Gardening This Weekend: March 26, 2020
I took a critical walk through our landscape a couple of days ago, and I made a list of things we need to get done as quickly as possible. It can all get out of hand very quickly if we’re not attentive to our plants’ needs. Depending on what you’re able and allowed to do, here is my list.
• Warm-season annuals including marigolds, zinnias, cosmos, wax begonias, pentas, angelonias and coleus. In South Texas you can add lantanas, firebush, Gold Star Esperanza, moss rose and hybrid purslane to the list, but save them for planting several weeks from now in North Texas.
• Tomatoes. Getting them into the garden now is absolutely essential. Wait too long and they’ll get smashed by the heat. Stay with small and mid-sized varieties such as Celebrity, Porter, Roma, Super Fantastic, Super Sweet 100, Red Cherry and Yellow Pear. Large-fruiting types like Big Boy and Beefsteak are notoriously poor fruit-setters in Texas due to our temperatures. Buy sturdy transplants and set them into well-draining soils in a sunny location.
• Lawngrasses. Sod or plugs of St. Augustine, bermuda, zoysia. Wait for May and warmer soils to seed bermuda. If you’re planting grass beneath shade trees where prior plantings have failed, think twice. It’s probably too shady there. You may be better advised to switch to a shade-tolerant groundcover like mondograss, liriope, English ivy or even purple wintercreeper euonymus.
• Mow lawn at recommended height regularly to encourage low, spreading growth that will crowd out the weeds. Mowing will also eliminate most of the rank-growing, broadleafed weeds.
• Spring-flowering shrubs and vines to reshape as needed. Avoid formal shearing.
• 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. Don’t try to dig and relocate them until late summer – or at least until June, once their leaves have all turned brown.
• Lawn with all-nitrogen fertilizer with as much as half of that nitrogen in slow-release form. There are many brands on the market. Your nursery or hardware store can show you the types.
• 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.”
• 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.). Your first hint that they are about to start feeding will be presence of harmless looking white cabbage butterflies flittering around your plants. They lay their eggs, and it’s very short order before they hatch and start eating. Apply B.t. biological worm treatment.
• Aphids congregating on tender new growth. Most general-purpose organic or inorganic insecticides will control them, or you can blast them away with a hard stream of water.
• 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.