A Publication of the Waco Tribune-Herald
Sunday, march 22, 2015
Rookie Green Thumb Mistakes Planting too close together
By Tresa Erickson
Gardening is not the simplest thing in the world. It takes time and effort, and lots of practice, to learn all of the tips and tricks of the trade. If you are just beginning, here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid.
Choosing the wrong spot
Gardens won’t grow just anywhere. Choose an area with good soil, light and water conditions. Plants can be hardy, but they won’t grow and flourish in poor conditions.
Plants need room to grow. Find out how much space the plants you select need and place them accordingly in your garden. If the label suggests the plants be placed a foot apart, do it.
Fertilizer will help plants grow, but there is such a thing as too much. Read the package and follow the amount recommended. Don’t fudge on the amount. Too much fertilizer will make your plants grow much too fast and be spindly and susceptible to pests and diseases.
Forgetting to mulch
Forgetting to prep the site
Test the soil every year and amend it if necessary. Remember, soil is the foundation of your garden. If it doesn’t have the nutrients your plants need to grow, you won’t have a garden.
Mulching offers many benefits. It reduces evaporation, retains moisture, prevents weeds and keeps plants cooler. It also adds nutrients to the soil as it breaks down. Don’t dismiss the importance of mulching. Place a three-inch layer around all of your plants, shrubs and trees.
Choosing the wrong plants
Mistaking flowers for weeds
Plants won’t grow just anywhere. You need to know the conditions of your garden site and choose plants accordingly. Don’t expect a bunch of shade-loving plants to flourish in an area that receives full sun.
It’s easy to mistake flowers for weeds and vice versa. That’s why it is important to mark your plants when you put them into the ground. That way, as your garden starts growing, you will be able to distinguish the flowers from the weeds.
Watering too little ...or too much
You do not have to water your garden every hour on the hour or go weeks on end between waterings. Doing so will cause your plants to rot or dry up quickly. To see if you need to water your garden, stick your finger about a foot down into the soil. If the soil feels dry, you need to get out the hose. If it feels fine, you can leave your garden be for a day or two. If you want a surefire fix, considering installing a smart irrigation system.
These are some of the more common mistakes rookie gardeners make. Keep them in mind as you start your garden. And, remember, practice makes perfect. Should you need help, don’t hesitate to ask. Most expert gardeners would be more than willing to listen and offer their advice.
Sunday, march 22, 2015
A look around your neighborhood in the spring will likely reveal a plethora of petunias brightly blooming. Get a little closer and experience one of the flower’s most definitive characteristics: refreshingly vivid fragrance. Petunias are also wildly popular for their ease planting and maintenance, which means you’ll get to enjoy a season of bright, beautiful flowers without having to break your back.
CHOOSING YOUR VARIETY
There are more than 100 varieties of petunias, and even more considering options for hybrid plants. Grandiflora and Multiflora are two of the most popular types of petunias, despite their distinct differences. The Grandiflora produces large flowers that are perfect for hanging baskets and window boxes. The Multiflora is more compact and produces smaller flowers. Typically, they are bunched together to produce vibrant pops of color in a landscaped area or flower garden.
WHAT PETUNIAS NEED
So you need petunias to punctuate one of your outdoor areas with rich, striking colors. Here’s what it needs from you, according to the University of Minnesota Extension: • Location with plenty of light — five to six hours of good sunlight per day • Decently draining soil conditioned with organic matter, such as peat moss or leaf compost • Thorough watering once per week — enough to soak the soil to a depth of about 6 inches
Here are some tried and true plating tips from the University of Minnesota Extension: • Wait until the soil warms to about 60 degrees and the danger of frost is gone. • Follow the spacing instructions on your flowers’ packaging. Most require to be spaced about 4 to 12 inches apart. • Plan to provide some protection from the middaysun for the first few days after planting. © FOTOLIA
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Sunday, march 22, 2015
Plant by Dr. Shane McLellan, CEA-Ag, McLennan County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
ome gardening continues to grow in popularity. The recent growth in home gardening has led some to refer to this increase being similar to the victory garden push of the 40’s. There are many aspects of gardening. I will try to start you off on the right path with this article. I will be talking primarily about everything that should occur before you plant. Planting information would be another topic for another day. Whatever your reason for planting a garden, there are some basic rules you should follow to make your efforts productive. The first step for a successful garden experience would be the site or location of your garden. An area that receives full to nearly full sun is a must. Having a soil profile that is deep and well drained is also important. Having a source of ready water nearby is a labor saver. I prefer a site that doesn’t have shrubs or trees nearby that will compete for available moisture and nutrients, but it's not a must. The second step is to decide what vegetables you will grow. There are many choices of vegetables for small and large operations and to fit your pallet. For your initial planning, be very conservative. Only plan to plant what you will consume or be able to preserve the surplus (or gift to a friend). After you have chosen the vegetable, the next step is choosing specific
varieties of each vegetable that are suited for our area. The McLennan County Master Gardeners recently updated a publication for me that includes varieties of plants recommended to grow and prosper in Central Texas. Having an overall garden plan may seem to be overkill, but it will save you money, cut down on mistakes and provide you a guide to your goal of producing a safe edible vegetable for you and your family. Familiarize yourself with maturity of specific vegetables, short growing seasons (30 to 60 days) vs long growing seasons (80 days or more). Plant your taller crops on the northern side of the garden plot where their height won't be a shade issue for shorter growing plants. Group plants based on maturity. Soil preparation is often the limiting factor in home garden production. Ideally, you want your garden to be on a deep, well-drained soil profile. If you are among the less fortunate, you will need to alter your soil to allow for drainage and aeration. On those heavy clay soils, adding organic matter should improve the soil for gardening. Sand can often be used on those clay soils and should be added in the late fall or early spring. An inch or two of sand, plus 2 to 3 inches of good organic matter incorporated with the top soil, will instantly improve the soil drainage.
However, it may take several years to improve the soil site for a productive garden. Fertilization is the second most limiting factor to home gardening. Your fertilizer applications will vary by site and on what your target goals are for production. I prefer split applications of fertilizer in gardens rather than heavy doses of fertilizer. Split applications at lower rates allow for more efficient fertilizer use by the target crop and reduces waste. This “smart fertilizing” also decreased the total amount of fertilizer you will use. I always recommend a soil test be conducted annually in gardens. Any soil amendments and crop residue from a previous year will alter your soil nutrient levels. Soil testing information can be obtained at the County Extension office located at 420 North Sixth Street in Waco or go to http://soiltesting. tamu.edu/. I do not recommend the use of triple anything. On deep sandier soils, you will probably need a complete preplant fertilizer such as a 6-12-12 at the rate of 1 to 2 lbs per 100 sq feet. On those lovely heavy clay soils, a ratio of 10-20-20 or a 12-24-12 at the same rate of 1 to 2 lbs should be enough for most gardens. Of course preplant means before you plant. On preplant applications, till the soil and then spread the fertilizer out by hand or with a spreader, then incorporate
Sunday, march 22, 2015
Daphne Richards, County Extension Agent- Horticulture Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Travis County, 1600-B Smith Road, Austin, TX 78721 512-854-9600 firstname.lastname@example.org Compiled by Patty G Leander, Master Gardener Vegetable Specialist
Plants grown in winter will benefit from protection during freezing weather Plants grown in late summer will benefit from shade cover during establishment
the fertilizer with the soil. I like gardens planted on beds and make rows of raised bed after I mix fertilizer with the soil. If you have alkaline soils, it can be slightly more complicated. Call our office or the Master Gardeners for that information. As the plants grow and the plants Nitrogen needs are not being met, you can side dress with products like 21-0-0 at the rate of 2 to 3 lbs per 100 linear feet of row, applied in the furrow. For
Average first frost November 27
Artichoke (crowns/transplants) Asian greens (seeds or transplants) Asparagus (crowns) Beans, snap and lima Beets Broccoli (transplants) Brussels sprouts (transplants) Cabbage (transplants) Cantaloupe (muskmelon) Carrots Cauliflower (transplants) Chard, Swiss (seeds or transplants) Collards (seeds or transplants) Corn Cucumber Eggplant (transplants) Fava beans Garlic Greens, cool season Greens, warm season Kale (seeds or transplants) Kohlrabi (seeds or transplants) Leeks (seeds/transplants) Lettuce (seeds or transplants) Mustard (seeds or transplants) Okra Onion, bulbing (transplants) Onion, bunching/multiplying Peas, English, snap and snow Peas, Southern Pepper (transplants) Potato, Irish Potato, sweet (slips) Pumpkin Radish Shallots Spinach (seeds or transplants) Squash, summer Squash, winter Tomatoes (transplants) Turnip Watermelon
Average last freeze March 8
Plant seed unless otherwise noted
tomatoes and squash, make this application at the first fruit set. For our leafy crops like lettuce, apply fertilizer when they start putting on those character type leaves. For the inexperienced and the seasoned gardener, it is valuable to have a source of unbiased science based information. A great source is the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s McLennan County Master Gardeners http://mclennanmastergardeners.
org. They have a wealth of knowledge to provide to the public. Our “Ask an Expert” Master Gardener program has started back up and current Master Gardeners will be in the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office answering horticulture related questions on Tuesday and Thursday of each week from 1:30 to 4 pm. Our office phone number is (254)757-5180.
Sunday, march 22, 2015
Trim Your Trees Safely
After a cold winter of windy conditions and heavy snowfall, your trees could probably use a little TLC this spring. But before you gas up the saw or sharpen the pruners, remember that trimming trees can be one of the most dangerous jobs around the yard. According to a report on OSHA.gov, the three most common types of serious tree trimming accidents are:
This usually involves a person working too closely to electric lines. Always be vigilant of where your power lines are and keep a safe distance away from them.
FALLING FROM TREES
You can be seriously injured or killed if you fall from a tree, no matter the height. It is important to use the utmost caution when in a tree because you’re dealing with many dangerous circumstances, including the saw you’re trimming with and the potential for falling.
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Sunday, march 22, 2015
BEING STRUCK BY BRANCHES OR LIMBS
Before trimming your trees, take a visual check of the branches and limbs above you. There may be some that are no longer attached to the tree but hanging within the branches. If jostled too much, these falling branches and limbs can cause serious head injuries or cause you to fall from the tree.
HOW TO STAY SAFE
To prevent tree-trimming accidents, take responsibility for your own safety. Read and follow directions that come with all climbing, cutting and safety equipment. Doing so will ensure your safety while operating tools such as chainsaws, pruners and climbing gear. Concentrate on the job at hand, even if the task seems mundane. You may be tempted to take shortcuts or work quickly if you have a lot of yard work to complete that day.
Take your time to fully protect yourself and others around you from danger.
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Sunday, march 22, 2015
FALL HOME & GARDEN | TERMINOLOGY Have you ever brought a plant home from your local gardening center only to be confused by the directions for actually putting it in the ground? The gardening industry has lingo all its own, which can be somewhat perplexing for the novice green thumb. What does it mean when a plant is “bolting?” How exactly do you “broadcast” seeds? And those are just a couple of gardening terms that start with ‘B.’ Use this simple glossary the next time you are staring in bewilderment at the directions for planting your seeds. • Annual: A plant that grows, flowers and dies all in the course of one year. Petunias, violas, marigolds and dianthuses are some of the most popular annuals. • Bolting: The early stages of flowering for a plant, even before it enters the development phase of its crop. Some of the most common bolting plants include lettuce, radishes and cabbage. • Broadcast: A method of scattering seed by hand instead of sowing it in rows. • Compost: An organic growing matter comprised of decomposed garden waste such as fallen leaves, grass clippings and even food byproducts like banana peels. • Deciduous: Plants that naturally lose their leaves during the cold winter months. • Herbs: Used for seasoning, medicinal purposes or garnishes, these aromatics have fragrant leaves or flowers.
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