Johnson County Master Gardener’s 2021 Plant Sale was a success! Thank you for participating. We hope to see you at our 2022 Plant Sale.
“A message from the President”
May Message From the President
When you are blessed with plenty of rain like we have experienced recently, you will begin to notice more fire ants in your area. That’s not because there is an increase in the population, it is due to the fact that they are forced to higher ground. But don’t be too quick to complain about little critter as an unwelcomed, unwanted pest.
If you have fire ants on your property but don’t have a problem with ticks, you can thank the fire ant. There are also studies being conducted examining the relationship between fire ants and feral hogs. It is possible that the feral hog numbers could be much worse, were it not for fire ant populations in rural areas.
However, you may not cozy to the thought of fire ants invading your picnic or carrying away your prized Pekingese. If so, the Master Gardeners have an easy, economical, organic method for eliminating fire ants.
When the weather is relatively dry and there is no danger of rain, spread approximately one tablespoon of snuff around the fire ant mound. The brand is not important, just be sure to spread the snuff evenly around the mound. It worker fire ants will then take the snuff to their queen, located deep in the mound. Then, when the queen comes out to spit, hit her in the head with a hammer.
Russell Farm Viticulture Trial 2021
We have begun the 4th growing season for our 5 year Trial Vineyard. We were concerned about the snow and freeze and vine damage, but it appears that we have come out unscathed! The vines are growing and budding and several have berries . It looks like it will be a productive year, if we can keep the critters from eating all the grapes. I pruned all the vines a couple weeks ago and I took pictures today (4-13-2021) to show the growth so far. Please stop by and check the vines out for yourself.
Johnson County Master Gardener Pam O’Hearn is teaching upcoming Junior Master Gardener’s, at Russell Farm. Great job Pam! If you know of any children interested in becoming Junior Master Gardeners, please contact your Johnson County Agriculture Extension Agent (below).
Joyce Block’s “Block”
(information from a Master Gardener)
Rain, Rain, Rain, please stay another day.
By Joyce Block
There has been plenty of rain this spring. So far, we have had some hail in Johnson County, but the spring storms could always be worse. Rain is a good thing, and now there are ways we can save it!
The benefits of the rainfall is; a gardener doesn’t need to water for a few days; weeds are easier to pull; it’s easier to plant; your rain barrels fill up and you can “hear” the plants sigh with relief. The leaves are cleaned off of any dust that has formed, and all the plants are receiving the water that they need.
One disadvantage that I already noticed is that the mosquitoes are back! Two bites in the five minutes that I was out in my yard this morning, but I digress.
According to the “Texas Master Gardener Handbook”, Rainwaters is low in pH, minerals, and salts and contains no chlorine. Once the rainwater is captured, it can be attached to a drip irrigation system using a gravity flow or carried with a watering can to where the water is needed.
If you want to catch rain water, just setting some buckets or totes in the yard will do the job. Put a lid on them with a mosquito dunk in the water and it will ready for you to use.
Rain barrels are available for the rain water catchment. A 55 gallon barrel will be filled with as little as a half inch of rain. That is with only 200 square feet of roof area. Most of our roofs have a larger foot print than the foundations of our homes.
As I mentioned, my rain barrels are full again. My rainwater catchment system is nothing fancy. The only money we really spent on it was on; two blue, plastic barrels; faucets; and a clamp. Everything else, we had around the yard or garage. It took a couple of hours to build them. My husband took the lids off of the barrels, drilled a hole near the base, put the outdoor faucet in, cut a hole in the top for the down spout off of the gutters, and turned it upright. While he was doing this, I cleared out the spot where I wanted to put them. We moved cement blocks over to the location to set one of them on, and placed the empty rain barrel on top. We repeated the same steps, except used left over bricks to set the lower one on. We also drilled a hole in the upper one, put a short piece of pvc pipe in it, clamped a short piece of hose to it and set that in to the lower barrel. This way the higher barrel will fill first, and the lower barrel will fill last. This picture is similar to mine.
Rain Barrels are available for purchase from the big box retailers and on line. Maintenance is very easy, a screen over the location of where the downspout enters the barrel helps keep debris out of the barrel. I put a mosquito dunk, Bt, in the barrels once a month.
For more information on how to use or make a rain barrel, check out www. wateruniversity.tamu.edu for more ideas.
Be safe, Be healthy and keep on gardening.
Joyce Block is a Johnson County Master Gardener and lives in Alvarado, TX.
Meet your County Extension Agent
Justin Taylor Hale
Extension Agent, Johnson County, Texas
A&M AgriLife Extension Service
109 W. Chambers St. Cleburne, TX 76003
April 19th Johnson County Master Gardener’s Monthly Meeting at 6PM
Topic for the meeting, “Monarch Waystations” presented by Master Naturalist, Katelyn Reeves.
For more information contact Master Gardener Elaine Bell at 817-309-8052.