Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Janet (Norchester's Garden Club Matzke Butterfly Garden Director) Reports
that is it's HOT --if you can spare a bit of time, stop by the garden and pull a few weeds. It will only get worse as the summer and fall wear on.
The good news is that we have hired a young college student who is going to
help us this summer.  His name is Jaylynn.

The Parsley Hawthorn tree is planted.

The water is turned off as we have another broken sprinkler head in the button bush bed. We have a plan to fix this and future breakage of the water system.
Thank goodness we have had rain this week.
ABCS reports that the Kroger monies for last quarter are $78.04.  This money is specifically directed to maintenance of Matzke Park Butterfly Garden.  Thanks are due to those who have directed their Kroger reward card monies to ABCS. Don't forget to "re-enroll" your card beginning Aug 1.  This needs to be done each year by logging on to your Kroger on-line account.  The Park Garden's charity ID number for Kroger remains 82607. You can re-enroll at https://www.kroger.com/account/enrollCommunityRewardsNow  If you haven't linked you card to the garden's account you can also sign up at the above link. 

Keep an eye out at Norchester's 4th of July parade for the second year in a row the lovely ladies of Norchester's Garden Club will be in the parade.

Don't forget to check our blog for information regarding the Norchester Garden Club's Photo contest for pre-school and school children.  Guidelines are listed in our last post.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Matzke Park Fun - Another Look

Some of the following was posted in mid April, but is worth another look and options for pre-schoolers have been added:

School is out. The kids are bored.
Bring them to Precinct 4’s Matzke Park Butterfly Garden at the corner of Jones Rd and Grant Rd in Northwest Houston and bring a picnic lunch!  
The park boasts rest rooms, benches, 1 ½ mile walking trail, barrier free playground structures, picnic tables and 20 acres of open grassy space.
Bring a digital camera or a smart phone on a bright sunny day and challenge your and the kids photography skills.  
Look for caterpillars, butterflies, bees, bugs and birds among the butterfly weed, passion flower, butterfly bush, and other flowers both ornamental and native. 
The plants have been selected for food for caterpillars, butterflies and other pollinators.
Start a collection of what and when you have seen them this summer.  It becomes a great reference for later study.
You can also check the message board for what is happening in the park. Matzke Park is open every day of the week. The gardens are behind the Jones Rd parking lot.
Preschool Picture Contest - OFFICIAL RULES

All children in Harris County Texas between the ages of 3 to 5 are eligible to enter the Preschool Picture Contest this summer, with the permission of their parent or guardian.  Rules for the contest are as follows:

1. Entrance in the contest implies that you agree to the rules of the contest and have parental consent to enter the contest.  

2. The age of the contestant is to be based on his or her age as of June 1.

3.  A single picture (drawing, painting, etc.) of any one "Thing that Flies" in the garden (i.e. butterflies, bees, birds, ladybugs, dragonflies, etc.) may be submitted by a contestant.

4.  Submit picture along with your name, age, and contact information to 
Preschool Picture Contest
10502 Brentway
Houston, TX  77070-4004

5.  The deadline for submitting entries is midnight on August 31, 2016.

6.  Scoring:  Judges will award one point per picture and one additional point for the correct identification of the species submitted

The decisions of judges will be final.  Prizes will be awarded in September



Children’s Photo Contest - OFFICIAL RULES 

All children in Harris County Texas between the ages of 6 to 14 are eligible to enter the Children’s Photo Contest this summer, with the permission of their parent or guardian.  Rules for the contest are as follows:

1.  Entrance in the contest implies that you agree to the rules of the contest and have parental consent to enter the contest.  

2. The age of the contestant is to be based on his or her age as of June 1.

3.  Photos are to be taken only by the contestant, must only be taken in the Matzke Park Butterfly Garden and are to only be taken between the dates of June 1 and August 31 of the current year.  Please follow posted rules of observing without disturbing nature.

4.  One photo of each species of "Things that Fly" in the garden (butterflies, bees, birds, ladybugs, dragonflies, etc.) may be submitted by a contestant. There can be several entries of butterflies, for example, so long as each is a different kind.

5.  Email your photos as a jpg attachment, along with your name, age and contact information to ABCS.Park@att.net

6.  The deadline for submitting entries is midnight on August 31, 2016.

Scoring:  Judges will award one point per photo of each different species submitted, one additional point will be awarded for the correct identification of the species submitted, and one point may be deducted for duplicates of the same species submitted by one individual.

The decision of judges will be final.  Prizes will be awarded in September to contestants by age groups:
6 to 8,
9 to 11,

12 to 14.

Businesses and individuals wishing to support these contests may send a donation  before August 15th to:
    Norchester Garden Club Treasurer
    14606 Quail Creek Court   
    Houston, TX 77070      


Please make checks payable to Norchester Garden Club with "Children’s Picture Contest" in the memo. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Nice Blooms

Some of us are still recovering from the flood waters and the endless issues and decisions that then arise.  NGC member Pat's flower bed is helping to brighten the mood....

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Name This Plant

Found in a member's back yard.. we don't recognize this plant.  If you have the answer, please send an email to:  ABCS.Park@att.net

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Despite the water or Because of it

We have had plenty of water in Norchester during the past two weeks.  Mother nature provided much more than was welcome.  And streets like Normont, Moorcreek, and Fawnview were particularly impacted.  Yet... here are some recent pictures from our member Pat who lives on Moorcreek where she found nature truly in bloom.  Plants likely totally underwater just two weeks ago.





Thursday, April 21, 2016

Too Much Water ?

For many of us in the Norchester area.. our gardens are the least of our worries these days.. Even a few feet of water the the house is clearly a major distraction.  However, it is useful to understand some of the initial things we can do to save our plants.  The following is adapted from some information written by Angela Chandler and put out by our friends at Arbor Gate and we thank Ms. Chandler and Arbor Gate.

Angela Chandler is a lifelong gardener with a passion for learning and teaching. She tends a ½ acre garden in Highlands, Texas that includes ornamentals, fruits, a small experimental nursery, a flock of Buff Orpington chickens, and a Lab mix named Harley. Her gardening adventures would not be possible without her husband, Fred – always willing to help unload leaves, compost and help build beds. Angela is a member of the Harris County Master Gardener Association – Retired, and a member of the Garden Writer’s Association.


Climate analysts have reported their observations that we are in an El Nino cycle. El Ninos have an effect on tropical weather patterns. A recent South Texas Weather Conditions Update indicated that the growth rate of El Nino conditions in the Pacific Ocean this year is larger than any past event. They offer a 70% probability that these conditions will persist throughout the summer and 80% odds that strong El Nino conditions will develop in June and July and continue through next winter.

What does this mean for us? It more than likely means that we may continue to have these periods of unusually heavy rain. The Gulf Coast is familiar with cycles of drought and deluge, and many of our plants are adapted to it. But what happens when the periods of deluge are wetter and longer than usual? A lot of stress on our gardens.

Too Much of a Good Thing

All gardens need water, but sometimes we get too much of a good thing. Floods and long-standing water can be devastating to a garden. The damage that is done will depend on the duration of the event, the types of plants affected, the type of soil they are growing in and whether there have been any contaminants in the flood water.

When plants are subjected to water-logged soils for long periods of time, roots are deprived of essential oxygen. Water fills all of the pore spaces in the soil and roots can begin to suffocate and die.

Vegetables and fruits are more susceptible to periods of water-logged soils. Neither appreciates wet feet for any length of time. Herbs are also resentful of wet feet. Many of our favorite culinary herbs originated in the Mediterranean and thrive in drier climates.

If you have had heavy rain for an extended period, or have experienced a flood, there are things you can do to help your garden recover:

Don’t work wet soil
Working wet soil can do long term damage to the structure itself. Soil particles can become compressed, increasing compaction and exacerbating drainage issues in the future. This damage is not easily or quickly repaired.

Allow the soil to dry out for several days. Push a trowel into the soil and wiggle it back and forth, as you would if you were making a planting pocket for a bulb or transplant. If visible water is in the hole, or if the soil at the sides of the trowel looks glossy, or feels sticky, wait a few more days.

When you do start working, use hand tools such as a spading fork. Tilling with an implement has more risk of compaction than lightly cultivating with a fork. If you must till, save it for drier days ahead.

Don’t rush to replant
Soil biology is damaged when soils are water-logged for long periods of time. Soil microbes that require oxygen to live may die off and those that survive without oxygen may flourish. The anaerobic microbes are what cause soggy soil to have that foul, sour odor. Even good soils can be thrown temporarily out of balance.

This imbalance affects the availability of nutrients for plant use. The soil food web needs a chance to recover. This can happen relatively quickly if the soil was healthy before the storm. If sufficient organic matter, nutrients and minerals are present, beneficial soil biology will re-establish itself once oxygen is available again.

Many seeds have a tendency to rot in soggy soils. If you must replant quickly in the vegetable garden, support the soil biology with added compost, dried molasses, and perhaps supplemented mychorrhizae.

Don’t rush to prune
Stress from water-logged soil may cause some leaves on fruit trees and herbs to yellow and drop off, but the branches are not necessarily dead. New leaf buds will begin to grow in a few days. Wait until you are sure there is die-back before you prune.

Clean up the fallen leaves and any foliage that is rotting. They can harbor harmful fungi and bacteria that could affect plants.

Replace nutrients
Heavy rainfall can leach nutrients out of the soil. A light fertilization will replace those nutrients. Don’t overdo it. It is better to fertilize lightly several times than to push plants that are recovering from stress. Foliar feeding with Ocean Harvest can quickly boost needed minerals to reduce plant stress.

Use only slow-release, organic fertilizers that provide micronutrients and minerals in addition to the macro-nutrients, N-P-K. Arbor Gate Organic Blend is a good choice.

Epsom salts provide essential nutrients, magnesium and sulfur. In addition to aiding the uptake of other nutrients, these can help reduce plant stress. Broadcast over the new seedbed at a rate of 1 cup per 100 square feet.

Be prepared to deal with pests and disease
Water stress weakens plants. Weakened plants are susceptible to attacks. Fungal diseases are common after periods of heavy rain. Pull mulches back from the base of fruit tree, herbs, and vegetables until it dries out. This will decrease the opportunity of fungal disease spores to form and splash on leaves during the next shower. It also helps the soil dry out faster.

Be prepared to take quick action with organic-approved fungicides and pesticides. It can be as simple as a baking soda and vinegar mix.

Fire ants are likely to raise their nests out of the water-logged soil. Use the Organic Fire Ant Solution when they are observed.

Make an action plan for the future
One of the best things you can do after a heavy rain is to assess your landscape. There is no better time to identify problem areas and form a plan to prevent future issues.

Get a clipboard and a camera or your cell phone. Walk the garden making notes and taking pictures of places where water stands for long periods of time. Use this information to help you make future decisions such as raising beds, improving soil texture, and replacement plant selection.

You may decide that you need to seek the advice of a landscape professional if you find that drainage pathways are blocked by landscaping. They can often resolve these issues without destroying beds you have already established.

You may find areas where all that is needed is increased drainage in your soil. Use a permanent material such as expanded shale. This material increases porosity, which makes a healthier soil as well as improving drainage at soil level. Arbor Gate Organic Soil Complete can be used when both drainage and organic content need to be improved.

Make a list of plants that seem more sensitive to wet soils. Like it or not, storms and floods are likely in our area. If you have to replace plants, you may want to look for something better adapted to the possibility that it will happen again.

Dealing with contaminated storm water
If your garden has been inundated with city storm water, chances are you will have to deal with contamination issues. Storm water is often contaminated with raw sewage and hydrocarbons if the storm water infrastructure has been compromised.

If you have seen visibly contaminated water, such as a visible sheen of oil on the surface, consult a professional. You will need a professional soil test from a laboratory that can identify the contaminants and help you assess the situation and develop a remediation strategy.

Do not harvest and eat vegetables or fruits that are growing in the inundated garden. Washing and boiling may remove bacteria, but it will not remove industrial or roadway contaminants.

All is not lost in this case. There are natural bio-inoculants that digest hydrocarbons. Time and good soil biology will deal with sewage exposure. You can actually start with “washing” the garden. Hose down everything to remove mud and surface contaminants. You can follow this with a foliar feeding that includes compost tea in the solution. There are studies that show this helps colonize the leaf surfaces with beneficial microbes – a first line of defense against environmental pollutants.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Matzke Park Butterfly Garden - Children's Photo Contest

Children’s Photo Contest - OFFICIAL RULES

All children in Harris County Texas between the ages of 6 to 14 are eligible to enter the Children’s Photo Contest this summer, with the permission of their parent or guardian.  Rules for the contest are as follows:

1.  Entrance in the contest implies that you agree to the rules of the contest and have parental consent to enter the contest.  

2. The age of the contestant is to be based on his or her age as of June 1.

3.  Photos are to be taken only by the contestant, must only be taken in the Matzke Park Butterfly Garden and are to only be taken between the dates of June 1 and August 31 of the current year.  Please follow posted rules of observing without disturbing nature.

4.  One photo of each species of "Things that Fly" in the garden (butterflies, bees, birds, ladybugs, dragonflies, etc.) may be submitted by a contestant. There can be several entries of butterflies, for example, so long as each is a different kind. 

5.  Email your photos as a jpg attachment, along with your name, age and contact information to ABCS.Park@att.net

6.  The deadline for submitting entries is midnight on August 31, 2016.

Scoring:  Judges will award one point per photo of each different species submitted, one additional point will be awarded for the correct identification of the species submitted, and one point may be deducted for duplicates of the same species submitted by one individual.

The decision of judges will be final.  Prizes will be awarded in September to contestants by age groups:
6 to 8,
9 to 11,

12 to 14.

Businesses and individuals wishing to support this contest may send a donation  before July 15th to:
    Norchester Garden Club Treasurer
    14606 Quail Creek Court   
    Houston, TX 77070     

Please make checks payable to Norchester Garden Club with "Children’s Photo Contest" in the memo.