Master gardeners offer free trees, science-based advice on planting them

Master gardeners offer free trees, science-based advice on planting them

The Jefferson County Master Gardeners gave away hundreds of saplings Feb. 17. The one year old seedlings, including bald cypress and a variety of oak species, were provided by Campbell Global Foresting.

Campbell, based out of Portland, Oregon, has over 1 million acres in Texas and Louisiana and grows 50,000 trees spread out over an acre and a half in Jasper every year, according to forester Jeff Earl, who works for the company.

“And they donate all of them,” Earl said. “We spread it out to the communities in our area.”

Master gardener Glenn Watz estimated that 150-200 locals came to the Jefferson County Airport Test Garden that morning for saplings. Each person was allowed to take up to 12 trees.

The Jefferson County Airport Test Garden started in 2000. Texas A&M sends various plant species to the garden to see how they grow in the subtropical climate.

Oates pointed out several tomato and lantana test plants.

“I don’t suggest something that will grow in the panhandle and won’t grow here,” he said. “We suggest things that will grow in Southeast Texas.”

“People buy plants [in stores] grown in California, and they won’t grow here,” added master gardener Sharon LaBove.

Both Oates and LaBove recommend area residents purchase plants for their home gardens at the test garden on Jefferson County Master Gardeners sale dates, since their plants are proven to thrive, unlike store-bought plants.

The vegetable and herb sale is Saturday, March 4 from 8 a.m. – noon at the test garden at 4995 Jerry Ware Drive. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and several types of herbs will be available. The spring plant sale and market day is Saturday, April 8, from 8 a.m. – noon at the Jack Brooks Regional Airport, Hangar 4. This sale will offer annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees, citrus, tropicals, hanging baskets and dish gardens. A Kids Korner and several vendors will also be on site.

Interested vendors should call Ann Bares at (409) 892-7352 or the Texas A&M AgriLife extension at (409) 835-8461.

Admission and parking is free for both events. The test garden asks that you bring your own wagon or cart for your purchases, and only service animals are allowed.