For The Answer
WILSON COUNTY NEWS
Calvin R. Finch, Ph.D., Conservation Director, San Antonio Water System,
Week of June 4, 2001
Q. What are the large open shrubs that have are just starting to bloom and look like they have purple candles on them?
A. I believe you are talking about vitex or chaste tree. It can grow into a small tree 25 to 30 feet tall and at least as wide. The deer do not seem to eat it and the hummingbirds like the blooms.
Q. Can we cut down our daffodils and Texas Gold columbine yet?
A. You can cut the daffodils down as soon as the leaves brown. Cut them back too early and you reduce food production for the bulb for the next bloom period.
Texas Gold columbine foliage can be cut back when it becomes unattractive.
Q. Which would you recommend for a new lawn, El Toro zoysia or Floratam St. Augustine? My yard is in the sun and we will add two inches of compost so we will have six inches of soil overall.
A. In full sun I would choose Bermuda grass. My second choice would be zoysia. On sites with a little shade zoysia would be my first choice. Both zoysia and Bermuda grass can go dormant if water is unavailable, but Bermuda in full sun can get along with about one-half inch of water per week in the summer while zoysia and St. Augustine take about three-quarters of an inch per week.
I would only use St. Augustine in a shady location where I needed grass instead of a groundcover.
Q. When should we harvest our potatoes? The foliage still looks good and they are not blooming yet.
A Here in South Texas the usual time to begin harvesting is when the blooms appear or when the foliage declines. Your crop is somewhat late (mine is too). If you have a lot of plants I would recommend that you begin harvesting as you need them. If we get a spell of wet weather harvest the rest to avoid rot.
Q. The American goldfinches have left my neighborhood for the North. Is there any reason to keep feeding thistle feed?
A. Lesser goldfinches and house finches are year-around residents that will visit thistle feeders.