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Special Section

Gardening: Taking the show on the road

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March 8, 2011 | 1,301 views | Post a comment

Q. I understand from your radio show that you sometimes take it on the road. Where are you scheduled this spring?

A. Although the radio show won’t be there, I will be at the Gonzales Spring Spectacular on Saturday, March 26 and at the La Vernia Bluebonnet Festival on Friday, May 20. Later in the year, we do the Devine Fall Festival and the Fall Festival at Mitchell Lake. We may do other events; watch for the scheduling in this newspaper.

Q.What conifers are available for this area? I had Afghan pines, but they all got a fungal dieback and died.

A. There is a limited list that survive our soil, summer heat, and diseases. Try Arizona cypress, Deodar cedar, Aleppo pine, Italian stone pine, or Japanese black pine. Junipers also survive, of course.

Q.When can we plant our new Tycoon tomato plants?

A. I would wait until after March 15 and then only if the weather is mild. April 1 is a more conservative date. Pot them up in 1-gallon containers until then.

Q.We have a beautiful row of bougainvilleas along the south side of the fence. We did not cover them. Will they have survived the cold weather?

A. No, probably not. Bougainvilleas do not like 45 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures, let alone three days straight with below freezing temperatures.

Q.Which grass has the most traffic-tolerance? We have two large Dobermans and need to put in a new back lawn. Can the grass be seeded?

A. You did not say if the lawn was in sun or shade. Bermuda grass is best for full sun. Zoysia grass has some shade tolerance. Bermuda can be seeded or sodded. Zoysia grass must be planted as sod. Bermuda seed will germinate best after May 1, when the soil and weather warms up. Whichever option you select, give the lawn some time to root and grow before the Dobermans are released on it. You may have to do half of the yard at a time.

Q.What is the difference between turnips and rutabagas? Which is better for you?

A. Both vegetables are good for you. They are different species. Turnip is Brassica rapa and rutabaga is Brassica campestris. You can eat turnip greens and roots. Turnips are generally grown in the south as a winter crop. Rutabagas are grown as a northern summer crop, but also do well as winter crop in Texas. I think rutabagas are sweeter. The roots are also larger.

Q.What are the best peaches to grow in this area?

A. I like June Gold, Tex Royal, and La Feliciana.

Q.My lettuce was flattened by the freeze. Will it come back from the roots this spring?

A. Probably not. Reseed lettuce now or obtain some transplants.

Calvin Finch is a horticulturist and the San Antonio Water System’s project director of regional initiatives and special projects. Hear him on “Gardening South Texas” on KLUP 930 AM radio Saturdays noon to 2 p.m., and 1-3 p.m. Sundays. Or, e-mail him at

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