April 11 – Rainwater Harvesting – Ra Shango
All educational programs begin with:
Registration at 11:50 to 12:05 PM
Program from 12:05 to 12:50 PM
Bring your own lunch and drink.
All programs are free to the public!
The Washington County Bluebonnet Master Gardeners and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service for Washington County, Texas announce their 2023 Spring Lunch-N-Learn Spring series.
These FREE to the public programs will feature speakers from the Bluebonnet Master Gardener Association.
April 5, 2023 & May 3, 2023
Washington County Expo Event Center
1305 E. Blue Bell Road
Brenham, Texas 77833
(Parking and the Event Center face Blue Bell Road) (Map)
The Gardens at Texas A&M
Saturday, June 11, 2022
Free parking available in lot 97.
Join us at our annual community Summer Celebration for food and fun for the family, including children’s educational activities, story time with Chance The Librarian, JJ’s snow cones, and more. You won’t want to miss this fun-filled morning!
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!
Think you know everything about Rainwater Harvesting? Think again! and then sign up for the online 2021 MG Advanced Training in Rainwater Harvesting. Most sessions will be led by Dr. Dotty Woodson, retired Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Water Specialist. Those that have had classes with Dotty know she is an excellent speaker and a super educator. Sign up for the class and learn new things about Rainwater Harvesting from Dr. Dotty Woodson.
The Master Gardener 2021 Rainwater Harvesting Advanced Training Class is being offered to certified Master Gardeners only by Tarrant County Master Gardeners. The training will be an online event on three consecutive Fridays in May, meaning participants can remain at home (living more cheaply than being on the road) and still obtain excellent Rainwater Harvesting training. Remaining at home is also good for spring gardens!
Three consecutive Fridays – May 7, 14, & 21, 2021
Virtual Presentation hosted by the Tarrant County Master Gardener Association
Tuition is $125.00
Registration Deadline April 30, 2021
Click for Registration Information
Need to replace plants after this year’s winter blast?
The Bluebonnet Master Gardener Association’s 18th Annual Plant Sale is Saturday, April 10, 2021, 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
New location: Levine Park Pavilion, 410 Main Street, Sealy, across the street from city hall.
Plants for sale include roses, “Texas Superstar” plants, “Texas Native” plants, “Earth Kind” plants, succulents, butterfly friendly plants, ground covers, herbs, bushes, and a few surprises – something for everyone. There will also be rain barrels, planters and other garden items.
All plants are locally sourced to insure they are climatized for this area. Master Gardeners will be on hand to help you find that special plant and give you guidance for its care. Master Gardeners’ knowledge and passion for each plant will inspire you!
Proceeds from the sale help Bluebonnet Master Gardeners support the four counties (Austin, Colorado, Fayette, and Washington) with college scholarships, community gardens, free-to-the-public “Lunch & Learns”, and other local activities. This is a sales-tax free sale.
More information: https://txmg.org/bluebonnet
It was a cold and windy day February 6, 2020 when the Bluebonnet Master Gardener 2020 Training Class toured the Leach Teaching Gardens at Texas A&M University. Nonetheless, the class bundled up in jackets, hats, gloves and winter boots and did not let the blustery day deter their enthusiasm to get out in the gardens.
AgriLife’s Joseph Johnson, Program Manager – The Gardens at Texas A&M University, met the class in the AgriLife building atrium where he gave a brief history of The Gardens and their purpose. He explained that the concept of the overall project, The Gardens at Texas A&M University, is for training, research and to enhance the green space on campus. The Leach Teaching Gardens is Phase I of the 27-acre garden project on Texas A&M campus. The Leach Teaching Gardens, which opened June 15, 2018, encompass seven-acres and are named after lead donors Amy & Tim Leach.
Mr. Johnson explained that each garden section, or “room”, has a theme and is designed in the size of an average urban home’s yard. This way, homeowners who visit the gardens will see design, techniques and plants that can realistically be used in their Texas yards and gardens.
When the gardens were designed, the design criteria required use of the native soil and water rather than bringing in soil or treating the water. As the soil in the area is sandy loam and the water has a high salinity content, this presented special design challenges. One area in the garden that illustrates the challenge with the local water, is where the irrigation system sprays on the lower leaves of some young trees. The salt in the water damages the leaves, especially in warmer temperatures, so the damaged leaves fall off the trees. Eventually the trees will grow tall enough so that the water does not spray the leaves and the trees will survive. Mr. Johnson explained that the teaching point is that a drip irrigation system is so important in the Brazos River Valley area.
The garden areas the class toured included the Earth-Kind garden provided by donations from the Texas Master Gardener Program which includes a rainwater harvesting system, a vegetable garden, a water garden, a butterfly garden, a pollinator garden, a vineyard, bird garden, the Food and Fiber field featuring wheat (corn in warmer months), a peach and plum orchard, the Mexican Heritage Garden celebrating the many plants originally from Mexico that grow well and are common in Texas gardens, sections celebrating Texas’ rich German and Czech heritage and of, course, an Aggie Maroon & White garden.
A special section of the garden was left totally in its native condition as its center piece is a magnificent 200+ year old post oak tree, dubbed the Century Oak. Mr. Johnson explained the measures that taken to protect this special tree from damage during the construction of the rest of the garden and the importance of not disturbing the area around the tree. He explained that that post oak are sensitive trees that do not do well when their environment is disturbed. Nor do they transplant well. He is working with others on a research project to try to develop techniques to grow and transplant post oak so that in the future, areas where post oak are lost due to urbanization and other disturbances to their environment may be replanted.
Although Winter may not be the most robust growing season, a visit to the Leach Teaching Gardens on a cold windy day in February clearly illustrated that Texas gardeners can have beautiful and interesting gardens year around by planning and choosing the proper plants. Many in the tour group expressed desire to come back in the Spring to the gardens again.
The 2020 Bluebonnet Master Gardener Training Class is appreciative of Mr. Johnson’s knowledge about and passion for the Leach Teaching Gardens, and especially grateful for his willingness to bundle-up in winterwear to provide a such a fine informative garden tour on a day most folks would rather stay indoors!
From more information about the Leach Teaching Gardens, visit: https://gardens.tamu.edu/leach-teaching-gardens/
Our 2020 Master Gardener Certification Training Class is scheduled each Thursday from January 16th – April 23rd with the final graduation class on Tuesday, April 28, 2020. Participants from Austin, Colorado, Fayette & Washington Counties are welcome. The 64 hours of classes will be held at the Washington County Extension Sales Facility at 1305 East Bell Road, Brenham, Texas 77833 (use the Independence Rd entrance) , plus some field trips to be announced in class. The updated training manual compiled by the Texas Master Gardener Association, is included in the $175 registration fee. You may register online below or contact the Washington County Extension office at (979) 277-6262 for more information.
Map to Open House & Class Location
Master Gardener Paul McClendon was presented his certification in Rainwater Harvesting from the Texas Master Gardner Association at the Bluebonnet Master Gardener Association’s monthly meeting May 28, 2019 in Bellville, Texas. After attening the Rainwater Harvesting training class, Paul volunteered 20 hours to assist AgriLife Extension Service increase citizens’ awareness of rainwater harvesting. These 20 hours of volunteer service were on top of the annual 20 hours of volunteer time all Bluebonnet Master Gardener Association members are required to perform each year. Paul is a member of the Bluebonnet Master Gardener Association serving Austin, Colorado, Fayette & Washington Counties, Texas.
Other BMGA members with Rainwater Harvesting Advanced Training certification include B.R. Koehler and Charlene Koehler, both of Sealy, Texas.
See a complete list of BMGA members with Advanced Training certifications.
Other topics in which Master Gardeners in Texas may gain advanced training certification are:
Under Master Gardener Pete Berckenhoff’s leadership, the Bluebonnet Master Gardener Association, built rainwater harvesting barrels and planters by re-purposing plastic food production barrels. Pete’s group of Master Gardener volunteers gathered at BMGA member Renee Kofman’s warehouse in Sealy and turned it into a busy production workshop for building the barrels and planters. These rainwater harvesting barrels are designed to collect roof rainwater run-off through a homeowner’s gutter downspout. Although the collected water is not suitable for drinking water, it is great for watering plants, gardens and adding water to your compost pile. Planters are available with a lightweight PVC frame or the wooden frame and are counter-top height.
BMGA will sell the rainwater harvesting barrels and planters until supplies last at its annual Spring Plant Sale in Sealy on April 14, 2018. The Plant Sale is one of BMGA’s two Texas Sales Tax Free events this year so during that event, the barrels and planters are sale tax free.
BMGA will build and sell a limited supply of rainwater harvesting barrels for homeowners to collect rainwater from roof runoff. The barrels are made with 55 gallon barrels and will be sold at the Plant Sale for $55.00. While not suitable for drinking water, the water collected is great for watering plants and other outdoor uses. The State of Texas encourages citizens to participate in water conservation and rainwater harvesting.
BMGA member and veteran Master Gardener Pete Berckenhoff leads this project. Pete and his team will assemble the barrels and deliver them to the Plant Sale for sale to the public. Master Gardeners wishing to assist with building the barrels should contact Pete.
The Bluebonnet Master Gardener Association’s Annual Plant Sale is April 14, 2018 in Sealy, Texas at the Santa Fe Museum Grounds. Master Gardener Pam Langston will conduct a live demonstration with tips on how to grow nutritious micro-greens year around and we will demonstrate how to build your own rainwater harvesting barrel.
Master Gardener Renee Kofman procures all of the plant specimens for the sale. Renee, as always, will be on hand at the Plant Sale to help you find that special plant and give you instructions for its care. Renee’s knowledge about and passion for each plant in the sale is sure to inspire. She will be assisted by other Master Gardeners at the sale.
We will also sale some fabulous garden gloves, while supplies last!