February 15: Soil Testing, Composting
March 15: Blooming Plants for Landscape
April 19: Controlling Garden Pests
May 17: Plant Propagation
February 21: Garden Stretches: Stop the Ache before you Rake (Michelle Wright, Austin County, CEA)
March 21: Composting (Mary Karish, Waller County Master Gardener)
April 18: TBA
May 16: Orchids
June – August: No Program
September 19: Plumerias (Faye Beery, Bluebonnet Master Gardener)
October 17: Wonderful World of the Honeybee (Tom Shaughnessy, Local Beekeeper)
Colorado County members of the Bluebonnet Master Gardener Association are pleased to announce the upcoming Colorado County Lunch-N-Learn Series focused on gardening and horticulture!
Programs will be held on the 3rd Wednesday of each month at the Colorado County Services Facility located at 305 Radio Lane in Columbus. Registration will open at 11:50 am with the program starting promptly at 12:05 pm and ending by 12:55pm. Attendees are asked to bring their own lunch. Light refreshments including coffee, tea and snacks will be provided. No preregistration is required for this free program.
The following is our program line-up:
For more information please contact the Colorado County AgriLife Extension Office at 979-732-2082.
By Faye Beery, Bluebonnet Master Gardener Assocaiton
That is how long the Master Gardener program has been going in our 4 county region. On May 25, 2021 the Bluebonnet Master Gardeners celebrated our 20th anniversary of the demonstration garden in Austin County. While the weather was not the best, everyone enjoyed the program given by Dr. Shackelford, good food and seeing the Bluebonnet Master Gardener Association’s demonstration garden located at the Sens Acitvity Center in Bellville, Texas. Vegetables were available, most gave a voluntary donation to the garden, as well as some produce was avaialbe to pick in the garden.
A big attraction in the garden was the keyhole garden. The keyhole concept was first introduced into arid African regions by the U.K. organization Send a Cow. The idea was to help poor families grow their own food despite the poor soil and drought conditions. The keyhole concept is a raised circular bed with a wedge shaped cutout on one side which allows persons easy access to the whole bed. When seen from above, it resembles a lock and keyhole. In the center is a wire cage for compost which decomposes and provides nutrients to the bed. This form is less labor intensive and more affordable for people who want to grow their own food. And you don’t have to bend over.
The outer structure can be any sturdy material, cinder blocks, bricks, rocks are a good choice. They are placed in a round design with a wedge on one side so that individuals can reach the middle as well as the outsides allowing for easy planting and harvesting. The wire cage in the center makes it easily accessible to place the compost materials.
A strong advocate of the keyhole concept is Deb Tolman, PhD, from Clifton, Texas. She is an environmental scientist and landscape designer and co-founder of the Silo Project a non-profit organization, which is centered on sustainability. Due to her outreach and workshops, there are more than 70 keyhole gardens in Clifton, which is in arid North Texas. She recommends a 3:1 ratio of brown and green material which forms the core garden. Decomposition rapidly generates heat and breaks down the material to feed plants. Brown material includes brown grass/leaves; paper and wood, straw, sawdust, lint from the dryer or vacuum, and lots of cardboard, which is the first layer in the bottom of the bed. It should be thoroughly wet to begin decomposition. Green materials include kitchen scraps, manure, green grass/leaves, or plants. Her website provides instructions on how to construct a keyhole garden. Follow the link to her Field Guide PDF .
There is also a new addition to the garden which is currently under construction this week. It is Pete and Paula’s pollinator patch. They plan to include plants which attract pollinators to the garden to pollinate the vegetables that grow there. We’ll have more on this when they begin planting.
I know everyone is happy to get back to our regular meetings. See you at the next one!
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Texas Master Gardeners are inviited to join the online Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener College June 25-28, 2020. This is really a neat opportunity to learn from another state’s Master Gardener program. Although not all of the information pertains to Texas gardeners, much will. Please take this opportunity for more innovated learning.
BMGA CEU credit.
BMGA Interns Only: Apply time to their volunteer hours.
Register by June 19, 2020:
The Bluebonnet Master Gardener Association is hosting three Open House events in January, 2020. If you are interested in learning more about the Master Gardener Program in Texas or want to sign-up for the intensive 5o- hour certficiation training class, please be our guest at one of these three events:
La Grange Open House
January 8, 2020
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon
Fayette County AgriLife Meeting Room
255 Svoboda Ln, Rm 134
La Grange, TX 78945
Brenham Open House
January 9, 2020
11:30 a.m.– 1:00 p.m.
Washington County Fairgrounds Sales Facility (Entrance on Independence St across from Sherriff’s Office)
1305 East Blue Bell Road
Brenham, TX 77833
Bellville Open House
January 9, 2020
10:00 a.m. 12:00 noon
AgriLife Extension Office – Austin County
800 E. Wendt St.
Bellville, TX 77418
The Bluebonnet Master Gardener Association 2020 Training Class will be held in Brenham. Space is limited. For more information and to apply online visit our Application Page.
Ed Eargle, a Master Gardener in La Grange, Texas, is known in the local Master Gardener community for his Square-Foot Garden. Ed presented on the topic of Square Foot Gardening at the October 2019 General Meeting of the Bluebonnet Master Gardeners Association in Brenham. Ed follows the method developed by Mel Bartholomew and made popular through Bartholomew’s book All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space first published in 1981. This technique reduces the amount of digging required to plant the garden and minimized wasting seed. Plus, more can be grown in less space.
The general concept is to create a garden laid out in a grid with the dimensions of each grid space one square foot. Only a certain number of plants are planted in a one square-foot area. The number of plants per one square-foot depends on the plant and its size.
Ed uses a raised bed Square Foot Garden, primarily to grow lettuces because he said “I do not like the stuff in the store.” He explained how to build a 4’x4’ raised bed box with 16 one-foot grid boxes inside.
For the growing material Ed follows Bartholomew’s recommendations and mixes up a batch of “Mel’s Mix”. Mel’s Mix is fertile, has low compaction and few weeds. There are few weeds because no soil or “dirt” is used.
The recipe for Mel’s Mix is:
1/3 Course Vermiculite
1/3 Blended Compost (from many different sources)
1/3 Peet Moss
Ed cautioned to be aware of the compost sources used and not to use hay or straw in the garden unless you know for sure that chemicals that may harm your garden were not used on that hay or straw. This is good advice regardless of the gardening method.
Once the garden is prepared and ready for planting, its time to understanding plant spacing. Ed explanted that in the Square-Foot Garden, spacing is 1, 4, 9 or 16 plants per square foot. Larger plants, like tomato, broccoli, cabbage or peppers, are planted one plant to single square foot in the grid. Small plants, like carrot, radish & onion, are planted 16 plants to a square foot in the grid. The Square Foot Gardening method properly spaces plants at the time of planting so there is no need to “thin” the seedlings later. This saves seed, time and work.
Here is Mel’s recommendation on spacing per square foot:
|1 Plant/Sq-Ft||4 Plants/Sq-Ft||9 Plants/Sq-Ft||16 Plants/Sq-Ft|
|Broccoli||Leaf Lettuce||Bush Beans||Carrot|
To grow plants vertically in the Square-Foot Garden, Ed attachs a trellis for plants like tomato and cucumber. He said to put trellised plants on the north side of the box so as to prevent too much shading of the other boxes in the grid with smaller plants.
Ed Eargle is a retired history teacher. He earned his Master Gardener certification in 2002 and is a fequent speaker at garden club meetings and other events on the topic of Square Foot Gardening. To learn more about Square Foot Gardening, visit Mel Bartholomew’s website.
The Bluebonnet Master Gardener Association’s 2019 week long summer camp for kids is accepting registrations now. The Kids Kamp will be held in all four BMGA counties for kids ages 10 to 13 years of age:
Washington County: June 3 – 7, 2019
Colorado County: June 10- 14, 2019
Fayette County: June 17-21, 2019
Austin:June 24-June 28, 2019
The kids will learn about worm composting, soil & gardening, nutrition & kitchen management, food preservation and good bugs and bad bugs in the garden. They will also make garden related crafts and healthy snacks.
Christy Schweikhardt, a Master Gardener who facilitated the soil & gardening segments of Kids Kamp for two years, said, “We fill the Kids Kamp with hands-on activities that are both fun and educational. The kids who participated in the past two Kids Kamps were entergeitc and eager to learn, even over summer break. For the volunteer Master Gardeners who particpate in running the Kids Kamp, it is rewarding to help AgriLife Extension Service and the State of Texas foster fact-based gardening and food knowelge in a future generation of Texas gardeners.”
At only $25.00 for the week, this may be the best bargin in summer fun.