April chores to grow your organic garden

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April wildflowers are always beautiful and a welcome sight in the garden after the cold winter. If you want wildflowers in your own landscape, plan to plant seeds in late September or early October for next spring’s blooms. Thirty of the best wildflowers in Texas can be found here – https://texashighways.com/wildflowers/wildflowers-of-texas/

Pruning chores this month include azaleas, wisteria and climbing roses after the flowers have faded. Roses such as Lady Banks, Veilchenblau, American Beauty and Swamp Rose only bloom in spring. Remove all dead, old or crossed canes. Prune remaining canes lightly after flowering and avoid further pruning until next year’s flowering.

If you missed fertilizing in March, feed the plants with a slow-release organic fertilizer now. Azaleas respond well to organic fertilizers and a three-inch layer of mulch like pine needles or native mulch. Do not use tinted mulch!

Fertilize the lawn around April 15 with a slow-release fertilizer that contains no more than 15% nitrogen. Fertilizers high in nitrogen can cause stubble and are more likely to pollute the environment. One of my favorite lawn fertilizers is Nitro-Phos Sweet Green. It contains 11% nitrogen, 0% phosphorus and 4% potassium. This fertilizer releases its nutrients over a longer period of time. Texas AgriLife Extension does not recommend the use of combined weed and feed products for two reasons:

The herbicide in these products will weaken or even kill trees and shrubs.

Timing of herbicide and fertilizer application differs. So stop weeding and feed!

Vegetables to plant

Transplanting peppers and tomatoes until the middle of the month, transplanting eggplant.

Seeds to plant include butter beans, green beans, corn, cucumber, cantaloupe, okra, southern peas, watermelon, and until mid-month, summer and winter squash. Watch potato and squash plants for egg clusters on the underside of the leaves. Remove the eggs.

All summer flowering flower transplants can be planted in April; however, wait until the end of the month or May to plant vinca transplants. Vinca likes a well-drained hot spot and is susceptible to damping off, caused by a soil fungus, when soil temperatures are cool. According to scientists, the disease is significantly reduced when seedlings are watered with a four percent solution of fish emulsion.

Most summer blooming flower seeds can be planted now. Wait until late April to plant zinnia seeds. Zinnias are susceptible to powdery mildew. This disease is less of a problem in hot weather. Plants that receive good air circulation and full sun have fewer fungal leaf problems. Dig up and divide crowded fall-flowering bulbs like lycoris and perennials like aster and chrysanthemum, especially if they didn’t bloom well last fall.

Tender herbs, such as basil, can be planted now. If you’re growing basil for culinary purposes, don’t let it bloom. According to the late Madeline Hill, the taste of basil changes if left to flower.

Evaluate the plants in your landscape. If you find yourself constantly fighting insects or disease on a plant, get rid of that plant. Replace frost-damaged, insect-prone plants with native ones.

Be sure to join the master gardeners on our tour of the demonstration gardens on April 9. Stroll through the beautiful gardens to see what grows well in Montgomery County and the beautiful landscaping in each area. This event is free but limited to 60 participants. To register, go to https://eventbrite.com/e/30276416476.

Check our website, https://mcmga.com/ for information and current classes throughout the year.

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