Scion – February 2023

Liana Benavides, President BCMG

“February is the border between winter and spring.”

-Terri Guillemets

Welcome to February! AgriLife Extension Service tells us to “learn to like ugly.” It was so tempting with the warmer temps we had at the end of January to go out and prune the plants that were damaged by the cold snap we had in December. Leaving the plants as is will better protect them during future frost events which we know are coming, whether we want to accept it or not. Your backyard wildlife will also appreciate being able to shelter in the dead branches during the cold season. Once the threat of freezing temperatures passes, the new growth will guide you when you are ready to go out and do some “spring cleaning.”

For ideas on what to do in your gardens this month, check out the “Spring Lawn & Garden Preparation Checklist” presented by David Rodriguez on February 4th at Rainbow Gardens (Bandera location). Registration is required. Click here to sign up.

We are ready to begin our Earth-Kind Brown Thumb class series Wednesday evenings starting on February 8th at 6:30 p.m. You can sign up for the whole series of 6 ($75) or just select the ones you are interested in ($20/each). Click here for more information, including how to register.

Also on February 8th at the San Antonio Botanical Garden is “Spring Gardening Tasks” presented by our very own BCMG, Lynn Cox.  This presentation is FREE, but registration is required. Register here. This presentation is SAWS WaterSaver Rewards eligible for WaterSaver Rewards members.

This year’s Rodeo Tomato is the “Thunderbird,” and we are so excited to be back at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo! Visit us next to the Freeman Coliseum for some garden inspiration and to purchase your Rodeo Tomatoes to get started in your vegetable gardens. Proceeds benefit the Junior Master Gardener program, which is a part of Texas A&M’s AgriLife Extension Service supporting teachers and children with training and materials to start youth garden programs. Rodeo runs from February 9th-26th.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for Old Man Winter making his final appearances out in our gardens. This South Texas weather can be tricky. Follow us on Facebook for the latest updates and advice for cold snaps this month. Stay warm, safe, and keep on gardening!

In the Garden…with Bexar County Master Gardeners

Marsha Krassner, Principal Editor “In the Garden”

February in the Garden

February can still bring bitterly cold weather and freezes.  Be very careful about planting perennials at this time.  If you plant seeds outside and severe weather is predicted, try to water all the plants in the yard and be sure to cover the newly emerged plants with old sheets or commercial row-cover of some type.  Arm-chair gardening now will pay off well in June & July.

Spotlight on the Donkey Ear Plant

By Marsha Krassner, Bexar County Master Gardener

I readily admit that I have a penchant for unusual-looking plants. So, when I spotted one that I’d never seen before, I was immediately captivated and took it home with me!

The Donkey Ear plant is a fast-growing succulent known for its quirky foliage and leaves that resemble the ears of a donkey.  The leaves are waxy-coated and maroon-splotched and can grow up to 20” long.  Plantlets grow at the tips, which either drop to the ground, or weigh the main leaf down (in my case) so that they take root and develop a new baby plant.

The Donkey Ear is native to Madagascar and is happiest when growing in subtropical, Mediterranean, or desert-type climates.  San Antonio’s weather seems to fit the bill, and I have enjoyed watching this plant thrive in my garden.

The botanical name (Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri) has an interesting backstory.  Many believe that the word “Kalanchoe” is derived from the Chinese word “Kalan Chauhuy,” which means “what falls and grows.” Certainly, in my experience, I regularly see the leaves growing quickly and drooping over the pot, with small red and yellow plantlets at the ends…

Compact Delicata Squash (bush type) next to Salvia and Zinnias

Vegetable Gardening…Starting small for big results!

By Michelle Hobbs, Bexar County Master Gardener

Spring is almost here, and this is the time of the year that I become a bit distracted, dreaming of my vegetable garden. To some, starting a vegetable garden may seem like an overwhelming proposition. However, one thing that I have learned is that starting small can lead to great results. Like many things, when we start too big, we can easily become overwhelmed.

A good way to get started is to consider integrating vegetables into an existing garden bed. There are many vegetables that are quite attractive peeking out of your flower beds. Consider growing eggplant, summer squash (or compact winter squash), onions, peppers, cabbage, spinach, or peas in an existing bed. Another easy way to get started is to grow vegetables in pots, utilizing a support cage, as with tomatoes and peppers. Cucumbers, supported by a trellis, green beans (bush), and squash are other great options.  The only requirement is full sun, consistent watering, and extra fertilizer. This resource from Texas A&M AgriLife (Easy Gardening) provides more detailed information.  Start small, with a few plants, and grow things that you love.  Even a small pot of arugula can spice up your salad…

Pecans have healthy fat and are a source of protein, fiber and vitamins. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

BCMG January Lunch and Learn

Pecans with Larry Stein, Ph.D. 

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Horticulturist and Associate Head of the Department of Horticultural Sciences.

Summary by Sherri McShane, Bexar County Master Gardener

The 2023 Lunch and Learn series was off to a spectacular start with Dr. Larry Stein and his presentation, Pecan–The State Tree of Texas

The attendees were treated to a thorough, interesting discussion on the pecan tree.  Dr. Stein first gave a brief insight into the history and development of the modern pecan tree.  Texas is the #1 U.S. producer of native pecans, and approximately 600,000 acres in the state are devoted to this crop. 

After sharing the facts about pecans, Dr. Stein then discussed the nutritional aspects of pecans. The pecan is 70% oleic acid and a good source of unsaturated fat.  Documented benefits of fresh pecans include reducing LDL, increasing HDL, and providing a preventative against heart disease. 

He also advised us about caring for pecans: they should be refrigerated to maintain freshness, and, in the shell, they can be stored in Ziplock bags in the freezer indefinitely.  Once shelled, they will maintain their freshness for 2 to 3 years.

Dr. Stein discussed how to grow pecans, as a farmer or a homeowner.  He stressed that well-drained, deep soil and weed control are key factors to successfully managing pecan trees.  Pecan trees also require a lot of water, typically 5-10 gallons per minute per acre for farmers and 1” weekly for homeowners…

“Green Magic” Broccoli

Texas Superstar Spotlight- “Green Magic” Broccoli

Brassica oleracea ‘Green Magic’

A superb early variety that produces high quality, attractive smooth dome heads with tight green beads.

Exposure: Full sun

Size: Plants vary between 1 and 2 feet in height and spread; heads can weigh between 350–400 gm; good resistance to white rust

Bloom Time: ‘Green Magic’ is a hybrid, which matures in 85 days from transplanting

Gardening Education Opportunities

February 4 @ 10:30 am – 12:00 pm

Spring Lawn & Garden Preparation Checklist – Free

Rainbow Gardens 8516 Bandera Rd., San Antonio, TX

Presented by David Rodriguez, Horticulturist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Join David for this FREE seminar as he discusses the strategies we can implement to have the best growing season yet!  David will go over everything we need to know to plant with success this spring and how to give our lawns, annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, herbs, and veggies the best start and maintenance possible.

Read More

February 8 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Master Gardeners in the Garden: Spring Gardening Tasks – Free

San Antonio Botanical Garden 555 Funston Pl, San Antonio, TX

Presented by Lynn Cox, Bexar County Master Gardener and hosted by San Antonio Botanical Garden. Free but registration is required by February 7 at 10:00 A.M. This seminar is WaterSaver Rewards eligible.

Read More

February 8 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Earth-Kind® Brown Thumb Series – Soils, Mulch, Compost: Benefits & Uses/Lawn Basics

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Bexar County 3355 Cherry Ridge, Ste. 208, San Antonio, TX

Presented by David Rodriguez, Horticulturist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Certified Master Gardeners. Part of the Earth-Kind Brown Thumb Series. Cost is $20/session or $75/all 6 sessions advanced registration required.

Read More

February 10 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Lunch & Learn with a Bexar County Master Gardener – Landscape Palms – Free

Bexar County Master Gardeners 3355 Cherry Ridge, Ste. 208, San Antonio, TX

Presented by a Bexar County Master Gardener. Bring your favorite lunch and learn from one of our Bexar County Master Gardeners at this free seminar.  Seating is limited and walk-ins will not be accepted, so please make your reservation in advance. 

Read More

February 16 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

BCMG February Monthly Meeting – The Best Grasses for Texas Applications – Free

Bexar County Master Gardener Seminar and Meeting. Guest Speaker Valerie Smith with Sod Solutions will talk about the multiple turf grass varieties available on the market and which ones are optimal for Texas.

Read More

February 18 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am

Spring Clean-Up “To Do’s” for Your Lawn and Landscape – Free

Milberger’s Landscaping & Nursery 3920 North Loop 1604, San Antonio, TX

Presented by David Rodriguez, Horticulturist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and hosted by Milberger’s Landscaping & Nursery.

Read More

February 20

Offices Closed: Presidents’ Day

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Bexar County Master Gardeners offices are closed today.

February 22 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm ONLINE

Webinar Series: 15 Bugs Everyone Should Know About – In the Home (Serious Structural Pests) – Free

Presented by Molly Keck, Entomologist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Services. Instructions regarding this Zoom Webinar are included below.

Read More

February 25 @ 10:30 am – 12:00 pm

Spring Clean Up for the Lawn & Landscape – Free

The Garden Center 10682 Bandera Rd., San Antonio, TX

Presented by David Rodriguez, Horticulturist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and hosted by The Garden Center Nursery.

Read More

February 27 @ 9:00 am – February 28 @ 4:30 pm

Landscape Design School: Series 27, Course 1

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum 1000 George Bush Drive W, College Station, TX

Landscape Design School: Series 27, Course 1. THE SCHOOL IS OPEN TO ANYONE WISHING TO ADD TO THEIR KNOWLEDGE OF LANDSCAPE DESIGN. Fee: $145, payable to Landscape Design School, includes box lunches and snacks/beverages both days.

Read More

Frequently check the BCMG Calendar, as that is where all the new, upcoming programs will be posted. Click Here

BCMG News!

It’s Rodeo Time

We are very excited to announce that the Bexar County Master Gardeners (“BCMG”) will have a tent at the 2023 San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo held from February 9-February 26!

At our tent you may purchase this year’s Rodeo Tomato:

Thunderbird -The 2023 San Antonio Rodeo Tomato Release

Thunderbird Tomato

Thunderbird is an improved quality, high-yielding hot set determinate round hybrid variety with a strong plant and good general disease resistance. The plants have a good balance of cover and ease of harvest. Fruit is extra-large in size, very firm, with good shelf-life. The color is deep red and part of the Sakata high color range. Thunderbird is a dual-purpose variety with both vine-ripe and mature green potential.                                               

Construction of our tent is well underway (photo by Bill Swantner)

If you are new to San Antonio or just have some questions about your garden, we will have an “Ask a Master Gardener” station staffed by BCMG volunteers that will answer your questions or point you in the right direction.

One of the fun youth activities in our tent (photo by Andres Villagran)

Lastly, there will be some fun garden-related youth activities that Andres Villagran, Youth Gardens Coordinator for Texas A&M AgriLife Horticulture will host.

We hope that when you attend the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo that you will come see us!

Texas A&M AgriLife News!

Brussels sprouts show brown freeze damage.
Freeze-damaged Brussels sprouts in The Gardens at Texas A&M University. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Courtney Sacco)

“Learn to live with ugly” after freeze damage

Pruning dead plant material can cause more harm through winter

JANUARY 5, 2023

Property owners and gardeners should practice patience when it comes to the eyesore of freeze-damaged plants, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife expert.

Michael Arnold, Ph.D., director of The Gardens at Texas A&M University and professor of landscape horticulture in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Bryan-College Station, said warmer weather may have gardeners itching to prune back dead leaves and plant material following the hard freeze, but they should resist the urge.

The hard freeze occurred early in the winter, but depending on the location in the state, as much as two months of potential frost remain, he said…

Read more on AgriLife Learn

Helpful Resources

WOAI Lawn and Garden Show

Call in to Live Radio on Saturday mornings, with your gardening questions for David.
Call in: 210-737-1200 or 1-800-383-9624 on Saturdays from 7 am to 10pm

Or just listen to the show, and learn from everyone else’s questions!

WOAI 1200 AM – Lawn and Garden Show
Host: David Rodriguez, Bexar County AgriLife Extension Horticulturist.

Past shows are archived here, for easy listening on your computer, tablet or phone, anytime! Listen on your phone while you drive!

Ask a Master Gardener

Master Gardeners are available to help you with your gardening questions. We provide unbiased, research-based, locally relevant gardening information. Free service. You can reach us:

By phone: 210-631-0400 (Ask to speak to a Master Gardener)

Mon-Fri 9 am – Noon, 1-4 pm (Closed on county holidays)

Or Submit A Question Online

The phones and the Hotline are being operated from Master Gardener home telephones; hotline calls are being directed by the AgriLife Extension receptionist.

Bexar County Master Gardeners Bexar County Master Gardeners BCMG Facebook Page BCMG Facebook Page TAMU  AgriLife Ext Ed – Bexar County TAMU AgriLife Ext Ed – Bexar County BCMG YouTube Channel BCMG YouTube Channel Aggie Horticulture Aggie Horticulture Texas Master Gardener Association Texas Master Gardener Association My Extension 210 Videos My Extension 210 Videos Bexar County Entomology Blog Bexar County Entomology Blog AmazonSmile (select: BCMG) AmazonSmile (select: BCMG

Bexar County Master Gardeners will once again participate in the Champions fore Charity fundraiser for 2022-2023.  We ask for your support to help us raise funds that will make us eligible for the additional 7% match from the Valero Texas Open. BCMG uses the funds to support our mission of providing unbiased, research-based, locally relevant gardening information through our hotline, seminars, workshops, children’s gardens, and culinary docent program.

Did you know that you may be able to make a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) directly from your IRA to BCMG? Consult your tax or financial advisor for more information on this strategy that may even lower your taxable income.

We appreciate your consideration. Your donations are welcome through April 2nd. The link to make your donations is Valero Texas Open – Champions fore Charity.