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:
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.
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.
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.
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!