Gardening This Weekend: March 14, 2024

This is a great time of year. Cool enough to enjoy the outdoors. Warm enough that our plants are revving their roots. Here are the mid-March activities.

Small and mid-sized tomatoes, particularly in southern half of the state. It’s still a bit risky farther north, but it’s easy enough to cover them with frost cloth. Large-fruiting tomatoes like Beefsteak and Big Boy do not set fruit well in Texas’ hot conditions of late spring into early summer and should not be planted in any great numbers.
Peppers, bush beans, crookneck and zucchini squash, cucumbers, and, for large gardens, melons and corn. Wait to plant okra, eggplants, southern peas, and sweet potatoes until the soil turns warmer in several weeks.
Warm-season annuals including marigolds, zinnias, cosmos, geraniums, coleus, and wax begonias. Wait for warmer soils to plant vincas, lantanas, caladiums, elephant ears, moss rose, ornamental sweet potatoes, and copper plants.
St. Augustine or bermuda sod, but wait to seed bermuda until April in South Texas and late April or May farther north.
Trees and shrubs. Nurseries have their best supplies now. New shipments arrive late in the week, so Thursdays and Fridays are great days to buy. Protect tender new foliage from highway winds as you transport your new plants home.

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Scalp lawn to remove winter, early spring weeds and to expose lawn to sun’s warming rays. Drop mower by one notch to do so. Wear protective goggles and respirator. It’s a dirty, nasty job. Remove clippings, but do not send to landfill. Use them in your own compost pile or use them as mulch beneath shrubs.
Spring-flowering shrubs and vines as needed to correct errant growth. Trim immediately after they finish blooming. Avoid shearing into formal shapes.

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.
Lawns in South and Central Texas with high-nitrogen or all-nitrogen plant food. Half or more of that nitrogen should be in slow-release form. Wait until last week of March or early April to fertilize lawns in North Central and North Texas.
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.

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Middle two-thirds of Texas (in very broad terms, Red River to Hill Country) apply pre-emergent granules immediately to prevent germination of crabgrass and grassburs in lawn and ornamental beds. Choose from Dimension, Halts, or Balan granules. They can be used around existing trees and shrubs, but should not be used where you intend to sow bermuda or other seed within the next several months. Water modestly to disperse the granules. Repeat 90 days later for a full season of protection.
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. Be patient – these products may take a week or two to show effects and you may have to treat more than one time for tenacious weeds. Small droplets that coat the weeds’ leaves are most effective.
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.
If you have begun your spring fruit spray schedule as prescribed by TAMU horticulturists, continue it on through the spring. Once trees are in bloom and beyond it’s too late to begin. Peaches and plums are especially vulnerable, particularly to plum curculio worms in the fruit. Avoid sprays during daytime when bees are active.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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