Show that you Take Care of Texas with this brand new license
From the $30 specialty plate fee, $22 goes directly to the Take Care of
Texas program. Purchase one now, and help us educate others on conserving water
and energy, reducing waste, and keeping our air and water clean.
Ready, Set... Grow!
of Texas sees its last frost in March, so start now to get your soil ready for spring
want to plant your garden as soon as possible to allow vegetables to grow and
mature during ideal conditions. Using transplants, instead of seeds, can extend
the productive period of many crops. Vegetables that are easy to transplant
include broccoli, lettuce, onions, and tomatoes.
With anything you are planting, find the best variety for
your location and climate. It will make a difference. Texas A&M AgriLife
Extension provides a vegetable
variety selector that lets you search by county or region and also gives
you days to harvest for a specific variety. Here are some guidelines to get
your garden growing:
- Tomatoes are the most popular garden vegetable in Texas.
They grow best in well-drained soil and need at least six hours of sunlight
each day. Tomato
- Yellow, white, and red/purple onions grow well in Texas
and thrive in full sunlight and well-drained soils. You can transplant onions before
the last frost, because they tolerate lower temperatures. Onion
- Spinach and most greens must be grown in early spring.
They do not do well in Texas summer heat. Greens prefer full sunlight but will
tolerate partial shade. Spinach
One of the best things you can do for your garden is to use compost in the soil. Compost forms when you mix together things like leaves, grass clippings, vegetable scraps, and coffee grounds. When combined with water and heat, the mixture breaks down into a nutrient-rich material that can reduce the need for fertilization and help conserve water in your garden – saving you money. Composting also reduces food and yard waste in landfills.
If you are worried about how the compost will look or smell
in your yard, use a container or bin. There are a variety of commercially made
bins if you don’t want to build your own. An enclosed container also keeps out
pests and retains heat and moisture needed to break down the materials. If done
correctly, the compost shouldn’t have an offensive odor. If your pile smells,
it likely has too many “green” materials or is too wet. To fix this, simply turn
and mix the compost and add “brown” materials like dead leaves and papers.
The decomposition time depends on a few factors. The smaller
the pieces, the faster the materials will decompose. Turning the compost also
speeds up the process. If you turn your compost once a week, you can expect the compost
to be ready in 3-4 months.
For detailed compost recipes and troubleshooting, see the
Take Care of Texas Guide on Mulching
and Composting. You may order free copies of this and other landscaping guides
Check your faucets, toilets, and valves for leaks.
17-23 is Fix a Leak Week. The
average household's leaks can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water
wasted every year, or the amount of water needed to wash 270 loads of laundry!
courtesy of the University of Georgia.
Many household leaks are easily correctable, requiring only
a few tools, and the costs are offset by the water savings. A leak of one
drip per second can cost $1 per month.
To check your toilet for leaks, place a drop of food coloring in the toil
tank. If the color shows up in the bowl within 15 minutes without flushing, you
have a leak.
An old or worn-out toilet flapper is often the cause. Flappers are inexpensive
rubber parts that can build up minerals or decay over time. Luckily, replacing
them is quick and easy. Visit your local hardware store to buy a new one. Tip:
Take your old flapper with you to make sure you buy the right model.
leaky showerheads just need a tighter connection between the showerhead and
pipe stem. Pipe tape and a wrench can solve the problem. Pipe tape is available
at most hardware stores and is easy to apply. For more complicated valve leaks where
the showerhead drips when not in use, contact an experienced or licensed plumber.
Tip: It's also a good idea to check and, if needed, replace the washer or
"o" ring inside the showerhead while making this repair.
Go a step beyond fixing leaks. If just 20
percent of households in Texas retrofit with water-efficient fixtures and
appliances, we could save more than 50 billion gallons per year—enough to fill
the new Dallas Cowboys stadium more than 60 times.
Win a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4!
To be entered into the contest, visit our Facebook,
Instagram, and Twitter pages, follow us, and like the specified
photo. Each like/follow is a separate entry, so if you follow all
three pages, you triple your chances to win! Make sure to follow us AND
like the photo. You must do both in order to qualify.
Contest ends Monday, March 9, at 2:00 pm. We will announce the winner that afternoon on social media. The
winner then has 48 hours to claim the
prize. Good luck!
Past prize winners:
Congratulations to Lisa G. and Annette S. for winning the
Facebook contest from last month’s newsletter. Each won a $20 H-E-B gift card.
Patsy M. won a $40 H-E-B gift card in a Take Care of Texas
trivia contest on Facebook earlier this month. Do you know the most littered
item in Texas? If you guessed cigarette butts, the winner could have been you!
Electronics Recycling Results for 2014
Texans turned in more than 25 million pounds of electronics to computer manufacturers for recycling. Visit TexasRecyclesComputers.org for more information.