Letter from our President
I hope you are all coping with the heat and keeping yourselves and your plants hydrated. It has been a while since the last newsletter, so I’m just going to hit the highlights. In April we had the Texas State Master Gardeners Conference. Attendees saw the on-site garden and attended classes on leadership and gardening.
Also in April was our annual Spring Plant Sale and Garden Fair. I’d like to say a special thank you to Jane Bowman and all of the MGs who helped to organize and present such a professional event and for raising even more money than last year.
We had a major challenge too, with the on-going construction project in front of the office, which means no automated irrigation in our demonstration gardens. Christi Stromberg from the Facilities Management team has been monitoring this for us and has been great about helping us run the irrigation manually. Thank you to everyone for being flexible and caring for our plants so diligently during this frustrating and hot time.
Just in case you missed all the changes in our organization, we welcomed Patsy Bredahl to the JMG Chair position, Susan Holder to the Project Committee Chair position and Jeanne Barker to the newly created Membership Committee Chair position.
And finally, we were all delighted to welcome our new horticulture agent, Kate Whitney.
Looking forward, I hope everyone will be able to manage to volunteer during this extremely hot weather. If you find that you are unable to keep volunteering outside in this weather, please let me know. We have jobs that you can do indoors.
Thank you all so much for sharing your talents and love of gardening with the residents of Williamson County!
Hornworms by Wizzie Brown
Tomato and tobacco hornworms are often mistaken for each other as they look similar. Both can grow up to four inches long and are yellowish in color when smaller and become greener as they grow larger. Tomato hornworms develop eight white v-shaped markings on each side of the body and have a black horn while tobacco hornworms have diagonal lines along the sides of the body and a reddish horn. Pupation takes place under leaf litter or soil.
Adult tomato hornworms are often called five-spotted hawk moths as they have 5 pairs of orange-yellow markings along the abdomen. Adult tobacco hornworms are called Carolina sphinx moths and have 6 pairs of orange-yellow markings on the abdomen. All moths in the Sphingid family are commonly referred to as hummingbird moths as they fly around flowers where they hover to get nectar. Tomato hornworm adults are nocturnal while tobacco hornworm adults are crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk).
Damage to plants is caused by the larval stage feeding on foliage and fruit. Hand picking caterpillars is an easy way to manage populations in backyard settings. Caterpillars can be tricky to find sometimes as they tend to be well camouflaged.
Hornworm populations can also be affected by biological control. Many other animals use them as food, including wasps, birds, and small mammals. Some wasps, like paper wasps, paralyze hornworms then take them to the nest to feed their young. Other wasps, like parasitoid wasps, deposit eggs inside the hornworm where they develop and eat the hornworm from the inside. Parasitoid wasp pupal cases can be seen protruding from the hornworm’s body.
Management of hornworms is a personal decision as some people enjoy having adult hawks moths around for pollination, while others would rather not compete for tomatoes.
For more information or help with identification, contact Wizzie Brown, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Program Specialist at 512.854.9600. Check out my blog at www.urban-ipm.blogspot.com
The information given herein is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understandingthat no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Extension or the Texas A&M AgriLife Research is implied.
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service provides equal access in its programs, activities, education and employment, without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation or gender identity.
Winola's Timely Tips
Native and adapted plants can better survive the hot summer months of Central Texas. If you bought plants at our Master Gardener Fair, they are adapted to this area. Remember that new plantings will need more frequent watering at first, then gradually back off to deep, infrequent watering as for established plants. Also, even plants considered not to be favorite food for deer may be attacked while new. In the nursery, they may have been fertilized and be more appealing to deer for munching.
In the heat of summer, keep pruning to a minimum, but deadhead spent blooms, making a clean snip back to a leaf or leaves to keep them blooming rather than going to seed. July will be last chance to trim fall blooming plants such as fall aster without losing this year’s bloom.
Keep out weeds and cover all bare soil with mulch to save work for yourself! Mulch helps keep soil at more even temperature, retain moisture, and helps with keeping out weeds. Organic mulch will also add nutrients to the soil as it breaks down. Mulch can help container plants needing to retain moisture, too. If they are drying out too quickly, check to see if pot is too full of roots and plant needs repotting.
Walk through garden daily to watch for problems, seeds ready to harvest, or just to enjoy! Water early in the day when evaporation is less as specified by rules in your area. Use a moisture meter to be sure moisture has reached the roots area. If you do not have a meter, use a screwdriver. If the screwdriver goes in easily, the soil is moist. If not, you need to water more deeply for roots to grow.
Bushes and trees cannot get enough water from rotating sprinklers or an automatic sprinkler system. They need a slow drip whether it be from the end of a water hose moved around the dripline of the bush/tree, or with a soaker hose.
Texas Forest Service advises avoiding wounds on oak trees February through June, because the beetle that carries the fungus is most active at this time. Keep watch for crossing branches or branches rubbing against a building, as these wounds can give access to the beetle.
Be sure to take care of the gardener working in cool times of day, wearing sunscreen and sunhat, and staying hydrated!
Newsletter brought to you by....
This issue of the Williamson County Master Gardener Newsletter was made possible because of the contributions of the following Williamson County Master Gardeners. Teresa Wilts (President), articles by: Wizzie Brown and Winola VanArtsdalen. Temporary Editor: Catherine Nickle. If you would like to contribute to the next Williamson County Master Gardener Newsletter, please send your submission to Wayne Rhoden at firstname.lastname@example.org by August 10, 2018. As you garden, volunteer and learn, please take a moment to share your stories and experiences with others in our organization.
The information given herein is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service or the Texas A&M AgriLife Research is implied. The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Provides equal access in its programs, activities, education and employment without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation or gender identity.