Calvin R. Finch, Ph.D., Conservation
Manager, San Antonio Water System,
Q. What variety of okra do you recommend and when should it be planted?
A. Clemson Spineless and Louisiana Green Velvet work well. In fact, most selections prosper in South Texas. Okra is a hot weather plant that is even fussier than peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants about soil temperatures. If you want to rush the season, plant okra after April 1, but April 15 planted okra often does better than the early seeeded beds.
Q. How do you tell if our plants were killed or not in the freeze?
A. The easiest way is just to wait until the normal sprouting time plus two weeks. A plant like hibiscus or firebush could be severely damaged but eventually recover. Another strategy on woody perennials is to start cutting from the top until you reach a place in the stem where the cross-section is entirely green.
Q. What should we replant in the vegetable garden? The only thing that seemed to live through the freeze was the spinach.
A. It is too late to replant English peas. Replant carrots, radish, beets, chard, and rutabagas. If the weather stays cool and you replant, you might get a short broccoli crop and some lettuce. Onions will resprout but may bolt, so use them as quickly as you can as green onions. The potatoes will resprout.
Q. My beautiful sweet peas were flattened by the freeze. Is it worthwhile to replant?
A. No, I believe the season is too short to produce blooms before warm weather arrives.
Q. Is it time to fertilize the lawn and begin watering? I am anxious for green grass.
A. It is too early to fertilize and water. Our hot weather grasses can not utilize the nitrogen until the soil is warm, the top is green, and the roots are active. Fertilizer applied now is wasted on the weeds. For early green-up in the spring, autumn fertilization has more effect than spring fertilizer. Fertilize after April 15.
Q. When will the American goldfinches head north? They are showing their golden breeding plumage.
A. They usually stay in the South well into April. Keep the thistle feeder full.