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There’s always something to do in the garden or yard, even in the winter.
If you have the patience, wait until next month to cut down the frozen stems of esperanza, lantana, salvia, and other plants. The remnant stems provide cover and habitat for the ground-feeding birds. It is neater to clean up the brown stems, but there is no advantage to the plants.
Sink those spuds
The first of February is a good time to plant potatoes. Dig a trench 1 foot wide and equally deep. Place a piece of potato with at least one eye every 24 inches in the trench. Stack the soil up on one or both sides of the trench, so it can gradually be refilled as the potato stems grow in the trench. If extra soil is available, the trench can not only be filled, but soil can be mounded over the potato plants above the trench. Discontinue the trench filling and mounding when you run out of soil. The potato plant will continue to grow upward.
The first harvest can occur when the potato plant blooms. Eventually, harvest all the plants when the tops brown. The potatoes can stay in place in the trench for several weeks after the tops decline but if the soil is moist, there is a potential for the fruit to rot. In some situations, the fruit can be stored for months, but it works best here in Central Texas if the potatoes are used for the table shortly after harvest as new potatoes.
Winter veggies, flowers
There is still time to plant onions, broccoli, and cabbage transplants. Plant lettuce, carrots, beets, English peas, and turnips by seed. Late in the month, you can try seeding green beans and cucumbers.
In the flower garden, the snapdragons and stocks have started their recovery from the damage from the January freeze and should be back in bloom by the end of the month. Pansies will be looking good, as well. If you have naturalized larkspurs in the garden, designate a few rows for them and remove the rest or they will grow over the top of the other cool-weather annuals. As dominating as they are, they are still desirable to have some blooming to provide nectar for the hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.
Live oaks and lawns
Sometime this month, the live oaks will do a quick leaf-drop and recovery. The live oak leaves are excellent for paths and mulch.
The winter weeds are growing strong. Keep the rescue grass and annual bluegrass mowed so you can enjoy it as “the sustainable winter lawn.” Next month and in April, they will try to set their seed. Bedstraw is especially interesting. It is easy to control in the lawn with the herbicide, “Weed Free Zone,” or you can rake up large patches to form small clumps that work well as fuel for the compost pile.
February is a good time to prune your fruit trees. For text and diagrams, visit www.plantanswers.com/.
Shade trees planted in February have an opportunity to grow roots before they must face the challenge of a Texas summer. Consider live oak, cedar elm, Mexican sycamore, Texas red oak, anaqua, Mexican white oak, bur oak, or chinkapin oak. If your neighborhood is experiencing oak wilt pressures, consider the non-oak species.
Calvin Finch is a retired Texas A&M horticulturist. Hear him on “Gardening South Texas” on KLUP 930 AM radio Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 2 p.m. Or, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
South Texas Home and Garden Show
While you’re putting in your potatoes, don’t just dream about your spring and summer garden. Plan now to attend the South Texas Home and Garden Show on Saturday, March 19, in Floresville, to make your garden a reality!
Established in 2007 by the Wilson County News as Wilson County Gardening Day, this annual event has grown and changed through the years; last year, it was canceled because of the pandemic. But for 2022, we’re going “back to our roots” with a one-day event celebrating gardening in our area. The South Texas Home and Garden Show will take place in the Floresville Event Center, 600 S.H. 97 W., from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Vendors also are invited, especially if you have seedlings or plants to sell. Booths — 10 feet by 10 feet — are $35 to for-profit organizations and $25 for nonprofits. Anything and everything home and garden related is welcome. Visit www.southtexashomeandgarden.com or call Pam at 830-216-4519 for information and registration. Vendor set-up is Friday, March 18.
Entry is free to the South Texas Home and Garden Show, which is sponsored by the Wilson County News and the Floresville Economic Development Corp. This family-friendly event showcases local gardeners and artisans, and has something for everyone.
Mark your calendars and plan now to attend on March 19!