Our chapter meets monthly on the second Thursday of the month in Milano, Texas.
Our Mission: To develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities for the State of Texas.
This past weekend our Chapter members were busy learning and sharing what they learned.
The Chapter members who are also members of the El Camino Real de las Tejas National Trail Association attended their conference on Friday and Saturday. They shared our new wildflowers of Milam County brochure with all the attendees. (I was unable to go, so I don’t have any photos.)
Yesterday they did field trips of Milam County sites that were on the trail, including the property of Joyce and Mike Conner, Cedar Hill Ranch, which has some important sites on it. They also went to Sugarloaf Mountain and Rancheria Grande. Many thanks to our chapter members who volunteered to help out with the tour.
Meanwhile, other members put together a lovely exhibit of plant samples for the herbarium that members of our group helped collect. It was located at the at the Milam County Historical Museum.
There was also a display of beautiful photographs Christopher Talbot’s A Photographic Journey of the Trail exhibit. The photos were quite impressive, including a photo of the Graham Swale that Ann Collins and Connie Anderle claimed was theirs, because they are from the Graham family. So yes, fun was had.
Ann, Donna, Linda Jo, and Scott did a great job answering questions and passing out material. After the tour was over, the trail conference attendees came to enjoy the exhibits. Lots of people came in, since the Steak, Stein and Wine Fest was also going on. It was a fine way to do some outreach, and the weather was just perfect.
By Larry Kocian. Adopted from a Facebook post on Milam County Veggie and Plant Exchange, September 22, 2019.
Free from nature, these vines (also known as tie vine —Impomoea cordatotriloba) make an appearance in late spring, early summer. In mid- to late summer and into autumn, they are showy with their purple/lavender colors.
Some people say invasive. I say not, because they are easily controlled by going into the garden and removing/sculpting them. I let mine climb, and they do climb into the mimosa trees. I do control some when they wrap in the wrong place or too much on a particular plant/tree.
My point is that most natural occurring plants that are labeled invasive are not at all. I always encourage everyone who reads this to go outside and get to know your garden. It’s very therapeutic.
Sometimes you see something so often that you forget it is interesting. That’s the case for a weird plant I’ve been seeing on our driveway ever since we built it. It always looked like bits of cotton had gotten into one of the usual spurges that line our driveway.
I finally got it into my head to take a photo of it an upload it to iNaturalist, so I could figure out what it was. I took the photo on our cutting board, hoping for better contrast.
Well, that didn’t go well at all. The plant simply does NOT photograph well, and the recognition algorithms couldn’t figure out what the thing was at all. It was guessing owls and such. I tried for a better photo, but didn’t get much further.
We had a large turnout for this month’s meeting, where Linda Friedrickson and Aloma Clayton spoke on keyhole gardening (modified raised bed). They are members of the Little River Basin Master Gardeners, so many of our members who are in both organizations already knew them. Both of these women have lots of knowledge about keyhole gardens, and Linda even built one this year at her new property.
The book to read if you want to learn more is Soiled Rotten, by Deb Tolman, who is a fascinating person currently living in Texas and basing her life on creative recycling and reuse. Linda pointed out that keyhole gardens are a perfect example of Tolman’s philosophy, because you can build then from discarded material. Tolman makes gardens out of all sorts of things, including an abandoned speedboat.
Aloma started the presentation all off by giving us the history of keyhole gardens.
They started in southern and eastern Africa, because trees were all gone and the soil depleted from years of mismanagement. It was a mess. Africans starved while we wasted our food.
Mahaha Mafou (not sure of spelling) in Lesotho (luh-soo-too) invented keyhole gardens to feed her family. She made hers from rocks with characteristic shape. They were popularized by CARE (an NGO) and USAID (US government), who helped spread it. They did this throughout the 1980s and on. It spread throughout eastern and southern Africa.