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HARRIS COUNTY MASTER GARDENER NEWSLETTER J U LY 2 0 1 9Urban DirtandContainerGardeningSmall SpaceGa rd e n i n g Eve n t s a n d In f o r m a t i o n f o r Te x a n sGardening for Small SpacesThink tiny. For a variety of reasons some of us have limited garden areas. Apartment dwellers or those who live in houses withsmall yards can find it challenging to find spaces for plants but itcan be done. Is there a narrow walkway next to your house witha fence? Does it get eight hours of sun a day? You could espaliera hedge or fruit area in that area. Time, space and budget constraints are factors (along with plant requirements) that weigh inwhen planning small gardens so all factors should be considered.For indoor plants a small terrarium placed near a lamp canbrighten up a reading spot. Mount sturdy rods across windowsthat get good sunlight. You can hang small pots with plants fromhooks and hang themon the rods. Purchaseplants with low lightrequirements for indoorplants. Tuck a plantor two in a basket andplace it on a shelf.Dwarf and slowgrowing plant varieties,vertical gardening andsquare foot gardeningmethods can add toyour eye appeal as wellas your table. Flowers,fruits and herbs can bePhoto courtesyempressofdirt.orgArticle and photos by Terri Simon, Master Gardenergrown for a variety of reasons. If your yard is smallbut you want some fruittrees, consider fruit treesgrafted with a variety offruit. A three-in-one citrustree takes up less roomthan three citrus trees.Same as for a multigrafted apple or pear tree.Trees with a variety ofgrafts can also extendyour growing season.Container plants arealso a possibility. Thebulk of my plants are inPhoto courtesy instructables.comcontainers. Yes, I have towater more frequently but I can also move them around. If something is blooming or smells fragrant, then it will be moved next tothe front door or on the patio so everyone can enjoy it at tonight’sgathering. If a plant doesn’t seem to be doing well in one spot,it will be moved. If a plant looks infected or infested then it ismoved immediately to the “plant ICU” spot to await its fate. I tryto avoid bringing in plants for the winter, but there are three thatI do bring in. I prefer to garden organically so I will toss a plantbefore it spreads its nastiness to others. If I keep the pot it’s in Iwill have to bleach it out. I trash the soil as well.Upcoming Events . 2Herb of the Month . 3Plant of the Month. 4Memorial Villages Farmers Market . 5Ask a Master Gardener. 8Master Gardeners in the City . 9Open Garden Day - Genoa Friendship Gardens . 10Open Garden Day - Weekley Center .11Gardening Tools . 12cont’d on pg. 6

URBAN DIRT J U LY 2 0 1 9Upcoming EventsJuly 2019Green Thumb Gardening SeriesContainer and Small Space GardeningJuly 11, Barbara Bush Library, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.July 16, Spring Branch Memorial Library, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.July 18, Freeman Branch Library, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.July 20, Maude Smith Marks Library, 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.Open Garden DayJuly 1, 15, 8:30 - 11:00 a.m., Genoa Friendship Garden, 1202 Genoa Red Bluff Rd. Plants for sale in the GreenhouseMaster Gardener Lecture SeriesJuly 11, GFG Second Thursday 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. Beneficial Snakes in our area Venomous and non-Venomous byJohnson Space Center’s (NASA) wildlife biologist, Matthew Strausser. Genoa Friendship Gardens Education Center building,1202 Genoa Red Bluff Rd.August 2019Green Thumb Gardening SeriesFall VegetablesAug. 8, Barbara Bush Library, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.Aug. 15, Freeman Branch Library, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.Aug. 17, Maude Smith Marks Library, 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.Aug. 20, Spring Branch Memorial Library, 6:30 - 8:30 p.mOpen Garden DayAug. 5, 19, 8:30 - 11:00 a.m., Genoa Friendship Garden, 1202 Genoa Red Bluff Rd. Plants for sale in the GreenhouseAug. date TBD, 10:00 - 11:15 a.m., Weekley Community Center - Registration required to: Community Center, 8440 Greenhouse Rd., Cypress, TXMaster Gardener Lecture SeriesAug. 8, GFG Second Thursday 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. Form Dictating Function: An Intimate Look at Plant Parts byBrandi Keller, Harris County Master Gardener Program Coordinator. Genoa Friendship Gardens Education Center building,1202 Genoa Red Bluff Rd.Have Garden Questions?Email your questions and photos to: phone orCall us Monday – Friday 9:00 am to Noon at 713-274-0950Visit or contact the Harris County Extension Office, 713-274-0950, for information.2

URBAN DIRT J U LY 2 0 1 9Herb of the Month - Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)by Karen McGowan, Master GardenerOne of the most enjoyable aspects of writing the Urban Dirtherb articles for the past few years has been the discovery andsharing of many herbs’ duality as both flavorful and highlyfunctional additions to the garden. Herbs are some of the planet’smost hard-working plants and this month’s feature, lemongrass(Cymbopogon citratus), is no exception.Native to Sri Lanka andsouthern India, lemongrass is wildly popularas an addition to Thai,Cambodian, Laotian, andVietnamese cooking, andis cultivated throughoutSoutheast Asia just forthat purpose. Lemongrass’ delicate flavor andqualities are all but lost inthe dried herb; therefore,for cooking, use of it directly from the garden isrecommended. Not onlyis this lovely ornamentalgrass often responsiblefor those oh-so-subtlenotes in excellent Asian cuisine, its delicate scent does doubleduty in the garden as a natural repellent to pesky mosquitos (asdo most citrus-scented garden dwellers).As a rule, in amilder Houstonwinter, lemongrass is evergreen.Fresh stalks oflemongrass canbe propagatedby simply settingthem in a glass oftap water, where roots will develop usually quite rapidly. Lemongrass can be planted in the garden in partial shade, but it prefersfull sun, and will also live relatively happily potted indoorsin a very bright light location. Average, well-drained soil andmedium-to-low water needs make lemongrass an easy addition toyour garden. Once planted, it will grow rapidly to a height of twoto four feet, spreadingtwo to three feet wide.With no serious insect ordisease problems, lemongrass outdoors will clumpand spread, requiringdivision every few yearsor more often, dependentupon climatic conditions.In addition to itsbenefits as an insectrepellant and culinaryenhancer, lemongrass hasbeen tapped for manyyears in aromatherapy. InBrazil, a tea made fromthe leaves of lemongrassis brewed as a diuretic,sedative, and anti-inflammatory treatment. Cuban usage includeslemongrass as a treatment for rheumatism. Returning to its nativeside of the globe, in India, the entire plant is said to repel snakes,and 2-3 drops of its essential oil in hot water are taken to soothegastric issues. Lemongrass is also used in India as a sedative forthe central nervous system.No matter what your own intent for lemongrass, the herb isa sound addition to the garden, providing not only beauty, butpurpose. Isn’t nature amazing? Have a happy e 217679/3

URBAN DIRT J U LY 2 0 1 9Plant of the Month - Kumquat (Citrus japonica,Fortunella japonica)by Beth Braun, Master GardenerPlenty of plants are great for container and small space gardening, but the list of candidates narrows if you also want the plant tobe fragrant, ornamental, and produce edible fruit. Let’s add evergreen to that list. Maybe even thornless. Citrus—especially smallervarieties—are excellent choices provided you have a spot that getsgood sun exposure. More on that later.One of my favorite citrus is the kumquat, not to be confusedwith the loquat, an altogether different ornamental tree that alsoproduces fragrant flowers followed by edible fruit. Both originatedin China, and have been grown for hundreds of years in SoutheastAsia. The loquat tree gets quite large, so isn’t a good candidate forcontainer gardening. Let’s then turn our attention to the kumquat.Dependingon the variety,the showy fruitof the kumquatmay be roundor squat or long,and are ready tobe picked whenthe skin turns auniform yellowto orange, usuallystarting in November. ‘Nagami’produces an ovalto oblong fruitwith tart fleshand a sweet rind.‘Meiwa’ is round,with a sweet rindand flesh. ‘Marumi’ is round, but smaller than ‘Meiwa’, and tart.My ‘Changshou’ kumquat has a delightful flavor combination—tart flesh with a sweet, soft rind.The sweeter kumquats are eaten whole without peeling. Therind is described as “fleshy, thick, aromatic, spicy and edible”.1 Tartvarieties are usually cooked into marmalade and other zesty treats.1The kumquat is the most cold-hardy of edible citrus, and can becontainer grown in zones 4 - 11. Combine that trait with its naturally smaller size and the dwarfing effect of growing in a container, and you have a plant that’s easy to wrap and protect on thoserare nights when the temperature plunges. A pot set on a rollingplant tray can easily be moved indoors or to a more sheltered area.Kumquats bloom later than most other citrus. The smaller flowers and green leaves compliment the overall size of the plant, andthe delicate fragrance is best enjoyed up close.In the ground, most kumquats top out at 8’ - 10’ and 6’ – 8’wide. A container-grown specimen can be kept smaller to suityour space and needs. Here are some pointers for growing ahealthy kumquat in a container:1. Buy your kumquat from a reputable nursery, or better yet,at a Harris County Master Gardeners fruit tree sale in earlyspring, to ensure that it’s a good variety for our area.2. Choose a site that gets 8 – 10 hours of sun. Less than thatand you’ll have a leggy tree/shrub with few flowers and fruit.Afternoon shade is OK, especially if the kumquat is placedin a hot area with afternoon sun.3. Get a container with good drainage, or drill holes to providedrainage. The container should be larger than the plastic potthe plant was sold in. Glazed ceramic pots with thick wallsare a good choice for protecting roots from our high temperatures. Wood and unglazed clay containers are also good, butthe soil will dry out faster. Avoid plastic and metal pots.4. Use a well-draining potting mix to fill in the pot. There areproducts specifically for citrus.5. Loosen the roots during repotting. This is especially important if the plant is root-bound.6. Avoid over-watering. Some experts recommend plantingannuals around the perimeter of the new pot to gauge whenthe kumquat needs to be watered. Another rule of thumb is towater when the top inch of the potting mix is dry.7. Use a citrus fertilizer or slow-release fertilizer, ideally inMarch.cont’d on pg. laneous.htm4

URBAN DIRT J U LY 2 0 1 9Happy One Year Anniversary!Harris County Master Gardeners at Memorial Villages Farmers MarketArticle by Vivian Gallant, Master Gardener and Jane Kremer, Master Gardenerdispensing research based literature. Fortunately for us, Tim andLee Ann were very familiar with Texas A&M Extension activities. As recipients of an animal husbandry certification fromA&M Extension, they realized their dream to own and operate agoat farm. Based on this experience, we were instantly granteda 3-month trial period to show that we could contribute to themarket. Tim explained that they provided a tent to non-profitswhose job was to realize their vision: “a community of marketvendors and attendees.” To that end, live music is provided alongwith shaded areas with tables and benches for folks to meet upand linger. Once per month offerings include yoga as well as thelibrary story time. Families tend to come eat breakfast or lunchand remain at the market rather than just purchasing their itemsand leaving.We were enthusiastic to get started providing helpful educationfrom our new table. Saturday, May 26, 2018 we arrived for ourfirst market and had 35 adults and 20 children stop and talk to us.Not too bad, but we also noticed that a lot more people were notstopping at our booth. They eyed us suspiciously, giving us a wideberth. Market patrons weren’t sure who we were, what we weredoing there, and ifwe were solicitingdonations.And so, we beganto make changesto encourage folksto engage with us.We added signagein the form ofwhite boards tomake clear it was“FREE” gardening informationwe were providing along withour credentials:“Texas AgriLifeOn the fourth Saturday morning of every month a few volunteers enjoy serving our Master Gardener volunteer hours whilelistening to live music under the shade of a tent, sipping coffeeand eating fresh baked goods or breakfast tacos while doingwhat we love to do most, talking about gardening with newfriends.The wonderful relationship began one year ago, when we approached Tim and Lee Ann Carlson, the managers at MemorialVillage Farmers Market (MVFM) to make a request: a space foran Ask a Master Gardener (AAMG) table. Having been voted“Houston’s Best Farmers’ Market”, we knew we had to make agood case.Each week MVFM has fifty to sixty vendors, a mix of freshproduce, prepared foods, bakers, jams, jellies, honey, beverages, desserts, and crafts. Market patrons tend to live among thesingle-family homes south and north of I-10, between 610 and theBeltway 8.We were armed with a proposal to convince the managers thatthe Master Gardener Association was not simply a neighborhood garden club wanting to promote ourselves. Instead, wewere interested in educating market patrons’ with respect to bestgardening practice using research data from Texas A&M andcont’d on pg. 75

URBAN DIRT J U LY 2 0 1 9Plant of the Month - Kumquat, cont’d from pg. 48. Never fertilize after July, as it will encourage new growththat’s more susceptible to a cold spell.9. Prune the kumquat in the spring before it sets flowers and tomaintain a pleasing shape. Take no more than a quarter offat once, and cut off suckers (long, skinny branches that growstraight up). Cut out dead and crossing branches and thosegrowing toward the center.You’ll know it’s time to repot your kumquat when it shedsleaves and twigs die back, unrelated to drought or under-watering.You can do one of two things—move it into a larger pot or prunethe roots. If you have the space for it to get larger and opt to repotit, choose a container that’s at least 25% larger than the currentpot. Loosen the roots if they’re tight or twining, and fill in aroundthe roots with new potting mix. Fertilize with a slow-releasefertilizer and water it well.If, on the other hand, you want to keep your kumquat at itscurrent size, carefully pull it out of the pot, cut about a quarterof the roots, loosen the roots and repot it with fresh potting mix.Fertilize with a slow-release fertilizer and water it well. Finish bytrimming off about a third of the foliage to minimize stress on thepruned roots.To encourage healthy growth in its first year after potting, repotting, or root pruning a kumquat, pick off some of the flowersto reduce fruiting. It’s a hard thing to do because the flowers arefragrant and pretty and the promise of a future harvest. It’s betterfor the tree in the long run, as its energy is directed to growingstrong roots, branches and leaves, which will then make it moreresilient to pests and temperature fluctuations.In addition to all the attributes already described, kumquats areself-pollinating, meaning you don’t need more than one to have aproducing fruit tree. How sweet is that?Gardening for Small Spaces, cont’d from pg. 1Vertical gardening is becoming more popular. Ideas range fromsimple do-it-yourself gardens to those made by professionals.Small, slow growing plants, particularly succulents, can be successfully made into living art for a wall. A large plant wall can beused as a privacy shield. I’m not so sure about the photo I haveincluded with the plant wall in the bathroom. It looks great intheory, but Itell you thisthe first time acaterpillar orbug drops onme in whileI’m in the tub, . well, youbetter not bein my way!The internetis full of inexPhoto courtesy Paul Dyerpensive ideasfor container gardening, living plant walls, and manyother design ideas to maximize your garden space. Perhaps youhave enough garden space but you want to tuck in a small hideway? You can do that. A small bench, a ladder or trellis to holdplants and add some privacy and a side table to hold your tea? Justimagine. You could have your own quiet space.Photo by Roxanne Kim-Perez6

URBAN DIRT J U LY 2 0 1 9Happy One Year Anniversary, cont’d from pg. 5Extension” and “Harris County Master Gardeners”. We had aboard listing gardening “to do’s” for the month and announcements of Master Gardener events like the upcoming GreenThumb talk and/or plant sales. We, also, learned it was beneficialto get up and mingle with folks, asking them if they needed helpwith their landscape.As our popularity grew, we wanted to bring children’s education to our table as we have a strong belief that appreciation andrespect for our environment must begin at a young age. As weimplemented garden- or environmentally friendly kids’ projects,we found not only more children, but more adults at our booth.Keeping the projects simple, such as planting seeds in peat pots,creating pinecone birdseed feeders and painting garden rocks hasallowed kids of allages to enjoy ourofferings. Meanwhile, we begana rapport with theadults. When weask waiting parentswhether they haveany gardeningquestions, they mayanswer initiallywith a quick “no”,but then after aminute reconsiderwith a “well, yesactually, we have aproblem with .”We don’t alwayshave an answerfor them, but wecan find one witha variety of handouts or guide them to the resources to find thatanswer. We also have lists of appropriate websites, for example,Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, soil samples submission form,or a list of Texas Superstars. We also encourage sending specificquestions to “Ask the Horticulturist.”Nowadays, we havemany repeat customers,and children will comeup to the booth and askwhat we’re planting. Wetry to keep plantings consistent with the monthlyGreen Thumb topic. Wehave also brought inAgriLife books from myown library for perusal.For example, when kidsmade the birdseed feeders during the wintertime, we brought booksabout Gulf Coast birds,and then discussed whichones they were likely toencounter at their feeder.Many children reported on the ones they saw when they visitedour booth the next month. Both children and adults share theirplanting successes and failures.With the overall year total at about 1300 visitors, we havebecome a regular gardening resource for market patrons whoare comfortable asking questions and sharing their gardeningexperiences. If you find yourself at this farmer’s market, be sureto come by and say Hi!7

URBAN DIRT J U LY 2 0 1 9Ask a Master GardenerAsk a Master Gardener is a volunteer program offered by Texas A&M AgriLifeExtension Service. Volunteers staff booths and tables to provide free, research-basedhorticulture education to the public throughout Harris County.In July we are going to be in the following locations!July 6Urban Harvest - 1st Saturday, 7:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.3401 Westheimer Rd. (corner of Buffalo Spdwy. & Westheimer), HoustonGarden Oaks/Heights - 1st Saturday, 8:30 a.m. - 11 a.m. at The Farmstand,938 Wakefield, HoustonJuly 13Tomball - 2nd Saturday, 8:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. at 205 W. Main Street, Tomball, TXJuly 21Town Lake - 3rd Sunday, 9:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. at 9955 Barker Cypress Rd.Cypress, TXJuly 18Westchase - 3rd Thursday, 3-7 p.m. at 10503 Westheimer Rd., HoustonJuly

plants. Tuck a plant or two in a basket and place it on a shelf. Dwarf and slow growing plant varieties, vertical gardening and square foot gardening methods can add to your eye appeal as well as your table. Flowers, fruits and herbs can be Gardening for Small Spaces Article and photos by Terri Simon, Master Gardener cont’d on pg. 6

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