Spring was cool, so some gardening chore hours were changed a bit. The soil is finally warm enough to plant caladium bulbs, for example.
It’s also finally time to plant warm season grasses, Bermuda, buffalo and other native grasses by seed. The annual summer color may come in now, as we discussed in last week’s column. It’s also time for hot-season food crops: okra, southern peas, sweet potatoes, Malabar spinach, pumpkins, squash, etc. All trees, shrubs, vines and perennials can be planted now.
As usual, avoid all synthetic fertilizers, especially nitrogenous products and chemical “weed and feed” mixtures, but it’s time for the second organic fertilization of the year. Use about 20 pounds of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet. To give the plants an extra boost, add fish, alfalfa, or corn gluten meal. Spray all Garrett Juice plantings every two weeks or at least once a month. Apply the diseased tree treatment to all diseased trees and other woody plants.
Prune erratic shoots of abelia, elaeagnus, Lady Banks roses, etc. Remove wilted flowers and prune flowering plants back by a third if they have started to decline. Don’t wait until they have completely stopped flowering. Remove fruiting stems from blackberries after harvesting the fruit. Prune the new stems to 3 feet tall to encourage side branching. Prune dead and damaged wood from trees and shrubs as needed.
Water all planting areas deeply but rarely during dry periods. As the temperature rises, daily watering is required for some potted plants. Add one ounce per gallon of apple cider vinegar or the whole Garrett juice blend at least once a month.
For pest control, apply as needed and not as a preventative measure to avoid unnecessary killing of beneficial insects and germs. For the yellow lower leaves of tomatoes, spray garlic, cornmeal juice or Garrett juice mixed 50/50 with hydrogen peroxide. Use a liquid algae spray for spider mite infestations.
For fleas, ticks and chiggers, sprinkle lightly with sulfur in dry weather and release beneficial nematodes at any time. For brown patch and other turf diseases, reduce fertilizer use and treat with cornmeal.
For oak wilt, mealybug infestations, woodpecker and other animal damage, mistletoe invasion, chlorosis, canopy dieback, heavy gall growth and other serious diseases, apply the treatment of the diseased tree, explained in detail under GUIDES on the home page of dirtdoctor.com. Also see the brand new video course showing and explaining the treatment for diseased trees performed on one of my live oaks. The class is also on the home page. The low cost helps support the Texas Organic Research Center.
Kill weeds by hand and work on improving soil health. Spray the weeds with vinegar-based products. Mow weekly and leave clippings on the lawn. Mulch all bare soil with shredded native clippings, but do not pile mulch on the trunks and stems of the plants.