Calvin R. Finch, Ph.D., Conservation Manager, San Antonio Water System,
Week of January 28, 2001
Q. We have always raked and bagged our leaves. My neighbor says it is best to let them decompose on the lawn, especially in our sandy soil. Is he correct? Leaf raking is good exercise when the weather is nice, but I dont want to waste the leaves if they are good for the soil.
A. Your neighbor is correct. Leaves are good for any soil. Let them decompose on the lawn. If you want exercise, push the lawn mower over the leaves; they will decompose even faster.
Now is also a great time to aerate your lawn and spread compost. The aeration reduces compaction and allows water to penetrate the soil. The compost spread .5 inch deep will infiltrate holes and bring organic material to the roots.
Q. My wife wants me to water our dormant lawn. She thinks it will help green it up. Is she right?
A. No, watering a lawn in the wintertime more than once every three weeks is a waste of water.
Q. We planted Bright Lights chard. It is beautiful with yellow, orange, red, and green stalks. Can we eat it, too?
A. Yes, the ornamental chards are perfectly edible.
Q. When do I cut down my paperwhite stems? They have finished blooming.
A. If you want them to return next winter you must leave the stems until they turn brown. The green stems are producing the starches that will keep the bulbs alive and provide the energy for the new bloom stalks to grown next year.
Q. I have some orange esperanza that I want to move from my front yard. They get so leggy and have so few blooms each year that I want to replace them with the Texas Star esperanza. Can I transplant them now? Are they fragile?
A. Now is a great time to transplant them; they are not fragile. Cut the stems to six inches and dig as much of the root system out as you can easily handle. Have the holes ready at the new location. A wheelbarrow or sliding them on a piece of cardboard works to move the plants if the new location is not too far. Fill in with the native soil, water them well, and mulch over the root system. Most will prosper. Remember that esperanza must be planted in full sun.