February 2012 Gardening Calendar
If you had trouble with sand burs or crabgrass last year, now is the time to apply Amaze, XL or another pre-emergent herbicide to your lawn.
After a record setting summer of drought many lawns went into the winter as easy pickings for winter weeds. Thistles, henbit, dandelions, and other broad leafs can be killed with some contact herbicides. Check the labels closely, especially if you have St. Augustine grass. The grassy weeds such as annual bluegrass and rescue grass will be harder to control. It is usually easier just to keep them mowed and enjoy the green. My lawn looks the best it has looked all year, and it is all weeds!
It is too early to fertilize the lawn but aeration and top dressing will have a positive impact.
Fertilize your trees with 1 cup of lawn fertilizer (19-5-9) for each inch of diameter. Spread the fertilizer over the drip line. It is still a good time to plant new shade trees and shrubs. Mulch over the root balls with some of the leaves that are available from last fall’s leaf drop, and the new live oak drop.
Area nurseries will have the fruit trees available. Be careful to plant varieties that will prosper in our low chill winters.
For peaches consider Florida King, June Gold and La Feliciana. Elberta is not a good choice. Avoid Delicious apples in favor of Anna and Golden Dorset. Bartlett pear is everyone’s favorite supermarket pear, but does not survive in South Texas. Plant Kiefer, Orient or Ayres. I have quit recommending Warren pear because they have a history of slow maturity. My tree is 6 years old and has never bloomed.
Fruit trees do best in heavy or caliche soils if they are planted on a raised bed with drip irrigation. If there is sandy soil, enrich the planting area with compost.
It is also time to prune fruit trees, roses, and other plants. Visit www.plantanswers.com for diagrams and detailed instructions. If you are a gardener who severely prunes crepe myrtles try a more moderate approach this year. Crepe myrtles bloom just as well when the natural shape is preserved.
Continue harvesting your greens leaf by leaf as you need them. Collards, mustard, lettuce, chard, and spinach will last until May if no more than one third of the leaves are removed at any one time. They also need to be well fertilized. A cup of 19-5-9 or 18-6-12 lawn fertilizer spread beside each eight feet of row every 3 weeks works well. Most root crops may not need quite as much but be generous with onions. It is also important that you use up the green onions, leave 6 inches in between the bulbs you want to grow to full size.
Potatoes, carrots, English peas, beets, turnips, greens and cole crops can be planted in early February.
The pansies, cyclamen, and primulas seem to be blooming well despite our two freezes. Snaps, petunias, stocks, calendulas, and dianthus should start re-blooming at the end of the month. If you have naturalized larkspur growing in the flower garden, limit them to a reasonable space. They will overwhelm the other winter annuals.
Replant sweet peas if your earlier seeding did not make it because of the cold. It is hard to make a crop in South Texas but it is worth the effort. Based on color, fragrance and longevity in the vase they are one of our best cut flowers.
The American goldfinches are in the area and will probably visit your landscape if you provide a feeder with thistle seed. There have also been numerous accounts of rufous hummingbirds taking advantages of winter blooms and sugar water feeders. If you have never tried suet blocks this may be the year. Kinglets, myrtle warblers, orange crowned warblers, golden fronted woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice, cardinals, and mockingbirds are enjoying mine. If squirrels are a problem, try the pepper flavored block. Birds like them but not the squirrels.