Links and Publications

Soil Soil Improvement Fertilization Pests and Diseases Weeds
Lawns Vegetables Flowers Herbs Community and Misc.

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Soil Science Education
Get the dirt and learn about soils and soil surveys. Great information for kindergarten thru university ages. The site also features many science fair projects and learning tools.

National Soil Survey Center
Soil surveys help people understand soils and their responses to a variety of natural and human influences. They include predictions of soil behavior related to uses in an urban, agronomic, or natural environment.

Soil Testing ... Video Style
Using video clips, Dr. Tony Provin, Texas Agricultural Extension Service, takes you through soil sampling step-by-step.

Testing Your Soil
-How to Collect and Send Samples

Soil testing can be a cost effective indicator of the types and amounts of soil amendments needed to improve yields. Learn more about testing from The Soil, Water and Forage Testing Laboratory at Texas A&M University.

Soil Submittal Sheet
Adobe Acrobat form used to submit soil samples to the Soil, Water and Forage Testing Laboratory at Texas A&M University.

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Soil Improvement

America's First Composter
"As evidence of George Washington's devotion to composting, he erected a highly unusual building specifically designed to compost "manure" and to facilitate its "curing" into usable fertilizer."

This dark, crumbly, earthy-smelling stuff works wonders on all kinds of soil and provides vital nutrients to help plants grow and look better.

Soil: The Key to Successful Gardening
Interest in organic gardening has been successful largely because the practice encourages the use of organic matter as an amendment, thereby improving soil texture (tilth). This, in turn, improves the environment for good root growth and the development of soil microorganisms that make nutrients more readily available.

Choosing a Soil Amendment
There are two broad categories of soil amendments: organic and inorganic. Organic amendments come from something that is or was alive. Inorganic amendments, on the other hand, are either mined or man-made. Organic amendments include sphagnum peat, wood chips, grass clippings, straw, compost, manure, biosolids, sawdust and wood ash. Inorganic amendments include vermiculite, perlite, tire chunks, pea gravel and sand.

Organic Gardening Techniques
The success or failure of the organic approach depends on how gardeners use and prepare organic matter. Organic matter improves soil tilth and prevents soil compaction and crusting. It increases the water-holding ability of the soil and provides a more favorable soil environment for earthworms and beneficial microorganisms. It slows erosion, and in later stages of decay, organic matter releases nitrogen and other nutrients to growing crops. Carbon dioxide from decaying organic matter brings minerals of the soil into solution, making them available to growing plants. Many soils of the world have been ruined, mainly because they have been depleted of organic matter from prolonged cultivation without proper soil management.

Producing Garden Vegetables with Organic Soil Amendments
One of the major concepts of organic gardening is the liberal use of organic materials to build up the soil and add needed nutrients for plant growth.The improvement of soil with abundant amounts of organic materials and natural mineral supplements is of great importance to your success as an organic gardener.

Mulches for Home Grounds
There are two types of mulches, organic and inorganic. Organic mulches include wood and bark chips, straw, grass clippings and seed hulls. Inorganic or inert mulches include weed-barrier fabrics, gravel and rock.

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Fertilizing The Organic Garden
Organic gardening emphasizes the use of organic soil amendments to improve the nutrient content and physical characteristics of the soil. Synthetic fertilizers are not used. The presence of decomposing organic matter in soils has long been recognized as a nutrient source for plants and useful in maintaining and improving structure and tilth in clay soils and in improving the water-holding capacity of sandy soils. Moreover, organic matter contains natural organic complexes that make micronutrients, such as zinc and iron, more available to plants.

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Pest and Disease Control

Managing Insects and Related Pests of Roses
Both sucking and chewing insects attack roses. This publication provides information on damage symptoms and control measures for common insects. Cultural and chemical insect control methods are discussed.

Bugs In Your Vegetables!
Identify the problem in your garden by scanning images of pests or by finding the most common pest problems of common vegetable crops.

Cucurbit Disorders
Correctly identifying a problem is the first step in environmental pest management.

Friendly Pesticides for Home Gardens
"When we think of organic gardening, we often conjure up the image of a crop grown free of any pesticides. However, the concept of organic gardening is much more broad, and, believe it or not, many types of pesticides are permitted."

"Slugs are one of the most destructive and difficult pests to control. Injury is sometimes difficult to diagnose because slugs hide during the day."

Insect Control: Horticultural Oils
"Various oils have been used for centuries to control insect and mite pests. Oils can also control some plant diseases, such as powdery mildew."

Organic Pesticide Guide
"All products in this guide are registered by the EPA. They are "approved" for use in organic gardens by promoters of organic techniques such as Rodale Press. The catalogues that sell these products advertise as being all organic. No efficacy guarantees are given. It is assumed that the grower who chooses to use organic techniques realizes that organic pesticides are just one small component of a program that emphasizes plant health as the best pest control. Materials such as baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), liquid dish soaps, sugar, and so forth, are not registered pesticides and so cannot be recommended by the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service."

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Weed Control

Controlling Weeds by Cultivating and Mulching
Consider your weed control strategy prior to establishing a vegetable garden in the spring. Weeds compete with vegetables for water, nutrients and light. They also harbor insects and diseases, which may then spread to vegetables. Efforts made early in the growing season will reduce the time required for hand-weeding later in the season.

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Turfgrass Management for Protecting Surface Water Quality
The first objective of any lawn care program should be to provide an optimum environment for healthy grass plants. A healthy and vigorous lawn is the best defense against attack or invasion by various pests.

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Organic Vegetable Gardening
The information in this publication should be beneficial to all gardeners regardless of methods of culture used; however, it is primarily intended to aid the organic gardener to employ workable methods acceptable to him and compatible with the philosophy of "organic gardening."

Organegetabic Vle Gardening
"There is considerable discussion, even among those claiming to be organic gardeners, as to exactly what constitutes organic gardening."

Souce for information about selecting, preparing, and using herbs, fresh fruits and vegetables.

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Herb Expert
Great advice on growing and cooking with herbs. HerbExpert contains over 70 articles all written by their team of experts and they add almost 10 new articles each month.

Growing, Preserving and Using Herbs
Herbs grow in temperate areas of the world. In contrast, spices grow only in tropical zones. The leaves and seeds of herbs often are used as complements to food dishes. Herb leaves can be used fresh, or they can be dried or frozen for later use. Seeds usually are dried before use. Their flavor comes from oils in the cell walls of the plants. Chopping or grinding breaks the cell walls and releases the flavor. Heat increases the rate at which some herbs release their flavors.

Souce for information about selecting, preparing, and using herbs, fresh fruits and vegetables.

Herb Research Foundation
"Founded in 1983 with a mission of herb research and public education, HRF remains committed to supporting the public's right to truthful information about the health benefits of herbs. What sets our work apart is our vast storehouse of information resources, including a specialty research library containing more than 300,000 scientific articles on thousands of herbs."

The Herb Society of America
"The Herb Society of America was founded in 1933 for the purpose of furthering the knowledge and use of herbs, and for contributing the results of the experience and research of its members to the records of horticulture, science, literature, history, the arts and economics. The motto of The Society is taken from the herbalist, John Parkinson, "For Use and For Delight." The Society is concerned with the cultivation of herbs and with the study of their history and their uses, both past and present.They also encourage gardeners to practice environmentally sound horticulture."

South Texas Unit of The Herb Society of America
"The South Texas Unit is an autonomous body, but follows the precepts of the national organization. It is a plant oriented society, but enjoys and delves into all herbally related subjects. The Herb Society of America and The South Texas Unit are not medically oriented."

The American Herbal Pharmacopoeia
According to Dr. Andrew Weil, "The American Herbal Pharmacopoeia has been launched to provide authoritative information on the proper use and manufacture of herbal medicines."
"A Modern Herbal, first published in 1931, by Mrs. M. Grieve, contains Medicinal, Culinary, Cosmetic and Economic Properties, Cultivation and Folk-Lore of Herbs."

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Community and Misc.

Texas Organic Farmers and Gardners Association
Tofga is a publicly supported, non-profit Association whose members include commercial plant growers, ranchers, farmers, retailers, wholesalers, processors, distributors, consumers, and anyone desiring to support the organic industry in Texas. Our primary mission is to promote organic agriculture as a sustainable systems approach in the production of food and fiber; a system that protects human and animal health, and preserves the environment.

"We envision a world that recognizes our relationship with food as key to maintaining a healthy planet." A great example of a project society.

Boggy Creek Farm
A couple of middle-agers having a wonderful time doing what they love: gardening on a big scale!In 1992 they were able to buy the 5 acres and old house in East Austin, cleaned it up, repaired the house, certified the land organic and named it Boggy Creek Farm, after the creek/ditch across the street. (All real farms are named after creeks!) It's curious how all the things they've been through came together in a passion for farming!

Eatwell Farm
"Eatwell Farm is a 17 acre organic farm in the Sacramento Valley in Northern California. In 1998 we were lucky enough to be able to buy 65 acres four miles down the road. This farm is in transition to organic. This means we are farming it organically but produce from this land cannot be called organic until 3 years have passed."

The Old Farmer's Almanac
The words of the Almanac's founder, Robert B. Thomas, guide us still: "Our main endeavour is to be useful, but with a pleasant degree of humour."

Quackwatch, Inc., a member of Consumer Federation of America, is a nonprofit corporation whose purpose is to combat health-related frauds, myths, fads, and fallacies. Its primary focus is on quackery-related information that is difficult or impossible to get elsewhere. Founded by Dr. Stephen Barrett in 1969 as the Lehigh Valley Committee Against Health Fraud, it was incorporated in 1970. In 1997, it assumed its current name and began developing a worldwide network of volunteers and expert advisors. and assumed its current name.

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The Beginning