Gardening This Weekend: March 17, 2022
Gardeners have plenty to do this time of the year. Here are some of the most important goals. (If you have my book Neil Sperry’s Lone Star Gardening, Chapter 2 is the 48-page calendar that gives them all in complete details, four pages per month. Click here for ordering details if you don’t have it.)
Pre-emergent weedkillers, my thoughts…
In my 52 years of advising Texas gardeners, this is the most unusual spring in terms of timing. Week after week, cold spells have kept things behind schedule. That has included timing for application of pre-emergent weedkillers (Dimension, Halts or Balan granules) to prevent germination of crabgrass, grassbur and other summertime annual grassy weeds. Note that these are not “weed-and-feed” products – just weed preventers. The grassy weeds you can see in your lawn now actually germinated around Labor Day. Preemergent control of them must be made at that time. Watch here for details.
• For the “waistline” of Texas (the central two-thirds of the state east-to-west), that time to prevent crabgrass and grassburs is here. Apply one of those products now and again 90 days later (“booster shot”) for a full season of prevention.
• For the Panhandle and mountains of the Big Bend Country your time will come in a couple of weeks.
And now, back to our regular programming! (Things to do this weekend.)
• Nursery stock as shrubs, vines, groundcovers and trees become available. Inventories may again be limited this year, plus nurseries in the northern parts of the state have been waiting for warmer weather to take delivery.
• Warm-season vegetables in the southern half of the state. If you’re in the northern half, check your 14-day forecast to be sure a frost isn’t going to sneak in. List includes tomatoes, bush beans, peppers, corn, cucumbers and squash. Wait a few weeks to plant sweet potatoes (sandy soils) and eggplant. (Plant them now in southern third of the state.) Okra and southern peas can be planted in April into early May.
• Zinnias, marigolds, coleus, begonias, fanflowers, cosmos, angelonias, pentas and other warm-season annuals. (To our readers near and north of I-20, there’s no harm in waiting another week or two to plant these.) And definitely wait for warmer weather to plant lantanas, moss rose, hybrid purslane and caladiums. They need warmer soils. (OK to plant them in southern third of Texas now.) Wait until late May or June to plant periwinkles. By then there will be less chance of spring rains splashing water mold fungal spores up onto their stems.
• St. Augustine, bermuda or zoysia sod. Wait to plant bermuda seed until warmer soil temperatures of late April or May.
• Mow lawn regularly to keep rank weeds in check. They will usually disappear after one or two mowings.
• Do not prune oaks during spring to minimize chance of spread of oak wilt fungus. In emergency situations such as to remove branches killed by last year’s freeze or this year’s ice, seal all cut surfaces immediately with black pruning paint. That’s actually good practice with any oak pruning done at any time. Some cities in oak wilt zones actually require it.
• Spring-flowering shrubs and vines as needed to reshape them. Do so immediately once they finish blooming so you can take advantage of all of this year’s new growth.
• Almost all of your plantings with high-nitrogen or all-nitrogen fertilizer unless directed otherwise by a recent soil test. Choose a plant food that has half or more of that nitrogen in slow-release form.
• Vegetables with same high-nitrogen fertilizer once plants are growing vigorously. Sideband along rows, then water thoroughly. Repeat every 3-4 weeks.
• Patio pots and hanging baskets with water-soluble, high-nitrogen fertilizer each time that you water them. Incorporate an encapsulated, timed-release fertilizer with the potting soil for sustained feeding.
ON THE LOOKOUT
• Dichondra, dollarweed, clover, dandelions and other broadleafed (non-grassy) weeds with a herbicide containing 2,4-D. Read and follow label directions carefully for good results.
• Aphids on tender new growth of annuals, perennials, shrubs and vegetables. Wash them off with a hard stream of water or apply a labeled insecticide.
• Snails and slugs devouring tender new growth of annual flowers, vegetables. Apply Sevin dust or baits to soil and onto plants. Remove hiding places such as fallen leaves.