Gardening This Weekend: March 22, 2018
It’s easy to find ways to keep yourself busy this time of the year. It’s pleasant just to be outside on these nice days. Here are the critical tasks for starters. I have the complete list in Chapter 2 in my newest book, available only from my website.
• Warm-season vegetables in almost all of the state. If you’re in a northern area check your 14-day forecast to be sure a frost isn’t going to sneak in. List includes tomatoes (see related story this issue), bush beans, peppers, corn, cucumbers and squash. Wait a few weeks (now in South Texas) to plant sweet potatoes (sandy soils) and eggplant. Okra and southern peas can be planted in April into early May.
• Zinnias, marigolds, coleus, begonias, fanflowers, cosmos, angelonias, pentas and other warm-season annuals. Wait for warmer weather to plant lantanas, moss rose, hybrid purslane and caladiums. They need warmer soils. (OK to plant them in Deep South Texas now.) Wait until spring rains have subsided to plant periwinkles to lower chances of water mold funguses causing problems.
• St. Augustine, bermuda or zoysia sod. Wait to plant bermuda seed until warmer soil temperatures of late April or May.
• Spring-flowering shrubs and vines as needed to reshape them. Do so immediately after they finish blooming so you can take advantage of all of this year’s new growth.
• Mow lawn regularly to keep rank weeds in check. They will usually disappear after one or two mowings.
• Do not prune oaks during spring to minimize spread of oak wilt fungus. In emergency situations, seal all cut surfaces immediately with black pruning paint. That’s actually good practice with any oak pruning done at any time. Some cities in oak wilt zones actually require it.
• Almost all of your plantings with high-nitrogen or all-nitrogen fertilizer unless directed otherwise by a recent soil test. Choose a plant food that has half or more of that nitrogen in slow-release form.
• Vegetables with same high-nitrogen fertilizer once plants are growing vigorously. Sideband along rows, then water thoroughly. Repeat every 3-4 weeks.
• Patio pots and hanging baskets with water-soluble, high-nitrogen fertilizer each time that you water them. Incorporate an encapsulated, timed-release fertilizer with the potting soil for sustained feeding.
ON THE LOOKOUT
• Dichondra, dollarweed, clover, dandelions and other broadleafed (non-grassy) weeds with a herbicide containing 2,4-D. Read and follow label directions carefully for good results.
• Aphids on tender new growth of annuals, perennials, shrubs and vegetables. Wash them off with a hard stream of water or apply a labeled insecticide.
• Snails and slugs devouring tender new growth of annual flowers, vegetables. Apply Sevin dust or baits to soil and onto plants. Remove hiding places such as fallen leaves.