Gardening This Weekend: April 4, 2024

So, here’s my start of a list for the most critical things to accomplish between now and the middle of April. Ready! Get set! Grow!

New nursery stock. Supplies will never be better. Ask a Texas Certified Nursery Professional to help you choose only types that are perfectly suited to your locale. Be mindful of their mature size as well.
Annual color. It’s time for the warm-season types that will stand up to summer’s heat. Cosmos, cockscombs, celosias, pentas, angelonias, trailing lantanas, wax begonias, coleus, and purple fountaingrass, among others. In warmer South Texas you can already plant heat-loving types such as Gold Star Esperanza, periwinkles, copper plants, firebush, hybrid purslane, moss rose, and caladiums.
Warm-season vegetables. Finish tomato plantings. Concentrate on small and mid-sized types. Avoid large-fruiting types because they will not set fruit in high temperatures.
Turfgrass from sod or plugs. South Texans can seed bermudagrass. North Texans probably should wait another week or two for the soils to warm.

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Spring-flowering shrubs and vines as soon as possible after they finish blooming to remove erratic growth and to encourage regrowth before fall.
Houseplants you’ve brought out to a shaded spot beneath trees or under a patio overhang. Reshape them as needed, repot, fertilize, and water. Do not expose them to sunlight.

Turf with an all-nitrogen (or high-N) plant food with 30 to 40 percent of that nitrogen in slow-release (encapsulated or coated) form. I prefer simple fertilizers without insecticides and herbicides. Those can be added in separate passes if and when they are needed.
That same all-N (or high-N) fertilizer will work well for all your landscape and garden plants, from tomatoes to roses, groundcovers to grapevines. Application rates should be on the back of the bag.
Water-soluble, high-nitrogen plant food is best for potted plants and hanging baskets. Apply with each watering all growing season long. I also include a timed-release product for sustained feeding over several months.

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Small weeds invading vegetable and garden beds can usually be eliminated with a 1-inch layer of compost or bark mulch. If not, use a well-sharpened hoe – the corner of the hoe’s head is best for grubbing them out with almost no exertion.
Clover, dandelions, thistles, and other gross and rampant large weeds can be eliminated easily either by mowing regularly or by application of a broadleafed weedkiller (containing 2,4-D). Read and follow label directions carefully for best results.
Slugs, snails, and pillbugs will feast on tender new growth. Dust leaves and soil beneath the plants with Sevin. After a couple of days you can wash it off the plants.
Cabbage loopers show up as pretty, small white butterflies, but then the looping larvae chew holes through leaves of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and other Cole crops. Control with Bacillus thuringiensis biological worm control, either as spray or dust.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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