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It’s time to wake and smell the roses

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Beautiful gardens by Williams Johnson

Overall, this winter has been rather mild for Gulf Coast gardeners and rainfall has been ample. In the next few weeks, landscapes will be blanketed with new leaves in varying shades of green and an array of colorful flowers to lift our spirits.
The new gardening year will be in full swing this month, with many activities and options for growing and learning.
Peaches and plums have already started to display their beautiful flowers and the promise of spring can be seen. Members of Galveston County Master Gardeners Association have planned several programs for the month that will be of interest to local gardeners.
Hands-on rose-pruning demonstrations: Did you know that the time to prune your roses is Valentine’s Day? Are you a bit hesitant on what types of rose to prune and not prune? Then be sure to visit the master gardener horticulture demonstration garden in Carbide Park at 4102 Main Street, La Marque, at 9:00am on February 11.
Master gardener and consulting rosarian John Jons will provide demonstrations on how to properly prune your roses. Please bring hand pruners and gloves – they’re not required but they are needed if you wish to practice pruning on site.
The program is free of charge but pre-registration is requested, either by phone at 281-534-3413, ext 1-2, or by e-mail at GALV3@wt.net. 160203 Gardening Sam planting tomatoesExperienced vegetable growers know that mid to late February is the ideal time for transplanting tomatoes. Master gardener Ira Gervais will present a program on growing tomatoes at the Galveston County AgriLife Extension office from 1:00-3:30pm on Saturday, February 6.
PHOTO CREDIT: William Johnson

Upcoming seminars
On Saturday, February 6, master gardeners are sponsoring two educational programs likely to be of interest to gardeners across the county.
I looked up the term “book-learning” and one definition goes: “Knowledge acquired from reading books as opposed to knowledge gained through experience; theoretical or academic knowledge as opposed to practical or common-sense knowledge”.
The speakers for both programs have “book-learning” – they have, after all, earned the title of certified master gardener – and have amassed a wealth of practical or common-sense knowledge from their lifelong experiences as gardeners. Moreover, they gladly share their knowledge and experiences with the public.
Chris Anastas will provide a PowerPoint presentation entitled Growing Backyard Citrus from 9:00-11:00am. Chris, who has a sizable home citrus orchard, will discuss a variety of topics including rootstock and variety selection for citrus, cultural care of trees, common disease and insect problems and how to manage them, control of birds and critters and freeze protection.
Then from 11:00am until 12 noon, master gardener Robert Marshall will present a PowerPoint program entitled Citrus Greening Disease. Citrus greening is a bacterial disease affecting citrus fruit that was first confirmed in Harris County in 2014. To help reduce the spread of the disease, the Texas agriculture department has quarantined Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties and two counties in the Valley.
Robert has been trained as a first responder to help identify new occurrences of the disease. His presentation will cover what symptoms to look for and preventative measures home growers can practice to help reduce the chances of citrus trees grown at home becoming infected with citrus greening.
On the same day, master gardener Ira Gervais will present a PowerPoint program entitled Growing Great Tomatoes In Galveston County from 1:00-3:30pm as part two of a three-part program.
Ira will discuss his secrets for successful planting and production of great tomatoes. Program participants will learn about the various varieties that do well in this area and when to transplant tomato seedlings, as well as various growing techniques.
He will also discuss information on soil requirements, needed nutrients and the temperature ranges for best tomato fruit set.
All three programs will be conducted at the Galveston County AgriLife Extension office in Carbide Park. There’s no fee but pre- registration is required, either by e-mail at GALV3@wt.net or by phone at 281-309-5065.
I can vouch for each presenter being “book-learned” and “common-sense”. Additionally, I know that they are also gifted and entertaining speakers. I have attended their seminars on several occasions and have learned something different each time. Even though there isn’t any registration fee, I am tempted to apply an entertainment surcharge fee as they deliver their programs in a most engaging manner.
William Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County office of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Visit his website at aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/index.htm.

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