June: Pest Management, Fertilize and Planning.

Monthly Reminders by on Tuesday, June 10, 2014

photo of Texas native, Turk's CapLess than 3% of all insects are considered pests; the rest are either considered beneficial or harmless. Insects are an important part of our complex and interrelated environment, pollinating fruits and vegetables, providing food for birds, fish, and other wildlife, producing useful products like honey, silk, shellac and wax, helping decompose yard materials into soil-enriching humus, and feeding on other insects considered pests to man. A spray applied to destroy a “pest” may well be killing off beneficial insects. The best pest control is you! Set your hose to its strongest spray and use water to dislodge unwelcome visitors or hand pick off unwelcome visitors. Encourage beneficial inspects and birds in your yard by providing appropriate habitat. Protect bees – use pesticides as a last resort.

Integrates Pest Management (IPM) – uses four key approaches to control pests damage while fostering environmental awareness:

  1. Proper plant selection (choose plants with genetic resistance to pests and disease).
  2. Biological control (use one organism to control another).
  3. Environmental and cultural controls (encourage conditions that are favorable for the plant and unfavorable for the pest).
  4. Chemical control (the last resort).

Water planted areas deeply and infrequently. Water outdoor potted plants daily.

Mow every 5 – 7 days, leaving the clippings on the lawn and raising the mower setting to reduce turf stress in summer heat. Water during the cool, early morning. Avoid weed killers now that temperatures are above 85 degrees.

Remove spent flower. Remove fruiting canes from blackberries after harvest and prune tips of new canes at 4′ to promote branching. Prune dead and damaged wood from trees and shrubs as needed. Do NOT prune oak trees at this time because the beetled that carries oak wilt is active and may be attracted to cuts that you make.

Fertilize with organic options such as rich compost, manure tea, or fish emulsion. Treat plants with yellowing leaves near the tips with an iron supplement. Feed roses and young fruit trees with a nitrogen fertilizer. Feed established annuals and perennials with a high nitrogen/lo phosphorus fertilizer such as 8-2-4.

Start planning and preparing fall garden beds.

Oscar Moraesand the crew Tips

Source: Garden Guide for Austin and Vicinity – Travis County Master Gardeners Association.

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April: Spring Fertilizing.

Monthly Reminders by on Monday, April 7, 2014

fertilizeThis time of year is the best for fertilizing for spring. Fertilize established trees, shrubs, turf, and other plants.

Compost is an excellent top dress for lawn, flower beds, and gardens. It replaces any organic matter lost to the plants or watering.

Don’t let weeds go to seed. Treat or pull them. Pulling weeds is still the most effective method for getting rid of them.

When mowing, leave the clippings on the lawn so that they break down and add organic matter to the soil.

The Hill Country can get freezes as late as Easter, and we know how many “inclement weather” days we’ve had in Austin this winter. Be prepared to cover delicate or recently planted plants in case we have a late cold snap.

Consider planting summer cover crops in uncultivated areas in your yard. Cover crops are sometimes referred to “green manures” and will greatly improve your soil.

When planting turf grasses or grass seed, consider a native grass mix for a full sun spot in your yard.

Fall and winter are usually the best times to plant trees and shrubs, but they can be planted with care in the spring. When planting a new tree or shrub, be careful not to use more than 20% compost, if any, in the hole that you dig. Too much compost may cause settling as it breaks down. For natives and well-adapted species, the backfill should ideally be the native soil that you dug from the hole and maybe some amendments depending on the quality of your existing soil and what you are planting. Some natives do not need any amendments.

Prune spring-flowering shrubs, trees, climbing roses, and other “once bloomers” after they bloom.

Divide and transplant late summer- and fall-flowering bulbs.

Mulch trees, shrubs, vegetable gardens, and flower beds with 2-4 inches of mulch.

Conserve landscape water with these rules:

(Travis County Master Gardeners’ Association – 4th Edition Garden Guide)

Oscar Moraesand the crew

Tip Sources: Natural Gardener April Tips & Travis County Master Gardeners’ Association – 4th Edition Garden Guide

Other key things to do: treat for ants, chinch bugs, de-thatch lawns and fertilize.

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