By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Water Resources Director, and Horticulturist
Week of April 2, 2007
If you have been anxious for action on the lawn, this is your
month. Our grasses respond to the warm weather, and begin serious
growth in April. Fertilize with slow release lawn fertilizer late
in the month. Keep the grass mowed to help the lawn grass compete
with the winter weeds that want to form seed heads. It is not
too late to aerate and top dress the lawn. For more information
of the importance of aeration, and to apply for the SAWS rebate,
visit the SAWS website at www.saws.org. Bermuda and buffalo grass
seed will germinate late in the month. The seed requires warm
temperatures. While you are at the SAWS’ website, register
for SIP. The lawn does not require much water in April, but to
know how much is needed every week, subscribe to SIP. It is a
personalized irrigation recommendation provided free for area
Lawn grass has an amazing ability to fill in if the weather
conditions cooperate. That means there is hope that your lawn
could recover from last year’s drought without major action
on your part. To speed up the process of repair, plug in sod in
the largest dead areas of a St. Augustine lawn. The best choice
seems to be Floratam. It fared very well in drought tests in San
Antonio conducted in 2006. Floratam was the only St. Augustine
that made the cut. Also recovering at a level of 60% or more after
60 days of drought were Bermuda grass, buffalo grass, and the
wide bladed zoysia grasses.
In the vegetable garden, plant tomatoes, and peppers by transplants;
and okra, southern peas, and melons by seed. The spinach, Brussel’s
sprouts, carrots, and beets are still producing. If you planted
potatoes, you can begin harvesting them when the flowers appear.
There is nothing better than a mess of new potatoes boiled and
buttered. The onions will be ready to harvest when the leaves
fall over. It will probably occur in May.
April is usually the best month of the year for snapdragons.
Keep them well watered. Sometimes, borers will attack a planting;
acephate will usually keep them at bay. Resist the urge to cutback
the wildflowers, larkspurs, columbine, and other naturalized flowers
too early. The seeds must mature if you want a regrowth next year.
Roses should be blooming now. Hybrid teas require a spray program
if they are going to provide maximum high quality blooms. Acephate
(insects) and Funginex (fungus) are the usual sprays. Organic
gardeners can try neem oil, spinosad, and sulfur products. Old-fashioned
roses benefit by sprays and irrigation, but it is less necessary.
April is a good month to plant esperanza, lantana, the blue
salvias, and poinciana for hot weather blooms. They all require
full sun. Crepe myrtles are available in every form from miniatures
to 40 feet trees. They also bloom well in the heat. Select Indian
tribe named selections to insure resistance to powdery mildew.
Peaches and apples usually require a regular spray program to
produce a large number of high quality fruit. Consider Captan
(fungus), and alternate between malathion and Sevin for insects.
Again, organic gardeners can try neem oil, spinosad, and sulfur
products. Bt products such as Thuricide, Bio Worm Control or Dipel
control caterpillars very effectively. Apply it to the foliage
of fruit trees, flowers, and vegetables to kill caterpillars that
are feeding. It has to be consumed by the pests to work.
If you were lucky enough to have American goldfinches this year,
they will stay through the month and even into May. April is the
big month for the arrival of hummingbirds. Put sugar water feeders
on the eaves or a trellis in easy view of your patio furniture
or kitchen window. If you have a diverse array of plants and some
running water, you may be able to attract some of the migrating
birds. Painted buntings, indigo buntings orioles, and warblers
are relatively easy to observe. Unfortunately, if you do not have
purple martins in your martin house by now, you will have to wait
for next year.
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