Gardening This Weekend: January 11, 2024

This week’s list is a mix of what we should do in reaction to the cold and what needs to be done in mid-January anyway. See what applies at your place.

Cool-season annuals to perk up your landscape. Planting into containers makes the best sense if you’re in an area where they might need to be brought into protection for a day or two.
Onions and English peas in Deep South Texas. Wait a couple of weeks farther north.
Asparagus roots. Prepare soil carefully since they’ll be growing in the same location for many years. Choose vigorous roots of a hybrid variety. See related story this issue.
Fruit trees, grapes and blackberries. Plant only varieties recommended for your area. Do your homework ahead of time. Texas A&M has information for each part of Texas and so does my book.
• Depending on where you are and what crops you intend to grow, this is probably the time to be planting seeds in your greenhouse or on a bright windowsill for later transplanting into the garden.

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Shade trees as needed to remove dead or damaged branches. Follow the 3-step process of removing large branches and leave only the branch collar. (Ample illustrated information on all of that is available online.)
Peach and plum trees to remove strongly vertical shoots, also to maintain a spreading bowl shape to their tops.
Grape vines to remove 85 percent of their cane growth each winter. That will reduce the numbers of clusters for better quality. It will allow better penetration of sunlight to the ripening fruit.

Very few plants will require feeding at this time. Pansies and other winter color plants will benefit after this cold spell passes and plants start to grow once again. Use water-soluble, high-nitrogen food.
Apply liquid, high-phosphate root-stimulator fertilizer monthly to newly transplanted trees and shrubs.

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Cover flowering annuals with frost cloth to protect their blooms from sub-freezing temperatures. It will greatly lessen wind burn, plus it will gain you 8 or 10 degrees of protection from cold damage. That’s equivalent to one Hardiness Zone!
If you have container plants outside, get them into a greenhouse, or at least move them into the garage until the cold passes. You lose about 20 degrees of winter hardiness for plants whose root balls freeze.
If you have dead branches of live oaks, red oaks and other large shade trees, have them removed before any ice or snow might accumulate on them over the winter. They are weakened, and the weight of the precipitation could bring large limbs down onto your house, car, or other landscape plants.
Disconnect all hoses from faucets and drain them. Take all sprinklers into the garage and be sure they’re dry.
Fill bird feeders with high quality seeds and feeds.
Have soil tested to avoid spring rush.
Take equipment in for repairs, again to avoid the spring rush.
Spot-treat for non-grassy weeds such as clover, dandelions, thistles, plantain, and others during a warm spell using a boadleafed weedkiller spray containing 2,4-D. Read and follow label directions carefully.
Check houseplants for signs of insects that might have shown up since they were brought indoors for the winter. Without natural predators their populations can build quickly.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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