Author Archives: katherine.whitney

What Is the Sticky Mess in Pecan Trees?

Have you parked your car under a pecan tree lately?  You might get a fresh coating of honeydew!  In fact, just about anything that walks under a pecan tree or sits near a pecan tree might be covered in this sticky coating. The real culprits behind the honeydew are aphids.  Aphids are soft-bodied insects that suck sap from plant leaves.  Many species of aphids exist and attack various plants, but two types of aphids attack pecan trees and secrete honeydew, the yellow pecan aphid and the black-margined aphid.

Dividing Irises

The month of September has rolled by quickly, and I am somewhat behind on my monthly garden task list.  September is a great time to divide and re-plant irises.  I have some beautiful white irises that need a little more room, and I will be moving some of them to a new spot in my yard.

Fall Weed Control

The recent rains are a great boost to my lawn and garden.  I really am amazed at how quickly plants can recover from drought after a good, soaking rain.  My salvia plants are already blooming again, and my fall tomatoes are really growing a lot of foliage.  The rain also helped the weeds kick into gear, and they are growing like…well, weeds. With fall just around the corner, this is a good time to talk about preventing cool-season weeds.  Winter weeds such as henbit, dandelion, annual bluegrass, rescue… Read More →

Starting Seeds for Fall Crops

August is an interesting time for Texas gardeners.  We are trying to keep our plants alive in the heat and drought, but we also start to look forward to fall gardens and flowers.  I wrote about fall tomatoes last month, and I continue to plant fall crops of butternut squash, zucchini, Zipper Cream peas, and a few peppers.  If you have not had the privilege of a bowl full of Zipper Cream peas with ham, some sliced tomatoes, and a big piece of sweet cornbread, you have not… Read More →

Spider Mites

When you have been gardening for a while, you start to notice that the weather affects all kinds of things in the garden.  It is easy to see the effects of the heat and drought on our plants as they wilt in the sun, but the weather also affects disease and pest problems. During a rainy season, I know that we will get a lot of calls about fungus like take-all-root-rot and large patch in lawns.  Lots of rain and high humidity makes the perfect conditions for those… Read More →

Watering Trees through Drought

In Texas, we love our trees.  Live oak trees spread out wide to make a beautiful shade tree.  Pecan trees are the official State Tree of Texas, and we all love their shade and nuts.  Who can resist a pecan pie made from fresh pecans in the fall? Most trees in Texas do well with minimal care, but our trees have faced some challenges over the last few years.  Winter Storm Uri was a big stress on trees.  We saw broken limbs, limb dieback, cracks in the bark… Read More →

Time to Plant Fall Tomatoes

To be a gardener, I think you need to be a persistent optimist.  Gardeners face a lot of conditions outside our control.  We cannot control the temperature, rain, bugs, or diseases, but the taste of a fresh peach or vine-ripened tomato motivates us to keep planting and growing. Tomatoes are one of my favorite vegetables to grow, even though this has been a tough year for tomatoes.  Large-fruited varieties of tomatoes do not pollinate well when daytime temperatures are above 90 degrees and nighttime temperatures are in the… Read More →

Turfgrass in Drought

We face a tough dilemma during a hot, dry summer like this in Central Texas.  The plants in our lawns and gardens need water to survive and thrive, but we know that water is a limited resource.  My budget is a limited resource, too, which keeps my watering habits in check when I reach to turn on the sprinkler!  With this dilemma of plant health and water conservation in mind, there are a few things to know about turfgrass to help you manage your lawn through the drought… Read More →


Every year it seems like we get to learn about a new caterpillar that emerges and makes a pest of itself.  Last spring, the oakleaf roller caterpillars hung from the oak trees by silk threads, and then in the fall the armyworms marched across the county eating our Bermuda lawns along the way.  Fortunately, the various caterpillars do not reach infestation levels every year! I had three phone calls about bagworms on Italian cypress or juniper trees within the last week.  That is when I need to start… Read More →


Some of my favorite memories as a kid revolve around the garden, especially during this time of year when the blackberries are ready.  We had a good patch of wild blackberries on the back fence of our place in Comanche County, and we spent evenings picking berries with a one-gallon ice cream bucket in hand.  About half the berries went in the bucket and the other half were eaten while we picked. Later, my dad planted two 50-foot rows of blackberries in the garden, and we spent many… Read More →