Gardening This Weekend: March 21, 2019

It’s been nice having warm, sunny days for a change. Sure a few of us are likely to get rain over the next couple of days, but we’re on a good trend. Here are your late March gardening activities.

Warm-season flowers and vegetables. Keep frost cloth handy in case of a late frost in the northern half of the state, but the rewards of early harvests make the risks worth taking.
Patio pots and hanging baskets can be started now. They’re especially easy to protect should cold weather return for a night or two. Use the best possible potting soil. Choose plants that have been acclimated by the nursery to the lighting conditions where you will be growing them. In other words, don’t take a plant from a shaded nursery setting and put it into a sunny western exposure even if it’s a type that normally could tolerate it. Let it adjust gradually.
Trees, shrubs, vines and groundcovers. Buy from reputable nursery stock dealers who can advise you as to the best-adapted types for your needs.
Sod for new lawns, but wait to plant seed for another few weeks. Soils are still too cool in all but Deep South Texas.

Spring-flowering shrubs and vines as soon as they finish blooming. It’s the one time per year that you can reshape them to restore their natural forms.
Mow your lawn frequently to keep weeds at bay. Many of the rank-growing spring weeds will be discouraged by the mowing and will quickly fade away. This is the time to establish the recommended mowing height. See related story this issue.

Apply all-nitrogen, lawn-type fertilizer to your shrub and groundcover beds and even to flower and vegetable gardens unless a soil test specifically directs otherwise. Look for a fertilizer that has a relatively high percentage of its nitrogen in encapsulated or coated slow-release form. Feed your lawn in the southern half of the state now, but wait for another week or so in North Central Texas to let the soil warm.
Apply high-nitrogen, water-soluble fertilizer to new flower and vegetable transplants to get them off to a quick start, also to patio pots and hanging baskets.

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Last call this weekend for applying pre-emergent weedkillers for North Central and Central Texas to prevent germination of crabgrass and grassburs. Apply in next 10 days in South Plains and Panhandle. If in doubt, better to be a few days too early than a day too late. Repeat this application in early to mid-June.
If you’re seeing cool-season grassy weeds now (rescuegrass and annual bluegrass) as most of us are, bide your time. There is no product to control them now. They will disappear with hot weather ahead. Apply pre-emergent granules between August 25 and September 5 to prevent the next generation.
Aphids on tender new growth of annuals and perennials, shrubs and trees. You can probably wash them off with a hard stream of water, or most organic or inorganic, general-purpose insecticides will eliminate them.
Snails, slugs and pillbugs. Use bait or Sevin dust or sink pie pan filled with beer to attract and drown them.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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