November Week 3: Winter Irrigation

Weekly Garden Guide for November by on Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Welcome back folks! If you’ve been keeping up with our weekly gardening “challenges”, that’s great! If this is your first visit, that’s great too! Welcome to the Botanica Weekly Gardening Guide.

This is the third week in November and we’ve already had a little freeze here in central Texas.  Anytime the outside temperature is below 33 degrees, there is something you’ve got to beware of. Yes, Jack Frost, but what he will do to your nose is NOTHING compared to what he will do to your lawn irrigation system. If it gets cold enough, the soil temperature could reach subfreezing at the depth of your irrigation pipes. If there is water in those pipes, it will freeze and expand.

Do you see where we are going with this? Water freezing and expanding is what breaks boulders into rocks and it will have no problem turning your irrigation system’s PVC pipes into tiny PVC toothpicks. So, let’s make sure your irrigation system is prepped for winter by purging the water. If you’ve never winterized your irrigation system before, Jason Core at GotScapes, has a great little VIDEO that walks you though the process and could save you lots of hours and dollars.

So… what now?  How are we going to water all the great planting and replanting we did early this month?  Well, we’re going to do it by hand, my friend. You won’t need to water nearly as much as you did during the warmer months, but even dormant plants and grasses will need a little water to keep going. You will want to pay extra attention to your winter vegetables and help them retain moisture by laying down a nice, organic mulch. Something exotic like newspaper (six layers will help keep the weeds out) and cover that layer with just about anything that decomposes… wood chips, grass clippings, hay straw, compost, even leaves. Your handiwork will also help moderate the soil temperature and keeping your veggies nice and comfortable will actually boost their production but up to 50%!

Well, that’s our tip for this week. Keep up the great work! Next week we will have our Q&A session with me, your gardening guru, Oscar Moraes. We’ll be answering all the questions you’ve submitted for November, so be sure to tune in!

Oscar Moraes

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November Week 2: Pest Prevention

Weekly Garden Guide for November by on Friday, November 8, 2013

Tiny caterpillar pests

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Botanica’s Weekly Garden Guide for November

Week 2:  Pests

Welcome to week two of the November gardening season. If you are still planting and fertilizing this week, that’s ok. Keep up the great work! If you’re done with last weeks project then now is the time to look at controlling those late Fall, early Winter pests.

Right now caterpillars are filling their bellies before their big butterfly debut. Many people have planted butterfly larva friendly plants like milk weed to attract caterpillars, but there are lots of pesky moth larva that could make a mess of your collards, kale, lettuce, corn, beans and tomatoes.

I always recommend trying to be diligent with using only organic and natural treatments for your garden; maintaining a healthy environment for your family and the beneficial little helpers in your garden. We’ll touch more on this particular topic in the coming weeks.  For now, let’s focus on a natural remedy to discourage those caterpillars that are chewing on your veggies. What expensive, exotic, natural deterrent am I going mention first? Cardboard! Surround the base of the plants with cardboard. Caterpillars are much too sophisticated to be seen living in a messy, cardboard strewn garden and will promptly pack up and head to your neighbor’s garden instead. Only kidding, I haven’t figured out WHY they leave after the garden has been cardboarded, but it works.

Pluck off the all the big catties that you can see, and for the remaining eggs and larva I recommend a bacillus thuringiensis treatment. This safe, bacterial agent also known as “BT” will make short work of the stragglers. If you want to dispose of the adults you’ve collected, you can use a water and dish soap mixture on them. They hate baths. If your conscious can’t handle that method of “disposal”, you could relocate them about 200 – 250 yards away from your garden, where the birds will do the dirty work for you.

The Texas Agricultural Extension Service has a great guide to common caterpillar pests right HERE.

Be sure to cut back the damaged leaves on your veggies and rake away debris so you have a tidy, healthy garden again.

Thanks again for tuning in! Come back next week for our discussion on irrigation during this dry spell and don’t forget to send in your garden questions and concerns before the third thursday so we can help you out in our Botanica End of the Month Q&A Session. We are looking forward to seeing your progress during this wonderful winter.

Oscar Moraes

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November Week 1: Nutrients, Planting and Applying Pre-emergent

Weekly Garden Guide for November by on Saturday, November 2, 2013

raised garden beds

Botanica’s Weekly Garden Guide for November

Hello friends!

It’s November, and here in Texas it is finally starting to cool. This is when many of the plants in your yard and garden will begin to go dormant until spring. This week we want to talk about some important Central Texas gardening tips and considerations for the winter.

Week 1: Nutrients, Planting and Applying Pre-emergent

There’s lots to get done before the Thanksgiving holiday, but don’t feel overwhelmed. We’re going to take it one step at at time, starting with fertilizer. This week it is prime time to fertilize. You will want to fertilize all around your garden so your plants will comeback healthy and vibrant in the spring. Don’t forget your shrubs and trees, especially fruit trees. They will need to be fed before spring is in full swing. There is a very helpful guide from the Parker County Master Gardener Association on how to care for your fruiting trees. You can find it here.

Another thing to have in mind is pre-emergent treatments. Sure you want your lawn to grow healthy but you DON’T want your weeds in on the action. Pre-emergents should be applied no later than the end of November. Natural pre-emergents, like corn gluten meal, should be applied with a spreader before early spring at a rate of 20 lb. per 1,000 square feet. The application of a pre-emergent will make it difficult for new weeds to take root during sprouting season and the extra nitrogen will help your lawn come back nice and green in the spring.

If you plan on doing some planting, now is a good time to consider roses and new trees. This weekend would be a great time to pick out some vivid annuals and hearty ground covers to plant as well as considering transplanting items that may be outgrowing their current location. You can also divide your perennials now. Keep an eye out for our video on how to divide perennials coming soon.

Lastly, let’s not forget the lawn. Give your lawn a good top dressing with a fresh topsoil/compost mixture. If you’ve been experiencing problems with your lawn, send me an email at and I will be happy to address your issues during our end of the month Q&A session. In the meantime consider ryegrass over seeding for lush looking lawns during the cold months. Special note, make sure that if you spread ryegrass seed, you allow it to fully germinate and grow 2-3 inches BEFORE applying your pre-emergent or those poor little seeds won’t stand a chance.

Thanks for tuning in! Come back next week for our discussion on wintertime pest control recommendations and don’t forget to send in your garden questions and concerns before the third thursday so we can help you out in the Botanica End of the Month Q&A Session. We are looking forward to seeing your progress during this wonderful winter.

Oscar Moraes

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