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Gardening Q&A

Ask the Master Gardeners: March 2013




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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.

March 1, 2013 | 1305 views | Post a comment

Q: Is it too late to prune? I've really been much too busy this spring.

A: The best time to prune, according to Doug Welsh in his Texas Garden Almanac, is in winter just before spring growth begins. That said, sometimes we have to do what needs to be done no matter what. I was really late pruning roses last year (like never). Consequently I made things much harder on myself this year. So here are some loose rules from Texas A&M. Prune flowering shrubs that bloom in spring within a month after flowering. Prune summer flowering shrubs before new growth starts. Remember that for some plants, you should prune only for shape as too much taken off will affect next season's blooms.

Dead wood should be pruned. My hamelia (fire bush) froze to the ground as usual so all of that can be cut back. The esperanza by the house I took half down. The one in the back yard which froze I took to the ground.

Q: We just moved here. How do we know when spring is here and we can plant?

A: Old timers say spring is here when the mesquite trees leaf out. Others say when the wildflowers bloom. Red bud trees, bluebonnets, phlox and mountain laurel are blooming now. Trees and shrubs can still be planted before the heat sets in. Tomatoes can be planted now if you use hot caps or some other protection. If you are really nervous about planting early, at least transplant the little tomato into a one gallon pot to give it a head start. The reason we try to plant tomatoes as early as possible (according to AgriLife Extension professor Dr. Joe Masabni) is that around here tomato plants stop setting fruit by early July because night temperatures are then in the mid 70s. High night temperatures and high relative humidity cause the pollen grains of the tomato flower to burst so then there is no pollination.

Q: When do I divide my fall blooming perennials?

A: Now is the time to divide fall blooming perennials as well as ornamental grasses. Make sure that new green growth is coming from the ornamental grass plant base before you cut back dead foliage.

Q: I understand that tomato prices might go up this year; also I worry about pesticide residue on vegetables. I want my children and family to grow at least some of our produce. What can we plant in the kids' garden that will do well?

A: Tomatoes are a good choice and children really like picking cherry tomatoes. Yellow or zucchini squash grow well from seed as do pumpkins. Plant some bush varieties of beans, and if you have a fence, plant some pole beans. The yard long bean types do wonderfully well. If you have room, let the kids plant some sunflowers--the flowers are pretty and the seeds are tasty. Plus, I always have a row or two of carrots for my grandkids.

Clara Mae Marcotte is a Texas Master Gardener with Texas A&M 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 A&M AgriLife Extension building, 210 East Live Oak in Seguin.
 
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