A Green Thumb | April & May

May 6, 2011

Humility in the Garden

It appears that my Lord and Savior wanted to teach me a lesson or two or three or four as it may be this past month with gardening. Proverbs 16:18 states, “Pride goes before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Little did I know that that verse is SO true. I knew it in other people, but could it possibly happen with me and gardening? Answer: YES!

I suffer from the sin of pride. The grass is always greener on the other side, particularly my neighbors and their yard. They practically NEVER take care of it, and it is a lush, deep green that feels like my feet are sinking in carpet every time I walk on it (I try not to walk on it too much or my footprints will make them suspicious). In my attempt to “one up” the Jones’, I decided that my yard needed “help” with brown patches. I used the recommended formula (Consan 20..available at Lowe’s), but forgot to mix a surfactant (Hi-Yield Spreader Sticker or Bonide’s Turbo) to reduce all the bubbles. So, basically what happened was I mixed the solution, but did not have enough water due to all the bubbles. To my dismay and horror, my getting-greener grass now had patches of dead grass all over the front yard. So, now when you round the corner, there are literally patches (about 6-7) of decaying grass on my front yard. UGH!

And to top it all off, the Lord wanted to prove to me again that my joy needs to be in Him only and not in green St. Augustine grass. Last week as I was applying the recommended fertilizer (see the following Randy Lemon’s Fertilization Schedule), my less-than-perfect spreader that I borrowed tumbled over in my front yard, spilling the fertilizer in a huge mound, that would later kill that portion of grass. Another UGH!

Bottom Line:  Joy is found in Jesus, not in green grass.

This Month in the Garden

APRIL MUST DO’S:

  • If you are following along with the fertilization schedule, it is time NOW to put out your Nitro-Phos Super Turf (10-4-10) (available at Grower’s Outlet in Willis..way cheaper than Houston Garden..trust me..I know)
  • Continue to spray your roses weekly or bi-weekly for control of disease as well as feeding once a month
  • Plant your spring flowers/annuals..pick shorter, more compact flowers since the tall ones tend to be more root bound—at least as far as annuals go.
  • Move your lawn-mower to its highest setting and start mulch-mowing (i.e. don’t bag your clippings) until October
  • Start planting grass…I sure am since I needed a lesson or two on pride J
  • Flea problem?: use insecticides like Bifenthrin and Triazicide in outdoor locations
  • Feed tropical plant food to tropical outdoor plants like Hibiscus, Alamada, and Bougainvilleas. Nutri-Star makes a good product for these plants in slow-release food. Available at most garden stores. Feed hibiscus with hibiscus food or a low phosphorus fertilizer.
  • Use Rose Soil in almost all cases for building beds for new flowers, shrubs, and vegetables. The plants love the high humus content in Rose Soil. But with vegetables, mix 2 parts Rose Soil to 1 part Compost. Veggies need more organic matter than shrubs and flowers.
  • Make sure to build your beds up, since plant roots need to grow down to grow well (get more water and away from the Texas heat) instead of the roots growing out and side-ways. It is a good rule of thumb to make your beds at least 10-12 inches higher than the surrounding level of soil/grass.
  • choose and plant large tomato plants NOW..it is getting too hot
  • Prune back spring-blooming shrubs like azaleas (but not too much since they are setting next year’s flowers, quince, wisteria, and forsythia and climbing roses after flower fade.
  • Don’t plant wisteria near trees; “Bye-Bye tree”
  • Feed all container plants.
  • Plant new shrubs before it gets any hotter
  • water..water…water new plants, especially annuals you have put in.
  • Fertilize azaleas, magnolias, hydrangeas, and irises with azalea food
  • Plant those Easter Lilly bulbs/plants in your garden after they have bloomed
  • Water and mow often your St. Augustine grass to fill in dead parts (UGH!)
  • Plant bush beans, cantaloupe, cucumbers, eggplants, peas, peppers, pumpkins, squash, watermelon
  • Start an herb garden with basil, chamomile, mints, thyme, sage.
  • Give tomatoes a light feeding of nitrogen when fruits are golf-ball size
  • Don’t overwater or underwater. Leaf drop can result

MAY MUST DO’S

  • put down Pre-Emergent Herbicide, especially the ones that control grassy weeds
  • Plant heat-loving annuals like Vincas (my personal favorite), Caladiums, Zinnias, etc
  • Replenish your beds with mulch. Buy either Shredded Pine Bark Mulch or Mixed Mulch or Black Diamond or Living Mulch
  • Continue to feed your roses and spray weekly or bi-weekly this month
  • Use Neem Oil on plants with powdery mildew like on Crape Myrtles.
  • Look out for fungal disease on your tomatoes. Use Daconil-based fungicide.
  • Plant large oleanders now, but don’t get too attached to them since they will freeze and die if you don’t cover them up. I lost all my oleanders two years ago.
  • pick tomatoes at first, pink blush and set in a window-sill to brighten up
  • Feed amaryllis (after blooming) caladiums, Louisiana iris with bulb food, bonemeal, or superphosphate
  • Feed summer blooming shrubs
  • Prune summer-blooming shrubs after flowers fade (only if growing out of bounds, though)
  • pinch non-blooming perennial and shrub tips to produce more bushier growth
  • move non-blooming roses and daylilies into more sun
  • Ignore silky, whitsh webs covering tree trunks; they are good bugs
  • Don’t let anybody sell you “pink” or “blue” hydrangeas for they change color based on the pH of your soil.

When and How Do I Fertilize My Yard

It is NEVER too late to start a schedule. Here it is the beginning of May, and if you have missed any of this schedule, just start where you are. If you plan on going completely organic, it will take longer for the products you use to work on the yard since you are trying to build up the organic matter in your yard.  Mother nature takes time. What you sacrifice in speedy green ups and fast acting growing with synthetics, you will make up in the long run with a beautiful yard that is %100 organic. Although even Mr. Lemmon, himself, says that he has of yet to see a yard completely organic that is greener than a yard treated on a synthetic schedule. Be careful though, for it will take more time and money (cost more) and products (less square-footage in a bag to cover your yard) to go organic, but the pay-off is great, especially with regards to fewer things to do in your yard; yet again, if your soil is pretty poor, then it will take longer for it to repair using a organic schedule.

RANDY LEMMON’S ORGANIC FERTILIZATION SCHEDULE (taken from:http://www.randylemmon.com/lawns/fertilize-organic.html)

Here’s a brief list of organic fertilizers I think should be considered in the schedule, mainly because they are somewhat cost effective, don’t smell (make me gag) bad, and are readily available. Availability is somewhat subjective, though, since they’re carried mostly by independent retail garden centers that aren’t part of “big box” stores. Lowe’s, however, has been known to carry the Medina products.

  • Micro Life 6-2-4
  • Southwest Fertilizer Earth Essentials 5-1-3
  • Medina Growin’ Green 4-2-3
  • Lady Bug Natural Lawn & Garden 8-2-4
  • Maestro Gro Texas Tee 6-2-4
  • Gardenville Soil Food 7-2-2
  • NRG Soil Vigor 10-2-3

FEBRUARY – Corn gluten meal (as pre-emergent herbicide)

MARCH – Organic fertilizer as listed above

APRIL – Compost as top dressing

MAY – Organic fertilizer as listed above

SEPTEMBER – Organic fertilizer as listed above/or simply compost top dressing or Agricultural Corn Meal as preventative fungicide

OCTOBER – Organic fertilizer as listed above, as winterizer treatment

NOVEMBER – Corn gluten meal as pre-emergent herbicide

As you may have noticed, if comparing schedules, one of the other benefits of using a 100 percent organic schedule is the reduced need for fungicides due to all the beneficial bacteria and protozoa that will naturally fight fungal diseases. But you will also discover agricultural corn meal (for fungal treatment) and corn gluten meal (for pre-emergent herbicide treatment) are very hard to find. In fact, very few garden centers carry more than one product for each of those treatments. And I’ll bet dollars to donuts that none of the mass merchandisers carry either. Thus, there’s not much need to list different brands like I did for the myriad of organic fertilizers. 

The good news is that this is obviously a growing market, and I witnessed many manufacturers trying to get their agricultural corn meal and corn gluten meal products into Texas nurseries and garden centers at last year’s Texas Nursery & Landscape Association Convention.

RANDY LEMMON’S SYNTHETIC FERTILIZATION SCHEDULE (taken from http://www.randylemmon.com/lawns/fertilize.html)

FERTILIZE:

LATE FEBRUARY-EARLY MARCH- apply a simple 15-5-10 for an early green-up. Most companies that make slow-release fertilizers also make a non-slow-release 15-5-10 that provides for a quick two-week green up before we get to the heart of the fertilizer schedule. Some people will be tempted to use a weed-and-feed at this time, but if you’ve been following the GardenLine herbicide schedule, there should never be a need. However, spot weed-and-feed treatments are recommended for those with turf-only landscapes or landscapes that have been established for many years. Warning: Most weed-and-feeds contain Atrizine which burns roots of young trees and shrubs.

LATE MARCH-EARLY APRIL- apply slow-release 3-1-2 ratio fertilizers. Recommended formulations:

19-4-10 Nitro Phos Super Turff
18-4-6 Fertilome Southwest Greenmaker
18-0-6 Fertilome’s Zero Phosphate Formula
15-510 Southwest Fertilizer Premium Gold
19-5-9 Easy Gro Premium
21-510 Mr. C’s (Cornelius brand

LATE JUNE-EARLY JULY- apply slow-release 3-1-2 ratio fertilizers. (recommended formulations 19-5-9, 19-4-10, 18-4-6, 15-5-10.)

OCTOBER-NOVEMBER – apply winterizer formulas for winter hardiness. Ratios vary, but make sure they are “winter” or “fall” formulas designed for southern grasses. 
(examples: 18-6-12, 8-12-16, 10-5-14) Will make lawns winter-hardy.

JUNE-SEPTEMBER – if turfgrass looks yellow (chlorosis) or necrotic, use an application of either granular or liquid iron. Once a year should be enough.

FUNGICIDE:

JULY-SEPTEMBER – Gray Leaf Spot is a blotchy spot on the grass blade leafs. (mostly on St. Augustine lawns) Use fungicides with active ingredients like Daconil, Consan or Banner.

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER – To control the dreaded Brownpatch fungal disease (symmetrical brown circles in the grass) you must prevent it from coming up with a systemic lawn fungicide with Bayleton, Terrachlor, Banner or Benomyl.

HERBICIDE:

(Pre-Emergent controls to prevent weeds also)

LATE OCTOBER-EARLY NOVEMBER – Use two (2) different pre-emergent herbicides, to prevent the weeds that we experience in February and March. First is a pre-emergent with Portrait or Gallery for broadleaf weeds like clover. Second, use a pre-emergent with Amaze, Betasan, Balan or Treflan for grassy weeds like poa anna or annual bluegrass. There is also Barricade, Dimension or Pendimethlin as a 2-in-1 control.

FEBRUARY-MARCH- Use the pre-emergent controls for grassy weeds again, to prevent such weeds as Crabgrass, Goosegrass and Dallisgrass from popping up late in the spring and summer. Again, use the grassy pre-emergent like Amaze, Betasan, Balan or Treflan. There is also Barricade, Dimension or Pendimethlin as a 2-in-1 control.

MAY-EARLY JUNE – One more application of a grassy pre-emergent like Amaze, Betasan, Balan, or Treflan will keep fall weeds from invading from August on. There is also Barricade, Dimension-based or Pendimethlin as a 2-in-1 control.

INSECTICIDES — It is our belief on GardenLine, as a way to be kind to the environment, that you do not put down insecticides unless you know you have a problem. However, be prepared during the hot summer months — July through September — to attack chinch bug damage. This will show up as irregular shaped spots in the lawn along the concrete. Any liquid insecticide, like Permethrin or Cypermethrin, will treat the spot well. Then apply a granular insecticide like Deltamethrin or granular Permethrin in a broadcast applicator throughout the rest of the yard.

Happy Gardening,


 

 

 

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