Here are a couple of pot people in a master gardener demonstration garden.
We arrived in Conroe Thursday in the early afternoon for registration and went to a great lecture by Dr. Neil Odenwald on landscaping. I have heard him speak a few times before and love it every time. His sense of style and design is amazing.
Friday we went to five classes during the day. Our group split up a little so we would have more information to bring back to our own county group. I took classes on southern kitchen gardens, gardening for butterflies, growing tomatoes, organic gardening. and the ten most frequent mistakes made by Texas "Yardeners." Each lecture was interesting. My favorite was the organic gardening lecture. Skip Richter was the speaker and entitled it "Gardening Au Naturel: The Naked Truth About Organic Gardening. He said we would be disappointed if we actually came there expecting nekidness. I anticipated this class might be another university bashing of the organic movement in general. I was pleasantly surprised. He encouraged organic or natural approaches whenever possible, but admitted to using a couple of chemicals during real gardening emergencies. He also talked at length about biodiversity regarding garden pests and beneficial insects. Very interesting stuff.
The tomato class was also very good. The speaker was Tom LeRoy. He gave us a good plant list and information about how to grow tomatoes and maximize the crop yield. It turns out that hybrid tomatoes can take more fertilizer without becoming all vine and no fruit. In the test garden, one variety, Bush Celebrity, produced 61 lbs of fruit per plant. Another variety, Champion, produced 73 lbs of fruit per plant. The tomatoes were planted in well prepared soil in a trench with one and a half cups of slow released fertilizer. When planting in a trench lay the tomato plant on its side and cover most of the stem leaving a few leaves and a little stem above ground. The plant can grow roots all the way up the stem. This provides for a better root system and therefore healthier plant. He said if you are going organic to triple the amount of fertilizer at planting. Every week following planting the tomatoes were foliar fed with a liquid fertilizer. He said any liquid would do from the common blue chemical concoction to organics like fish emulsion or Hasta Grow (my favorite). Someone asked him his opinion regarding the best flavored variety. He then admitted that he did not eat tomatoes. He only grows them for his family. Very funny for a tomato expert.
Our little Master Gardener club here in little ol' Kaufman County received four state awards for small groups. Our association took second place, our horticultural calendar took first place in publications, our newsletter "The Prairie Planter" took second place in the newsletter category, and our rainwater harvesting project took fist place in the projects category. I am particularly proud of the calendar as it was a project I worked on. I actually wrote a couple of the articles. This may surprise you considering how poorly I articulate myself on this blog, but I can actually put thoughts down on paper when I know it will be judged. Please don't judge me.