Gardening This Weekend: March 18, 2021
My promise on the Main page of e-gardens was that you’d find a list of the “other things” you’d be doing in a “regular springtime,” if there ever were such a thing here in Texas. Here they are.
• Warm-season vegetables. Most successful types include bush beans, crookneck and zucchini squash, small and medium-sized tomatoes (large-fruiting types don’t set fruit well in Texas heat), peppers, and for large gardens, corn. Wait to plant okra until it turns warmer in mid- or late April.
• Warm-season annuals including marigolds, zinnias, cosmos, geraniums, coleus and wax begonias. Wait for warmer soils to plant vincas, lantanas, caladiums, moss rose and copper plants.
• St. Augustine or bermuda sod, but wait to seed bermuda until mid-April in South Texas and May farther north. You really want warm soil for it to germinate.
• Nursery stock is going to be limited this year, so know exactly what you want and be prepared to look carefully to find it. Local, independent retail garden centers will be your best sources of quality stock.
• Spring-flowering shrubs and vines as needed to correct errant or damaged growth. Trim immediately after they finish blooming. Avoid shearing into formal shapes.
• Mow turf at recommended height for type of grass that you’re growing, even if grass is getting a slow start. Frequent mowing at this time of year will discourage and kill vigorous early spring weeds.
• Reshape greenhouse plants and houseplants with selective pruning before you bring them into the landscape for summer. Make those changes into outdoor conditions cautiously. Avoid full sun and windy locations. Plants are tender after a winter indoors.
• Lawns in South and South Central Texas with high-nitrogen or all-nitrogen plant food. As much as half of that nitrogen should be in slow-release form.
• Unless a recent soil test shows otherwise, that same high-N or all-N fertilizer will be best for landscape plants and even flowers and vegetables. That is hard for some veteran gardeners to accept.
• Newly transplanted flowers and vegetables and newly repotted patio plants with diluted solution of water-soluble or liquid plant food (high-nitrogen) with each watering for the first month.
ON THE LOOKOUT
• Chickweed, dandelions, clover, dichondra and dollarweed can be controlled with application of broadleafed weedkiller (containing 2,4-D). Read and follow label directions carefully for best results.
• Aphids congregate on tender new growth of many types of plants. Colors will vary, but all will have pear-shaped bodies and twin “exhaust pipes” on either side. They are easily controlled with almost any organic or inorganic insecticide. You may even be able to wash them off with a hard stream of water.
• Spider mites ravage junipers, Italian cypress and other conifers early. If you are seeing graying needles, thump a suspect twig over a sheet of white paper. If you see almost microscopic pests crawling around, those are the mites. Apply a general-purpose insecticide that is also labeled for control of spider mites.