Now is the time plant a spring vegetable garden. Whether you’re a novice gardener unsure where to begin or you’re experienced and looking to take your garden to new heights, the Organic Spring Vegetable Gardening class on February 22 can help. Skip Richter, noted author, photographer and horticulturist, will share his vast knowledge and experience with organic vegetable gardening in Southeast Texas. Skip will breakdown crucial information into easy-to-follow guides including when to plant specific vegetables, which varieties do well in our climate, and keys to preparing your soil. Montgomery County Master Gardeners will be available to answer your most challenging garden questions. Complimentary gardening resource materials and soil testing information will be offered.
Can’t wait for the class? Check out Skip Richter’s YouTube channel, Gardening with Skip, that has over 120 videos on gardening in Texas. Skip is also the host of the Garden Success radio show and just published a new book, Texas Month-by-Month Gardening.
Volunteer to help educate others about water conservation!
Residents across The Woodlands Township are seeking help with conserving water. These water heroes may already irrigate wisely, fix leaks quickly, and use low flow devices, but they want to do more. And, they live right in your neighborhood. Perhaps you know who they are; perhaps you are one of them. If that’s the case, how about joining in to help spread the message about water conservation to even more Township residents?
The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department has launched a new program: The Watershed Project. It’s packed with training and volunteering opportunities. There are a variety of ways to get involved; participants can choose the ones they are most excited about. Opportunities include:
Water Conservation Education
Learn how to conduct a sprinkler system audit and teach others in your area.
Staff outreach booths at events, spreading the word about water conservation.
Working with Youth
Assist with classroom and field study activities related to water conservation for student groups.
Apply storm drain decals to raise awareness of water quality impacts from run-off from lawns and driveways.
Learn about invasive plants in our waterways and help remove them.
Train to become a water quality monitor, collecting pollution data for the State.
Support classes, workshops and volunteering events by checking in fellow volunteers, handing out materials, or overseeing equipment.
Neighborhood Information Resource
Organize educational meetings and other activities for small groups.
So, you see, being a resident water volunteer can be about more than just saving water in your own home. Increase your impact by helping others to do the same. Ready to get started? Come to our upcoming workshop and learn how to be our next water information resource.
The Watershed Project kick-off workshop is this Saturday, February 22, at H.A.R.C, 8801 Gosling Road, from 8 a.m. to noon. Register here.
Questions or comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Join neighbors, family and friends at the 10th annual Earth Day GreenUp on March 21st. Volunteer to beautify our community by picking up litter on pathways, waterways and greenbelts. After your hard work, celebrate at Northshore Park with free pizza, live music and a special 10-year anniversary t-shirt. Together, residents will keep The Woodlands beautiful and protect natural areas for wildlife by helping in this community stewardship project.
Registration is available online at www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/greenup through March 9th. Walk-up registration is also welcome the morning of the event, starting at 8 a.m. A limited number of trash grabbers and vests will be available for loan to groups that pre-register on the website.
Disposable gloves, trash bags, water bottles, instructions and maps to cleanup sites will be provided at check-in. Participants are encouraged to bring reusable work gloves and a reusable water bottle to reduce waste.
The after party at Northshore Park, 2505 Lake Woodlands Drive, will feature local environmental organizations hosting fun activities and information on how you can make everyday Earth Day. Meet wildlife ambassadors, rock out with Let them Drum, explore new recycling and water saving opportunities and be sure to steer clear of the Bag Monster! Volunteers will receive a commemorative T-shirt and be treated to pizza. Beverages will be available, but remember to bring your own water bottle. Food tickets will be on sale to the general public.
To a kid, mom knows just about everything. Mine always knew when I gave my broccoli to the dog or when I hid peas in my napkin. But maybe, just maybe, there are a few things Mom doesn’t know about the world of veggies. Does she know that it takes 30 gallons of water to produce a single serving of potatoes? Or 522 gallons for a serving of olives?! So, when we send food to the landfill we send a lot of water with it.
Perhaps you’ve seen one of the recent national educational campaigns that urge better food shopping practices to avoid waste and save water. Save The Food reminds us that each American wastes almost 290 pounds of food a year. That’s a LOT of food! And water! Especially as many fellow Americans live in “food deserts” – communities where fresh produce and meats are difficult to obtain.
So, if you’re wondering what you can do to save water each time you sit down for a meal, consider these simple tips. First, think twice before tossing those uneaten potatoes in the trash. Save waste, water and your time by making a plan for leftovers. Consider how to turn them into something new and exciting for tomorrow’s dinner. I like to make frittatas out of leftover roasted veggies and chicken. My family loves it and it I can turn out a new meal in just a few minutes. Also, I’ve invested in higher quality storage containers so I can save my extras in the freezer and then combine them with leftover foods for a completely new meal.
And for the peels, how about composting those right in your own back yard? It’s easier than you think to create rich soil for your vegetable garden, flower beds or lawn. Join a short and FREE Environmental Services Composting Class this spring to learn all you need to know.
Here are some more easy ways to save water in the kitchen.
Break the habit of rinsing off your plates on the way to the dishwasher. With new high tech dishwashers there’s no need to rinse dishes before loading them. Pre-rinse too much and the sensors won’t find the food particles, causing the machine to run a shorter cycle, leading to a less thorough cleaning. If you’ve got big chunks, scrape them into the trash instead of rinsing.
Did you know most people use 10 to 15 times more soap than they need. If you’re using too much dish soap, you’ll need more water to wash away the suds.
And remember to wait until the dishwasher is full before you run it. You’ll save energy, too.
So, the next time you can’t eat all your veggies, save them for leftovers, freeze them or compost them. And be sure to let Mom know that you’re saving water too!
Have some unusual “alterations” to your landscape occurred overnight? Trampled flower beds, plowed up lawn, tufts of hair and mud stuck to fence posts and garden sheds? No, Bigfoot hasn’t been out for some midnight gardening. You’ve likely been visited by feral hogs.
Whether you’re dealing with these unwanted neighbors or you just want to know more about the history, biology and impacts of the invasive Susscrofa, be sure to attend one of these upcoming lectures by a State expert.
Kick off the Spring Walk in the Woods Nature Lecture Series with Dr. John Tomecek, Assistant Professor and Extension Wildlife Specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. Dr. Tomecek is a leading expert in the State on feral hog biology and control. His agency’s mission is both scientific and educational, providing landowners and governmental bodies with support on the identification, management and abatement of damages from feral hogs.
Walk in the Woods: Feral hogs in a Suburban Landscape
Wednesday, February 5 from 7 to 8 p.m.
The Recreation Center at Rob Fleming Park
Free Lecture. Space is limited. Register online here
Can’t make it on the 5th? Don’t worry. Join The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N. for the next Going GREEN lecture, Feral Swine: Challenges and Control. Chris Watts, Wildlife Damage Management Biologist with Texas A&M Agrilife Extension will walk through the history of invasive feral swine in Texas, their ecological and economic impacts, wildlife-human interactions, and urban feral swine management practices and strategies.
Going GREEN: Feral Swine Challenges and Control
Thursday, February 20 from 7 to 8 p.m.
Houston Advanced Research Center
Free Lecture. Space is limited. Register online here.
Let’s talk hogs
Feral hogs were likely first introduced to Texas by Spanish explorers in the 1600’s. Over the ensuing 300+ years their numbers have grown dramatically. Over 1.5 million feral hogs are estimated to now roam the State, becoming one of our most destructive invasive species. Feral hogs cost the State some $400 million in damages annually by wreaking havoc on crops and lawns. They also have a tremendous impact on native plants and wildlife. Rooting, trampling and wallowing activity destroys vegetation and destabilizes riparian areas. This leads to soil compaction and erosion, spread of invasive vegetation, water quality degradation, and disruption of the nutrient cycle.
The secret to their success is multi-fold: they are highly intelligent, impressively fecund and lack natural predators. They’re also remarkably adaptable, as more and more residents of urban areas, like The Woodlands, are realizing.
Most human interactions with feral hogs are limited to an uprooted lawn. Feral hogs have a keen sense of smell and use it to avoid contact with humans whenever possible. However, as with most wildlife, feral hogs will defend themselves if cornered and females may aggressively protect their young. They can grow quite large, up to 400 pounds and are more powerful than their domestic counterparts. Should you encounter a feral hog, be calm and move slowly away from it. Do not corner or provoke the animal. If you see adults with young piglets, leave them alone.
What you can do
If feral hogs are impacting your property there are steps you can take.
First, reduce access where possible. Address any holes or gaps in your fencing and cordon off garden areas. A fence height of 36 inches is enough to keep feral hogs. Make sure fence is flush with the ground to prevent access.
For areas that can’t be fenced, remove food sources, like acorns, fruits and vegetables, and bulbs. They also eat grasses, forbs, roots and tubers, mushrooms, insects, earthworms, reptiles, amphibians, carrion (dead animals), live mammals and birds.
Don’t water your yard in the winter. Lawns should go dormant (brown) in the winter to allow the roots to grow deep and strong. Watering in the winter not only weakens your grass, making it more susceptible to disease, the green leaves are a major attractant to feral hogs.
If you encounter a hog during the day, you will likely be able to scare it off with loud noise but you’re likely to see it back at night in search of more food.
Currently no chemical repellents are labeled for use.
Motion-activated sprinklers and ultrasonic animal repellents have also not been proven effective.
While feral hogs may be killed or trapped on private property without a State of Texas license or permit with landowner consent, discharge of firearms of any kind within The Woodlands Township is not permitted.
For more information on feral hogs, check out the Wildlife section of the Environmental Services Department website.
For more resources or to report feral hogs that have been sighted in the area, please contact the following: