South Texas drought not over yet
Q.Does this rain mean the drought is over?
A. Not necessarily. It means our gardens, landscapes, hayfields, and pastures have some relief, but we need two or three more similar rain events to talk about the end of the drought.
Q.List again the annual flowers that we can use for the winter landscape. Are they all available in transplants or will seeds work?
A. Nasturtiums are generally planted by seed, but the other selections -- snapdragons, stocks, calendulas, dianthus, ornamental cabbage, and kale, and alyssum do better when planted as transplants. Next month plant pansies, cyclamen, and primula. Cyclamen and primula do best in shade; the other flowers need sun.
Q.I had three trees drop their leaves -- a bur oak, a cedar elm, and a live oak. Are they dead?
A. Any tree could die from a severe drought, but it is not unusual for the species you describe to drop leaves early in a drought. Without knowing enough about the local situation, I would guess they will recover. The live oak should releaf this month.
Q.What is the decorative green vegetable that you described on your radio show? You said it was tasty, nutritious, and decorative, with multi-colored stems.
A. You are describing “Bright Lights” Swiss chard. Use it for greens in the garden or containers. The stems are red, pink, yellow, blue, white, and green. The flavor is mild.
Q.Our favorite nursery has spinach transplants. We usually plant seed. Is there an advantage to using transplants?
A. Spinach seed is sometimes hard to get to germinate in the heat. Transplants also are ready to harvest much quicker. Pick a few leaves off of every plant as you need them and you can have spinach all winter and into the spring.
Q.How do we know when our Satsuma is ripe? They are large but still green. Is there a problem?
A. Satsuma will be ready to harvest beginning next month and are best in December. Sometimes fruit can be green and be ripe. If you have a lot of them, test a large one now. They may be sweeter next month, but can be used when they are more tart.
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 email@example.com.