Gardening This Weekend: March 28, 2024

Take five minutes to walk around your place. Make a list of the things you want to get done. See how many match up with the ones I’ve put on my list.

Tomatoes. Getting them into the garden now is essential. Wait too long and they’ll get sizzled 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.
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.
Lawngrasses. Sod or plugs of St. Augustine, bermuda, zoysia. Wait for May and warmer soils to seed bermuda.

Worthy of note: 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.

Also worthy of note: The “grass patch” seed mixes aren’t going to be your answer. Most are blends of northern grasses that won’t grow well here in the hot Southwest. Plus, seed mixes almost always end up with one type overwhelming the rest. Just buy or dig plugs that match the rest of your lawn and plant them into the bare spaces.

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Spring-flowering shrubs and vines as soon as they finish their spring bloom. Reshape as needed but 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. They can be dug and relocated once their leaves have all turned brown.
Mow lawn at recommended height regularly to encourage low, spreading growth of grass. Dense turf will crowd out the weeds. Mowing will also eliminate most of the rank-growing broadleafed weeds.

Annual and perennial transplants with liquid or water-soluble, high-N fertilizer weekly for several feedings. Once the plants are established and growing vigorously, you can switch over to a high-nitrogen granular lawn fertilizer.
Lawn with all-nitrogen fertilizer with 30 to 40 percent 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.”

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If St. Augustine begins to develop yellowed areas that don’t green up normally check roots for evidence of take all root rot fungus (TARR). Apply fungicide Azoxystrobin to stop its further damage to the turf.
Broadleafed weeds (clover, dandelions, chickweed, thistles, wild carrots, etc.) 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.
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.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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