Week 49 Tips for the Zone 9 Garden  

I hope you have been able to get outside and take advantage of this unseasonably gorgeous weather.  Last Saturday, Sally and I took a little horticultural get away to our state’s capital.  We had a lovely visit with co-blogger Patty Leander.  We toured her amazing garden (she is growing peanuts!) and the extremely well done garden of long-time reader Harry Cabluck.  We also took time to visit the new “Lucy and Ian Family Garden” at the Ladybird Johnson Wildlife Center.  If you have never been to the Wildflower Center you really need to go.  It has always been an awesome place for adult gardeners, landscapers and nature lovers.  Now, with the addition of the family garden, the wildflower center is the perfect weekend trip for the entire family.

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There has never been a better time to visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin. The recent addition of the Lucy and Ian Family Garden ensures your kids or grandkids will enjoy the trip as much as you do.

 

VEGETABLES/FRUITS

  • Plant Onions – Last weekend I planted my onions (read how I do it here). I ordered my onions from Dixondale Farms. Dixondale has been growing onion sets in Texas for almost 100 years.  Their website is a great resource for onion growers.  Not only can you order you plants, you can find recommendations on how to grow them, when to plant them and which varieties to use for your area.
  • Plant more greens – It is still possible to plant arugula, collards, mustards, lettuce and spinach. In fact, I just planted a container with red lettuce, arugula and spinach last weekend.  I love growing greens in containers and keeping them close to the back door.  This way my wife and I have ready access to fresh and fabulous salads all weekend
  • Plant strawberries – December is a great time to plant strawberries. Plant them in full sun and in soil that drains well.
  • Get row cover ready– Believe it or not, it really is going to freeze sometime soon. Get ready by digging out your row cover and getting moved to your garden.
  • Spray fruit trees with dormant oil – Dormant oils smother scale insects and other sucking insects that plague peaches, plums, pears and apricots (and crepe myrtles too) in the spring.  Most of these are refined petroleum products but you can find dormant oils that come from plants oils.  Organic dormant oils should carry the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) seal.

    cauliflower-shallots-spinach

    Last year I had cauliflower, shallots and spinach sharing space in my potager garden. You can still plant spinach in your Zone 8 and 9 gardens.

ORNAMENTALS

  • Plant flower bulbs – My 16 month old grandson is visiting.  This afternoon I am going to get him to help me plant 50 daffodil bulbs.  If you want spring blooms of narcissus, daffodils, jonquils or luecojum you need to plant them now.
  • Flowers – After Roger and I finish planting our daffodils we are going to plant larkspur.   I put out larkspur seeds in a broadcast manner.  You can also plant poppies in the same way.  December is also a great time to plant dianthus, pansy and violas from transplants
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December is a great time to plant pansy and violas (Johnny Jump-Ups) from transplant

 

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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.

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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 Cabluck Maintenance

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!

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