Tip of the Week – Week 10 in the Zone 9 Garden

Can you believe this weather?!?  Winter just does not want to let us go.  Hopefully this will be the last cold snap (but I doubt it).  As you all are well aware, March is the busiest time of the year in the zone 9 garden.  Here are some of things that I will be doing in the weeks to come:

peach-tree

Right now my peach trees are in full bloom.

Vegetables

This weekend is tilling time for me.  I am increasing the size of my garden this year so I will be tilling up an area that has never been planted before.  I do a deep till with my rear-tine tiller.  This usually takes a couple of passes.  Then I use stakes and string to lay out my beds.  I make 48” beds divided by 38” walk paths.  To make the beds I run my Mantis tiller up and down the walk ways and move the soil onto the bed.  After this is roughed in I take my rake and clean the walk paths, shape the beds and remove all excess vegetation.  Once done I top dress the beds with finished compost (this year I got a deal on composted cotton burr) and then cover everything in a deep layer of spoiled hay mulch.  I leave the beds alone until I feel the weather is going to be warm enough (for long enough) for me to plant.

rear-tine-tiller

This weekend I will begin tilling up a new part of my garden.

Ornamentals

This may be one of the best early weekends to get out of your own garden and go look at what God and other gardeners have done.  Right now in Zone 9 narcissus and daffodils are in full bloom.  Redbuds and peach trees are stunning and plum trees are beginning to show.  Lots of ornamental trees are in full bloom and my favorite spring shrb, Primrose Jasmine, is beginning to cover itself in lovely yellow blooms.  While all of these plants are lovely the real queen of early spring in the South is the azalea.  This weekend the River Oaks Garden Club is hosting their 80th Azalea Trail in and around River Oaks.  This is a huge event for buddy Bart Brechter, Curator of Gardens at Bayou Bend.  It is not often that I recommend not gardening on the weekend.  However, the Azalea Trail is such an awesome event I really recommend that you get your gardening fix by using camera to explore some magnificent gardens.

Houston isn’t the only place to witness beautiful azaleas.  Nacogdoches also has an Azalea trail.  Theirs lasts through all of March.  Head over there any weekend this month and be blown away by the variety and colors of these beautiful plants.

Be careful with the "weed and feed" that is currently in the stores.  It mostly likely contains atrazine.  This chemical can damage or kill many shrubs and trees -even some oaks.

Be careful with the “weed and feed” that is currently in the stores. It mostly likely contains atrazine. This chemical can damage or kill many shrubs and trees -even some oaks.

Lawns

Right now is an odd, in-between time for yardeners.  It is too late for weed control and too early for fertilize.  If we get lucky with temperatures, we may need to start mowing soon.  For these early mowings set your blade at three inches.  Mow again when the grass is about 4” tall.  It is recommended that you only remove 1/3 of the blade with each mowing.  Also, do not bag you clippings.  The grass clippings are a great source of nitrogen for the grass.  By April your grass will be actively growing so you will need to readjust the mower deck to the recommended heights for the various grass types.

Trees and Shrubs

Even though I don’t use commercial products in my landscapes, I know a lot of you do.  With that in mind I want to warn you about “Weed and Feed” products that are in the stores now.  Most these are high nitrogen fertilizers with atrazine for post emergent weed control.  Atrazine will harm or kill many of our shrubs and trees.  If you look at the label on these products it will tell you to avoid beds and not to apply under the drip line of trees.  I really advise staying away from these products.

****Be sure to check out my friend Bart’s blog (Our Garden View) for more great tips for the Central and South Central garden!

I share my posts on the HomeAcre Hop.  Be sure to stop by the hop.  It has tons of great information from gardeners and homesteaders all over the world!

Tip of the Week – Week 9 in the Zone 9 Garden

According to the forecast this will be a cold and wet weekend in the Zone 9 garden.  However, if they are wrong, here are some of the things you can work on:

peach-bloom-bee

Peaches, plums and redbuds are beginning to show color.

Vegetables

If you have not already prepared your beds by tilling in lots of compost, you need to do it soon.  The nutrients in compost are not readily available.  Compost needs time for the microbes and insects in the soil to break it down.  After tilling I highly recommend adding lots of mulch to keep down the weeds.  I use spoiled hay in my garden because it is easy for me to get.  Feel free to use leaves, grass clippings or any other natural product that you have access to.

Since there is a good chance for rain this weekend I am going to do some indoor gardening.  It is time for me to up pot my tomato transplants.  I started my seeds in coir pellets back in January.  They are now big enough to be moved into the solo drink cups that I use for pots.  I put the coir pellets into the cup and cover the entire stem of the young transplants.  Since tomatoes grow roots along their entire stem, planting deep and covering the stem will encourage the little plant to make lots of roots that will help grow a big healthy plant.

Onions are beginning to take off.  Keep down the weeds and apply 6 cups of organic fertilizer like Lady Bug All Purpose Fertilizer (8-2-4) per 25 square feet of plantings once a month.

turnip-1

There is still time to plant turnips, rutabagas and beets from seed.

Ornamentals

Poppies and Larkspur are very noticeable right now.  Be careful not to pull them when weeding this week.

Lawns

Henbit and clover are sprouting all over my yard.  Both are nearly impossible to control with organic methods.  Weed eat them regularly to keep them from flowering and setting seed.  If you are not organic you can treat the clover with Trimec starting next month.  Trimec will kill clover and not damage St. Augustine.

red-poppyTrees and Shrubs

If you have black, sooty looking limbs on your crepe myrtles there is a very good chance that you have a scale infestation.  Now is a great time to “cleanse” yourself of the problem.  Mix up a bucket of soapy water and use a soft brush to scrub any remaining “honey dew” from the tree.  This cleansing will also remove any scales or scale eggs that are already in place.  You can also spray dormant oil at this time.  If you live in north or east Texas be aware that there is a new scale infecting crepe myrtles in your part of the state.  Oils are not effective against this new pest.  To learn more about controlling this pest click here for a great article from the Aggie entomologists at Insects in the City.

****Be sure to check out my friend Bart’s blog (Our Garden View) for more great tips for the Central and South Central garden!

I share my posts on the HomeAcre Hop.  Be sure to stop by the hop.  It has tons of great information from gardeners and homesteaders all over the world!

Tip of the Week – Week 8 in the Zone 9 Garden

Yesterday I received some amazing photos from my friend Bruce Leander.  Bruce is an awesome photographer and a macro photography enthusiast.  He does a lot of work at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  He sent me some very good macro shots of cedar trees (ash juniper) that are beginning to pollinate.  While the pictures are incredible they are bad news for those of us that suffer from cedar fever.  As his pictures clearly show, if you are not already suffering you will be soon!  If you feel up to it (and the rain holds off) there are several things to be done in the garden this weekend.

cedar-pollen

Male parts of the ash juniper ready to release the pollen that will make so many of us sick in the next few days. Photo by Bruce Leander

Vegetables

This month, when temperatures are above 50 degrees, move your tomato, pepper and eggplant starts outside.  Start slow by giving them only an hour or two of sunlight the first several days.  Then gradually increase their time outside.  This hardens the plants and will prevent sun scald when the go out permanently.  Also, the outdoor breezes will help develop much stronger transplants.

tomato-seedlings-1

As temperatures rise begin to harden off your tomato, pepper and eggplant transplants by taking them outside for a few hours each day.

Ornamentals

Give cool season color like pansies, violas and snap dragons a boost with a water soluble organic fertilizer or a fish emulsion and seaweed mix.  Trim back your salvias, especially salvia greggii, to promote more blooms on thick, compact plants.

red-salvia

My favorite shot of my potager. Trim salvias back by half now to encourage flowering.

Lawns

Even though your sprinkler system has been off for the winter now is the time to turn it on and inspect it.  Turn on each zone and look for leaks, cracked heads or misaligned heads.  If you can fix the issues yourself you will save yourself some money and many gallons of water this summer.  If you can’t fix issues yourself remember that it is much easier to book an irrigation specialist in February than it is in June.

lichen-2

An incredible shot of lichen on an oak limb by my friend Bruce Leander of Austin

Trees and Shrubs

Since we have already mentioned cedar (ash juniper) troubles, now is the time to get control of another one of their big problem – bagworms.  Bagworms are interesting creatures.  The female moth never leaves the foliage covered torpedo shaped case.  She has no eyes, legs or wings and cannot eat. In fact, she looks more like a maggot than a moth. The male mates with her through the open end of the cocoon.  After mating she dies with thousands of eggs inside her.  The eggs hatch and the babies emerge THROUGH the mother.  They climb out of the cocoon and the wind blows them to other trees.  They then spin their cocoons and the process starts all over.

Bagworms are a serious problem for conifers (and some deciduous trees as well).  A severe infestation can permanently disfigure the tree and it will never recover.  You can control this problem by removing cocoons whenever you see them, especially now as mating will soon occur in zone 9.  For serious infestations spray a bt product (organic) or dust with sevin.

****Be sure to check out my friend Bart’s blog (Our Garden View) for more great tips for the Central and South Central garden!

I share my posts on the HomeAcre Hop.  Be sure to stop by the hop.  It has tons of great information from gardeners and homesteaders all over the world!

Tip of the Week – Week 7 in the Zone 9 Garden

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.

My latest garden experiment proves you can grow fall potatoes - at least in a mild winter

My latest garden experiment proves you can grow fall potatoes – at least in a mild winter

Vegetables

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.

blog-Crimson_Glory_rose

Valentine’s Day is a great time to prune your roses.

Ornamentals

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.

Lawns

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.

red_bud_blooms

Buds on my redbud trees mean that all trees will soon be breaking dormancy. Spray horticultural oils now for insect control later.

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.

 

****Be sure to check out my friend Bart’s blog (Our Garden View) for more great tips for the Central and South Central garden!

 

I share my posts on the HomeAcre Hop.  Be sure to stop by the hop.  It has tons of great information from gardeners and homesteaders all over the world!

 

 

Tip of the Week – Week 6 in the Zone 9 Garden

I know that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, but I think his prediction is wrong.  As I drive the back roads of Washington County, I see signs of an early spring everywhere.  Now I don’t want to jinx anything, but we are quickly approaching the date when a freeze is highly unlikely.  Because of this, there are many, many tasks to be done in the February zone 9 garden.  Below are the things I will be doing this weekend

potato-planting

Most years I grow La Soda reds and Kennebek whites. This year I was only able to find La Soda seed potatoes.

Vegetables

There are lots of veggies that can be planted this week.  For a complete list check out Patty Leander’s planting calendar on the sidebar of the blog.  Since I have planted about all of the seeds I can I am moving on to planting potatoes.  A couple of weeks ago I bought ten pounds of red La Soda.  I cut them into pieces and have allowed them to “scab” in the kitchen.  Plant them 4” deep in loose soil that is in full sun.

larkspur

Larkspur is so pretty and so reliable. Plant this self-seeding annual once and you may be able to enjoy it for a lifetime.

Ornamentals

It is not too late to plant snap dragons (but is getting close).  Place these transplants about a foot apart in full sun.  Give them an extra boost with blood meal.  Blood meal is a great source of organic nitrogen.  The recommended rate is one cup per five feet of row.

If you have not cut back your ornamental grasses, cannas, gingers, asters, salvias and woody perennials, do it now.  It is also a great time to start mulching.  I love mulch and use it extensively.  It suppresses weeds, conserves moisture and insulates roots.  Plus, if you use natural mulches, they turn into compost that will feed your plants.

I have tons of poppies, larkspur, marigolds and bachelor buttons (gomphrena) that come back every year.  Be careful not to cover these self-seeding annuals with mulch or pull the tender starts while you are weeding.

acetic-acid-weed-killer

Concentrated acetic acid makes a great organic weed killer

Lawns

My wife mowed for the first time this past weekend.    While the stuff that passes for grass at my house is not growing, lots of weeds are.  A weekly mowing will prevent lots of these weeds from going to seed and spreading their problems into future years.  For weeds that can’t be reached with a mower use acetic acid as a good natural herbicide.  Don’t think you can get by with household vinegar.  Real weed killing power is found in the concentrated form at your local garden supply center.

If you are into organic weed control, start putting out corn gluten meal (CGM) now.  A weekly application during February is a very effective pre-emergent for all broadleaf weeds.  Besides cost, there is absolutely no down side to CGM.  Apply CGM at a rate of 20 lbs per thousand square feet of lawn.  If you have more lawn than money you can also use CGM as a natural fertilizer.  Apply 10 pounds per 1000 square feet to give yor lawn a great boost of natural nitrogen.

 

****Be sure to check out my friend Bart’s blog (Our Garden View) for more great tips for the Central and South Central garden!

This post has been shared on the HomeAcre Hop.  Be sure to stop by the hop.  It has tons of great information from gardeners and homesteaders all over the world!

Tip of the Week – Week 5 in the Zone 9 Garden

Between the threat of rain and the Super Bowl it may be hard to get out into the garden this weekend.  However, Thursday is supposed to be gorgeous and Friday will be nice.  If you can get outside on those days here are some tasks that can be done now: 

Vegetables

Right now is a great time to plant your salad fixings.  While lettuce (check out my in depth discussion of growing lettuce here)and spinach are the stars, don’t forget that the supporting players like radishes, beets, carrots, kale and mustard greens also can also be planted now.  These quick growing greens will be ready for harvest in about 45 days.  At that time you will be ready to thin your onions and use them in the salad.

buttercrisp_lettuce

Now is a great time to replant lettuce. My favorites are buttercrisp and black seeded Simpson

Right now is also a good time to start adding compost to your beds.  I sprinkle a couple of inches over the areas I am going to plant in March and cover with spoiled hay.  It is not warm enough for the compost to start breaking down.  However, in conjunction with the hay, it acts as a great mulch that will suppress many spring weeds.  It will also feed the worms that will begin taking it down into the soil for you.

Ornamentals

As you know I am a big supporter of field grown flower farmers.  Right now my friend Mike at Prickly Pair Farm is planting ammi, stattice and dianthus under cover.  You can start the same flowers indoors now.  Growing from seed is the best way I know to have a ton of flowers for spring planting without spending a ton of money.

finished_compost

Right now is a great time to begin adding compost to the beds that you will be planting in the March

Lawns

I have a couple hundred daffodils planted in my yard.  As I walked around yesterday looking to see if they had broken ground I noticed lots of some very bad weeds beginning to make a stand.  Dandelions and thistles are beginning to come on strong.  These are easy to take care of with a good sharp hoe.  However, my true weed nemesis is Queen Anne’s Lace.  Queen Anne’s Lace is actually wild carrot.  Right now it is forming its cluster of leaves on the ground.  I leave it alone until it sends up its flower stalk then I pull it up, white carrot root and all.

****Be sure to check out my friend Bart’s blog (Our Garden View) for more great tips for the Central and South Central garden!

This post has been shared on the HomeAcre Hop.  Be sure to stop by the hop.  Tons of great information from gardeners and homesteaders all over the world!

Tip of the Week – Week 4 in the Zone 9 Garden

We got over an inch of rain at my house last night.  We are expected to get another inch today.  I am thankful but I hope the sun comes out tomorrow.  If it is not too muddy there are tons of tasks to take care of this weekend.  Here are some of the things I am doing:

Vegetables

Week 4 in the Zone 9 garden is a very busy time.  It is time to replant all of your brassicas.  The brassica family includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and others.  Click on each veggie above to read Patty Leander’s tips for growing the best brassicas possible.

Patty also wrote a great post about sugar snap peas.  It is time to plant those as well.  This year she has had great luck with “Amish” heirlooms.  Get all the info you need to succeed with peas by reading her post  “Make Room for Cool Season Peas”.

Week four is also the time to plant potatoes.  The two varieties that do best for me are Red LaSoda and white Kennebecks.  Buy now, cut into pieces preserving the eyes and allow to cure for a week or so before planting.  Check out my post “Growing Potatoes” to learn all the other tips and tricks you need.

Cauliflower doesn't have to be white!  Try some of the colored varieties.  Photo by Bruce Leander

Cauliflower doesn’t have to be white! Try some of the colored varieties. Photo by Bruce Leander

Ornamentals

Patty’s latest post reminded me that it is time to cut back your cannas (and ginger).  Cut them to the ground.  Here’s another canna tip.  When they start blooming, cut their flower stalks out at the base of the plant.  This will encourage them to bloom more.

It is also a good time to trim up woody perennials.  My bougainvillea has shed its leaves so it is ready for its annual haircut.  Trim up other deciduous vines like coral honeysuckle, cross vine and wisteria.

If you want lots of flowers in early spring, start their seeds now.  Two years ago I grew 100 marigold transplants.  My beds never looked better.  This weekend is a good time to start marigolds, petunias, begonias, periwinkles and many others.

marigolds

Fruit

It is still a good time to plant bare root fruit trees.  It is also a great time to plant container grown fruit trees.  Container grown fruit trees can be planted anytime of the year but they will root in and become established quicker if you plant them now.

****Be sure to check out my friend Bart’s blog (Our Garden View) for more great tips for the Central and South Central garden!

This post has been shared on the HomeAcre Hop.  Be sure to stop by the hop.  Tons of great information from gardeners and homesteaders all over the world!

Brassicas Rule, Cannas Drool by Patty G. Leander

Cannas may be beautiful in the summer time, but they sure aren’t very pretty after a freeze. Mine bit the dust right around Christmas, when Old Man Winter showed up and decided to stick around for awhile. Of course my small bed of canna lilies dies back every year yet every year I am amazed at the contrast of the gloomy canna skeletons against the vibrant greens, purples and reds of the brassicas that shrug off the cold weather and keep on growing, proving once again that they deserve a prime spot in the winter garden.

cannas-freeze-damage

Canna lilies would prefer to spend their winter on a tropical island (me too!) but they’ll be back this summer. Photo by Bruce Leander

Seasoned gardeners are well aware of these gems of the winter garden, but for novice gardeners and those who have been on the fence about a winter garden, I’d like to share a few easy-to-grow vegetables to consider planting next fall.

Chinese-Cabbage

Mustards, kale and Chinese cabbages love the cold weather. Photo by Bruce Leander

I usually plant sugar snap peas twice a year, mid-September and late January. This year I planted a vining variety from Seed Savers Exchange, called ‘Amish Snap’, on September 17. I started picking on November 11 and plants were still producing in December even after several light freezes. On January 8th we experienced a freeze with temperatures that fell into the low 20s; the plants survived but the peas took a hit (Note: a more diligent gardener would have harvested the pods before the arrival of a predicted hard freeze!). The outer pods were damaged but many of the peas inside were perfectly edible, with a flavor slightly reminiscent of, well, frozen peas. Since the vines are healthy and the weather is mild, I’ll leave the vines for now to see if I’ll get a another flush of blooms and pods, but in the meantime I’ll seed another round of peas for a spring harvest.

Amish-Snap-Peas

‘Amish Snap’ peas: planting seeds in September, ready to harvest in November, freeze damage in January. Photo by Bruce Leander

Swiss chard, beets and spinach do not belong to the brassica family but they are ideal specimens for a winter garden.

beets-in-hand

Beets that were seeded in September have provided roots and lovely greens all winter long. Photo by Bruce Leander

Other stalwarts for the winter garden include onions, spinach, carrots and almost every herb you can imagine, except basil. We still have cold winter days ahead and any of these vegetable or herbs could be planted this month to bridge the gap between winter and spring.

multiplying-onions

Multiplying onions look grow so well in the winter garden, and they look great too! Photo by Bruce Leander

winter-mint

Brighten up your winter meals with the fresh flavor of multiplier onions, mint, dill and oregano.

Tip of the Week – Week 3 in the Zone 9 Garden

There are two things that really need to be done in January in the lower two thirds of our state–starting tomato, pepper and egg plant seeds for transplant and planting asparagus.  It is also time to start pruning fruit trees, grapes and perennial ornamentals that have been killed by the freeze.

Vegetables

I don’t want to sound like a nag, but this week is THE PERFECT TIME to plant your tomato seeds.  You can also start your pepper and eggplant seeds too.  Eggplant will germinate much like the tomato seeds but be prepared to give you pepper seeds a little extra time to sprout.

Besides tomatoes, asparagus is my absolute favorite vegetable to grow and eat.  Plant year old crowns now.  My favorite is the heirloom “Mary Washington”.  However, I have had much luck with many varieties of the “Jersey” series.  For more information on planting asparagus check out my post “Growing Asparagus”.

planting-asparagus-crowns

When planting, spread the roots of asparagus crowns over a mound of compost

Ornamentals

Now that we have had a freeze, it is time to trim back some of our perennials.  Clumping grasses can be cut back to about ten inches.  If your grass clumps did not bloom this year consider dividing them in February.  Salvias can be cut back to half of their size.  Root Beer plant (Hoja Santo) can be cut to the ground.

ornamental-grass

Cut clumping grasses back to 10 to 12 inches

Fruit

January and February are the best times to plant bare root fruit trees.  Plant them at the depth they were grown.  Determine this depth by noticing where the color changes at the top of the roots and the bottom of the trunk.

January is also a good time to prune fruit trees and grapes in the lower two thirds of our state.

****Be sure to check out my friend Bart’s blog (Our Garden View) for more great tips for the Central and South Central garden!

This post has been shared on the HomeAcre Hop.  Be sure to stop by the hop.  Tons of great information from gardeners and homesteaders all over the world!

peach-blossom

January is good time to prune fruit trees. Definitely do a little research before you start cutting.

Tip of the Week – Week 2 in the Zone 9 Garden

If it is not raining or freezing this weekend there are lots of things to be done in the Zone 9 garden.

Ornamentals

It is not too late to plant pansies, Johnny Jump Ups (viola), cyclamen, snap dragons, alyssum and ornamental cabbage.  Water in new transplants with fish emulsion or other water soluble organic  fertilizers.  Fertilize established plants with 6 cups of organic fertilizer (or two cups of synthetic) per 25 sqaure feet of plantings.

pansy-1

It is still not too late to set out pansies and violas.

Vegetables

If you have not already planted onions, do so this month.  Discard any onions that have a diameter bigger than a pencil.  Onions are heavy feeders with a small root system.  Because of this you need to keep the onion bed weed free and fertilize monthly at a rate of 6 cups of organic fertilizer (or two cups of synthetic) per 25 sqaure feet of plantings.  For detailed information on growing onions in Zone 9 check out my post “Grow Bigger, Sweeter Onions”.

January is the month to start your tomato transplants from seed.  If you want big, healthy plants by March 15 you need to get the seeds planted by January 15.  MOH contributor Patty Leander has a great article about this in this month’s Texas Gardener Magazine.  You can also see how long time Austin reader Harry Cabluck grows his transplants in my post “Harry Cabluck’s Tips for Growing Healthy Tomato Transplants”.

Tomato transplants (and photos) by Austin reader Harry CabluckMaintenance

If you still have leaves on the ground, rake them up before they blow away.  Leaves are great mulch and great compost additives.  Now is also a good time to get out your row cover (or buy new).  If you have things planted now you are probably going to need it in the next few weeks.

****Be sure to check out my friend Bart’s blog (Our Garden View) for more great tips for the Central and South Central garden!

This post has been shared on the HomeAcre Hop.  Be sure to check out all the great tips and tricks on this outstanding gathering of bloggers.