Thursday, April 27, 2017

May in Your South Texas Garden

I am going to risk sounding like a broken record and say prepare yourself - and your plants - for a hotter-than-normal summer!
  • Get on a good watering schedule.   This time a year, I usually water my vegetable beds once a week but will be checking the soil on day 4 or 5 to make sure it doesn't need it sooner.  Stressed plants are a target for insects.   Our plants will already be a bit stressed from our hot, hot, hot weather.  Don't compound that by starving them for water. 
  • Weed, weed, weed.   Weeds compete with your plants for both moisture and nutrients.   Don't let them steal those valuable resources.
  • MULCH!   It doesn't matter what your mulch of choice is.   I use wood chips, shredded leaves, and hay throughout my garden spaces.   My goal is to have no exposed soil.  
This month you will want to: 
  • I'm going to repeat myself again, and remind you to apply a layer of mulch to all planting beds.   If you see bare soil, cover it with something!   This will save you water, will protect your plants roots from the heat, will keep (some)  weed seed from sprouting. and will add organic matter to your planting beds. 
  • Check your plants for pests.   My go-to treatment is a sharp stream of water.  You may need to do this every day or two until they give up.   There are some pests that you can just pick off and squish - like tomato horn worm. There are some that will need something stronger.   I use an insecticidal soap on hard bodied insects like scale.   As I've said before, when you see something that is munching on your plants, identify it before you decide that it is a pest. The resource I use is   
  • Plant some nectar and host plants to attract butterflies to your garden.  Host plants are the plants that the butterfly will lay her eggs on. You have to be okay with the fact that the caterpillars are going to eat these plants before they form a chrysalis.  I don't know of any instance where their feeding kills the host plant; they just grow back.   The host plants that I always like to have are dill, fennel, and milkweed.   Last summer when I got hot and tired and abandoned my garden, I ended up with lots of action on the old kale and artichoke plants.
  • Shred your dry bluebonnets with a seed trimmer.   The seed will lay on the ground and work its way into the ground until next winter when it's time to sprout and begin the cycle again.  If you had heavy flowering and seed production, you can spread your bluebonnet planting around by spreading some of the shredded plants onto a new area.     
  • Turn and water your compost.   With warm temperatures, your compost bins will dry out and then nothing will happen in there.   Turning and keeping the material moist (not wet, just moist) will help the process. 
  • Deadhead your cutting flowers and roses for continued blossoms.
  • For best taste, harvest vegetables every day.   
  • Trim off palm seeds before they mature.  They are beautiful but they become heavy (and hard to dispose of).   If you leave them, they drop and germinate.  And who's got time for that!   There can be 100s - no 1,000s of baby palm trees to be pulled one-by-one.
  • PLANT: 
  • Trees:   Don't plant them now unless you have to for an occupancy certificate.  
  • Palms, cycads, yuccas, and agaves:  Plant any and all now!   They do best planted during warm months.  
  • Vegetables:  okra, southern peas (like black-eyed peas), and peppers from transplants. 
  • Herbs:  Dill, fennel, lavendar, mint (grow in a pot to contain the roots), oregano, parsley, rosemary
  • Flowers from seed:  alyssum, aster, cosmos, marigold, sunflower, zinnia
  • Flowers from transplants: dianthus, ice plant, geraniums, kalanchoes, marigold, periwinkle, ruellia, salvia, zinnia, 
  • Flowers from cuttings:  geranium, ice plant, kalanchoe,ruellia
  • Fertilize
  • Acid fertilizer for your acid loving plants like gardenias
  • Any vegetable / herb that is a heavy feeder.

Here's my downloadable May Gardening Calendar.   I just sat down and listed the tasks I plan to accomplish next month.  Of course, that list will grow . . . It's also a great spot to keep track of garden observations.  

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