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Gardening Q&A


Ask the Master Gardeners: September 2012




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Disclaimer:
Guadalupe County Master Gardeners is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.

August 29, 2012 | 1,876 views | Post a comment

Q: Is it too soon to plant wildflowers for spring blooms?

A: According to Doug Welsh in his Texas Garden Almanac, for our area September and October are the best times to plant wildflower seeds. In fact, my bluebonnets are already starting to come up from last year. Welsh suggests buying a wildflower mix with 15 to 20 species and planting it at a rate of one-fourth pound per 500 square feet. Master Gardeners planted the front of Guadalupe County's AgriLife building with a Texas mixture of wildflower seeds from a seed company in Junction. In the spring, our MG wildflower display is wonderful--and it reseeds every year. Another really good wildflower seed company is in Fredericksburg. For smaller wildflower plots, our local nurseries have packets of seed mixtures.

The best way to grow seeds is to remove all vegetation and till one inch deep (or lightly till your existing buffalo grass or Bermuda grass lawn). Mix the seed mix with sand at one part seed to four parts sand. Spread seed mixture over your area. Tamp down with your feet or a roller. Water lightly. Unless we are in a drought, natural rainfall is enough.

The Wildflower Center in Austin lists "10 Ways to Ruin Your Wildflowers" on their website. 1. Too much or too little water; 2. Ignore the soil. (Rather than bare soil, enrich your soil with a compost low in nitrogen and phosphorous). 3. Pair plants that don't get along. (Bluebonnets don't like to compete with other plants.) 4. Tiptoeing through the bluebonnets. (Don't.) 5. Ignore the wildflower area outside of wildflower season. (Mowing is a way to maintain your meadow by keeping the grasses at bay.) 6. Using fertilizer, insecticides and fungicides. (Don't do it.) 7. Poor mowing regimen. (Wait to mow until at least half the plants have dropped their seeds. I know you can agree with the Wildflower Center here because we have all seen what happens when the highway department mows too soon.) 8. Burying your wildflower patch in mulch. (Not if you want them to reseed.) 9. Ignoring place and time. (Too sunny, too shady, planting wrong time of year.) 10. Choosing plants designed to kill. (Don't put allopathic plants near your wildflower patch.)

Q: Is it time for winter vegetables? What else can be planted now?

A: Vegetable plants are already in the nurseries, including cabbage, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and bok choy. As an experiment, I planted acorn squash 3 or 4 weeks ago to see if they will make fruit before the first freeze. My fall tomato plants already have baby fruit.

Start thinking about planting new trees and shrubs. We're coming up to the time of the year when they like to be planted.

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.
 
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