Ask the Master Gardeners: June 2012
Guadalupe County Master Gardeners is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.
Q: What can I do to keep my tomatoes from being pecked by the birds?
A: You can pick the tomato early and ripen it indoors. This doesn’t seem quite right, but Doug Welsh in his Texas Garden Almanac says that as soon as the bottom or blossom end of the tomato turns from green to white with a tinge of red, it is fully mature and will ripen indoors. (You could also cover the plant with netting.)
Q: I want hummingbirds in my garden but do not want to be bothered with cleaning and filling hummingbird feeders. What can I plant to attract them?
A: I watched a hummingbird this morning making the rounds of my different salvia plants. He also likes another one of my favorite plants, Flame anisacanthus (sometimes called Hummingbird bush). This perennial grows well in this area. Other plants include columbine, four-o’clock (remember that it can be invasive), honeysuckle, lantana, larkspur, petunia, plumbago and verbena. My Mexican oregano is in bloom and the hummingbird also went to it. (I went on the Internet to find the real name of Mexican oregano and found two different plants named this. Mine turns out to be Poliomintha longiflora and has purple tubular flowers. It is also sometimes called rosemary mint.)
Q: Summer is here. What can I do to reduce my water use in the landscape?
A: You can do a number of things. Hopefully you have already chosen appropriate plants. Plants native and adapted to our area will have lower irrigation requirements than most plants that we bring into our area. Some plants that use low water include Texas mountain laurel, Texas sage or cenizo, esperanza, firebush, rosemary and salvias. Another way to reduce water usage is to get rid of hard-to-water lawn areas, like that narrow strip between the sidewalk and the street. It is really hard to water that area efficiently without runoff. A friend of mine planted her strip with heavily mulched native plants.
Another good water use is using drip irrigation to water your flower beds. If you haven’t set up your drip irrigation system, do it now. There are books and pamphlets that tell you how to put it in. Running it can be as simple as turning on your hose for a certain amount of time, or even hooking up a timer which will turn on the hose for you.
Another water saver is to use mulch wherever you can and to pull up weeds. Mulch reduces moisture loss from the soil. Weeds compete against your plants and lawn for water.
Remember to keep your trees watered this summer. Apply slowly running water at the drip line of the tree, than move the hose around the tree. An easier way is to take 15 gallon buckets, drill an eighth inch hole at one side very close to the bottom, place on the tree’s drip line, and fill with water. The water runs slowly out and waters the tree.
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.