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Agriculture Today

‘Monster’ spinach hits nurseries

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South Texas Gardener
October 30, 2013 | 4,043 views | Post a comment

Q: What is the new “Monster” spinach that I am seeing at the nurseries?

A: In the absence of Coho spinach, we are looking for a better performing selection. “Monster” is actually the selection “Monstrueux,” that is an heirloom variety with a good record. It is supposed to be sweeter and faster growing than the current selections. It may be worth a try.

Q: I thought you said there would be fewer acorns this year than last? I think there are just as many!

A: In my neighborhood, there are a lot of live and Texas red oak acorns but not as many as in last years. Despite the hot dry summer, we had well-timed rains in most parts of the region. The prayers of the squirrels were answered!

Q: What is the best insecticide for protecting my cabbage and broccoli against cabbage loopers? Last year they were savages and ruined my crop.

A: The usual recommended control is one of the Bt products such as Dipel, Bio-Worm Control, or Thuricide. One of them should be applied as soon as any feeding is noticed. The caterpillars eat the Bt as they feed and it causes terminal constipation. Bt does not have much prevention power. It stays potent for about four days. You can use Sevin or Spinosad but keep close tabs on the pre-harvest requirement time.

Q: Do we need to fertilize our winter annuals such as snapdragons, cauliflower, stocks, and broccoli?

A: Yes, all the winter flowers and vegetables should be fertilized once every three weeks with a slow release or winterizer lawn fertilizer. One cup per 8 feet of row works well.

Q: How long will the hummingbirds stay in our area? We still have some at our sugar water feeders.

A: Most will leave by the end of November, but every year a few rufous hummingbirds seem to stay most of the winter. They are independent creatures. Most experts say the feeders don’t contribute to the decision to stay the winter.

Calvin Finch is a horticulturist and the director of the Water Conservation and Technology Center at Texas A&M-San Antonio. Hear him on “Gardening South Texas” on KLUP 930 AM radio Saturdays noon to 2 p.m., and 1-3 p.m. Sundays. Or, email him at

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