This past weekend I planted my potatoes. While planting I got a very pleasant surprise – more potatoes! For the past two years I have wanted to try fall potatoes. However, no one sells seed potatoes in the fall. I had my best ever potato crop in the spring so this September I took my left overs and planted them. We had a very mild winter. I covered the potatoes once in December and once in January for light frosts. Then I did not get them covered for the last freeze in January. I thought the freeze ended my experiment. I cut off the frozen vines and forgot about them. That’s why I was so surprised this Sunday. As I dug my trenches for my new potatoes, my fall potatoes were literally turning up all over the place. I harvested over 20 lbs! So, it looks like you definitely can grow fall potatoes in the Zone 9 Garden. Below are more things to consider doing this weekend.
For a complete list of the vegetables you can plant now please check out the planting guide in the sidebar. If you are not sure what particular vegetable varieties to plant check out Patty Leander’s variety list in the sidebar. This is a great tool for new gardeners or for those of us who like to try different things. Also be sure to look at her seed sources. March 15 is go date for most of the veggies we like to grow in the Zone 9 spring garden. If you don’t hurry it will soon be too late to order your seeds.
There are two times to prune roses – Labor Day and Valentine’s Day. This weekend reduce the size of your hybrid roses by up to one half. Also remove any dead wood. It is also a great time to open up the center of the bush. Most shrub roses will look beautiful if you have six to eight healthy, upright canes. Remove all suckers that are smaller than a pencil and top foliage by cutting branches at a 45 degree angle above a bud. Antique roses do not need as much pruning. Reduce them by no more than a third, get rid of all dead wood and open up the centers. DO NOT prune spring blooming climbers until after their first bloom.
It is still too early to apply commercial fertilizers to your lawn. However it is a great time to aerate and add compost. When fertilizing your lawn with compost, mow closely and then spread a half to one inch of compost over the lawn. Rake it into the grass and water well. Do not mow again for a least a week. You can fertilize your lawn with compost 2,3 or 4 times a year. You really can’t add too much. Plus compost will often contain macro nutrients and trace elements that are missing from commercial fertilizers.
Trees and Shrubs
My redbud is beginning to bud out. That is the first sign that trees are coming out of dormancy. If you want to plant any fruit trees, bare root or containerized, do it soon. The weather conditions that we have right now are perfect for allowing them to rapidly start producing the roots that will “establish” them in your landscape.
While your crepe myrtles are still bare, spray them with horticultural oil (also known as dormant oils) to mites and scale insects. Horticultural, or dormant, oils are generally refined petroleum products. They are great at controlling several pests in shrubs and fruit trees. However, they are not organic. Look for the organic equivalent that is made from cotton seed oil. Another organic, Neem oil, shows some promise as a dormant oil and research is currently being done on its effectiveness. Do not spray dormant oils after buds have broken on your trees and shrubs.
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