Ask the Master Gardeners: May 2013
Guadalupe County Master Gardeners is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.
Q: What flowers should go in now that will do well over the summer? I don’t want perennials in this bed because I will replace the summer flowers with fall bloomers.
A: My favorites include cosmos and tithonia (Mexican sunflower). Other warm season flowers include marigold, periwinkles, portulaca, purslane, salvia, petunias, sunflowers, verbena, and, of course, another one of my favorites, zinnias. If you don’t like the idea of replacing every season, plant something that remains green in the winter and flowers in the summer like skullcap (scutellaria).
Q: Is it too late to plant vegetables?
A: Tomato, pepper, and eggplant transplants can still be purchased. If the tomato plants are large enough, you should still be able to have tomatoes before the nights get too warm. Okra can be planted until July 15 according to Dr. Jerry Parsons in his spring planting chart for the San Antonio area. Pumpkins can be planted now until June 15. Summer spinach (New Zealand and Malabar) can be planted until June 1. If you just want the greens, turnips can be planted until May 20.
Q: My strawberries have finished bearing. What do I do with the plants?
A: According to both Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and John Dromgoole, the organic gardening expert with Ladybug products, strawberries here in Texas are an annual crop--plant in the fall, pull up when the plant stops producing. Strawberries are difficult to grow here because they are sensitive to water quality, poor soils, diseases and nematodes. Both A&M and Dromgoole suggest June bearing plants rather than ever bearing plants (plants recommended are Chandler, Seascape, and Sequoia). All of this said, however, it doesn’t hurt to try to hold the plants over (they really are perennial). Mine are in their third year. When they make runners after fruiting, I root the runners and they become new plants. My largest parent plants look a little ratty right now, so will probably discard them and keep the younger ones. I started with one plant three years ago and now have six with all six producing. My neighbor grows his in a large raised bed with drip irrigation. I have mine in pots where I have to remember to water. However, by growing in pots I can control the soil. (I replace it every year to keep the salinity down and hopefully the alkalinity.) If you have space, experiment by holding your plants over another year. You haven’t lost anything by trying.
Q: Everyone’s fig trees look so great this spring. What kind should I have?
A: My favorite is the Celeste. It is a smaller fig, brown to purple and is the most cold hardy. It ripens in mid-June and grows well here. It is also a closed-end variety, which you will appreciate if you were raised around open-end varieties full of wasps. Do not prune a mature Celeste heavily. This reduces the crop because fruit is produced primarily on this season’s wood.
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.