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1 February Gardening Tips for the Texas Coastal Bend

By Kitty Angell, Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardener

Broccoli
For Coastal Bend gardeners, this is the month we’ve learned to dread. Thank goodness it’s short! We never know what kind of weather to expect from day to day, and almost from hour to hour. But in many ways, it is exciting. Most serious gardeners are chomping at the bit to get out to their gardens, but first things first. It is important to have your tools clean and sharpened for the spring season. Also, stock up on frost cloth for tender plants. It is carried by local nurseries and box stores. If it is unavailable, haul out your old sheets and keep them handy for sudden late frosts. Do not use plastic. Plants can burn up in just a few minutes in the sun with plastic over them.

You can continue planting cool season vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, kale, lettuce and onions. Be sure to harvest winter crops before they bolt.

February 14th is the magic day here (also Valentines’ Day) because most experienced gardeners know they can start to prune roses, divide perennials, and start seeds of warm season vegetables and flowers.

Speaking of roses, there are three groups with different types of growing habits: bush types such as Belinda’s Dream, arching such as the Swamp Rose, and climbers such a Dortmund. Pruning techniques will depend on the type. Also, if the rose is a one-time bloomer such a Lady Banksia, wait until after it blooms to prune. One thing I’d like to tell gardeners is to stop agonizing over each cut. All you need is courage and a few sharp tools: a by-pass hand pruner, by-pass lopper, a small saw, thick gloves (I prefer the ones that come up to your elbows).

Lavender Lassie
Don’t worry about rough cuts; they’ll soon be hidden by new growth. Genteel cuts can then be made with hand pruners to clear up twiggy growth. Keep your tools clean by wiping with alcohol or weak bleach solution between plants to eliminate transferring disease.

You can now plant bare-root roses and fruit trees. Regarding bare-root plants: biggest is not always best. Medium to small sizes usually become established faster and give you a better picture of your over-all landscape design. Consider the size of your garden and whether the mature plant will take up too much space. If using a trellis, try to give the plant room to cover it nicely. Vigorous climbers such as Mermaid, Cécile Brünner, or New Dawn will overwhelm small gardens. Try Buff Beauty, Red Cascade, Sea Foam and Lavender Lassie as they are more mannerly climbers.

Madame Alfred Carriere
Some gardeners shy away from roses because of the thorns, but there are actually varieties that have few, if any thorns. These roses include Lady Banksia, Basye’s Blueberry, Marie Pavie’, Madame Alfred Carriere and Zephirine Drouhin.

Don’t fertilize newly set out trees or shrubs until they have started to grow. Roses, on the other hand, are different. A newly-planted rose could stand a good drink of one percent solution of seaweed. Seaweed is a natural root stimulator that has all the micronutrients the roses need. You can also use this seaweed solution on new tomato transplants, and it will enhance germination of seeds. Always spray early in the morning when temperatures are cool.

A good slow-release organic fertilizer such as Microlife, Sustane®, or Texas Tea is good for our plants without contaminating our precious ground water. Nitrogen in chemical fertilizers, if not used right away by the plants can pass on through the soil to contaminate ground water. Organic fertilizer has to be converted to a plant usable form by soil microorganisms so that it stays in the soil until used. Be sure to keep gardening and thanks for reading!

1 comment:

said...

Thank you Kitty for some useful info on the roses.I do landscape maintanance and you are right..ready to get to work! Keep up with the useful information, always look forward to reading it!



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