Ask the Master Gardeners: September 2013
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September 6, 2013 | 1045 views | Post a comment
Q: Can I plant vegetables in pots? I don't have much of a yard and the soil is too hard to dig.
A: Vegetables do fine in pots. A large pot of lettuce or spinach by your back door close to the kitchen makes it easy to make salad. Make sure your pots have good drainage; use a lightweight potting mix. When it is hot, you will probably need to water daily. Use a slow release fertilizer. A two to three gallon pot can be used for beans, beets, carrots, lettuce, mustard, greens, radishes, Swiss chard and turnips. A larger five gallon pot is good for broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, eggplant, kale, melons, peppers, squash, and tomatoes. I always grow my tomatoes in pots that have an attached water reservoir. If watering becomes a problem for you, set up drip irrigation for your pots. Even those pots with a reservoir can be set up with drip irrigation.
Q: I have armadillos digging around my foundation and my plants. What can I do?
A: This is a problem that many of us are facing right now. My husband has had good luck with a live trap. You don't need to bait the trap, but you do need to set up two by sixes to funnel the animal into the trap. We put the trap along side the house foundation where armadillos had been walking, then put a two by six at an angle leading into the trap.
Q: I've heard that trees and shrubs can be planted in the fall. Is this so?
A: Doug Welsh, an A&M extension horticulturist, says that fall is the perfect time to plant container-grown trees and shrubs. The root systems have time to put on new roots before spring growth begins.
Q: Is it time to plant wildflowers yet?
A: It is time. (In fact, I went to Wildseed Farms this summer and brought back several packets of seeds.) If you want to make sure that your seeds sprout, you need to achieve good soil-seed contact. This can be done in a flower bed where you remove all vegetation and till one inch deep, or in a lawn (not St. Augustine) where you lightly till the grass to open the soil. Mix the seed with sand: one part seed to four parts sand. Spread the seed and sand mixture evenly over the area you've chosen. Tamp down with your feet or a roller. Water lightly. If we don't get rain in the next month, then water lightly once a week for the first month. Remember in the spring to let your wildflowers set and disperse their seed before you pull them up. If you have no luck getting bluebonnets to germinate, buy the plants by the six-pack from a nursery. When they finish blooming, they will sprout from their own seeds each year. My bluebonnets come back every year faithfully. Don't fertilize your bluebonnets. Welsh says they collect their own fertilizer though a bacterial relationship called nitrogen fixation.
Clara Mae Marcotte, 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.