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  • H A R R I S C O U N T Y M A S T E R G A R D E N E R N E W S L E T T E R • J U L Y 2 0 1 9

    UrbanDirt Gardening Events and Informat ion for Texans

    Upcoming Events .......................................................... 2 Herb of the Month ......................................................... 3 Plant of the Month ......................................................... 4 Memorial Villages Farmers Market .............................. 5 Ask a Master Gardener .................................................. 8 Master Gardeners in the City ........................................ 9 Open Garden Day - Genoa Friendship Gardens ......... 10 Open Garden Day - Weekley Center ............................11 Gardening Tools ............................................................ 12

    Think tiny. For a variety of reasons some of us have limited gar- den areas. Apartment dwellers or those who live in houses with small yards can find it challenging to find spaces for plants but it can be done. Is there a narrow walkway next to your house with a fence? Does it get eight hours of sun a day? You could espalier a hedge or fruit area in that area. Time, space and budget con- straints are factors (along with plant requirements) that weigh in when planning small gardens so all factors should be considered. For indoor plants a small terrarium placed near a lamp can brighten up a reading spot. Mount sturdy rods across windows that get good sunlight. You can hang small pots with plants from

    hooks and hang them on the rods. Purchase plants with low light requirements for indoor plants. Tuck a plant or two in a basket and place it on a shelf. Dwarf and slow growing plant varieties, vertical gardening and square foot gardening methods can add to your eye appeal as well as your table. Flowers, fruits and herbs can be

    Gardening for Small Spaces Article and photos by Terri Simon, Master Gardener

    cont’d on pg. 6

    grown for a variety of rea- sons. If your yard is small but you want some fruit trees, consider fruit trees grafted with a variety of fruit. A three-in-one citrus tree takes up less room than three citrus trees. Same as for a multi- grafted apple or pear tree. Trees with a variety of grafts can also extend your growing season. Container plants are also a possibility. The bulk of my plants are in containers. Yes, I have to water more frequently but I can also move them around. If some- thing is blooming or smells fragrant, then it will be moved next to the front door or on the patio so everyone can enjoy it at tonight’s gathering. If a plant doesn’t seem to be doing well in one spot, it will be moved. If a plant looks infected or infested then it is moved immediately to the “plant ICU” spot to await its fate. I try to avoid bringing in plants for the winter, but there are three that I do bring in. I prefer to garden organically so I will toss a plant before it spreads its nastiness to others. If I keep the pot it’s in I will have to bleach it out. I trash the soil as well. Photo courtesy

    Photo courtesy

    Container an d

    Small Space G ardening

  • U R B A N D I R T • J U L Y 2 0 1 9


    July 2019 Green Thumb Gardening Series Container and Small Space Gardening July 11, Barbara Bush Library, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. July 16, Spring Branch Memorial Library, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. July 18, Freeman Branch Library, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. July 20, Maude Smith Marks Library, 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

    Open Garden Day July 1, 15, 8:30 - 11:00 a.m., Genoa Friendship Garden, 1202 Genoa Red Bluff Rd. Plants for sale in the Greenhouse Master Gardener Lecture Series July 11, GFG Second Thursday 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. Beneficial Snakes in our area Venomous and non-Venomous by Johnson Space Center’s (NASA) wildlife biologist, Matthew Strausser. Genoa Friendship Gardens Education Center building, 1202 Genoa Red Bluff Rd.

    August 2019 Green Thumb Gardening Series Fall Vegetables Aug. 8, Barbara Bush Library, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Aug. 15, Freeman Branch Library, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Aug. 17, Maude Smith Marks Library, 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Aug. 20, Spring Branch Memorial Library, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m

    Open Garden Day Aug. 5, 19, 8:30 - 11:00 a.m., Genoa Friendship Garden, 1202 Genoa Red Bluff Rd. Plants for sale in the Greenhouse Aug. date TBD, 10:00 - 11:15 a.m., Weekley Community Center - Registration required to: Weekley Community Center, 8440 Greenhouse Rd., Cypress, TX

    Master Gardener Lecture Series Aug. 8, GFG Second Thursday 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. Form Dictating Function: An Intimate Look at Plant Parts by Brandi Keller, Harris County Master Gardener Program Coordinator. Genoa Friendship Gardens Education Center building, 1202 Genoa Red Bluff Rd.

    Upcoming Events

    Visit or contact the Harris County Extension Office, 713-274-0950, for information.

    Have Garden Questions? Email your questions and photos to: phone or Call us Monday – Friday 9:00 am to Noon at 713-274-0950

  • U R B A N D I R T • J U L Y 2 0 1 9


    tap water, where roots will develop usually quite rapidly. Lemon- grass can be planted in the garden in partial shade, but it prefers full sun, and will also live relatively happily potted indoors in a very bright light location. Average, well-drained soil and medium-to-low water needs make lemongrass an easy addition to your garden. Once planted, it will grow rapidly to a height of two

    to four feet, spreading two to three feet wide. With no serious insect or disease problems, lemon- grass outdoors will clump and spread, requiring division every few years or more often, dependent upon climatic conditions.

    In addition to its benefits as an insect repellant and culinary enhancer, lemongrass has been tapped for many years in aromatherapy. In Brazil, a tea made from the leaves of lemongrass is brewed as a diuretic,

    sedative, and anti-inflammatory treatment. Cuban usage includes lemongrass as a treatment for rheumatism. Returning to its native side of the globe, in India, the entire plant is said to repel snakes, and 2-3 drops of its essential oil in hot water are taken to soothe gastric issues. Lemongrass is also used in India as a sedative for the central nervous system.

    No matter what your own intent for lemongrass, the herb is a sound addition to the garden, providing not only beauty, but purpose. Isn’t nature amazing? Have a happy July!

    Herb of the Month - Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) by Karen McGowan, Master Gardener

    One of the most enjoyable aspects of writing the Urban Dirt herb articles for the past few years has been the discovery and sharing of many herbs’ duality as both flavorful and highly functional additions to the garden. Herbs are some of the planet’s most hard-working plants and this month’s feature, lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), is no exception.

    Native to Sri Lanka and southern India, lemon- grass is wildly popular as an addition to Thai, Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese cooking, and is cultivated throughout Southeast Asia just for that purpose. Lemon- grass’ delicate flavor and qualities are all but lost in the dried herb; therefore, for cooking, use of it di- rectly from the garden is recommended. Not only is this lovely ornamental grass often responsible for those oh-so-subtle notes in excellent Asian cuisine, its delicate scent does double- duty in the garden as a natural repellent to pesky mosquitos (as do most citrus-scented garden dwellers).

    As a rule, in a milder Houston winter, lemon- grass is evergreen. Fresh stalks of lemongrass can be propagated by simply setting them in a glass of


  • U R B A N D I R T • J U L Y 2 0 1 9


    The kumquat is the most cold-hardy of edible citrus, and can be container grown in zones 4 - 11. Combine that trait with its natu- rally smaller size and the dwarfing effect of growing in a contain- er, and you have a plant that’s easy to wrap and protect on those rare nights when the temperature plunges. A pot set on a rolling plant tray can easily be moved indoors or to a more sheltered area.

    Kumquats bloom later than most other citrus. The smaller flow- ers and green leaves compliment the overall size of the plant, and the delicate fragrance is best enjoyed up close.

    In the ground, most kumquats top out at 8’ - 10’ and 6’ – 8’ wide. A container-grown specimen can be kept smaller to suit your space and needs. Here are some pointers for growing a healthy kumquat in a container:

    1. Buy your kumquat from a reputable nursery, or better yet, at a Harris County Master Gardeners fruit tree sale in early spring, to ensure that it’s a good variety for our area.

    2. Choose a site that gets 8 – 10 hours of sun. Less than that and you’ll have a leggy tree/shrub with few flowers and fruit. Afternoon shade is OK, especially if the kumquat is placed in a hot area with afternoon sun.

    3. Get a container with good drainage, or drill holes to provide drainage. The container should be larger than the plastic pot the plant was so