Weekly Express-News Article

By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Water Resources Director, and Horticulturist

Saturday, December 29, 2007


“Gardening Resolutions”



      It is the New Year and time for resolutions. There are opportunities to improve our lives through gardening and opportunities to improve your gardening experience. Consider these resolutions for 2008.


1)      Spend more time in the garden in 2008. Gardening is good exercise and contributes to a positive state of mind.  In your busy life give a high priority to gardening time to take advantage of its contribution through exercise and to your mental health.

2)      Use less water in your gardening.  San Antonio gardeners have reduced water use, but there is still a huge potential (25% at least) to reduce water use without reducing vegetable yield, flowers or the attractiveness of your landscape.  Using SIP to determine when to water your lawn, installing drip irrigation, repairing leaks when they are discovered, and using more mulch are just a few of the techniques that will help fulfill this resolution.

3)      Use your gardening knowledge to benefit our community through participation in Master Gardeners, Garden Volunteers of South Texas, Master Naturalists, Audubon Docents, and/or Botanical Garden Docents, These groups have beautification, water conservation, wildlife habitat,  recycling, education and environmental projects in which you can participate.

4)      Introduce at least one youth to gardening in 2008.  If they respond research shows they will have a life long hobby, do better in school, be more likely to be a good citizen, and live a more satisfying life.

5)      Recycle more gardening waste in 2008. Leaves are the easiest materials to recycle. Use them for mulch, compost them, or just let them decompose on the lawn.  It is environmentally unacceptable to bag them for disposal in the landfill.

6)      Resolve to plant at least one tree in 2008.  The tree could be in your yard, in a common area, at a school, in a park or at your church. Growing trees reduce runoff, reduce CO2 emissions, and conserve water and energy by providing shade.

7)      Resolve to increase the care you take in using pesticides.  Use the least toxic option, read the label carefully, and follow the label accurately.  This would be a good year to dispose of all your old and unlabeled pesticides. Also identify those chemicals you are not likely to use and discard them. Dispose of the hazardous waste at an official disposal site.  In San Antonio, call 311 to obtain the location and schedule of the site.


After you complete writing up your gardening resolutions, here are some other tasks that should be considered.

            In the vegetable garden, plant your onion transplants.  The 1015’s are the most popular selection, but Bermuda, Granex, red hamburger, and other varieties work well.  Place the transplants every two inches in the row so that the middle two onions can be used for green onions as the winter progresses.


            Keep the broccoli harvested.  The plants will produce side shoots after the central head as removed.  Cauliflower curd will turn yellow if you do not shade the head.  The easiest way to do it is to use spring mechanism clothes pins to pin up the leaves over the head.


            Harvest spinach and other greens as you need them.  Only remove one-third of any plant’s foliage at one time and the plants should produce until the end of April.


            The lawn does not need much attention in January.  Irrigate once if it is warm and we do not have rain.  Mow once to keep winter weeds in check. 


            The nurseries quite often have larkspur and bluebonnet transplants available in January.  Plant them in full sun.


            Plant trees, shrubs, perennials, and fruits in January to take advantage of cool weather for root development before the summer heat arrives.