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GARDENING

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GROWING AND USING HERBS
For growing purposes in our Texas Upper Gulf Coast
growing area, herbs can be loosely grouped into cool
season-annuals, warm-season annuals (which live for
one season and then die) and perennials (which live for
several years). Some gardeners grow herbs as ornamentals
for their beauty and appearance. Even so, it’s
also important to remember that, above all, herbs are
plants that should be used to flavor many dishes.
The variety of shapes, sizes, textures and colors of
different herbs lend them to the creation of unique and
pleasing garden compositions. Rather than rows, plant
your herbs in small informal beds. A space as small as
five square feet will allow you to plant several types.
You can also mix herbs among landscape plants (as I
do), or use them to create borders, ground covers or low
hedges.
Whether you are an experienced herb grower or looking
for more information before taking the first step, be
sure to attend an upcoming seminar on Growing and
Using Herbs presented by Tricia Bradbury, a Fort Bend
County Master Gardener and Coastal Prairie Texas
Master Naturalist. I attended one of her presentations
a while ago and was very impressed with the range of
information she presented on what herbs grow well in
this area. She also shared her wisdom
on preserving herbs and using herbs to
flavor oils or vinegar. Additionally, she
shared tips on cooking with fresh, as well
as dried herbs.
The seminar will be conducted from
9:00 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, January
27, at the Galveston County AgriLife
Extension Office located in Carbide Park
(4102-B, Main Street) in La Marque. Preregistration
required (e-mail: galvcountymgs@
gmail.com or phone 281-309-
5065).
MOVING FORWARD AFTER THE
WINTER FREEZE
Brown is also a color in home landscapes.
I have made this statement on occasion
such as after Hurricane Ike made landfall
in 2008 and many coastal landscapes
were changed from lush hues of green
and other delightful colors to basic brown.
Fast forward ten years to 2018 after the
arrival of cold temperatures last week
(even if it is still winter time).
Most non-tropical plants in the landscape
can be expected to withstand cold
temperatures. Even though the foliage of
some cold-sensitive plants (cannas, blue
plumbago, hibiscus, etc.) was burned
back to ground level, affected plants may
produce buds near ground level on the
trunk or new sprouts from below ground
organs such as tubers and bulbs.
The leaves of my amaryllis plants have
laid down and appeared to have been
boiled. Yet I fully expect the bulbs to out a
new flush of growth in the coming weeks.
The leaves on my society garlic have also
laid down flat and appear to have been
boiled in addition to displaying a striking off-white color.
Again, I expect the society garlic to quickly recoup from
the assault.
No need to provide a commentary about the condition
of my banana plants for I have too many already and I
take this circumstance as Mother Nature’s way of telling
me that I need to thin out my “herd” of bananas. However,
Mother Nature is not going to help with the job of removing
the banana plants. Mother Nature’s approach is a bit
laid back—she would allow the plant parts to decay. My
Homeowner Association (HOA) would not likely find that
to be a suitable approach and will likely require more
immediate action. Here again, I expect the underground
bulb (botanically known as a corm) will produce suckers
in a few weeks as the weather warms. If you have never
dug up a mature banana corm (not an easy task) you will
not likely understand my loathing this step.
All this begs the question: why do home gardeners in
the coastal regions of Texas take chances with growing
cold-sensitive plants such as tropicals? The answer
is simple: we (and most other folks) enjoy the beauty
that tropical plants provide to local landscapes and our
resolve to defy Mother Nature generally pays off. We are
fortunate to generally have mild winters, but we know to
expect an occasional freeze that is significant.
One more report to make: In a previous column, I
reported the results of my experiment using Solo cups
filled with water and placed in various locations in my
home landscape. I did a follow-up experiment last week
given that temperatures would dive into the low twenties.
I set out four 16-ounce Solo cups filled with water but
this time I poured a half-teaspoon of salt into one cup of
water, a level teaspoon of salt in another and two level
teaspoons of salt in the third cup. No salt was added
to the fourth cup. All cups were placed together on my
back patio.
I checked the condition of the water in each cup the
next morning. The cup of water with no added salt had
developed a 1.5-inch layer of solid ice. The cup of water
with a one teaspoon of salted added had developed a
thin layer of ice on top. The cup with two teaspoons of
salt was still totally liquid in state.
While none of this information is germane to matters
of horticulture it does pertain to the underlying principle
for adding salt solutions and salt mixes to roadways,
bridges and overpasses that helped me and other travelers
safely arrive to our destinations. I do not expect to
get a call from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
(who awards the Nobel Prize in Physics) but my scientific
curiosity is satisfied.

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