Calvin R. Finch, Ph.D., Conservation Manager, San Antonio Water System, and Horticulturist
Week of February 18, 2002
Q. We moved from the North (Ohio) to South Texas. The birding here is unbelievable. What kind of shrubs should we plant to attract birds to our new yard?
A. Many hollies produce berries and all are good nesting sites. Standard yaupon, Nellie Stevens, possomhaw, standard Burford, and dwarf Burford are my favorites. Also plant pyracantha, agarita, wax myrtle, sweet viburnum, waxleaf ligustrum, and blackberries.
Q. We are putting in a new lawn and like the zoysia grass because of the thick sod, good traffic tolerance, and the fact that it can go dormant during droughts. Which variety would you select?
A. I think Emerald zoysia is the prettiest, but it is also the hardest to mow. I would select El Toro or Jamur, whichever is less expensive at the time I wanted it. Both mow easily and have fared well in tests in the region.
Q. How do we keep white winged doves from eating all of the sunflower seed from our feeders?
A. I use the steel feeders with weight sensitive perches. They resist the attention of both squirrels and white winged doves.
Q. I use treated wood for my raised beds and have for years. My neighbor says it has been proven they are not safe. Is that true?
A. Treated wood does leach small amounts of arsenic, chromium, and copper into the garden but in extensive tests we conducted in San Antonio, levels in the soil or vegetables never rose above that deemed normal. Remember, arsenic, chromium, and copper occur naturally in all soils and living organisms. Treated wood is safe for raised bed vegetable gardens.
Q. When can we plant green beans?
A. Plant green beans and other warm weather crops in March.
Q. Please recommend one peach tree variety; that is all we have room for.
A. I think Junegold is the best choice for San Antonio, but South of San Antonio Florida King may be a better choice. Junegold likes more cool weather in the winter.