Ask the Master Gardeners: May 2012
Guadalupe County Master Gardeners is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.
Q: What is causing my Mexican lime leaves to curl?
A: Both Aggie-horticulture and a University of Florida website suggest aphid damage. Control for this is a strong water spray, or a spray of insecticidal soap. Both websites agree that the damage is not serious. My Mexican lime also has leaf curl. I’ve sprayed and will spray again in two weeks. Remember that aphids pierce the leaves and feed on the plant sap. Another possibility is citrus leaf miner damage. However, you should be able to see the squiggly lines in the leaf. Control for leaf miner is a spray of horticulture oil which will interfere with the fly’s ability to lay eggs into the leaf, but remember how hot it is here. You could burn your leaves. As with everything else, read the directions on the bottle first before you use it and follow the directions.
Q: I would like to buy local Texas fruit and vegetables as much as possible. What produce is available in May?
A: Much of the produce is available for several months. I know that my blueberries are getting ripe now and I will have them into June. Other fruits available in May are blackberries, peaches, plums and strawberries. Vegetables include green beans, cabbage, cantaloupe, sweet corn, cucumber, greens, honeydew, onions, southern pea, peppers, potato, tomato and watermelon. My tomatoes are quite large, but still green. My squash is half size. I am still harvesting Swiss chard and almost all of my herbs.
Q: What flowers should go in now that will do well over the summer?
A: My favorites include cosmos and tithonia (Mexican sunflower). Other warm season flowers include marigold, periwinkles, Portulaca, Purslane, salvia, petunias, sunflowers, verbena, and, of course, another one of my favorites, zinnias.
Q: In past years squirrels and other animals and insects ate my figs and other fruit and vegetables. What can I do this year?
A: Buy fruit netting and drape it over the tree or plant, down to the ground. Overlap the edges. I keep my blueberry bushes well covered because one year we watched a mockingbird sit in a bush and eat one after another of the ripe blueberries. For insects and cutworms, the best defense is hand collection (this is assuming you have a small garden). Every morning when I take out my kitchen scraps for the compost, I walk up and down the rows of vegetables checking for bugs and worms. I actually tried using a row cover when I planted this spring. This did not work because my cat thought it was a cat hammock and collapsed it over the plants. If you must use a pesticide, Doug Welsh, in his Texas Garden Almanac, says to use the least toxic, effective pesticide labeled for the job. (Read the bottle and follow the directions.) In fact, start with a strong spray of water. A lot of those bugs get washed off and can’t find their way back.
Clara Mae Marcotte is a Texas Master Gardener with the Texas AgriLife Extension. If you have a question to be answered, call the Master Gardeners at 830-379-1972 or leave a message to be answered. The website is guadalupecountymastergardeners.org. The Master Gardener research library is open Mondays from 8:30 to noon, on the second floor of the Texas AgriLife Extension building, 210 East Live Oak in Seguin.