January 2012 Gardening Calendar
This is a once-a-month column provided to Wilson County News reader online.
The cold weather is not over. Have your plant protection supplies ready to cover citrus, sago palms and other cold sensitive plants in containers or the landscape. The cool weather annuals and vegetables do not need to be covered for a typical freeze at 25º F or warmer. Cover the cyclamen at 25º F with a blanket to maintain the blooms. Once they lose their blooms and buds it takes a long time for them to recover.
Concerning the last freeze, it was more potent than I expected. In addition to killing the foliage on tomatoes, it froze the fruit in my neighborhood. The bushel of large tomatoes still on the plants became compost material instead of a supply of tomatoes for the month of January.
The herbaceous plants that were freeze killed can be collected for the compost pile. Consider using some of the space vacated by tomatoes and peppers with onions. They make a great winter crop in San Antonio. Plant them 2 inches apart so that you can harvest green onions in February and March. The plants will require 6 inches space to form full size bulbs to harvest in late May or early June.
If you leave a few of the tomatoes cages in place, plant some English peas. The cages also work well for sweet pea support.
Sweet peas are beautiful flowers with intense colors and a pleasant fragrance. They make long-lasting cut flowers.
The freeze also killed the foliage of lantana, sky vine, duranta, esperanza, thyralis, angelonia, poinciana, and other root hardy perennials. They can be cut to the ground anytime between now and March. If you leave the stems and foliage over the winter they provide shelter and food rustling areas for the wintering ground-feeding birds.
If you purchased or received a poinsettia for the holidays it can stay attractive for at least 4 months if you keep it well watered and out of cold or hot drafts. If it is placed in a position where it is difficult to water it, provide minimal moisture with 6 to 12 ice cubes every 2 days. Provide a soaking irrigation in the kitchen sink every weekend.
It is still an excellent time to plant shrubs or shade trees. The roots can develop before the hot weather arrives to challenge its survival. Mulch over the roots and water when the surface under the mulch dries, usually every 10 to 14 days in the winter and weekly in the spring once the leaves begin active growth.
In early January there is still time to plant pre-chilled tulips if you find a good deal at the nursery. They will not naturalize but they make a brief but attractive display later this spring. Squirrels will eat tulip bulbs until they sprout. One trick that works is to plant the bulbs in an area dug out 6 inches deep. Fill in 4 inches of the soil over the bulbs and then lay chicken wire over the planting area. Cover the wire with the remaining 2 inches of soil. After the bloom period the wire is easy to yank out.
Paperwhites, old fashioned daffodils, and amaryllis will naturalize. Paperwhites and daffodils are not eaten by the deer and will grow in sun or partial shade. For more information on their care visit “www.plantanswers.com.”
Keep your greens and onions well fertilized. A cup of slow release or winterizer lawn fertilizer side dressed over 8 feet of row every 3weeks will do the job.
Your broccoli should be ready for harvest now. Remove the head before the buds begin to open for highest quality. Side heads will form for harvest later in the winter.
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