Category Archives: Horticulture

Chiggers by Wizzie Brown

What Exactly Are Chiggers? Chiggers are the first stage out of the egg of a particular type of mite. They climb onto people and other animals walking through infested areas, crawl upwards, and wander around the body seeking a good site to settle down and feed. Feeding preference for these mites on humans is in areas where skin is thinnest (behind knees, armpits) or where clothing fits tightly, such as the ankles, waist, and the groin area. What Causes All That Itching? Chiggers do not burrow into skin… Read More →

Austin’s August Vegetable Garden

Stay Hydrated and Keep Gardening! I’m not going to lie. I lose the will to garden in the August vegetable garden. I’m out of rainwater, the heat is relentless, and the last thing I want to do is battle the sun to save some seedlings. But somehow, I bully myself into doing it anyway, and it’s a good thing. If you wait until the weather is easier to deal with, you will be out of luck for fall gardening. Last Call for Warm Season Vegetable Starts The first… Read More →

Horticultural Principles and Practices for Central Texas Registration Opens

Step One for Acceptance into the 2022 Travis County Master Gardener Program Have you been thinking about becoming a master gardener or just want to learn more about gardening? On August 24th at 12:00 pm, the Horticultural Principles and Practices for Central Texas training program with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service begins with a series of virtual, self-paced webinars presented by AgriLife Extension specialists, staff, and Texas Master Gardeners. This virtual course starts on August 24th at 12 pm with an information session explaining how program training… Read More →

Cicada Killer Wasps by Wizzie Brown

What are these giant wasps?!?!?!?! Cicada killer wasps, common this time of year, are native to Texas.  They are some of the largest wasps that you can find in Texas, reaching up to 1 ½ inches long and can be somewhat frightening if you see them flying about your lawn. Cicada killers have a reddish-brown head and thorax, a black and yellow abdomen, and wings with a rusty tinge.  Only females are capable of stinging because the stinger is a modified egg laying structure. Fortunately, female cicada killer… Read More →

In the (Hot) July Vegetable Garden

It’s Dry in the July Vegetable Garden If you’re a new gardener in the Austin area, you’re probably wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into. The U.S. Drought Monitor tells the story. Over 2/3 of Travis County is now tagged as experiencing extreme drought. Dry conditions mean that the soil has a reduced capacity to capture and store heat, exacerbating the high temperatures we are already experiencing. High nighttime temperatures cause many varieties of tomatoes to produce sterile pollen, which means your plants are going to stop fruiting (if… Read More →

Cactus Bugs by Wizzie Brown

What Are These Bugs on My Cactus?! Cactus coreids or cactus bugs, Chelinidea vittiger, are shield-shaped insects with piercing-sucking mouthparts. They are most commonly red but can vary in color. They have distinctive antennae; if you look at the antennae in cross section, they are triangular in shape. Adults have fully developed wings while immatures, or nymphs, do not and are sometimes mistaken for weevils. Cactus coreids feed in groups on prickly pear cactus. Often the first indication of damage is round, yellowish spots on the cactus pads…. Read More →

In the Central Texas June Vegetable Garden

Harvest the June Vegetable Garden Before the Squirrels Wake Up! June is normally the peak harvest season for many spring-planted vegetables. However, we’ve had such a dry year, that many of you may be experiencing delays or have watched plants wither under the heat. Others have seen early harvests of tomatoes and cucumbers due to warm temperatures. If you haven’t learned it by now, there is no “normal” for Austin vegetable gardeners! Cracking Tomatoes? Speaking of tomatoes, the warm days of May have contributed to some vigorous plant… Read More →

Kern’s Flower Beetles by Wizzie Brown

What is This Beetle in My Flowers? Kern’s flower beetles are a type of scarab beetle, closely related to May and June beetles.  They are medium in size, reaching about 1/3 inch in length.  There are multiple color variations ranging from all black, to brownish-orange or creamy white with black markings. Should You Treat for Them? These beetles eat pollen in multiple types of flowers.  Often you will find numerous beetles in a single flower.  Treatment of these beetles is optional as they feed on pollen and typically… Read More →

All Wisteria Are Not Created Equally by Gayleen Rabakukk

Not All Wisterias Are the Same Last month we decided to build a privacy screen to block our bedroom patio area. We settled on an open design with stock panel trellises and added planter boxes below. I was giddy at the prospect of another garden spot, imagining all sorts of vining vegetables climbing up the trellis. Nearly 12 feet of extra space for beans or peas! My husband had other ideas. “It’s permanent, I’d like something we can plant once, then it’ll grow for years.” He suggested wisteria… Read More →

In Austin’s May Vegetable Garden

Summer Season Has Arrived in the May Vegetable Garden It’s right about now that gardeners really settle in to bragging about what they are harvesting from their garden. It can be really annoying if yours isn’t as far along or if the deer and squirrels have picked everything clean. But if you are one of the lucky ones and are enjoying squash, cucumbers, and maybe even a tomato, pat yourself on the back. You deserve it for surviving the rough spring that we’ve had. May is the beginning… Read More →