Gardening this Weekend: April 14, 2016

At this time of year, if you miss a day, you fall behind by a week. I’ll give you a boost. Here are the most critical things to tape to the shop door this weekend.


• New lawngrasses from sod or plugs. It’s still a week or two early to be planting bermuda from seed– soils are too cool.
• Patio pots and flowerbeds with summertime color. Most types can be planted now, but wait another couple of weeks to plant tropical types like caladiums, periwinkles, esperanza, fire bush and copper plants.
• Finish all plantings of beans, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, peppers and corn so the crops will have time to mature before really hot weather. (Shout-out to our friends in the north end of the Texas Panhandle: you can wait another two weeks on that last warning.)


• Spring-flowering shrubs and vines now that most types have finished their blooming season. Trim with lopping shears and pruning shears, not with hedge trimmers, for the most natural look.
• Mow your lawn at the recommended mowing height to keep it short and dense. Tall grass isn’t stronger. It grows weaker, allowing weeds to develop.
• Thin peaches and plums so that fruit are no closer than 5 to 6 inches apart on the branches.


• Apply high-nitrogen or all-nitrogen fertilizer (depending on soil test results) to almost all types of plants that you’re growing, whether flowers, fruit, lawns, vegetables, trees or shrubs.
• Our soils accumulate phosphorus, the middle number of the fertilizer analysis, almost to toxic levels. That means that no more phosphorus should be added until soil tests show that what you’ve had has worked its way out of the soil.
• You can begin to apply iron/sulfur products to control iron chlorosis (yellowed leaves with dark green veins, most prominently visible on newest growth first). Keep iron products off concrete, stone and other surfaces that could be stained.


• If you see masses of caterpillars in a ball on the trunk of a tree, those are forest tent caterpillars. By the time you see them, they probably have done most or all of the damage they’re going to do, so no corrective action is needed. If you see them feeding actively, however, apply Bacillus thuringiensis biological worm spray.
• Aphids are congregating all over new growth. Look for pear-shaped bodies with twin “exhaust pipes.” They are very communal, so you’ll usually see scores of them together. You can wash aphids off plants with a hard stream of water, or most general-purpose insecticides will eliminate them very quickly.
• Continue spray program on fruit crops.
• Use a legally labeled product (no “home remedies”) to control black spot and powdery mildew on roses. (See Question of the Week, this edition.)
• Apply broadleafed weedkiller to eliminate dollarweed, dichondra, clover, poison ivy and other non-grassy weeds from your lawn. If trees and shrubs are nearby, let your local independent retail garden center operator show you the best alternatives. They will have several products that the big national chains won’t have for you.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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