Tuesday, June 25, 2013

To Itch or Not to Itch

Hopefully you are getting outdoors, despite Houston’s summer temperatures.  And if so, hopefully, you are enjoying the Butterfly Garden as well as exploring some new green areas like the 100-Acre woods described a few weeks ago "Blazing Trails" in the archives on the right. 
If so, it would be wise to take a few minutes and refresh your ability to recognize some of the local plants to which one should pay some respect.  Poison Ivy and Poison Oak.   The “ Master Gardner” and I have done so as prudent preparation for our recent explorations.  There is an excellent book (paperback or Kindle) useful for this purpose.

The drawings and pictures are very clear, unlike many “guides” with unrecognizable scratchings and blotchy black and white pictures. There is a very nice, step-by-step checklist to go through to positively identify these plants and to distinguish them from harmless look-alikes. And some very useful tips on prevention and remedies.

The book may be found on Amazon or just click Right Here for a link to Ms Baker’s very informative website.  
This is just one illustration of what she has there.  But the pictures are not enough in my opinion.. her added cues to watch for are the real key.  And one can download a useful 12 page PDF summary of key points by clicking on the link she provides on her site... no obligation or personal info required.

 If you don't know what this is on the right.. and you see it on your trees in your back yard.. you need to get the book for sure.
 
As a bonus for you faithful readers.. take a look at this 10 min. YouTube video Ms Baker has prepared.  She tells, and shows you much of what you need to know, but we value the book as the complete story.
 
The link is HERE  I think you will enjoy it and stay safer as a result.

  

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Water for the Homestead

Aren't these just the kind of days when you wish you had gone "Xeriscape,"  planted drought resistant choices,  and reduced the number of your potted plants?  And the paper is telling us we need to conserve water as well. 

Here is our experiment with rain barrels. Even with the modest rain, they have worked well in the past few weeks. 

The barrels have supplied our 5, 2 gallon watering cans that are used to water potted plants every few days.  And our additional mulching has helped.


If interested in more "how to"...
check out our video. Give it a minute to load and  "full screen" icon works best for reading the captions. 

 
video

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Blazing Trails


While many families were enjoying Matzke Park on this 1st day in June, some others were participating in trail development at the newly acquired 100-Acre Woods on the north edge of Norchester. 


Today was the day this undeveloped natural area of pines, oaks, bicycle, and walking trails was turned over to Pct 4 Parks.   As described on our blog post of May 13th HERE this area was acquired for preservation by the Bayou Land Conservancy with significant support from Houston Endowment and other organizations and has been donated to the Harris County Pct 4 park system.
 
 
 
It will fill in a previous gap in the Spring Creek and Cypress Creek Greenway project which is to complete a continuous trail and park system located along the two creeks. It would extend nearly 40 miles from Spring Creek, north of Bush Intercontinental Airport, to west of U.S. Highway 290, providing new opportunities to walk, run, and bike. When complete, this will be the longest, continuous “greenway” system in the nation.

 It was a hot, humid, but satisfying way to spend a Saturday morning.  The volunteers began the work to improve some of the main trails, and close off some of the “rogue” side trails that tend to endanger the environment through erosion.
 

 Our many thanks to those organizations and individuals who willingly give of their treasure, time, personal effort and sweat to provide such lasting benefits to so many others.
 
If you choose to take a walk through this area, our suggestion is to enter the main trail on the east side of Jones Road where it crosses Cypress Creek.  The trails are the ones shown in Green on this map…