(compiled by MG Brian D. Townsend)
“The Gardener’s Curse”
Awake, my muse, bring bell and book
To curse the hand that cuttings took.
May every sort of garden pest
His little plot of ground infest
Who stole the plants from Invereive,
From Falkland Place, Grathes too?
Let caterpillars, capsid bugs,
Leafhoppers, thrips, all sorts of slugs,
Play havoc with his garden plot.
And a late frost destroy the lot.
-Lady Maconochie of Scotland, 16th Century
Yearling Purple Martins could still be coming in looking for new nesting sites to colonize. No matter where you live, keep your housing open through June. Martins may arrive and begin nesting as late as the end of June, anywhere in North America! – PMA (visit their website below)
Goldfinches have migrated back up north! Watch feeder (if it is the “upside down type) and take down if not used. - WBC
Even when the American goldfinches leave, you can attract lesser goldfinches, house finches and an occasional painted or indigo bunting to the thistle (niger) feeder.
Do not let Amaryllis or Daylilies form fruits. Cut them off! Seed production takes food from future flowering.
If your lawn or plants are turning yellow, apply chelated iron to the soil (results are slower with soil application "granular" of iron - EO), or as a foliar spray (for a quick response) to correct iron deficiency, which causes chlorosis (yellowing).
Fertilizer your lawn with slow-release lawn fertilizer. Choose a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen and low in phosphorous and potassium. Many soil tests are showing high amounts of phosphorous and potassium. Some of the common formulas are 19-5-9, 20-5-10, 21-7-14, 27-2-2, 21-0-0 and 9-1-1. (*The right formula depends on "your" soil conditions, have it tested or just watch the weeds in your yard, they can signal deficiencies or excesses. - MB)
Fertilize established potted hibiscus and bougainvillea (every 4 to 6 wks. for hibiscus food and every 2 wks. for the soluble fertilizer) on your patio with granular hibiscus food or a water-soluble fertilizer.
Plant caladiums, coleus, begonias and firespike for color in shady locations.
Control ANTS in your compost pile by renewing the active composting. Turn the compost, wet it and add a cup of fertilizer to increase the temperature of the pile.
As outside temperatures increase, it is important to rinse and refill hummingbird feeders twice a week or more. Pour the old sugar water on a rock or in a bowl with a sponge for the butterflies (they like the fermented drink, that's why they fly like they do!)
There still is time to plant tomatoes. Use the largest plants available. - CF
Prune spirea, quince and Indian hawthorn shrubs after blooming is complete, if needed. - EO
Onions are ready to be harvested when the tops fall over. Place the bulbs on the ground for a day or two to harden off.
Harvest columbine seeds now. Place stalks in paper bag to collect seeds.
Zinnia, lantana, firebush, esperanza and VIP petunia planted in full sun will add color to your landscape. Plant caladiums, coleus, begonias and firespike in the shade. – TAE
Look for leaf spot on photinias and Indian hawthorns. Rake and remove leaves from beneath the shrubs and spray with a general fungicide.
Lookout for SPIDER MITES turning needles of junipers, cypress, arborvitaes brown, generally from the insides of the plants outward, use Kelthane miticide spray (Neem oil spray is also effective).
If GRASSHOPPERS are ravaging your gardens, use general-purpose insecticide, sweeping downward from top to bottom of plants.
Powdery mildew of crape myrtles, euonymus, zinnias, Cedar elms and for Early blight causing large yellow blotches on bottom leaves of tomatoes, use general purpose fungicide such as Funginex or Daconil.
Watch out for nutsedge, use Image or Manage.
Continue to spray pecan trees with zinc. Check new nutlets for PECAN NUT CASE BEARER. If treatment is necessary, use Malathion or liquid Sevin.
Fertilize container plants every week or two with liquid fertilizer.
Plant okra and southern peas.
Harvest onions, and allow them to air dry for a couple of days before storing.
Trim perennials of dead wood from last year. Prune suckers from crape myrtles. - LR
Plant selections for shady areas: A)Turf- St. Augustine, Zoysia; B)Shrubs- hollies, cleyera, aucubas, fatsias and viburnums; C)Sm. Trees- yaupon and other hollies trained into tree-form, Japanese maples and larger viburnums; D)Groundcovers- English and Algerian ivies (do not use Algerian ivy in colder areas north and northwest of S.A.),lamium, ajuga, mondograss and dwarf mondograss, liriope and ferns. Use aspidistra as a tall herbaceous ground cover, perhaps in combination with ferns, in a really shady bed; E)Perennials- Texas Gold columbines, violets, oxalis, ajuga, liriope, summer phlox and spiderwort; F)Foliage- pony-tail, split-leaf philodendrons, tropical ferns and unusual ficuses, sansevierias, fancy-leafed begonias, crotons, dieffenbachias and aglaonemas. - NS
A smoky haze may be covering our area of South Texas and other areas. It’s coming from out of control forest fires and brushing burning in Central America and Mexico and may hang around for some time until they can gain some control. The pollution can be harmful to those with health risks, necessary precautions should be taken during this time. Watch your local news and weather for details. – SB
Weeds: A Commonsense Approach – C. S. C. (Texas Gardener, May/June 2003)
Think about it, even the lowly sandbur has a place in nature where it is useful in healing scarred and damaged land by preventing overgrazing by animals. But if you find it growing in your garden or lawn it is a nasty weed. My point is that a weed is not an inherently bad plant but simply a plant that is growing in the wrong place at the wrong time. Here are some simple rules to follow to help you keep weds from driving you crazy: 1) Unwanted plants are more likely to sprout in areas where the soil has either been disturbed by plow or fire. Overworking the soil will create more opportunities for weeds to grow and more work for you. 2) use organic mulches to prevent weed development in cultivated beds and gardens. 3) Attack weeds when they are young and small and, consequently, easier to remove. 4) Avoid using herbicides, particularly products that contain Atrazine. Atrazine is a pre-emergent herbicide that can damage and kill trees and shrubs in the landscape. Some broadleaf herbicides can drift onto desirable plants, causing damage, even on calm days. Spend some money on a good hoe – it is the safest herbicide we know of and using it is great exercise. 5) Accept the fact that most gardens get a little weedy in July. Dr. Sam Cotner, former head of horticulture at Texas A&M, told me once that we ought to have a contest for the weediest garden in Texas and he was not joking. His point was that weeds get ahead of most folks towards the end of the season and we should wear them like a badge of honor, not shame.
Did you know the pesky dandelion attracts the very beneficial “lady bug”, and those feathery little seeds kids love to send afloat attract goldfinches! - me
In Our Rose Garden: “Failure is never fatal; success is never final – especially with roses.” – HW Weather-wise, early May is a delightful time to work in the garden. There is much that can be done.
A) Watering- Remember to keep the top 6"to 8" of your rose bed soils moist. Now is a good time to plan a weekly watering schedule for the upcoming summer season. Container roses will dry out quicker, so water them more often.
B) Bush Grooming- Make sure all blooms have been cut (deadheading eliminates a haven for thrips to reproduce)from the first cycle. Cut to a five leaflet when removing old blooms. Cut out any spindly, cluttered growth which is an ideal place for spider mites and fungus problems to start. Cutting out blind shoots (short stems that are not vigorously growing), check for dieback (stems turning black & moving downward) from a previous cuts and any old or dead wood. Try and open up the bush as much as possible to provide good air circulation and make it possible to get better coverage with your spray materials.
C) Feeding- 1. Dry Feed- Once a month use 10-20-19 or 12-24-12, a good general purpose fertilizer. It doesn't have to say "rose food" (That makes it 3 or 4 dollars higher). Give each bush one cup spread around the drip line. For mini's use 1/4 cup per plant. Water in after applying.
2. Liquid or Soluble Feed- Every two weeks mix two cups of 20-20-20 in a 32 gal. garbage can and pour one gallon around each bush. Mini's get one quart each. (* Now's the time to launch a major thrust for more basal and low breaks with a readily available source of nitrogen followed by Epsom salts applied just after the initial bloom cycle while roses are at their peak of vigor. Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) works best when "available" nitrogen is present (a nitrate form is best). Use a soluble 20-20-20 the first week, 1/2 cup of Epsom salts the second week, with successive applications of 20-20-20 weeks three and four. Cut the 20-20-20 concentration in half due to the frequency of application. New basals require "lots" of energy in the root zone for results, driven by "lots" of water. - HW)
3. Slow Release Fertilizers- Use Osmocote(,Plus), or the new one called Sta-Green (which releases fertilizer based on soil temps., not moisture content). Make sure that if you use any slow release fertilizers, you use them according to directions.
D) Spraying- Maintain a regular 5-7 day spray interval to keep your garden free of blackspot, mildew or any other fungus problems. 1. Blackspot & Mildew- Use Funginex (1 Tbsp. per gal. of spray). 2. Thrips- To keep your blooms clean and pretty, mist the buds and flowers with Orthene or Cygon. Use either Orthene liquid (2 Tbsp.), Orthene powder (2 tsp) or Cygon (2 tsp) per gal. of mixture. 3. Spider mites- Use Green Light mite spray mix (2tsp) per gal. of spray mixture. Spray bottom sides of the foliage where the mites are. If you prefer to use plain old water, just wash the bottomside of the foliage every three days for nine days. Avid is a sure kill if you have a fresh supply used 3 times 3 to 4 days apart. Hexagon is great as it kills the eggs and is long lasting, and Floramite is a new miticide. It is highly recommended that two or three different approaches be used over the warm season to ward off mites developing a resistance to the chemicals.
E) Mulching- This is a very important key to having good late spring and summer rose growth on your roses. There are some good combinations to use for mulching such as: 1. Lay down 2" of compost, and on top of that put 1"of chopped up leaves (Oak works well). 2. Lay down 2" of aged horse manure, and on top of that put 1" of chopped up leaves. 3. Lay down 2" of mushroom compost, and on top of that put 1" of grass clippings (St. Augustine preferred, not Bermuda). Mulch does a number of things for your roses including preserving surface moisture, protecting feeder roots from the heat, retards weeds and encourages the natural soil process.
PLEASE REMEMBER TO WATER THOROUGHLY BEFORE FEEDING OR SPRAYING! (Visit the San Antonio Rose Society’s web site @ http://www.sarosesociety.org)
Organic Rose Program - HG (see Feb2do list for complete program)
Watering: If possible, save and use rainwater. If not, add 1 tbsp. of natural apple cider vinegar per gal. of water. If all else fails, just use tap water but, in any case don't over water. Avoid salty well water.
For best results foliar feed with Garrett Juice every 2 weeks, but at least once a month. When soil is healthy, nothing but Garrett Juice is needed in the spray. During our hot Texas months, try to watering and spraying in the morning.
Pest Control Program: Add the following to Garrett Juice and spray as needed.
Garlic tea - 1/4 cup/gal. or label directions for minor insect or disease infestations.
Citrus oil, orange oil, or d-limonene - 1 oz./gal. of water as a spray, 2 oz./gal. of water as a drench.
Potassium bicarbonate - 1 rounded tbsp./gal. for minor diseases.
Liquid biostimulants - Use per label - Agrispon, AgriGro, Medina, Bio-Innoculant or similar product.
Neem - Use per label directions for more serious insect and disease infestations.
Fish emulsion - 2 oz./gal. for additional nutrients (may not be needed when using compost tea).
A YEAR IN THE ROSE GARDEN: by A.J."Pop" Warner
The first week or two of May usually is the lowest point of the entire blooming season. Watch for spider mites. Take action at the first indication. They are not too hard to control if we do not let them get a head start. First-year gardens often escape mites if they were planted with clean stock, but before long the birds, the wind or whatever will bring them in.
Keeping spent blooms cut will make the garden look better, reduce thrips and improve the growth of the bush. If one is short of time, simply snapping off the faded bloom at the peduncle is quite acceptable. It may even make for better growth of young plants.
Adjust fertilizer application to the weather conditions. A period of heavy rains can leach much of the fertilizer, especially nitrogen, out of the soil. On the other hand, in dry times when the only water is the limited amounts applied by the busy rosarian, very limited amounts of fertilizer are needed. It has been established that if all the fertilizer applied were available and used by the plant it would take only about 2 ounces per plant per year. The rest we lose by leaching or other reasons.
Weekly spraying with Triforine has kept most rose gardens in the area free of mildew, but the few who did contract it brought it under control with Rubigan. Those who had blackspot, or suspected they were vulnerable, added 1/2 tablespoon of Dithane M-45 to their spray mixture with excellent results.
The optimum temperature for growth of both blackspot and mildew on roses is around 70 degrees F., and by the end of the month we probably will be averaging well over that figure. As the weather gets hot some will try to stretch the spraying intervals or use weaker than specified dilution of spray materials. As many of us have found out, this is a mistake.
Keep beds well-mulched. In our area a heavy mulch has proven very beneficial. Almost any organic material can be used that lets the rain and air through, yet minimizes evaporation from the soil. A good mulch keeps down the weeds, keeps the soil cooler and adds humus to the soil. Better growers in our area do not neglect it. Fluff it up from time to time with a fork to maximize its insulating quality.
Green wood cuttings can be made now, using one of the many rooting methods available.
May is the best time to bud and now is a good time to learn how. Most serious rose growers will want to learn to bud the varieties not readily available commercially.
In Our Herb Garden: Start harvesting herbs as many perennials bloom this month. * Plant summer everlastings (examples are globe amaranth, sweet Annie, cockscomb, salvias, tansy). *Plant lemon grass and continue to plant basils. *Weed and water as necessary. *Hot rainy spells are hard on herbs as they do not like humidity. Solutions are good drainage (raised beds and a good quality soil from Gardenville, Fertile Gardens, or Living-Earth Tech.) and mulch. (visit the San Antonio Herb Society’s web site @ http://www.sanantonioherbs.org/
Fertilize vegetables. Side dress tomatoes, carrots, beans, squash, okra, peppers and other vegetable with 1 cup of slow-release lawn fertilizer per 10 ft. of row.
For highest quality, harvest crookneck, zucchini and other summer squash when they are immature and tender.
Powdery mildew on roses and other plants is a problem. Control the disease with sulfur, benomyl, Bayleton and other labeled fungicides (Read more above "In our Rose Garden")
Re-apply Amaze, Betasan or XL to keep grass burs from sprouting.
Mallow hibiscus, firebush, lantanas and other heat-loving plants have begun to grow. Give them an application of fertilizer at a rate of 1 cup per 100 sq.ft.
Now is a good time to seed Bermuda or buffalo grass.
Plant zinnias, marigolds and cockscomb (celosia) seeds.
Divide and transplant plumbago, sultana and pentas.
Remove faded petunia flowers to prevent seed set or cut back half way to encourage a fresh crop of flowers. - EO
Protect vegetables such as squash, eggplant, okra and tomatoes from harsh direct sunlight to keep them from burning or wilting.
Add compost around newly planted trees and shrubs. – TAE
Use an insecticide labeled specifically for PECAN NUT CASEBEARER to treat pecan trees against the boring insects (Spray only if you have had a problem in the past or see damage. – CF). Also, spray pecans with liquid zinc to prevent rosette.
Feed container-grown plants with a balanced fertilizer such as 20-20-20. Be sure to water before fertilizing.
Perennial selections in nurseries are excellent. Choose vigorous summer and fall blooming plants.
If you want to encourage butterflies in your garden, do not use insecticides, especially Bt products, which will kill the larvae.
Sharpen mower blades. Dull blades tear the grass, which makes plants more susceptible to disease.
Use scissors to thin out flowers you’re growing from seed. Thinning will improve the quality of the flowers and cutting scissors will not disturb roots.
New plants require frequent watering to establish their roots. Prolonged dry soil can cause permanent damage - LR
Plant lantana, zinnias, vinca, gomphrena, salvia, moss rose, purslane, firebush and verbena for color in full sun.
Columbine seeds are mature. Plant them in containers in potting soil now and they will be ready to transplant in fall.
If you like glow-in-the-dark orange blooms during the hottest part of summer, plant poinciana (Pride of Barbados) now. It is a root-hardy shrub that grows in full sun.
Re-apply iron supplements to lawns and acid-loving shrubs and trees to avoid drought-stress chlorosis. Mulch those shrubs.
The red powdery spots on the bottoms of snapdragon leaves are rust. It is time to relegate snaps to the compost pile.
The sucking insects are at work. Control SPIDER MITES with kelthane. APHIDS, WHITEFLIES and LACE BUGS can be controlled with Malathion or Organo spray. Orthene works for all the sucking insects on non-food plants.
Control LEAF-ROLLERS and other CATERPILLARS on Cannas and other susceptible plants such as tomatoes and mountain laurels with "Bt" spray.
If trees are dropping leaves. It may be an adjustment to the dry weather and high temperatures. No treatment is required.
Be careful with the string mower around tree trunks. Girdled trees will die. Partially girdled trees will grow slowly and be susceptible to other stresses.
Raise mower blades to summer mowing height (2 1/2"-3"). Leave clippings on lawn; they nourish the grass. - CF
Mulch shrubs well now to help them survive the hot, dry summer to come.
Cut off all spent amaryllis and day lily blooms so that they will not form fruit.
Keep peach trees well-watered as long as there is fruit on the tree. Pick when the green background on the fruit changes to yellow.
Plant peppers, southern peas and okra. - EO
Mulch shrubs well to help them to survive the hot, dry summer to come. – TAE
To attract songbirds to your yard during dry weather, place a bird bath in an open area that is about 6 feet from cover. You can enjoy their songs while helping to meet their water needs.
Water lawn only when blades first show signs (when your footprints do not spring up as you walk across the grass) of wilting in the morning. Add 3/4" of water to encourage a deep root system. Avoid watering in the evenings.
THRIPS are the culprits behind gnarled leaves on the new growth of pepper plants (and roses). Use Malathion or Sevin spray according to the label.
Periwinkles (Vinca minor) planted now will bloom through the summer in full sun. Be careful, however, to water the plants at their base or with drip irrigation. They are susceptible to a blight caused by water on their foliage.
Keep summer squash, peppers, tomatoes, green beans and other vegetables harvested to maximize production. To prevent BIRDS from pecking ripening tomatoes, hang a few red or orange Christmas bulbs or decorations on the plants now while the fruit is green. The birds will check out the bulbs and, not finding anything, will lose interest and pass up the real fruit when it ripens. - CF
Plant esperanza and blue salvias, both are water-wise summer bloomers.
Plant iris, spider lilies, gloriosa lilies and caladiums. - EO
Trim fire-blight infected pear trees 18 inches below diseased limbs. Be sure to use clean equipment and disinfect often.
If the weather has cooperated, we should have an abundance of ladybugs. Avoid use of pesticides and let the ladybugs do their work. Their larvae can eat as many as 400 aphids a day. – TAE
Check junipers, cedars and other evergreens for SPIDER MITES, which can cause stems to turn brown. Shake a branch over white paper and look for tiny specks, which are spider mites. Apply proper insecticide.
Cut and collect fresh herbs early in the morning. The oils in the herbs are highest then (If your drying them for use later, hang them upside down, this will help keep the oils in the leaves). - LR
FIREFLIES lighting up the night! Fireflies in San Antonio are not something that's real common anymore, mainly because of "urban sprawl", insecticides and fire ants. Good weather, the use of pesticides down and fire ants having a bad year, these are perfect conditions for Fireflies (and insects in general). Lightning bugs show up in South Texas in May and June, primarily in open areas adjacent to woods. - THL
Many thanks to my contributors:
PMA - Purple Martin Association, also visit their web site @ http://www.purplemartin,org
WBC - Wild Bird Center
CF - Calvin Finch, Bexar Co. extension agent for horticulture, Texas Agricultural Extension Service (courtesy S.A. Express-News)
MB - Malcom Beck, lecturer on Organic gardening and Founder of Gardenville Products
EO - Edna Ortiz, Bexar Co. extension agent for horticulture, Texas Agricultural Extension Service (courtesy S.A. Express-News)
NS - Neil Sperry, publisher of Neil Sperry's Garden Magazine, also Garden Expert for S.A. Express-News, visit his web site @ www.neilsperry.com
SB - Steve Browne, meteorologist with KSAT (visit their web site @ www.ksat.com)
C.S.C. – Chris S. Corby, Editor and Publisher of Texas Gardener magazine.
HW – Howard Walters, the Rambling Rosarian
HG - John Howard Garrett, aka the "Dirt Doctor", (visit his web site @ www.dirtdoctor.com)
AJW - A.J. "Pop" Warner, from his book “A Year In The Rose Garden”
TAE - Texas Agricultural Extension Service, Bexar County (courtesy S.A. Express-News)
LR – Lyn Rawe, Bexar Co. extension agent for horticulture, (visit their website @ http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/), Texas Cooperative Extension Service (courtesy S.A. Express-News)
(compiled by MG Brian D. Townsend)