Gardening This Weekend: October 24, 2019
Here is the checklist I’ve prepared for you for this final weekend of October. Some of you have already seen a hard freeze, while others of you still are harvesting fall vegetables. From Amarillo to Brownsville, this isn’t an easy job, folks!
• Trees and shrubs so they can get their roots established before next summer. This is a great time for landscaping. See related story this issue!
• Buy tulips and Dutch hyacinths immediately, then place them at 45 F. in the refrigerator for at least 45 days to give them artificial chilling. Without it in Texas they won’t bloom normally. Plant the second half of December.
• Daffodils and grape hyacinths as soon as you buy them. Choose daffodils and narcissus that have the best chance of “naturalizing” (blooming in successive years). Best types include Carlton, Ice Follies, Geranium, Cheerfulness, Golden Cheerfulness and other early and smaller-flowering types.
• Pansies, snapdragons, pinks, ornamental cabbage and kale and other cold-hardy annuals, even if it means removing summer annuals that have served you well. The new plants need the head start to get themselves going.
• Remove dead branches from shade trees while you can easily identify them. It’s much more difficult when their branches are all bare.
• Trim away spent flower stalks and dead leaves from perennials to tidy things up. As soon as first frost kills tops to ground trim off all the frozen tissues and apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of shredded tree leaves as mulch over the clumps.
• Lawn at regular mowing height. Raising the blade does not help improve winter hardiness at all. Bag fallen tree leaves. Compost them or use them as mulch. Don’t send them to the landfill.
• Ryegrass and fescue turf with a high-nitrogen or all-nitrogen lawn food. Use half the recommended rate for ryegrass that you’ve used to overseed bermuda or St. Augustine. Use the recommended rate for permanent fescue turf. Unless you are very near the Texas Gulf Coast, it is too late to fertilize St. Augustine or bermuda that has not been overseeded.
• Cut back on fertilizer given to patio pots and hanging baskets that you intend to bring indoors for winter. They won’t need the nutrition. Your goal will be to limit new growth in darker household conditions.
ON THE LOOKOUT
• Inspect patio pots and hanging baskets you intend to bring in for the winter for insects. Treat while they’re still outside. It’s much easier to do so when you don’t have to worry about insecticides indoors.
• Brown patch is turning circular areas of St. Augustine yellow, then brown. Blades pull loose from the runners quite easily. Apply a labeled turf fungicide to stop it. The grass will bounce back unless you get a killing freeze, but you can speed it along by stopping the spread of the fungus. See related story this issue.