Saturday, October 13, 2012

October in the Garden

October finds south Texas in the middle of its second growing season.  It's a great month for planting!

If you are planting spring wildflower seed, you will want to get it into the ground before November 15th.   A bluebonnets hard seed coating breaks down slowly with rain and heat.   When purchasing bluebonnet seed, look for “scarified” or treated seed to ensure quick germination.  Bluebonnet seed germinates in the fall, grows a rosette of leaves and lots of roots during the winter, and blooms in the spring.  Natural rainfall is usually sufficient to grow wildflowers.    Nastursiums should be treated much like bluebonnets.  I never could grow this lovely bright annual until a friend told me to plant it by Halloween.  Like magic, we had an abundance of nastursiums the following spring.   Both the leaves and flowers are edible.   The leaves have a peppery flavor and are a good substitute for watercress.   Use them on sandwiches or in salads.  

Back to gardening . . . .   Divide your spring-blooming perennials (Shasta daisy, daylily, amaryllis and iris). When clumps grow thick and don’t bloom well, it’s time to divide them – about every 2 to 4 years. Large clumps can be divided with a shovel. Add organic matter and compost to the planting bed before replanting your newly divided perennials. 

Your shrubs will benefit from a light pruning and fertilizing right now.   In particular all lantanas are probably pretty overgrown and leggy.   Mine were covered with mealy bugs so I trimmed them WAY back to remove the pest - probably overdid it a bit, but at least I don't have to mess with the mealybugs . . . .
Cold weather crops can still be added to your planting beds:  broccoli, brussel sprouts, carrots, cauliflowers, eggplant, lettuce, onions, and spinach are some staples in our winter vegetable garden.  Carrots are the only thing I'll plant with seed -  Tomatoes aren't considered a cool season crop, but we should have enough warm days ahead that we've added some new plants.  We've also kept three tomatoes and a couple of bell peppers from the spring garden and have pruned them back.   We'll see how they do. 

Pick your vegetables and flowers to keep the plants producing. Likewise, trim your herbs will keep them growing. Encourage leaf growth by removing the flowers. Plants won’t use as much water during cooler months so reduce your watering.

The fall is the best time to plant trees.  We've FINALLY planted a lime tree this morning and have spots picked out for six new live oaks to line the back of our yard. 

Don't you love Fall?   Get out there and grow something!

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