Gardening This Weekend: March 28, 2019
Your list of responsibilities suddenly took a big jump. Here are the most pressing among them.
• Tomatoes. Timing is critical. Wait too long and you’ll run into summer’s heat. Stay with small-fruiting types. Cherries, Sweet 100, Pears, Roma, Porter, Early Girl, Super Fantastic, Tycoon, Celebrity. AVOID: Big Boy, Beeksteak and other large-fruiting types. They will not set fruit well in our heat.
• Peppers, bush beans, squash, cucumbers, corn and other warm-season vegetables as soon as this weekend’s cold spell passes. Okra, sweet potatoes and southern peas can be planted in South Texas, but wait several weeks in North Texas.
• Warm-season annuals including marigolds, zinnias, cosmos, wax begonias, pentas, angelonias and coleus. In South Texas you can add lantanas, moss rose, firebush, Texas Gold esperanza, moss rose and hybrid purslane to the list, but save them for planting later in April in North Texas. Periwinkles and caladiums do better if planted when it’s much warmer – May or even early June.
• Remove spent flowers from spring bulbs such as daffodils and narcissus, but leave foliage intact until it dies to the ground in several weeks. It’s critical in nourishing the bulbs for next year’s blooms.
• Spring-flowering shrubs and vines to reshape as needed. Avoid formal shearing.
• Dead or damaged branches from trees, shrubs, including stems killed by this past winter’s cold. Wait to prune oaks until mid-July to lessen the chance of spreading oak wilt. Seal all cut surfaces of oaks immediately with black pruning paint.
• Lawn with all-nitrogen fertilizer with a significant amount of that nitrogen in slow-release form. That presumes that a recent soil test doesn’t suggest some other type of fertilizer. They rarely do.
• Same type of all-N food will work with most of your other plants, including trees, shrubs, groundcovers and even annual and perennial flowers and vegetables. One high quality fertilizer may truly “do all.”
• New annual and perennial transplants with liquid or water-soluble, high-N fertilizer weekly for several feedings.
ON THE LOOKOUT
• Cabbage loopers chewing holes in leaves of cole crops (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.). Apply Bacillus thuringiensis (“B.t.”) biological worm treatment.
• Aphids congregating on tender new growth. Most general-purpose organic or inorganic insecticides will control them. (See Question of the Week Number One.)
• Snails and slugs feeding at night. You’ll see their slime trails on the ground and on plant leaves. Dust with a snail/slug bait. Some people use a shallow pan filled with beer or with dry dog food to which you’ve added water. The pests will be attracted to the smell and will drown.
• Broadleafed weeds with a spray product containing 2,4-D. Read and follow label directions for best results and to avoid doing damage to desirable trees and shrubs nearby.