Organic Spring Vegetable Gardening Class

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.

Space is limited. Register here for Organic Spring Vegetable Gardening Class and join us tomorrow, Saturday, February 22, 9 a.m. to noon at The Woodlands Emergency Training Center.

Organic vegetable gardening expert, Skip Richter, will walk you through simple steps to have a successful spring vegetable garden

Mom always said "eat all your veggies…"

But did she tell you it saves water?

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.


Infographic courtesy of Mother Jones

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.


Reducing food waste isn’t a new message. This poster from World War I was a common sight throughout many towns. Photo courtesy of USDA

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.


Join us for a FREE Backyard Composting class on Saturday, February 1 or March 7

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!


For more information on water saving resources, visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/environment or contact Teri MacArthur, Water Conservation Specialist, at tmacarthur@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

Saturday, February 1, 2020
10 to 11 a.m.
The Woodlands Parks, Recreation and Environmental Services
8203 Millennium Forest Drive
No registration required

Integrated Pest Management in the Home Landscape

Are aphids camped out on your roses? Leaf miners munching away at your prized lemon tree? It’s enough to send you scrambling for the quickest, easiest solution. That’s understandable. Just please don’t look for that solution in the chemical aisle at the hardware store, compromising the health of your backyard “habitat” and your pocket book. Integrated pest management (IPM) offers a research-based alternative to chemicals that is economical, environmentally friendly, and it works!

Leaf miners munching on citrus leaves can be frustrating for many gardeners

Pests in the home landscape may be an insect or other arthropod, plant disease, weed or other organism that negatively affects plant health or becomes an annoyance to people or pets. IPM is an approach to managing those pests that respects the interconnection and inter-dependency of all organisms. IPM is used to solve pest problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment.  

Using a combination of IPM methods, like biological, cultural, physical and chemical creates unfavorable conditions for pests. Biological control is the use of natural enemies, like a ladybug, to control pests, such as aphids. Cultural controls are practices that change the environment to remove the source of the problem, like adjusting irrigation levels, since too much water can increase root disease. Physical, or mechanical, controls trap or block pests from access to plants. Barriers or screens for birds and insects are great examples of a physical control.  The use of a chemical control, or a pesticide, is used only when needed and in combination with efforts of the above mentioned methods. If pesticides are needed, applying them so they minimize harm to people, beneficial insects and the environment is imperative.  Check out this fact sheet from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service for more information on IPM.

Ladybugs provide a natural pest control by preying on aphids

With the average homeowner in need of problem-solving techniques to manage landscape pests, The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department is presenting a FREE class on Integrated Pest Management in the Home Landscape.  Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Specialist in IPM and board-certified entomologist, Wizzie Brown will offer practical research-based information to support implementing IPM in your own back yard.  Wizzie shares specific tools for use in the home landscape to strengthen plant health and reduce plant pests.  You’ll take home information that can immediately be put to use in your own yard or garden. 

Join Us
Saturday, January 18, 2020 from 9 a.m. to noon
The Woodlands Emergency Training Center
16135 Interstate 45 South
The Woodlands, TX 77385

Space is limited and registration required. Register here.

Questions? Comments? Contact Environmental Services at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov or call 281-210-3800

Create Rich Compost Using Thanksgiving Kitchen Scraps

Give thanks for the piles of potato and apple peelings, egg shells, onion skins, coffee grounds and tea bags left over after a home-cooked holiday meal and create your own nutritious backyard compost in just a few easy steps. 

Compost offers an abundance of benefits to the home landscape, garden and container plants through:

  • Improved soil texture and aeration
  • Improved drainage and nutrient availability in clay soil
  • Water loss prevention and nutrient leaching in sandy soil
  • Less fertilizer required since compost helps soil hold moisture

Food is the largest single source of waste in the U.S., taking up 20% of our landfill space. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, only 6% of our food waste gets composted.

Good news, it’s easy to do something about this problem. Start this season by composting your holiday meal scraps.  Here’s how:

Follow these simple guidelines

What to compost

  • Egg shells
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea bags and leaves
  • Raw vegetable scraps/peelings
  • Raw vegetable cores
  • Fresh fruit peelings/rinds

What NOT to compost

  • Meat
  • Bones
  • Fish
  • Dairy Products
  • Grease
  • Cooking Oil

Animal by-products are not appropriate for home composting systems. As they decompose their odors may attract wildlife scavengers.  These items also require a lot more time to break down into components that are useful to plants.

Where to store your scraps

Most folks elect to save their compostable scraps in a bucket with a lid or a freezer quality zipper lock bag until they have enough to warrant a trip out to compost bin. Keeping the scraps sealed prevents any unpleasant odors.

How to compost

There are many ways to compost: bins, piles, barrels, enclosed, exposed and more.  Whatever your preference, a good starting point is to select an area for your compost that receives partial shade to keep from drying out too fast and good drainage to keep from being too wet. Compost needs a mix of organic material, microorganisms, air, water and nitrogen for decomposition to occur. The good news is that you have all these elements at home.  A good mix of kitchen scraps, dry leaves and garden clippings is a great place to begin. For more information on how to manage your compost throughout the year to produce the best material for your lawn and garden, check out this resource from The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Services.

Setting up a home composting system is simple and easy.  The Woodlands Township’s Environmental Services Department offers home composting classes on the first Saturday of each month from November through March.  Classes are free!

High quality C. E. Shepherd compost bins are available for purchase at each class.  Our classes are taught in our outdoor composting classroom located at 8203 Millennium Forest, The Woodlands, TX 77381.  Class is from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. with optional hands-on opportunities immediately following the presentation.  Join us to learn more about turning kitchen scraps into compost and be sure to check out our website for more information.

Questions? Comments? Contact us at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

Home Pollinator Gardening Class

If you weren’t able to join us for a Pollinator Garden Class at Woodlands Landscaping Solutions last month, don’t worry! Lauren Simpson, area pollinator gardening expert, is coming back this month and is offering a deep dive into how she transformed her own yard into a beautiful space for pollinators. 

Lauren is passionate about educating on pollinators, their conservation and the urban wildscapes that support them. Her own pollinator garden is a Certified Wildlife Habitat, a Monarch Waystation, and a Certified Butterfly Garden. Lauren has observed 48 species of butterfly, 20 species of syrphid fly and around 30 species each of bees and wasps within her home garden. 

Through the success of her garden, Lauren helped create the St. Julian’s Crossing – wildlife habitat, and has received much recognition around the Houston area for her efforts in pollinator conservation. For more information and to see Lauren’s home garden, check out the St. Julian’s Crossing Facebook page.

Register online here. Registration is required. For a complete list of upcoming Environmental Services programs, check out our calendar of events here.