For The Answer
By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Conservation Director, and Horticulturist
Week of May 2, 2005
If you have reseeding annuals or perennials, it is time to collect the seed. Texas Gold columbine seed is especially valuable because the wholesale nurseries have been unreliable in providing new plants every year. If you have columbines, go through the garden now and collect all the partially open pods. Place them in a paper sack where the pods will dry and release the seed. Collect the pods every two days until all are harvested. It is important only to collect the pods that have matured enough to partially open. Plant the seed on the surface of a container in late summer or place it in a site in the shade under deciduous trees where the seed makes contact with the soil.
The same rules concerning seed maturity hold for bluebonnets, larkspurs, coreopsis, poppies and other reseeding annuals. If you cut them down too early, the seed will not be mature enough to germinate this autumn for next spring.
It is time to fertilize the lawn. Use a slow release lawn fertilizer such as 19-5-9. Organic fertilizers are slow release as well. They usually have very low nutrient contents such as 6-2-2. It takes three times as much 6-2-2 fertilizer as a 19-5-9 fertilizer to provide adequate nitrogen. The bag usually tells you what setting to use on the spreader to apply the recommended one-pound of nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. If it does not provide such instructions, use the lowest setting for a high nitrogen fertilizer like 19-5-9 and the 3rd lowest setting for a low nitrogen fertilizer like 6-2-2.
The winter weeds are dying now from the heat. Keep them mowed to prevent seeding. It is a waste of money and may be an environmental threat to use a “weed and feed” product in our climate.
Oak wilt is relatively easy to spread this time of the year. Wait to prune during the hottest part of the summer or the coldest part of the winter. If you must prune oaks or if they are wounded in any way, paint the wounds with pruning paint or even latex paint immediately when the wounds are discovered.
The soil is warm enough that Bermuda and buffalo grass seed will germinate now. Till in two inches of compost when possible, rake the seedbed smooth and apply the seed with a spreader. A roller works to make good seed to soil contact but do not cover the seed. The first seven days it is best to water early in the day and again in the evening. Water once per day the second week and every three days the 3rd week. The watering in the first week can be very light.
Continue your spray program on modern roses and fruits. Once per week, use acephate and Funginex on the roses. Use malathion alternated with Sevin and a labeled fungicide such as Captan on the apples and peaches. Organic gardeners can try sulfur and neem oil.
Keep the tomatoes well watered and fertilized. If they are allowed to dry out, expect blossom end rot symptoms to occur. Mulch over the root system helps reduce the problem. It is especially hard to prevent if we have cool overcast weather followed by several days of hot sunny weather.
Harvest onions when the tops flop over. The first potatoes can be harvested when the blooms appear. All the potatoes are ready to harvest when the tops die. It is very difficult to protect squash from vine borers. Apply thiodan powder at the growing point and base every week to have some chance.
When the snapdragons develop rust it is time to delegate them to the compost pile. Plant zinnias or celosia for early summer color. Later, you can plant vinca. As the cyclamen and primula decline replace them in the shade garden with caladiums, impatiens, or begonias.
Keep the hummingbird feeders full and clean.
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