For The Answer
Express-News Weekly Article Saturday, March 26, 2005
By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Conservation Director, and Horticulturist
In the Garden and Landscape
April is a busy gardening month. The cool weather plants decline and it is time to plant the hot weather plants. It is also a spectacular month for birds. The American gold finches begin the transition from their drab winter colors to the gold and black that earned them the name of wild canaries. Keep them in the landscape for the month by feeding thistle seed. Migrating hummingbirds (ruby throats and black chinned) will use your sugar water feeders and visit salvia, cross vine, columbine and other flowers. If you have a moving water source and plenty of shrubs and flowers, there is a good chance that warblers, painted buntings, indigo buntings and orioles will visit your yard. They are spectacular to see.
As the month progresses some cool weather plants in the vegetable and flower garden will decline from disease and heat. Replace them with hot weather plants.
In the vegetable garden, plant tomatoes, peppers, green beans, summer squash, beets and carrots. Recommended tomato varieties include Amelia, 444, Heat Wave, Sun Pride, Sun Master, Merced, Celebrity, Carnival, Bingo and Whirlaway. Cherry tomatoes also work well. Use transplants, mulch them with leaves, fertilize with slow release lawn fertilizer, and irrigate with drip irrigation. Any of the pepper varieties will produce in San Antonio. Again, use transplants. For beans, carrots, beets, and summer squash visit plantanswer.com for the recommended varieties. Use seed.
Summer squash can be very productive, but they are vulnerable to squash bugs and squash vine borers. To keep the insects from destroying the plants use a Thiodan dust on the growing point every week.
Zinnia seeds or transplants can be planted. I like Dreamland transplants because they resist mildew better than the other selections. It is important to plant your begonias in April if you want them to fare well in deep summer. They can be used in sun or shade if the transplants have time to grow enough foliage and roots. Moss roses and purslane are also good hot weather bloomers. They are especially nice in hanging baskets.
Plant hot weather perennials like lantanas, salivas, firebush, poinciana, and esperanza in April.
The old fashioned roses can survive most fungus and insect attacks, but modern hybrid tea roses fare better if they are sprayed weekly with a fungicide and insecticide. Organic gardeners can try neem oil (Rose Defense) and sulfur. Acephate and funginex are the traditional sprays for roses.
Peaches also need weekly sprays to escape severe insect and fungus problems. The organic controls are the same as for roses, neem oil and sulfur. Malathion and carbaryl (Sevin) are labeled insecticides. For a fungicide use captan , mancozeb or other labeled spray.. Apples require frequent spraying as well. Use the same sprays as for peaches. Pears, plums, pomegranates, persimmons, and blackberries usually do not need sprays.
Remember, that wildflowers must be allowed to brown and mature their seed before they are chopped down if you want them to reseed for next year. The bulb foliage (paper whites, iris, daffodils) must be allowed to brown in place as well.
Fertilize after you have mowed real St. Augustine, buffalo, zoysia, or Bermuda grass twice. Use slow release lawn fertilizer. It is not too late to aerate and top dress with compost, but do it early in the month. The weather is great enjoy your gardening.
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