With over five inches of rain overnight on August 19th and more in mid-September, plants have had a growth spurt not usually seen this time of year. Check to see if you have trees and shrubs that need trimming because they now block traffic signs or walkways. Weeds have also come up in abundance. Treat them with a mix of one gallon of 9 % vinegar and 2 ounces of Orange Oil. The vinegar is in the grocery and the Orange Oil at most nurseries. This is an organic mixture and will kill whatever it touches, so be careful.

Consider removing non-native plants from your property

A variety of habitat restoration projects are underway in San Antonio, including the Eagleland Reach of the San Antonio River Improvement Project. At Eagleland and elsewhere, efforts have been made to install a variety of native plants as part of habitat restoration. Native plantings are a way we can reverse the negative impacts we have on our environment, including habitat destruction and fragmentation, which has occurred over large parts of our landscape. In other words, it is one of the positive impacts humans can have on the environment. By restoring native plant communities we can reintroduce various native species that have been absent from an area for decades if not centuries, we can conserve biodiversity of native species, and we can benefit in numerous direct and indirect ways from the plentiful ecosystem services that native plant communities provide. Humans require healthy, functioning ecosystems to live, and it is this fundamental reason that compels many of us to participate in projects that aim to restore the native plant communities, which are an important part of any ecosystem.

It is that time of year when the flowers begin to bloom, the leaves spring forth and the webworms begin to get hungry.

Webworms are a serious problem in King William. Last year I tried a tree medicine which I bought at Home Depot. The solution stated that if you poured the contents on the base of the pecan trees, the tree would absorb the solution and the webworms would leave the tree. The solution cost about $18.00 per bottle and it didn't work. My neighbor hired a company to spray her pecan trees and they charged her a fortune and she still has the dreaded worms.

If one plant could be called the Christmas Flower it would be the poinsettia. They are great for home decoration and make perfect gifts to be enjoyed for years to come.

Which brings me to a story of one plant in particular. In the garden along the drive at my newly restored home on Mission Street was a double red poinsettia. The house had been vacant for more than 10 years and the winter had apparently been too mild to freeze the plant back. In the spring of 2003 when I was getting ready to paint the house the plant was over 10 feet tall and had grown out over the drive. With great reluctance I found I had to cut it down in order to paint.

It was only afterwards that my next door neighbor told me the poinsettia had been given to his brother-inlaw and new bride who happened to be living with them at the time - 36 years ago! They didn't have enough of a garden to plant the gift, so their next door neighbor kindly offered to let them plant it along his drive where they could see it.

We both thought that 36-year-old poinsettia was gone for good. But it is back and beautiful! It has about 100 bracks that are just starting to turn red in this cooler weather and should be in full bloom by the middle of the month.

If you get a poinsettia over the holidays it can be kept indoors until spring. Keep it in a bright window with moist but not wet soil. And if you have an unusual story about something in your garden that you would like to share with other NL readers, let us know…

Alan Cash

Rainwater is much better for your garden than City chlorinated water. But have you priced the fancy rain barrels for sale at the garden centers? You can make your own easily and cheaply by fitting out one of the plastic barrels left over from our Spring Fair.

Using a saber saw, cut out a six inch diameter hole in the top of the barrel. Then use a 1/2" drill bit to make a hole in the side of the barrel, approximately six inches from the bottom. Twist a 1/2" plastic hose bib with a rubber garden hose washer into the hole. Then reach inside and twist a threaded 1/2" PVC collar onto the hose bib.

To set up your new rain barrel, choose a convenient downspout location. Place the rain barrel on top of two cinder blocks. Set up the barrel and configure the downspout to pour into the barrel. Place screen material over the opening to prevent leaves from clogging up the hose bib. And be sure to drop in mosquito doughnuts often since rain barrels are the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Several 50 gallon barrels are located on the back patio of the KW office just waiting to be converted. Take a look at the prototype on the back patio -- it's easy! And your plants will thank you......Bill Cogburn