Fall Gardening Class next Tuesday

Kayla with Siberian Kale (photo courtesy racheldurrent.com)

Kayla with Siberian Kale (photo courtesy racheldurrent.com)

Friends, join me for a “Fall Gardening Class” in Rockport this Tuesday, September 15, from noon to 1:00pm.  The class will be held at the Agri-Life Extension Office, 892 Airport Road, Rockport, TX. 361-790-0103.

This class is free and open to the public.  Bring your lunch to this “brown bag lunch” gardening class, and bring a friend!

Fall is the best time of year to garden in South Texas. You can grow all of your favorite produce, the pests are not so bad, and the weather is gorgeous. Your Fall garden can deliver a harvest by Thanksgiving and grow all the way into next summer!

In this class, we will discuss what and when to plant in your Fall garden.  We will cover intensive, successive, companion planting.  We will also show how your garden design helps minimize pests, conserve water, and increase your harvest.

Gardeners of all ages and skill levels are welcome!

What:  “Fall Gardening Class” with Justin Butts

When:  Noon-1:00pm on Tuesday, Sept 15, 2015

Where:  Agri-Life Extension Office, 892 Airport Road, Rockport, TX 361-790-0103

Who: All gardeners of all ages!

Justin with Turnips (photo courtesy racheldurrent.com)

Justin with Turnips (photo courtesy racheldurrent.com)

Gardening Class this Saturday at 9:00am in Rockport!

Friends, join me for an excellent introductory gardening class this Saturday, April 4, from 9:00am to 12:30am, at the Aransas County Extension office in Rockport.

This class, called “Dig It! The DIY of Gardening”, is designed for beginners, but even expert gardeners will benefit from this information.  The class will be led by several wonderful master gardeners, some of the leading plant experts in our area, and I will also lead part of the class.  Your instructors will teach you everything you need to know to start your own garden, and answer all your gardening questions!

The first of two classes is this Saturday, April 4, at 9:00am, in the air-conditioned  indoor classroom at the Agri-Life office.  This class will focus on the basics:  building healthy soil, using tools, selecting plants, and keeping them growing.

The second class, on April 11, is hands-on workshop of planting and propagating.  Tuition is $25 for both days or $15 per class.

Pre-registration is required by the Wednesday prior to each class. For more information and to register, call (361)790-0103, email: aransas-tx@tamu.edu, or stop by Aransas County Extension Office.  Presented by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension-Aransas County, Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardeners and Justin Butts.  Overflow parking is next door at the Transfer Station.

What:  “Dig It! The DIY of Gardening” with Aransas County Master Gardeners and Justin Butts

When: Saturday, April 4, from 9:00pm to 12:30pm.  Pre-registration is required.

Where:  Aransas County Extension Office, 892 Airport Rd, Rockport, TX 78382 (361)790-0103

Who: Gardeners of all ages and skill levels!  Click on the Agri-Life logo below for more information.

Agri Life logo 2014-01-14

The Epicurean President

Jefferson tomatoes

Thomas Jefferson was our most brilliant president. He helped invent America, a new nation, from scratch. He conceived a grand vision for our country, articulated in the Declaration of Independence, and he served two terms in the White House to bring his vision to life.

America, at that time, ended at the Allegheny Mountains, but Jefferson saw a horizon that stretched to the Pacific Ocean–a land where thousands of new farms would rise from the black soil.

He sent Lewis and Clark to explore this wilderness, and at the opportune moment, he purchased the land from Napoleon. Jefferson personally drew the state lines of Middle America, and it is the choicest farmland on the planet.

Jefferson lifted our laws, our culture, and even our gardens from the dank conventions of Europe, where peasants fought for scraps from the tables of the lords. In Jefferson’s America, every man and woman could rise above his circumstances to create something beautiful–to create a better life.

For Jefferson, good food and wine fed not just the physical self; it freed the mind to dream. He was at his most creative when dining well. He designed his home and gardens at Monticello, an architectural masterpiece.  He invented the swivel chair, the dumb waiter, the lazy Susan, and he invented what was, up to that point in history, the best plow in the world.

Jefferson was an ambassador of agriculture. He toured the lush gardens of France and sent sketches to farmers back home. He purchased the best Merino sheep from Spain to start a new bloodline in America. And he literally risked his life by smuggling Piedmont rice out of Italy to help invigorate rice production in the Carolinas.

Jefferson mailed thousands of rare and unusual seeds to farmers across America.  He introduced tomatoes, okra, and many other vegetables to the American palette.

For Thomas Jefferson, good food and wine, enjoyed in a beautiful setting, with the intelligent conservation of decent people, was the highest achievement of mankind.

We will celebrate that achievement, that epicurean ideal, at the KEDT Food and Wine Classic this Thursday evening.  The VIP reception will be held at the art museum beginning at 6:30, and the main event will be at 7:00 at the Museum of Science and History.  Tickets are available here.

The best food and finest wine in Corpus Christi will be laid out in the museum, with the art and history of our country hanging on the walls. Good people will be there, and excellent conversation. The only thing needed to bring the evening to its perfection is your presence.

A Land Free of Garden Pests

(Kayla in Vineyard in Cephalonia)

(Kayla in Vineyard in Cephalonia)

My wife and I stood with a farmer in her vineyard in Greece, on the western island of Cephalonia. The hills rose behind us into the mountains, and in front, the ground sloped gently down to the Ionian Sea. The grape leaves were green in the hot sun, and not a blemish on them.

The farmer laughed at our questions about garden pests. She said garden pests had never existed in Greece. She fertilized her soil with sheep in winter and picked her grapes in the summer and never worried about pests. Farming, for her, was that simple.

Coming down from Delphi, the road winds in and out of the rocky cliffs, and on the last rise above Itea, the Gulf of Corinth appears, blue and shining, and for thousands of acres down to the water, olive trees, and not a pest upon them.

There are miles of well-tilled fields along the roads from Pirgos up to Patras, onions, cabbages, lentils, and chickpeas, patchworks of tomatoes and sugar beets, then fields of pumpkins with the vines withered in the reddish dirt, and finally ripe round watermelons with green and golden stripes; and in all of that farmland, there is not a single pest.

In Athens, fig trees grow from the broken sidewalks where pulpy fruit drops between the cracks and the seeds sprout, and nobody bothers to cut them down or tend to them, but still the trees grow tall and the branches sag with the weight of fresh figs, and there is not a sign of pests upon any the trees.

For reasons of climate, soil, and plain old luck, the gardens of Greece have been blessed since the age of Achilles.

South Texas, of course, is far from Greece, and this is not a land free of garden pests. Gardening today is actually more difficult than it was for our ancestors. Native Americans tilled the soil in a time of garden purity, before Europeans introduced non-native pests to the soil.

The worst of our pests came from Asia in the 20th Century. These plant-devouring insects proliferated mainly due to industrial agriculture. The chemicals meant to kill them only made them worse.

But, as we have learned on our farm in Rockport, you can virtually eliminate the pest problems from your garden. We cannot restore the American Eden, but we can recover the garden purity of former days—a purity that is highly effective in practice.

In this series on natural pest control, we will explore strategies to fight pests; including some ancient techniques that may surprise you. Next week, we will discover how garden design–the placement of the plants themselves–can repel pests from your garden.

(Kayla in Itea, about to swim to the other side)

(Kayla in Itea, about to swim to the other side)

(Grape Leaves)

(Grape Leaves)

(Vineyard View toward Mountains)

(Vineyard View toward Mountains)

Vineyard, Kayla and Justin Greece 9-2011


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