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Home Our Story BLOG: The Story S3_Ep4_Outdoor Living Series: Ideas for Any Yard Size from Ellis County Master Gardner Association (Pam Daniel & Scott Rigsby)

S3_Ep4_Outdoor Living Series: Ideas for Any Yard Size from Ellis County Master Gardner Association (Pam Daniel & Scott Rigsby)

Tuesday March 29, 2022

For many homeowners who aren't gifted with the green thumb, the task of gardening and landscaping in their own yard can seem pretty intimidating. Where do you even start?? What landscaping options do you have and what kind of maintenance does it require? We bring in the gardening experts from Ellis County Master Gardner's Association, Pam and Scott, to share their vast knowledge on gardening and how to make the most of your landscape whether you have a small or large lot. They also talk about the many ways Master Gardner's contributes to the community, volunteer opportunities, and the 2022 Lawn and Garden Expo happening this Saturday!

S3_Ep4 Ideas for Any Yard Size Home from Ellis Cty Master Gardner Association (Pam Daniel & Scott Rigsby).mp3

Intro: [00:00:03] Welcome Home, a podcast brought to you by John Houston Homes. Join hosts, Chelsi Frazier and Whitney Pryor, as they walk you through the exciting adventure of your home buying and building journey.

Whitney Pryor: [00:00:19] Thank you for joining us on today's episode of the Welcome Home podcast. I'm Whitney and I have Chelsi here with me. Hi, Chelsi!

Chelsi Frazier: [00:00:26] Hello! Hi, everyone.

Whitney Pryor: [00:00:27] It seems like it's the busy season right now for outdoor maintenance, landscaping and all the things outdoors, with us being in Spring. My mom's a gardener and she's like, "you've got to prune back it's February 14th", so I've been outside a lot. We have all the questions for the gardening and outdoor stuff going on right now. Chelsi, do you want to tell us who we have on the show today?

Chelsi Frazier: [00:00:57] Yes, we have got two wonderful folks from the Ellis County Master Gardner's Association. I've known about this organization for probably 14 years. When I went to work for the bank they had this huge event every year, which we'll talk about later, and we use to have a booth there. That was kind of my first introduction, working that booth and getting involved in the community. The longer I've lived in this community, the more and more I see, know and learn about them and all the things that they do. It's so vast and we'll hit the high notes today, because we have a short episode. Let me just tell you, at the end of this episode, go look them up and just pay attention to what they're doing in the community, because this organization is top notch. They are ran by a wonderful group of volunteers. We've got two of them here today, Pam Daniel. She moonlights as an Ellis County Master Gardner, but by day, you will find her with Ebby Halliday Realty and work with her quite a bit in our industry selling homes. She's a wonderful realtor. Also, Scotty Rigsby, he also moonlights as an Ellis County Master Gardner, but owns Rigsby's Garden Center. I believe that's there in Midlothian right off of 287, so welcome to the show, Pam and Scotty.

Pam Daniel: [00:02:21] Thank you for having us!

Scott Rigsby: [00:02:22] Yeah, thanks for having us!

Chelsi Frazier: [00:02:23] Let's just start with, what is the Ellis County Master Gardner's Association? like a 101, if nobody's ever heard about it until this moment, What does that mean?

Pam Daniel: [00:02:33] Well, the Ellis County Master Gardner's are, of course, a part of Ellis County and the Agrilife extension. We're a part of the Texas A&M Agrilife extension. Each county has the opportunity to have this volunteer program and we have a very active one in Ellis County. It was created in 1997, so we've been around a while with five members. We now have over 100 members.

Whitney Pryor: [00:02:56] Wow!

Pam Daniel: [00:02:56] I'm not exactly sure our count. We do a class every year, inviting new members to join, and we had the largest class this last year than we have ever had, over 30.

Whitney Pryor: [00:03:06] Wow.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:03:07] I believe it!

Pam Daniel: [00:03:07] There's a big interest in gardening now. We all have been stuck at home, kind of forced to work out in the yard and now we've got a lot of interest, so that's really exciting.

Whitney Pryor: [00:03:15] Can you tell us a little bit more about the community involvement and what all the Master Gardner's Association does?

Pam Daniel: [00:03:23] Well, and our goal is to educate the community about sustainable landscaping and education. We have a few projects that we maintain as well. We provide over 8000 hours of volunteer work annually. That equates to over $200,000 in service. So we are very involved in the community. We have different projects that we do, but some of the examples we have a scholarship program that we're really proud of that we the revenue we generate from the Lawn and Garden Expo, we use that to supply scholarships to local county students. So we've been doing that for years. We've awarded over almost $100,000 in scholarships last few years. So we're very excited about that.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:04:09] That's substantial, for sure.

Pam Daniel: [00:04:11] It is substantial. Of course, we'll talk a little bit about the Lawn and Garden Expo here in a few minutes, but we do a radio show with KBEC in Waxahachie every 15 minutes every Saturday, just to get relevant information out. Of course you're aware of the calendar that we do.

Whitney Pryor: [00:04:34] I love the the calendar.

Pam Daniel: [00:04:35] Y'all are proud sponsors of our calendar and we distribute about 5000 every year. I've been doing that 16 years and it provides relevant information on what to do every month.

Whitney Pryor: [00:04:48] It is so helpful. I know nothing about gardening and to flip the calendar open and just tell me what I'm supposed to do that month, I'm like, "okay, it's time."

Pam Daniel: [00:04:57] Each year we have a different theme. It'll be water conservation or trees or perennials. This last year we did homesteaded home because so many folks are interested in working in their yard. We're talking about chickens, bees and preserving your food. It's probably one of our best, especially with the pandemic, our best educational opportunities, because we've been limited in person what we can do. We do classes at the High School lighthouse for learning. We're starting those back up, but these last couple of years have been limiting on what we can do in the community. We're excited things are getting back to normal.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:05:37] Yeah, we are too.

Whitney Pryor: [00:05:38] You guys do a lot of different classes and education for the public. You don't have to be a member of the Master Gardner's Association to take those classes or how does that work?

Pam Daniel: [00:05:50] We offer classes like, The Lighthouse for learning. For those, you just sign up and come. We do different outreach classes all over the community which you can attend. If you want to become a Master Gardner, you do have to go through the formal training.

Whitney Pryor: [00:06:02] Okay, that's what I thought. It's a separate deal, right?

Pam Daniel: [00:06:04] It's a separate deal. It's once a year and it's a several weeks. The last few years we've done it all day Tuesday for several weeks in a row, about eight weeks in a row. It's pretty intense, but it's in person and of course, Zoom. It's a lot of information. Once they have completed the classwork, then you have volunteer hours you have to contribute to get your full certification.

Whitney Pryor: [00:06:32] Okay.

Scott Rigsby: [00:06:32] Yeah, back in the day, Master Gardners were set up as a volunteer organization for county extension agents. A&M wanted to send out these county extension agents in each county or as many counties as they could in Texas, to help with agriculture, farming and that kind of thing. It just kind of grew into this volunteer organization. Our primary goal, is just to help the community know about gardening, agriculture and those related topics in Ellis County. Like Pam said, we've got a really great organization. I learned a lot in the class that helped me in my business and it's fun to give back to the community. The radio program and the calendar is fun. I'm asked to speak at gardening clubs occasionally, and that's fun. It's good to be part of the community. Gardening in North Texas, and we'll get into this later, is really tough.

Whitney Pryor: [00:07:25] Yeah.

Pam Daniel: [00:07:25] Especially for folks that are moving into the area, which of course you all know, we have a lot of folks moving to the area.

Scott Rigsby: [00:07:31] Yes, we're getting a lot of people from other states.

Whitney Pryor: [00:07:35] The weather's a little bipolar. It's a little difficult!

Scott Rigsby: [00:07:39] Yea, it really is!

Whitney Pryor: [00:07:39] Is it Spring or is it Winter? I don't know!

Pam Daniel: [00:07:44] We do manage a few gardens. We have scaled back a little bit through the years because we get overzealous in projects and there's limitations on how many physical man hours we can get. We do manage several projects in the area, the Waxahachie Horticulture Learning Center, the Butterfly Garden here in Waxahachie on the bike and hike trail and Ridge View park in Midlothian. We do have a few community parks that we continue to manage and try to keep beautiful.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:08:16] Yeah, that's what I love seeing when we're out and about. The Butterfly Garden is really pretty.

Scott Rigsby: [00:08:20] Like Ridge View, I live in Midlothian, so I was at Ridge View yesterday. We work with the city and they provide sometimes the decomposed granite, the mulch and maybe even the plants. There's probably a half a dozen flower beds in that park. We try to maintain those parks, keep those flower beds looking good and butterfly friendly, whatever we're doing at the moment.

Pam Daniel: [00:08:44] But it is partnership, with our cities, without a doubt.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:08:47] Yeah, it's always educating, I feel like.

Whitney Pryor: [00:08:50] Does butterfly friendly mean bee friendly, too?

Scott Rigsby: [00:08:53] Oh yeah!

Whitney Pryor: [00:08:55] Ii always wondered if there's an exception, like it's only butterflies and no bees?

Scott Rigsby: [00:09:00] No, you can't really separate them. They're both pollinators. Just, one is mean and will sting you and the other one is real sweet, right?

Pam Daniel: [00:09:09] Right! I will invite your listeners to reach us on our website or Facebook because we're posting topics all the time. Our Facebook is Ellis County Master Gardner Community, so like us there. We're putting great content up on a regular basis. Then of course, our website is

Whitney Pryor: [00:09:29] Perfect! We will definitely link to that in the show notes, that way people can click on it whenever they're on their phones.

Pam Daniel: [00:09:36] Excellent.

Scott Rigsby: [00:09:36] Thank you.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:09:37] Let's plug the Lawn and Garden Expo before we get too far into all the questions, because Whitney and I are want to be gardeners. Well, I know I am. She's making a face!

Whitney Pryor: [00:09:48] I'm working on keeping a succulent alive right now!

Chelsi Frazier: [00:09:51] So let's plug that expo before we forget, because that's coming up this Saturday.

Pam Daniel: [00:09:57] Yes! We're so excited because we skipped the year before last and didn't do anything because of COVID. Last year, we had a modified lawn and garden, really just a plant sale, if you will, at Getzendaner Park because we just couldn't do anything on the inside. We're back at the Waxahachie Civic Center, March 26th from 9 a.m. To 4 p.m.. It is going to be great. We are going to have a huge plant sale. We've expanded it this year. We're looking forward to that because we have folks at the door with their wagons at 9:00 a.m. racing to the plant to purchase our plants, so we've expanded that. There are free tickets out there. We have wonderful sponsors. If you go to our Facebook or our website, you'll be able to find those and get your free ticket. However, there are only $5 at the door, so a good deal. We're bringing back many of the things that we've done year after year. This is our 21st annual. It's hard to believe we've been doing it that long. We have over 100 booths with vendors. It's huge. The children's workshop we continue to have, which is a wonderful area. You can bring your kids, your grandkids and they hands on make things, take them away and adults enjoy it as well. We will have our guest speakers, which we always do. We've got keynote speaker, Jay White with the Texas Gardner Magazine, which we're excited to have. We've got a representative from our Agrilife Office. Liz is going to be talking, as well as, many of our own Master Gardeners with their level of expertise.

Scott Rigsby: [00:11:27] Yeah, I may be a little biased, but it's one of the best gardening shows in the Metroplex. With some home and garden shows, there are companies that sell mattresses and hot tubs. This is straight gardening and it's local. It's Ellis County, very specific. I'll have a booth there. My peers in the industry will have booths there. You can get great information, you get great product and specifically for Ellis County.


Whitney Pryor: [00:11:53] That's great! There's so much information about gardening. There's probably people out there like me that are younger, don't know where to start, and it's just kind of overwhelming. An event like this would be a good start to kind of just dive in and get information.

Pam Daniel: [00:12:09] It is a great opportunity. Master Gardner's have a booth there. You can ask questions. We have tons of literature, so yeah, it's a great place to start.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:12:16] Like Pam said earlier, with the pandemic, more people are doing things at home. We've seen more people engaging online and posting pictures of their gardens or what they're doing in their backyards, planting flowerbeds and just all kinds of things at home. We really just thought this would be a great opportunity for the Outdoor Living series to have you guys come on and just talk about some tips and tricks and kind of help give our listeners some ideas for what they can do at their John Houston Home. No matter where you live in the area, Ellis County or outside, because of course, we build outside of Ellis County, but in Texas is where we stay. We want to talk about what you can do with your size lot, because we don't want people to think, well, I have a small lot, I can't do anything. We know that there's lots of options, so let's just jump on in and start with, what can you do in your yard that is not that big or can you have a garden in your yard if it's not that big?

Scott Rigsby: [00:13:19] Oh, sure. Of course, John Houston, you build on small lots and big lots, right? You can go any size, but we'll start with small. In the industry, we sort of have what's called the "rule of thirds". You want a third of your property to be hardscape, so that would be your house, your driveway, your sidewalks, flag, slab, flagstone and stuff like that. The other third would maybe be turf or sod and. The other third would be landscaping, that's ideal. Let's say John Houston builds on an acre lot, it's kind of hard to do a third, a third and a third. Sod is the highest maintenance plant there is. I'm not a big sod fan, but a really pretty lawn looks good. It's typically Bermuda. It's a hybrid Bermuda just like a golf course, so it has to be maintained if you want to look good, just like a golf course.

Pam Daniel: [00:14:06] Lots of water!

Chelsi Frazier and Whitney Pryor: [00:14:08] Lots of water!

Scott Rigsby: [00:14:09] There is water, fertilizing and mowing. In the mowing season, which it's about to start happening, you really should mow once a week. Bermuda, I don't want to get into one topic too much, but Bermuda an inch and a half, that's really what it likes to be mowed at. Well, that means you got to mow about every four or five days when it's growing. Obviously, you may use smaller plants, but you can definitely do any type of landscaping in a small yard. The main thing in Ellis County is to amend the soil, to bring in really good soil or do a raised bed. It depends on which side of your house your landscape bed is on - North, South, East, West matters.

Whitney Pryor: [00:14:48] The sun hits, as well?

Scott Rigsby: [00:14:49] Yeah. If you can kind of visualize the East side of your house, where the sun's coming up in the morning, that's the best side. The other three sides are not so good. South and West get really hot in the afternoon. North can be almost fully shaded until the afternoon. You have to kind of pick your spots and know what plants are going to work in full shade, partial shade and full sun. The Summer here is really tough. We've had some bad Winters, but it's the summer that can kill plants in North Texas because it gets so hot. I'll stop there and we'll talk about something else.

Pam Daniel: [00:15:23] Even in a small yard, can I have a vegetable garden? Yes, you can. You can have a raised bed, that's what I have. Especially with our soils, as you mentioned, not so good, this compacted clay. I know you all amend your soil to even build a house on, so that it's structurally sound, but it's still not probably the right soil that your vegetable garden wants. Raised bed gardens are easy to make. You put the soil in you want and you place it where you want it, on that East side.

Scott Rigsby: [00:15:53] Vegetable gardens are fun!

Pam Daniel: [00:15:55] They're fun! For the kids, they are fun!

Scott Rigsby: [00:15:57] The closer they are to the kitchen, the easier they are to maintain. One of the things we say in the industry, too, is the best fertilizer is the garden or shadow.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:16:05] I like that!

Scott Rigsby: [00:16:06] You got to be in there messing with your vegetable garden to have great plants. It does again, I hate to just to harp on this, but it starts with good soil. That's the foundation. Ellis County, we're in the Black Land Prairie of Texas, so that's our geographic area. Well, it's black clay soil and highly alkaline. Most plants don't like that, so that's why you have to amend it. Where I live in Midlothian, we got three cement plants for a reason. It's all rock, so you really have to do a raise bed in Midlothian because there's no soil. Somebody that's new to Texas and North Texas, if you're listening, that is the number one. The most important thing that you can do in a flower bed or vegetable garden is a amend your soil.

Pam Daniel: [00:16:52] We can't, of course, get into the level of detail, but we are here for anyone that needs additional information that we're talking about. They can send us a message on Facebook, through the website, or they can call us at our number. They can call any time, leave a message and we'll help them with soil or vegetables.

Whitney Pryor: [00:17:13] That's great, because there are so many questions running through my head. I know we can't touch on it, right, but I've watched my mom garden and the amount of work she puts into the soil alone. I'm just like, "I don't know how someone starting out would know all this." It's so great that you guys are there to answer those questions.

Scott Rigsby: [00:17:31] Well, thank you. It's fun. It's kind of our passion.

Pam Daniel: [00:17:33] It forces us to keep learning, too. None of us know it all, but you research it.

Scott Rigsby: [00:17:38] I learn something new every day! Just to clarify a little bit for those listening, amend the soil means you want to bring in some more organic compost, pretty much any kind. It does matter, but any kind is better than what we have because you want the plant roots to have something to nourish them. Also, drainage is an issue. This black clay soil, when it gets wet, it stays wet for a long time and that will kill plants, so that's important. Watering is important whenever you plant something. Here we are in March, but really the best time to plant is in October, in the Fall, because plants have nine months to get established before the next Summer. It's the Summers that are really hard on plants. However, the last couple of Winters, we've had zero degrees, which very rarely happens. We're in zone eight. What that means is our average minimum temperature is 10 to 15 degrees, but we've had below that in the last two Winters. That hurts plants, but that's not usually happening. It's the Summers you have to watch for. When you plant, if you're going to plant something this Spring, you have to get it through the first Summer, that's critical, meaning you can't let it dry out one time because it'll shock it, so get it through that first Summer. Most plants that we have native and adapted plants, we did a calendar on that last year, I think? Yeah, so most of those plants are drought tolerant after the first Summer.

Whitney Pryor: [00:19:06] So then they're established?

Pam Daniel: [00:19:08] That is an important point to make is using native or adaptive, meaning they're use to living in this North Texas climate vs the beautiful plants we see at our big box stores. They are so tempting. We buy them and then they don't survive.

Scott Rigsby: [00:19:25] Yeah, I have customers and friends who want to talk about planting palm trees. I have to tell this is not Florida.

Pam Daniel: [00:19:32] We saw what happened this last Winter.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:19:34] They're all dead.

Pam Daniel: [00:19:34] Yes, they look terrible.

Whitney Pryor: [00:19:37] I saw one that looked good and I realized that it was fake.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:19:43] You're wondering, how did that survive?

Whitney Pryor: [00:19:46] It was not real. I was like, "oh, okay!"

Chelsi Frazier: [00:19:49] What are some vegetables that grow well in this area?

Scott Rigsby: [00:19:52] Well, good question. I'm not going to pretend to be a great vegetable or fruit gardener, but I'm learning, really, I'm enjoying learning. If you go to Aggie-horticulture, they've got a drop down menu that has a fruit and nut area that talks about those plants that work well in Texas and specifically North Texas. You can grow almost year round here if you do the right preparations. We have a Spring and Summer season sort of, and then you stop when it's hot in July and August usually, and then you can start back up in the Fall. Again, it's a raised bed of good soil and you have to sort of protect those plants from the hot afternoon sun. When they say plants need full sun, 6 to 8 hours, when they're getting that 4:00 - 5:00 sun, that's 100 degrees. It's not just hot, it's oppressive hot, so it will hurt your vegetables. tomatoes slow down in the Summer for that reason. In most vegetables, jump in Pam, most vegetables, you've got a 70 to 90 day period before they start producing. I planted a peach tree. Some plants, you need another pollinator, but peach trees you don't. I planted a peach tree about three years ago. First year, nothing, second year about 15 peaches and last year I had like 500 on one tree.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:21:21] Oh, my gosh!

Scott Rigsby: [00:21:23] I had to cul them out because if I left them all on there, they'd be real small. I took two thirds of them off and then I had big fat peaches. I think it's a Ranger peach tree. That's one that works really well here. Fruit trees need a certain amount of chill hours. That's why fruit does well in other parts of the country because they get a certain range. Chill hours means temperatures between 32 and 42, I think, so those hours matter. We get about 800 chill hours here in North Texas, so you want to pick a plum, a peach, maybe an apple, a pear or a pomegranate. Pick those trees that get around 800, that need around 800 chill hours.

Pam Daniel: [00:22:07] We've got a good article on the calendar this year, talking about trees. Our favorite vegetables - tomatoes, peppers, okra, zucchinis and squash, those all do very well.

Scott Rigsby: [00:22:19] I grew some cantaloupe a couple of years ago. It was fantastic!

Pam Daniel: [00:22:22] We've got a good list in our office too for Ellis County vegetables.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:22:27] A few years ago we discovered an Israel melon and my life was changed forever.

Whitney Pryor: [00:22:32] I've never had that!

Pam Daniel: [00:22:33] They're good!

Chelsi Frazier: [00:22:33] We're going to try to grow them again this Summer, so I have to bring you one. What happened, they're so good that our dog would eat them. They smelled so sweet, so my husband even put a more hardcore cage around it, and he still, our Lab, got it.

Pam Daniel: [00:22:54] He was stealing them from the garden.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:22:56] Yes, so he enjoyed them!

Scott Rigsby: [00:22:56] That brings up the point, you do have to protect your vegetables because they're low to the ground typically. You can put them in a fence because you'll get rabbits, grasshoppers that eat the leaves and you'll get bugs. Here's the thing, a weak plant attracts pests, so to have a strong plant, you what you need again, good soil because the plant is going to produce. If you protect the bed, put a layer of mulch, that keeps the weeds out. Weeds are going to really compete with your plants for the soil nutrients and moisture, so keep the weeds at bay. Again, if it's close to your house, it's easier to tend the garden.

Pam Daniel: [00:23:35] And not ignore it.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:23:37] Yeah.

Whitney Pryor: [00:23:37] Yeah, you need it right by your front door, so you see it every day.

Scott Rigsby: [00:23:42] Yeah!

Whitney Pryor: [00:23:43] Can you guys give us any other advice or tips in gardening or vegetable gardening in this area?

Scott Rigsby: [00:23:52] Again, Fall is the best time to plant, not talking vegetables here, I'm talking landscaping because again, that's what I do.

Pam Daniel: [00:23:58] With trees especially.

Scott Rigsby: [00:23:59] Especially trees, yeah, because again, some are so tough. Winter doesn't hurt plants here, typically, it's the Summer. The reason Fall is the best time is the evaporation rate. When you water and when we get rain, is much less than the Summer, so you don't have to water as often. The plants, as you said, get established, meaning their roots can grow out to where they can find their own water underground after about a year, year and a half. In July and August, you're typically going to have to help them. I think probably most John Houston homes have sprinkler systems, which you press a button and you can water. There's different rates to water. Flower beds are on spray heads, you water 15 to 20 minutes. Grass areas are on rotary heads, you water probably 45 minutes. It's a different process. Drip irrigation is another important thing because drip, like it says, is underground. It drips very slowly. You water for about 45 minutes, so you lose less water to evaporation. We do need to think about conserving water in North Texas, as well.

Whitney Pryor: [00:25:02] Don't want her in the middle of the day.

Pam Daniel: [00:25:04] Right.

Scott Rigsby: [00:25:06] Good point, water early in the morning. There's a lot of stuff that you can plant here. Like Pam said, there are a lot of native and adapted stuff that works. You can get with us, get with a local nursery, get with people that have experience in this area because there are some plants that don't work here.

Pam Daniel: [00:25:24] Or come to the Expo and you'll find out because this is the fun time, you know. Yeah, you plant your trees and shrubs in the Winter, but the Spring is when we think about planting our flowers and our vegetables. Our last freeze is usually what about March 15th, so it's about time to start planning and we will have tons of vegetables at the Expo and advice on planting those.

Scott Rigsby: [00:25:49] Yeah, and one thing you think about too is rainwater harvesting. We talk about that a lot. Pam's an expert on that, by the way. Rain has nitrates in it, nitrogen, so that's why it's so good for plants, is when we get rain.

Pam Daniel: [00:26:01] They love it much better than municipal water.

Scott Rigsby: [00:26:02] Much better, yeah, municipal water has sodium, which is not always good for the plants, but you do have to add supplemental water in the Summer. The rainwater having nitrogen in it does so good for the plants. April is typically the wettest month in North Texas. That's when we typically get the most rain. October is typically the second wettest month. We typically get 37 to 38 inches of rain a year. The last ten years we've gotten maybe 40+. Then before that, we had a drought. It can be just the opposite. North Texas is again, it's a tough place to garden, but if you learn, you can you can definitely have some beautiful stuff.

Pam Daniel: [00:26:45] We've had classes and maybe we'll do that again this Summer, rain barrel classes.

Whitney Pryor: [00:26:50] I was going to ask if you did rainwater harvesting?

Pam Daniel: [00:26:53] We do classes, yes, where you can come for a very small fee, make a rain barrel and take it home, a 50 gallon rain barrel. We'll probably try to do that this Summer. It's a lot of fun for the community.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:27:04] This year's calendar is about homesteading at home. We mentioned that earlier, as well. What's the goal for that calendar and what kind of content do people find in there?

Pam Daniel: [00:27:14] Well, the goal, again, we pick a different theme every year, but knowing that we've all been stuck at home for over a year, we just get the feedback from our citizens about their level of interest increasing. We just came up with the topic, we brainstormed it, and we're homesteading at home. We're talking about vegetable gardening. You can have chickens now within the city, right, in most cities, so people are starting to have chickens for eggs.

Whitney Pryor: [00:27:45] Just not in your John Houston HOA community.

Pam Daniel: [00:27:47] Yes, there are some areas that we cannot, especially a rooster. We still here roosters.

Whitney Pryor: [00:27:54] We have one community where you can have one horse.

Pam Daniel: [00:27:57] Oh cool!

Whitney Pryor: [00:28:00] Yea, just one!

Pam Daniel: [00:28:00] Fruit trees that you have mentioned, harvesting that fruit, canning it and what to do with it. We've gotten some great feedback. We've carried that homesteading at home theme over into our Lawn and Garden Expo and Homesteading Heroes is our theme for the Expo. We're kind of carrying that theme over and we'll have folks that are talking about vegetable gardening, chickens and bees. You can't have a beehive in your 1/4 acre lot, but you can learn about the benefits of that and buy local honey.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:28:31] Yes, we have a guy that doesn't live too far from us in Midlothian, Mountain Peak area, that has bees. We've bought honey from him and went over and got to see all the bees.

Pam Daniel: [00:28:44] Yea, it's fun! We'll probably have that in our children's workshop again, an actual beehive there, so kids can see.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:28:52] Yeah, that's cool, so are a lot of people doing that now?

Scott Rigsby: [00:28:56] At our nursery, we see more and more people coming in interested in it. The guy that I just hired to run our nursery is from Oregon, so he's new to Texas, 9 months I guess. He's a great vegetable gardener, he knows a ton about bees and had a huge kind of community garden in Oregon. It's kind of funny because he's getting used to the weather in Texas. In Oregon, they get rain throughout the year, kind of drizzling. It's like in Texas, we get it in buckets and it's a lot different. It's fun to talk to him because he's a very good vegetable gardener, so more and more people are wanting to garden at home. They're environmentally conscious. They want to grow vegetables at home. They realize that they don't have to use maybe as much pesticides as the big farms do, although that is necessary in certain cases.

Pam Daniel: [00:29:49] Just learning about bees, whether you're going to have a hive in your yard or not, just learning about the importance of bees and protecting them in your own landscape. If we all do our part to protect the bees, grow the right flowers, don't use the pesticides we don't have benefits, it benefits everyone in the long run.

Scott Rigsby: [00:30:08] If we didn't have bees, we wouldn't have vegetables.

Pam Daniel: [00:30:10] We wouldn't have any of it.

Scott Rigsby: [00:30:11] We wouldn't last very long.

Whitney Pryor: [00:30:11] We wouldn't last very long, that's why I let the dandelions grow in my yard. My neighbors don't like it, but I know they need that nutrition.

Pam Daniel: [00:30:19] You can eat the dandelion, right?

Whitney Pryor: [00:30:21] That's right, dandelion salad!

Pam Daniel: [00:30:22] Our February calendar article is about eating dandelions, all of it. The flowers and the grain, they're great in salads, to cook them.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:30:33] I did not know this.

Pam Daniel: [00:30:34] Each month we are featuring a plant in our calendar. This year, edible landscapes, things that are in your landscape that you can eat, and dandelions one of them.

Whitney Pryor: [00:30:44] That's great!

Chelsi Frazier: [00:30:45] That's cool!

Scott Rigsby: [00:30:45] Vegetable gardening is a great place to teach your kids.

Pam Daniel: [00:30:48] Yeah, it's just fun.

Scott Rigsby: [00:30:49] How to garden and do fun stuff. The vegetables taste so much better when you take them out of the ground.

Pam Daniel: [00:30:53] Of course!

Whitney Pryor: [00:30:55] Yes, I think there's a lot to be said for having a fresh vegetable vs. one from the store. Don't they take them early before they're really ripe? You don't get all the nutrients that you can get out of having them grown at home when they're perfectly ripe.

Scott Rigsby: [00:31:09] It's kind of fun to walk out in your garden, pick a tomato off the vine and just eat it.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:31:16] Oh, they're so good.

Pam Daniel: [00:31:18] Yeah, they're a lot better.

Scott Rigsby: [00:31:21] They're not that dirty. Dirt is not bad.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:31:24] No.

Pam Daniel: [00:31:26] You see your own yard!

Chelsi Frazier: [00:31:30] One year we grew strawberries, but then the birds got after them, so that was a learning lesson.

Pam Daniel: [00:31:38] We have cats at the nursery. I won't elaborate on how they take care of the birds, but they keep the birds away from the garden.

Pam Daniel: [00:31:47] In control, yea.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:31:48] That must be a common thing for nurseries. I didn't think about that until you said it, but there's another one that I've been to that they have a cat.

Scott Rigsby: [00:31:57] Well, not to be gross, but we don't have a mice or rat problem at the nursery. The cats, they bring us little gifts from time to time.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:32:09] They love you.

Scott Rigsby: [00:32:10] They do and they want to show you. Our cats take care of business at the nursery.

Whitney Pryor: [00:32:15] Yep!

Chelsi Frazier: [00:32:15] I've never even thought about that. I just figured, "oh, how cute. The cat just wandered up and they feed it!"

Pam Daniel: [00:32:19] No, but it is common, you're right.

Scott Rigsby: [00:32:22] I never had a cat before we had the nursery. We had dogs, but never had a cat. I've got to tell you, cats are fun to watch. They fight, they play fight like brothers. We have three cats and their brothers. They wrestle, they fight, they like to get in your lap, they like to be on their own and they're curious. Our cats love are very domesticated, so they love the customers.

Whitney Pryor: [00:32:44] Oh, yeah, I bet!

Scott Rigsby: [00:32:44] One of them, if I could tell a quick story. I had a supplier deliver some plants to the nursery, a truck and trailer, and his next delivery was in Fort Worth. He loaded up after he dropped off the plants at our place, got to Fort Worth, and he called me and said, "are you missing a cat?"

Pam Daniel: [00:33:00] Oh, no!

Scott Rigsby: [00:33:00] Oh, yeah! The cat got in the trailer and went all the way to Fort Worth. Oh, yeah. So we had to dropped Fort Worth to get it.

Whitney Pryor: [00:33:06] Just for the cat!

Scott Rigsby: [00:33:06] Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:33:08] I love that you went to pick up your cat.

Scott Rigsby: [00:33:10] Oh, yes! He's our baby.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:33:12] So funny! We're cat and dog people, so I can appreciate it.

Scott Rigsby: [00:33:19] Yeah.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:33:19] Good cat!

Scott Rigsby: [00:33:20] Yeah, our cats and our dog, we have a really sweet little mini Australian Shepherd, they get along fantastic.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:33:29] Well, they're probably about the same size.

Scott Rigsby: [00:33:32] Yeah, they are just about.

Pam Daniel: [00:33:36] Another opportunity for our community to get ongoing information, is our gardening newsletter, and that's published every month. If you go to our website, which you'll have on, there's a sign up and it's again a great several page newsletter. What you need to do this month and it has recipes.

Whitney Pryor: [00:34:00] So you just put in your email address and then they will email you?

Pam Daniel: [00:34:02] They will automatically get it. It's just great, so that's another great opportunity.

Whitney Pryor: [00:34:06] Yes, definitely.

Pam Daniel: [00:34:06] It's good.

Whitney Pryor: [00:34:07] The calendar, I cannot say enough great things about it. It's such a great, free resource for this area. Where can people find those for themselves?

Pam Daniel: [00:34:16] On the website, you can go and look for the sponsor list. Our sponsors, like John Houston, are who make this calendar possible. We sell the ads every month and that allows us to produce 5,000. The sponsors get calendars for running the ads. You can look on that list and just reach out or go visit the sponsor. If you can't find it, you can call us and we will get you one. We still have some extra ones.

Scott Rigsby: [00:34:42] Yeah, this is March, so we distribute the calendars in December,

Pam Daniel: [00:34:45] We'll have them at the Lawn Garden Expo.

Whitney Pryor: [00:34:50] Great!

Scott Rigsby: [00:34:50] We're a little biased, but we like it. It's won a few awards.

Pam Daniel: [00:34:54] We won last year. Each county can have a Master Gardner Association, but we have a State Master Gardner Association that has a show or conference every year. We can submit for awards, each county can, and we submitted our calendar. We won first place for Print Education.

Whitney Pryor: [00:35:14] Wow, that's great!

Chelsi Frazier: [00:35:15] That's very impressive!

Pam Daniel: [00:35:20] Award winning calendar!

Chelsi Frazier: [00:35:20] It is, that just goes the quality of the content, for sure. I know because I've seen it.

Scott Rigsby: [00:35:27] Well, thank you. Just to let the listeners know a little bit too. Each month, has tips on what to plant and what to watch for each month. December is different than July. At the start of the calendar, there's four or five articles, right Pam? This year is chickens, canning and what to eat in the garden. There are some really good articles that we write on what to do in Ellis County, too.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:35:55] We're in March, so any tips for this month? What can people do right now in their yards or maintenance on existing plants and trees?

Scott Rigsby: [00:36:02] Well, Spring is when everybody wants to plant and you should that's when a lot of things are available. The pretty perennials, that's what you're going to find now. You're going to find a lot of plants. Just remember in October, you can start planning your garden, planting the main things - trees and big shrubs, in October. What to do now, just get ready for planting. You're going to find a lot of things over the next three months. In a nursery business, our big months are March, April, May and maybe June. Those three months, that's it, the rest of the year, you're kind of coasting. Just be patient when you go to look for plants. Be patient if you want to hire a landscaper or somebody to help you, because it's really busy. It's a great time to plant again. April is typically the wettest month. I can't say enough, how much rainwater helps your plants, so if you can get them in the ground, before the end of April, you're good. Even if you plant in May or June, it's perfectly fine. The closer you plant to the Summer, the more risky it is.

Whitney Pryor: [00:37:14] Okay.

Scott Rigsby: [00:37:14] I'm not going to say don't plant in July and August, just if you do, you have to water more often. Again, if you let a plant dry out, it may not kill it, but it'll shock it for years, especially trees. If you spend $500 on a tree, you better keep it watered.

Pam Daniel: [00:37:32] At the beginning, you mentioned roses. Tell me what you were about to say about the roses.

Whitney Pryor: [00:37:38] Yeah, I have some rose bushes, knockout roses, and my mom said that I need to prune those back on Valentine's Day.

Pam Daniel: [00:37:47] That's a good day to remember. It's still not too late, but now is the time.

Whitney Pryor: [00:37:50] Can still do it in March?

Pam Daniel: [00:37:52] Yeah.

Scott Rigsby: [00:37:52] Knockout roses, were one of those plants that we were hoping was going to be bullet proof. There's no bulletproof plants, but they were tough and there's double knockout roses that bloom more than just the single. They get about five feet tall and wide. Knockouts, honestly you can prune them any time of the year. It's just, Valentine's Day, is probably the best, but here's the deal with roses. If I have to be devil's advocate, Ellis County is one of the worst counties in Texas for the Rose Rosette Disease. Roses will get it. We work closely with A&M. They're looking for something to fix this or a cure, nothing so far. It's a slow death, about 3 to 5 years. If your roses are still producing, I say keep them until they start looking really bad. Then, you have to take out the whole plant, there's no fixing it.

Whitney Pryor: [00:38:48] Is there an alternative that produces beautiful flowers?

Scott Rigsby: [00:38:53] Good question. Yes, so I've started using plants like, there's a dwarf crape myrtle. Crape myrtles are really good for North Texas.

Pam Daniel: [00:39:02] Very small, like a rose size bush.

Scott Rigsby: [00:39:04] It's only about three feet.

Whitney Pryor: [00:39:06] Oh, that's not bad!

Scott Rigsby: [00:39:07] Then there's abelias, that get 3 to 4 feet tall.

Whitney Pryor: [00:39:13] Oh yea, those are beautiful.

Pam Daniel: [00:39:14] They bloom like crazy.

Scott Rigsby: [00:39:15] I'm really starting to use Butterfly Bush. There's a pink and purple variety. Those are about three feet. When you ask for a plant that compares to a rose, you're kind of looking at how's it going to bloom? Is the size similar? Is it evergreen or deciduous or perennial? Roses are hard.

Pam Daniel: [00:39:37] There are options to roses because they are tough.

Scott Rigsby: [00:39:41] Yea, so there's lots of options.

Whitney Pryor: [00:39:44] I'll enjoy them, hopefully, for two more years!

Scott Rigsby: [00:39:47] What she can look for with your roses, look for excessive thorn growth. The other name for Rose Rosette is Witch's Broom. The new growth looks like a witch's broom, real kind of a mutant look - red and kind of ugly looking, so watch for that.

Pam Daniel: [00:40:13] Enjoy them while they are blooming!

Whitney Pryor: [00:40:13] That's some really great information. I just can't thank you guys enough for coming out, providing us with all this info and being here to let all of the Ellis County people and North Texas people, know about all of the different tips and tricks.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:40:30] Yes, thank you! Now, listeners, get out there, enjoy that yard and enjoy that outdoor living. Thank you so much!

Scott Rigsby: [00:40:38] You're welcome.

Pam Daniel: [00:40:38] Thank you for having us and thank you for being a sponsor in our calendar.

Whitney Pryor: [00:40:42] Oh, yeah, definitely. We're happy to do that.

Chelsi Frazier: [00:40:43] We're happy to support you.

Whitney Pryor: [00:40:45] Thank you listeners for joining us on today's episode of the Welcome Home podcast. For more information about the Ellis County Master Gardner Association, we will definitely link to their website and all of the information we've talked about today in the show notes. Feel free to visit them there and either call, email or sign up for the newsletter. They have so many different resources out there. For more information about John Houston Homes, feel free to visit the website at or catch us through email at Make sure to check out the Expo this weekend and get a ton of information about planting, gardening and all things outdoors. Thank you again for listening to us. We look forward to seeing you on another episode of the Welcome Home podcast.

Chelsi Frazier and Whitney Pryor: [00:41:42] Welcome Home.