may be purchased between September 1 -October 22, on-line at www.brazosmg.com, at Brazos Natural Foods, 4303 S. Texas at Rosemary, Bryan, or at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office, 2619 Hwy. 21 W, Bryan. They may also be purchased on-site at any of the five gardens on tour day. Tickets are $15 for adult admittance to all gardens. Tickets for "The DIG" only are $5 and there is no charge for children under 12 years of age with ticketed adult. Tickets purchased at the Extension Office or those purchased on-site at any garden on October 24 must be paid by cash or check only.

Conroe: The Montgomery County Master Gardeners are having their Fall Open Gardens Day and Vegetable and Herb Sale on Saturday, October 24, at 9020 Airport Road, Conroe. Tour the gardens and talk to Master Gardeners about all things gardening. Sale is from 9 a.m. until noon and Open Gardens Day is 9 until 11. For more information, call 936-539-7824 or visit www.mcmga.com.

La Marque: "Garden Tool Care Presentation and Workshop," presented by GC Master Gardeners Tim Jahnke and Henry Harrison, III, 9 a.m.-noon, October 24, at Galveston County Master Gardener Demonstration Garden in Carbide Park, 4102 Main, La Marque; Ph 281-534-3413; email reservations to galv3@wt.net, further details see www.aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston. Free.

San Antonio: Fall HarvestBlitz begins at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, October 24, and includes a film presentation at 7:15 p.m., at River Road Community Garden, 780 E. Huisache, San Antonio. Join Green Spaces Alliance and area community gardeners to celebrate local food. The third Harvest Blitz of the year coincides with National Food Day. Community HarvestBlitzes are fun ways to learn, eat, and meet neighbors. The Fall HarvestBlitz will feature harvestables, tastables, plantables, and other enjoyables. Come and learn all about San Antonio's fabulous fall/winter season - its ease and its benefits. HarvestBlitz III will feature local chef demonstrations, tastings, planting and cultivation tips, and a great film: Growing Cities to cap off the evening. Activities are offered for the entire family.

Victoria: Victoria County Master Gardener Association will hold its 2015 "Garden Tour: Nature's Beauty Beyond the Gate" featuring six home locations in Victoria Oct. 24-25. For more information call 361-575-4581.

Bryan: Lauren Ward, graduate student in the Texas A&M University, Department of Entomology, will provide insight into the art and science of what attracts and keeps bees returning to plants and landscapes, as well as how to protect and encourage bees to visit local landscapes at the Brazos County Master Gardeners monthly garden program, 7 p.m., Tuesday, October 27, at the Brazos Center, 3232 Briarcrest, Room 102, Bryan. The public is invited at no charge.

Dallas: "Saving from a Rainy Day, Making a Rain Barrel" will be presented 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Thursday, October 29, at Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, Building C, 17360 Coit Road, Dallas. Does your rain just run off? Divert it, save it, use it!! Learn the basics and benefits of rainwater harvesting and the effects stormwater has on the environment. Participants will learn how to collect and utilize rainwater at home and have the opportunity to construct their very own 55-gallon rain barrel. Cost: $50 per barrel. Register at Dallas.tamu.edu/courses. 

"Rainwater Harvesting - Large System" will be presented 9 a.m.-noon, Tuesday, November 3, at Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, Building C, 17360 Coit Road, Dallas. Is 55 gallons not enough for you? Think "Big Tank" and save on your water bill! This program covers design, construction, maintenance and benefits of a large rainwater collection system. Participants will learn how to calculate rainwater capture, design an above- or below-ground collection system and utilize rainwater using large tank systems for home or business applications. This program will also cover installing drip irrigation. Booklet provided. Cost: $25. Register at Dallas.tamu.edu/courses.

"Providing Winter Care for Wildlife" will be presented at noon, November 3, in the IDEA garden at the Tyler Rose Garden, 420 Rose Park Dr., Tyler. An informative lecture covering seasonal gardening topics held on the patio of the IDEA garden, the program begins at noon. The lecture is approximately 30 minutes with a Q&A session following. Seating is limited; please bring a chair for you comfort. In case of inclement weather, program will be held in Rose Garden Center. For more information, visit http://txmg.org/smith/coming-events/ or call 903-590-2980.

San Antonio: San Antonio Garden Center Clubs will meet at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4, at 3310 N. New Braunfels @ Funston. The program, "From Garden to Thanksgiving Table," will feature Leslie Bingham, President of the San Antonio Herb Society, offering recipes and tips for growing and using fresh herbs to enhance your holiday feast. Join us for coffee at 9:30; meetings are free. For more information, visit www.sanantoniogardencenter.org or call 210-824-9981.

College Station: Every year, Texas A&M Forest Service hosts the official State of Texas Arbor Day the first Friday in November in a different city throughout the state. This year, the celebration will take place at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, 1000 George Bush Drive West, College Station, at 10 a.m., November 6. There will be a children's group performance, seedling giveaway and a ceremonial tree planting. The event is free and open to the public. This is also the final weekend for the public to experience the centennial History in the Making: Texas A&M Forest Service exhibit.

San Antonio: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension in Bexar County presents "Bug Banquet," an "educational" dinner event all about entomophagy, Friday, Nov. 6, 7-9 p.m. at 24510 Clearwater Run San Antonio. Delight in an expertly prepared four course meal made with locally grown food and delectable insects and paired with an appropriate cocktail, beer or wine. Prepared by expert chefs and Bexar County 4-H Food Challenge Teams. Learn how raising insects is a sustainable form of agriculture and surprisingly enjoyable culinary experience. 1 CEU for MGs. Cost: $35 per person/$50 per couple. Register Online at https://agriliferegister.tamu.edu/index.cfm. For information contact Molly Keck at 210-631-0400 or email her: mekeck@ag.tamu.edu.

Austin: Gayle Engels, Special Projects Director with the American Botanical Council, will discuss "Healthy Living with Herbs" at the November 9 meeting of The Austin Organic Gardeners' Club, at the Austin Area Garden Center, 2220 Barton Springs Rd, in Zilker Botanical Gardens. Gayle will cover some of the herbs that grow well in Austin and have medicinal uses supported by tradition and research. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the opportunity to meet, mingle, and ask questions with local gardeners; club business begins at 7 p.m., followed by the guest speaker's presentation. For more information, visit  www.austinorganicgardeners.org.

Austin: "Bold and Beautiful Edibles" will be presented, 10 a.m. to noon, November 12. Learn about edible plants with ornamental potential for Central Texas landscapes. We're talking artichokes, asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, herbs and more. Some are perennials, some are annuals, but all will beautify your landscape and satisfy your appetite. Master Gardener Patty Leander is a writer for Texas Gardener magazine and grows vegetables year round in her Oak Hill garden. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service-Travis County, 1600-B Smith Road, Austin. Cost: $10 thru 11/02, $15 starting 11/03 and onsite, No cash accepted - checks and credit cards only. Register: https://agriliferegister.tamu.edu/TravisCounty, Register by Phone: 979-845-2604
Contact: Sue Carrasco, 512-854-9610 or sacarrasco@ag.tamu.edu.

Houston: Lothar Behnke, a representative of Weeks Roses, will present "Next Year's Weeks Roses" at the Houston Rose Society meeting on Thursday, November 12 at 7:30 p.m. Learn about new rose introductions for 2016. Please note our new meeting location. The HRS has moved to the Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion, 1500 Hermann Drive, Houston. The parking lot is Lot C, located at Hermann Drive and Crawford Street. Free admission. For more information, visit http://www.houstonrose.org.

La Grange: Johnny Schroeder will present "Lawn & Landscape Equipment Management" at 12:05 p.m., November 12, at the Fayette County Agricultural Building, 255 Svoboda Lane, La Grange. Maintenance tips and schedules for all your outdoor power equipment. maintain your yard and garden like a pro with these handy operation tips and tricks. For additional information, visit http://fayette.agrilife.org.

San Antonio: Chef Ken Edmonds from the Cured Restaurant at the Pearl will be the featured speaker at the November meeting of the San Antonio Herb Society. Ken is a 2013 graduate from the Culinary Institute of America, has worked at Cured since then, and uses his mother's wonderful recipes to pass on to the world. He will present a demonstration along with a tasting of "Cooking with Herbs." The meeting will be held Thursday, November 12, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the San Antonio Garden Center, 3310 N New Braunfels Ave. Free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.sanantonioherbs.org.

Minneapolis, MN: When considering best practices on their farmers, growers often look to results from their own land, and perhaps other local growers. Dave Weindorf, a professor at Texas Tech University, suggest they look beyond local, and even national borders. To increase the sharing of global research, Veronica Acosta-Martinez, USDA, has organized a symposium, "Soil and Biology and Biochemistry Research Around the World." The symposium will be part of a special International Year of Soils (IYS) celebration planned at the Synergy in Science ASA, CSSA, SSSA International Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, MN. The Soil Science Society of America has been celebrating IYS in 2015, along with the UN-FAO and other worldwide groups. The symposium will be held Monday, November 16. The Synergy in Science meeting is sponsored jointly by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America. For more information about the Synergy in Science 2015 meeting, visit https://www.acsmeetings.org/. Pre-registration by Nov. 1, 2015, is required. For information about the "Soil and Biology and Biochemistry Research Around the World" symposium, visit https://scisoc.confex.com/scisoc/2015am/webprogram/Session14268.html.

Woodway: Master Gardener Patricia Goaley will present "Anecdotes from the Garden," an amusing romp through the garden, from noon until 2 p.m., November 18, at the Pavilion at Carleen Bright Arboretum, 1 Pavilion Way, Woodway. For additional information, call 254-399-9204.

San Antonio: Travis Cole, a BCMG scholarship recipient, presents "Beekeeping," Thursday, Nov. 19, 6-8 p.m. at 3355 Cherry Ridge Dr., San Antonio. 1.5 CEUs for MGs. Free. Meeting begins with a social time at 6 p.m. followed by the special presentation at 6:30 p.m. For information, email President Jack Downey, Bcmgjack@gmail.com, or call 210-699-0663.
San Antonio: "Olive Production & Management Seminar" will be presented Monday, Nov. 30, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at San Antonio Livestock Exposition - Dairy Barn, 723 AT&T Center Parkway, San Antonio. 5 CEUs for MGs. This seminar is open to commercial olive producers, small acreage farm operators and the general public interested in growing olives. If interested, RSVP early with registration fee of $30, payable to the Bexar County Master Gardeners. Attention: Angel Torres, 3355 Cherry Ridge, Suite 212, San Antonio, Texas 78230. For more information call 210-631-0402, or email Angel Torres: matorres@ag.tamu.edu.

Grapevine: The National Grazing Lands Coalition will host the 6th National Conference on Grazing Lands December 13-16, at the Hyatt Regency DFW near Grapevine. Conference organizers expect more than 1,200 ranchers, professors, land managers, researchers, public officials, conservationists and students to attend this national conference and participate in the exchange of ideas and information on grazing land environmental and economic practices and issues. The conference will feature experts in fields such as range science, range and pasture management, forage management and animal behavior. Speakers include Dr. Don Ball, professor emeritus, Auburn University; Dr. Garry Lacefield, professor of plant and soil science, Extension forage specialist, University of Kentucky; Dr. Peter Ballerstedt, forage product manager, Barenbrug, USA; and Dr. Rachel Gilker and Kathy Voth, who produce "On Pasture," an online grazing magazine which translates research and experience into actions graziers can implement on their own operations. The conference's unique format will provide grazing information and expert speakers along four "tracks" - Western, Midwestern, Eastern and Dairy. Some of the topics to be highlighted include grazing management, grazing land economics and marketing, public policy, soil health and the ag/urban interface. Session speakers also include everyday ranchers and land managers. This year's conference will also feature a "Texas Day" on December 15 that will feature sessions on prescribed burning and brush management, along with a Texas Social in the evening. Early bird registration of $295 is available through Oct. 15, followed by regular online registration of $365 until Dec. 4. On-site registration is also available at $365. For more registration information, or opportunities to exhibit or participate in poster presentations visit http://www.grazinglands.org.

Woodway: Peggy Cathey of Waco Iris will discuss Irises from noon until 2 p.m., December 16, at the Pavilion at Carleen Bright Arboretum, 1 Pavilion Way, Woodway. For additional information, call 254-399-9204.

Dallas: "Master Gardener - Water Efficient Landscape Design" will be presented Wednesday-Friday, February 17-19 at Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, Building C Classroom & Large Hall, 17360 Coit Road, Dallas. Do you have a demonstration garden or school garden project that needs help to be water efficient? The Water Efficient Landscape Design Program for Master Gardeners provides you the skills to be your own landscape designer. You bring the project and we provide the guidance. You will learn basic landscape design techniques, native/adaptive plant selection, rainwater harvesting and efficient irrigation to help your project become the envy of water efficient landscapes. This is a three-day program with Wednesday and Thursday evening optional design workshops. This workshop is only open to current Master Gardener volunteers. One registration is good for two club members to attend with design materials to share. Additional design materials available for purchase. Registration: Only 20 Master Gardener participant spots are available for this training (10 groups). Registration is first come/first served basis. Cost: $300.00: (includes lunch, dinner and design materials). For additional information please email Karen Sanders at karen.sanders@tamu.edu. To pay by credit card please contact Clint Wolfe at 972-952-9635.Registration Dallas.tamu.edu/courses.

Dallas: "Landscape Design - Be Your Own Landscape Designer, with Water Efficiency in Mind" will be presented 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Tuesdays, March 8, 15, 22, 29 at Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, WaterSense Labeled Home, 17360 Coit Road, Dallas. Are you on a budget, but your landscape needs a facelift? Be your own Landscape Designer by learning hands on approaches to landscape design for the do-it-yourself homeowner. Learn proper plant placement, design aspects and installation for a more water efficient landscape. This is a four-week class meeting once per week. Cost: $395. Note: This is a project-based class and is limited to one project please. Fee includes dinner each week for up to 2 project leaders/homeowners listed at initial registration. If you will have two project leaders/homeowners please reply to the confirmation email after you have registered. Registration Dallas.tamu.edu/courses.
Monthly meetings


If you would like your organization's events included in "Monthly Meetings" or would like to make a change to a listed meeting, please contact us at Monthly Meetings. To ensure inclusion in this column, please provide complete details. 




Kaufman: The Kaufman County Master Gardeners meet the first Monday of each month at the First Community Church at 1401 Trinity Drive in Crandall. January through April and August and September meetings are at 9 a.m., with the remaining meetings beginning at 7 p.m. For additional information visit http://www.kcmga.org, call 972-932-9069 or email to sbburden@ag.tamu.edu.

Houston: The Harris County Master Gardeners meet at noon the first Tuesday of each month at the Texas AgriLife Extension, 3033 Bear Creek Drive (near the intersection of Highway 6 and Patterson Road), Houston. For additional information visit http://hcmga.tamu.edu
or call 281-855-5600.

Dallas: Garden Masters, Inc., meet the first Wednesday of each month at North Haven Gardens, 7700 Northaven Rd., Dallas. The club hosts different speaker each month from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Bring your lunch! For more information, email Bunny Williams at bunny-williams@sbcglobal.net.


Kerrville: Hill Country Master Gardeners meet the first Wednesday of each month at 1:00 pm at Hill Country Youth Event Center, 3785 Hwy 27. For more information visit www.hillcountrymastergardeners.org.


Midland/Odessa: The Permian Basin Master Gardeners meet at noon, the first Wednesday of each month, lternating between the Midland and Ector County's Extensions Offices. For more information about location, call 432-498-4071 or 432-686-4700.


Allen: The Allen Garden Club meets at 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month, February through December, at the Allen Heritage Center, 100 E. Main St., Allen. For more information, visit www.allengardenclub.org.

Atlanta: The Cass County Master Gardeners meet the first Thursday of each month at the Atlanta Memorial Hospital Conference Room, State Highway 77 @ S. Williams St., Atlanta. A business meeting is followed by an educational program. The public is welcome to attend. For additional information, call 903-756-5391 or visit http://cass.agrilife.org


Brownwood: The Brown County Master Gardeners Association meets the first Thursday of each month from noon to 1 p.m. at the AgriLife Extension Office, 605 Fisk Ave., Brownwood. For further information, call Mary Green Engle at 325-784-8453.

Fort Worth: The North Central Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas meets the first Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. except (January and July) in the Fort Worth Botanical Garden Building at 3220 Botanic Garden Boulevard, Fort Worth. For additional information, contact President Theresa Thomas at kayleetl@sbcglobal.net.


Gonzalas: Gonzales Master Gardeners hold their monthly meeting at noon on the first Thursday of each month at 623 Fair Street, Gonzales. Bring a bag lunch, drinks provided. Contact AgriLife Extension Office at 830-672-8531 or visit http://gonzalesmastergardeners.org for more information.

New Braunfels: The Comal Garden Club meets the first Thursday of each month at 9:30 a.m. at Southbank Clubhouse, 222 Southbank Blvd., New Braunfels. 




Austin: Austin Organic Gardeners Club meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second Monday of each month (except December) at the Austin Area Garden Center, 2220 Barton Springs Road, Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin. For more information, visit www.austinorganicgardeners.org.

Jacksonville: The Cherokee County Master Gardeners meet on the second Monday of each month at 9:30 a.m. at Woodmen of the World, 1800 College Ave., Jacksonville. For more information, e-mail Tom Abbott at tom@deerfield-abbey.org.


Harrison County: The Harrison County Master Gardeners meet on the second Tuesday of each month in the Harrison County Annex building, 102 W Houston St. (south side of the square), Marshall. Meetings are held in the 2nd floor AgriLife Extension meeting room. For more information, call 903-935-8413, or email wannagrow2@gmail.com.   


Marion: The Guadalupe County (Schertz/Seguin) Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas meets on the second Tuesday of each month except July, August and December at St. John's Lutheran Church in Marion. Directions to St. John's Lutheran Church: From FM 78 turn south onto FM 465 and the church is just past the Marion School on the right. From IH-10 go north on FM 465 towards Marion. The Church will be on the left, just before you get to town. A plant exchange and meet-and-greet begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by the program at 7 p.m. Visitors are welcome. For more information or an application to join NPSOT visit www.npsot.org/GuadalupeCounty/ or contact guadalupecounty@npsot.org.


Quitman: The Quitman Garden Club meets at 2 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month at the Quitman Library on E Goode Street, Quitman. It is a diverse group that welcomes all visitors. For more information, e-mail quitmangardenclub@gmail.com.


Denton: The Denton County Master Gardener Association meets from 9:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. the

second Wednesday of each month. Meetings are open to the public. For complete details, visit http://dcmga.com/.


Humble: The Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Garden, 22306 Aldine Westfield Road, Humble, hosts a Lunch Bunch the second Wednesday of each month from noon until 2 p.m. Take a sack lunch or order a box lunch from Starbucks when you call 281-443-8731 to reserve your spot. Master Gardeners and Masters Naturalists may earn CEU credits by attending.


Jacksboro: The Jacksboro Garden Club meets at 9:30 a.m. the second Wednesday of each month (except June, July and August) at the Concerned Citizens Center, 400 East Pine Street, Jacksboro. For more information, call Melinda at 940-567-6218.


Longview: The Gregg County Master Gardeners Association's Learn at Lunch program meet the second Wednesday of each month. The business meeting begins at 11:30 a.m., with the program at noon, at the AgriLife Extension Office, 405 E. Marshall Ave., Longview. The program is presented for horticultural education and is free to the public. For further information call 903-236-8429, visit www.txmg.org/gregg, or like us on Facebook at Gregg County Master Gardeners. 


Rockport: The Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group, founded in March 2003, meets the

second Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m. at 619 N. Live Oak Street, Room 14, Rockport, to discuss all aspects of using and growing herbs, including historical uses and tips for successful propagation and cultivation. Sometimes they take field trips and have cooking demonstrations in different locations. For more information, contact Linda 361-729-6037, Ruth 361-729-8923 or Cindy 979-562-2153 or visit www.rockportherbs.org and http://rockportherbies.blogspot.com.


Woodway: The McLennan County Master Gardeners meet on the second Wednesday each month at noon at the Carleen Bright Arboretum, 9001 Bosque Blvd., Woodway. Educational programs follow the business session. For more information, call 254-757-5180.


Beaumont: The Jefferson County Master Gardeners meet at 6 p.m. (social) 7:00 (meeting) the second Thursday of each month except in July in the AgriLife Extension auditorium, 1225 Pearl 2nd floor (downtown Beaumont next to the Court House). For more information contact: 409-835-8461 or txmg.org/jcmg.


Georgetown: The Williamson County Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas meets from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. the second Thursday of each month at the Georgetown Public Library, 402 W. 8th Street. Georgetown. For additional information, contract Billye Adams at 512-863-9636 or visit http://www.npsot.org/WilliamsonCounty/default.htm.


Orange: The Orange County Master Gardeners Association holds their monthly meeting on the

second Thursday of each month. A short program is presented. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at the new Orange County Expo Center on Hwy 1442 in Orangefield. Enter the building in the front entrance, first door on the right, Texas AgriLife offices. Pot luck supper at 6 p.m. Visit http://txmg.org/orange for more information.


San Antonio: The San Antonio Herb Society meets at 7 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at the San Antonio Garden Center, 3310 N. New Braunfels (corner of Funston & N. New Braunfels). For more information on programs, visit www.sanantonioherbs.org.

Smithville: The Smithville Community Gardens meets at 5:30 p.m. the second Thursday of each month at the Smithville Recreation Center. 


Angleton: The Brazoria County Master Gardeners meet at 11 a.m. on the second Friday of each month at the Brazoria County Extension Office, 21017 County Road 171, Angleton. There is a general business meeting followed by a brief educational program each month. For further information call 979-864-1558, ext.110.


College Station: The A&M Garden Club meets on the second Friday of each month during the school year at 9:30 a.m. in the training room of the College Station Waste Water Facility building at the end of North Forest Parkway, College Station. Expert speakers, plant sharing, and federated club projects help members learn about gardening in the Brazos Valley, floral design, conservation, and more. For more information, visit http://www.amgardenclub.com/.


Houston: The Spring Branch African Violet Club meets the second Saturday of each month, January through November, at 10:30am at the Copperfield Baptist Church, 8350 Highway 6 North, Houston. Call Karla at 281-748-8417 prior to attending to confirm meeting date and time.


Kilgore: Northeast Texas Organic Gardeners meets at 1:30 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month. For more information, call Carole Ramke at 903-986-9475.


Dallas: The Rainbow Garden Club of North Texas meets the second Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. Everyone is welcome. Meetings are held at member's homes and garden centers around the area. For more information, visit www.RainbowGardenClub.com.




Arlington: The Arlington Men's Garden Club meets from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. on the third Monday of each month (except December) at the Bob Duncan Center, 2800 S. Center Street, Arlington. For more information, contact Lance Jepson at LJepson@aol.com.


Cleburne:The Johnson County Master Gardener's meet on the third Monday of each month at McGregor House, 1628 W Henderson, Cleburne. Meeting times are at 2 p.m. October through April, except December and at 6 p.m. May through September. An educational program precedes the business meeting. For additional information, contact Sue Matern at 817-517-9076.


New Braunfels: The Comal Master Gardeners meet at 6 p.m. the third Monday of each month (except April and December,) at the GVTC Auditorium, 36101 FM 3159, New Braunfels. An educational program precedes the business meeting. The public is invited to attend. For additional information, call 830-620-3440 or visit http://txmg.org/comal/.


Corpus Christi: The Nueces Master Gardeners meet at noon the third Tuesday of each month, except December, at Garden Senior Center, 5325 Greely Dr., Corpus Christi. An educational program precedes the business meeting. For further information call 361 767-5217.


Evant: The Evant Garden Club meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 10 a.m., usually at the bank in downtown Evant. To confirm the date, time and place of each month's meeting, call 254-471-5860. 


New Braunfels: The Lindheimer Chapter (Comal County) of the Native Plant Society of Texas meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the GVTC Auditorium, 36101 FM 3159, New Braunfels. Meetings include an informative speaker, plant of the month presentation, and plant raffle. Visitors are welcome. For more information, visit www.npsot.org/wp/lindheimer.


Rockport: Monthly meetings of the Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardeners are held at 10 a.m. on the third Tuesday of each month at Texas AgriLife Extension Service - Aransas County Office, 892 Airport Rd., Rockport. For additional information, e-mail aransas-tx@tamu.edu or call 361-790-0103.


Sugar Land: The Sugar Land Garden Club meets on the third Tuesday of each month, September through November and January through April at 10 a.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 702 Burney Road, Sugar Land. The club hosts a different speaker each month. For more information, visit www.sugarlandgardenclub.org.


Denton: The Denton Organic Society, a group devoted to sharing information and educating the public regarding organic principles, meets the third Wednesday of each month (except July, August and December) at the Denton Senior Center, 509 N. Bell Avenue. Meetings are free and open to the public. Meetings begin at 7 p.m. and are preceded by a social at 6:30. For more information, call 940-382-8551.


Glen Rose: The Somervell County Master Gardeners meet at 10 a.m., the third Wednesday of each month at the Somervell County AgriLife Extension office, 1405 Texas Drive, Glen Rose. Visitors are welcome. For more information, call 254-897-2809 or visit www.somervellmastergardeners.org.


Granbury: The Lake Granbury Master Gardeners meet at 1 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at the Hood County Annex 1, 1410 West Pearl Street, Granbury. The public is invited to attend. There is an educational program each month preceding the business meeting. For information on topics call 817-579-3280 or visit http://www.hoodcountymastergardeners.org/.


Seabrook: The Harris County Precinct 2 Master Gardeners hold an educational program at 10 a.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at The Meeting Room at Clear Lake Park (on the Lakeside), 5001 NASA Road 1, Seabrook. The programs are free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu.


Brownwood: Brownwood Garden Club meets the third Thursday of each month, 11:30 a.m.- 1 p.m.  The club meetings are at Southside Baptist Church, 1219 Indian Creek Road, with refreshments and a speaker presentation. Visitors are welcome. For more information, email boeblingen@centex.net or call 817-454-8175.


Houston: The Native Plant Society of Texas - Houston (NPSOT-H) meets at 7:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month except for October (4th Thursday) at the Houston SArboretum and Nature Center in Memorial Park (4501 Woodway Dr.). For more information on programs, and for information about native plants for Houston, visit http:/npsot.org/wp/Houston.


Seguin: The Guadalupe County Master Gardeners meets at 6:30 p.m. the third Thursday of each month, at the AgriLife Building, 210 East Live Oak, Seguin. After a brief social hour, the meeting and guest speaker begins at 7 p.m. The meeting is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 830-303-3889 or visit www.guadalupecountymastergardeners.org.




Brackenridge Park: The Native Plant Society San Antonio Chapter meets every fourth Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Lions Field Adult and Senior Center, 2809 Broadway at E. Mulberry, Brackenridge Park, except August and December. Social and seed/plant exchange at 6:30 p.m. Free and open to the public. For more information, contact Bea at 210-999-7292 or visit www.npsot.org/sanantonio.


Bryan: The Brazos County Master Gardeners, a program of Texas AgriLife Extension, meet the fourth Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Brazos Center, 3232 Briarcrest Drive, Bryan. There is a public gardening program at each meeting and pertinent information may be found at brazosmg.com or 979-823-0129.


Edna: The Jackson County Master Gardeners present their "Come Grown With Us" seminars on the fourth Tuesday of each month, January through October, beginning at 7 p.m. at 411 N. Wells, Edna. The seminars are free, open to the public and offer 2 CEU hours to Master Gardeners or others requiring them. For additional information, contact the Jackson County Extension Office at 361-782-3312.


Linden: The Caddo Wildflower Chapter of Native Plants Society meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at the senior citizens building at 507 S Kaufman St. in Linden at 6:30. Visitors are welcome. For additional information, contact Karen Tromza at khtromza@yahoo.com.


Fort Worth: The Organic Garden Club of Forth Worth meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month except July and December at the Deborah Beggs Moncrief Garden Center, 3220 Botanic Blvd., Ft. Worth. Refreshments are served. For more information, call 817-263-9322 or visit www.ogcfw.webs.com.


San Antonio: The Native Plant Society of Texas San Antonio Chapter meets the fourth Tuesday of each month, except August and December, at the Lions Field Adult & Senior Center, 2809 Broadway, San Antonio. Social and plant/seed exchange at 6:30 p.m., program at 7:00 p.m. For more information, visit www.npsot.org/sanantonio or email npsot.sanantonio@gmail.com.


Houston: The Houston Native Prairie Association meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month at the Cherie Flores Pavilion in McGovern Centennial Gardens at Hermann Park, 1500 Hermann Drive, Houston. For more information, contact hnpat@prairies.org.


Leander: The Leander Garden Club meets on the fourth Thursday of each month (except July and August) at 10:30 a.m. at the community room behind the Greater Texas Federal Credit Union,1300 N. Bell, Cedar Park, unless there is special event planned. Following a program and short business meeting, we share a pot-luck luncheon. To confirm the meeting place and time, please call president Cathy Clark-Ramsey at 512-963-4698 or email info@leandergc.org.


Dallas: The Dallas County Master Gardeners meet the fourth Thursday of each month at 11:30 a.m. For location and program information, visit http://www.dallascountymastergardeners.org/ or contact The Helpdesk, M-F, 8 to 4:30 214-904-3053.


Dallas: The Greater Dallas Organic Garden Club meets at 7:00 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month at the REI, 4515 LBJ Freeway, Dallas. For more information, call 214-824-2448 or visit www.gdogc.org.


Arlington: The Arlington Organic Garden Club meets from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. on the last Thursday of each month (except November and December) at the Bob Duncan Center, 2800 S. Center Street, Arlington. For more information, contact David at 817-483-7746.

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