Backyard Basics


In partnership with


Backyard Basics: The Art of Self-Reliance

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s Backyard Basics is a statewide initiative that promotes the consumption of nutritious homegrown and homemade foods. The program, which was piloted in Bexar and surrounding counties, is now offered in Travis County and will offer consumers, backyard gardeners, homemakers, and  educators opportunities to learn about composting, vegetable gardening essentials, pest  management, fruit production, and raising chickens for home egg production.  Monthly seminars (2 hours long), all-day and half-day workshops will be offered throughout the year.

Monthly Programs

AgriLife Extension office in southeast Austin, 1600-B Smith Road
Registration: $10 per course; ($15 late and onsite)
10 a.m. to noon

September 4th – Vegetable Gardening

With its warm days and cooler nights, along with more stable weather patterns, Fall just may be the best season for vegetable gardening in Central Texas.  In our second course on Backyard Basics, Master Gardener and vegetable specialist Tommie Clayton will share her many years of experience in gardening, with details on planting schedules, proven varieties for our area and other helpful resources.

October 2nd – Integrated Pest Management
Wizzie Brown, Integrated Pest Management Specialist for the AgriLife Extension Service, will discuss natural pest control in the garden and landscape, as she teaches about pests and the damage they inflict at various times of the year.  Learn to encourage the good guys and discourage the bad guys in your vegetable garden in this third course on Backyard Basics.

November 6th – Backyard Chickens
For our final course on Backyard Basics, Master Gardener and blogger Ally Stresing will share her love of backyard chickens in this informative talk on the care and maintenance of the home flock.  From constructing a predator-proof coop, to choosing proper feed, to handling boredom and the pecking order, Ally will guide you through the ins and outs of caring for happy, healthy hens.

Register online
Register by phone:  979-845-2604
For more information, contact Richards at 512-854-9600 or


Backyard Basics Workshop

Saturday, Sept 13, 8:30 am – 4:00 pm
Austin Community College south campus, 1820 W Stassney Ln
Registration: $25; ($30 late and onsite)

Join AgriLife Extension Master Gardener volunteers and other community experts for this special workshop on all things backyard food. We’ll cover the basics of growing fruits and vegetables, as well as garden recipes (basic canning and preserving how-to’s) backyard chickens, and backyard bees.

8:30 to 9:00     Registration
9:00 to 10:15   Grow Your Own Fresh Fruit, Joe Posern, Travis County Master Gardener Fruit Specialist
10:15 to 11:30 Growing Vegetables, Patty Leander, Travis County Master Gardener Vegetable Specialist
11:45 to 1:00   Garden Recipes and Preserving the Harvest, Jeff Peters, Travis County Master Gardener
1:00 to 1:30     Lunch (boxed lunch provided)
1:30 to 2:45     Backyard Chickens, Joy Williamson, Travis County Master Gardener
2:45 to 4:00     Backyard Bees, Chris Doggett, Williamson County Beekeepers Association President

Register online:
Register by phone:  979-845-2604
For more information, contact Richards at 512-854-9600 or


Fruit Production for Producers and Backyard Enthusiasts

Wed, Sept 24, 8:30 am – 1:00 pm
Travis County Health and Human Services, 502 E Highland Mall Blvd.
Registration: $30; ($40 late and onsite)

Part of Travis County AgriLife Extension’s Forward Farming series, this program will cover information appropriate for all level of current and potential fruit producers, while also being useful and easy to understand for the backyard enthusiast. Monte Nesbitt, AgriLife Extension state-wide fruit specialist, will be the presenter of this half-day workshop. The focus will be on fruits that can be successfully grown in Central Texas: stone fruits (peaches and plums), figs, pomegranates, and blackberries; but will also cover olives (a crop with quite a lot of interest from potential growers in the Hill Country at the moment) and citrus (with the current weather pattern of warmer winters in Central Texas, there are actually a few citrus crops that have real potential for Central Texas, if managed properly).

In addition to the wealth of knowledge that Mr. Nesbitt will share during his presentation, you’ll also have the unique opportunity to ask him questions particular to your own growing situation.

From site selection, soils, fertilization, and pruning to sustainable production practices and dealing with particular insects and diseases—we’ll cover the production basics, as well as unique specifics. This workshop is only offered semi-annually and is not to be missed!

8:30 to 9:00 AM     Registration
9:00 to 1:00 PM     Fruit Production Basics

There will be a half hour break in the middle of the workshop, with refreshments and the opportunity for networking.

Register online:
Register by phone:  979-845-2604
For more information, contact Richards at 512-854-9600 or