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The Texas City Garden Club had a great opportunity this month to tour the Greenhouses at Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas Our group was hosted by Donita Brannon, Horticultural Exhibits Manager. This is where it all the magical gardening begins It was truly like stepping into another world. Donita showed us hundreds of lush, gorgeous plants. Donita travels to south Florida each year to make plant selections for the Pyramid. Once the new selection of plants arrives, they are quarantined before being introduced into the rainforest exhibit. Many of the plants are also used in other Moody Gardens properties, such as their hotel. The plants are kept moist with misting devices throughout the greenhouse. That is an awesome task with more than 2,000 different species of plants. As with any conscientious gardener, they use no pesticides or chemicals.
Donita has been working at Moody Gardens for nearly 30 years. The Texas City Garden Club is extremely lucky and fortunate to have her as a Friend of our club. She has contributed much advice to us and is always willing to share her love of gardening with others. She has been very generous in helping us with our fundraising endeavors, such as our scholarship award. In recognition of her continued support, the Texas City Garden Club presented Donita with beautiful plaque of appreciation.
Moody Gardens has hundreds of employees to care for all their plants. They are diligent in the day to day operations of keeping each plant healthy and thriving. What can the individual gardener do to keep their gardens just as healthy? Gardeners must have a watchful eye, always be on the look-out and investigate any garden mishaps.
To do this you must become a “Garden Detective”. Many of my friends know that my “secret dream” would to be an actual detective. Unfortunately, that is never going to happen. But, I am a “Garden Detective”. Each morning I visit my garden to see if I can “detect” any unusual changes. And sure enough, just when the plants are looking lush and thriving in the garden here comes trouble. When problems occur in the garden, it is usually blamed on a bug. Yes, a bug did it! Sometimes gardeners need to become detectives to figure out what exactly is happening to their plant. The main culprits are: disease/virus issues, insect/critter issues and plant disorders.
Some diseases are soil borne, some move in and some are carried into your area by plants you installed. Wind floating spores through the air also moves the trouble around.
Insect and critter issues
Pest issues include animals and insects. Insects can be specific to a particular plant or plant family, some will attack any plant. Insects injure plants in a number of ways. Some are leaf chewers — either eating the entire leaf, creating holes or perhaps skeletonizing leaves. Then of course we have the insects that feed on the root systems of the plants. Not to be outdone, the cut worm just cuts off the entire plant at ground level. Some insects are very destructive, like the cucumber beetle. By the time you spot it, it has already laid eggs at the roots where the larvae will feed, and the adults are feasting on the leaves and fruits. Animal pests can be birds pecking holes in your berries or tomatoes to rabbits munching on pea vines.
Disorders are often caused by the gardener and can usually be corrected. Here are a few causes:
■ Too much or not enough water. Both can result in yellowed leaves. Too much water can cause soft yellow leaves and not enough water can cause yellow to brown dry leaves.
■ Too much shade for sun lovers, and too much sun for shade lovers.
■ Lack of nutrients that can cause misshapen fruits or poor quality.
■ Too windy of a location, no protection.
■ Excessive pruning on plants.
■ Poor soil or compacted soil.
Once you determine the problem, you can then take action. Some gardeners choose not to kill insects, but they will multiply. Some may refuse to pull up diseased plants allowing it to spread throughout the garden. Again, many factors play in — have I just started to harvest my crop, or am I near the end? Could I trap the insects, dust them, or did I grow enough for me and them too?
Here is my own “Garden Detective” story. It was late fall, my garden was doing great, especially my broccoli, which was about ready to be harvested. Each morning I would “investigate” to make sure everything was in order. I was waiting for my broccoli florets to become just the right size. Finally, that day arrives! I go to the garden and much to my surprise, every broccoli floret was gone! Eaten by something! I was in such dismay, that I had to leave the “scene of the crime”. I went inside to have a cup of coffee and think about what had happened. I determined that it was not insects that committed this crime, but more like a four-legged nocturnal critter, that navigates by smell. They also liked my broccoli so much the little critter criminals had moved on to begin nibbling on my cabbage. My plan of action…an ever so light dusting of CAYENNE PEPPER! Believe me, that is nothing to sneeze at! I have now become “proactive” in my dustings, I dust before that damage is done. It has worked great for me. So, Garden Detectives, what have you discovered today in your garden today?
The Texas City Garden Club presented a $500 Scholarship at the Texas City High School Senior Awards and Scholarship Program on Thursday, May 24. Congratulations _____for being the recipient of award. Best of luck to you in the future.
If you know of a “Spot of Beauty” let us know. Send a picture and address to email@example.com.