This Sunday my two favorite things cross – the Liturgical Calendar and the Planting Calendar. Over the next few days the traditions of my church will remind me of the truly important things in life – sacrifice, forgiveness and the power of resurrective love.
While I most intensely feel the presence of God during this time of year, I most often EXPERIENCE him outside the walls of the church. If you are not aware of the mystery and wonder of your creator right now then you are not trying. Where I live he has once again filled me with awe and wonder by painting our yards, fields and roadways blue. Bluebonnet season is now fully underway in Washington County. This weekend, after you finish your ham and pea salad, why not take a drive in the country and experience the majesty of His creation.
As I write this every muscle in my body aches. However, I actually enjoy this feeling because it reminds me (every time I move) that I finally got my spring garden planted!!!! Spring rains made my clay soil too wet to work the previous two weekends. This past weekend was perfect. My wife and I cleaned out our left over brassicas and all of our spring weeds and planted five varieties of tomatoes (from the best transplants I have ever grown). This year I am growing Big Boy, which is my favorite large slicing tomato but does have some problems with cracking. Celebrity is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE hybrid. Medium sized with great flavor and not too much pulp. My wife loves to make tomato sauce and paste. Because of this we always grow heirloom “La Roma”. I am trying a new heirloom variety this year called “Stupice”. Supposedly this small, flavorful tomato originated in the Czech Republic. I am growing it because my wife is Czech and because it is supposed to be a very productive and great tasting small tomato. Finally, I planted “Black From Tula”. This is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE heirloom tomato. I love it’s rich, complex and somehow smokey flavor. While it is an heirloom that makes a HUGE bush, it produces fairly well for me.
To control blossom end rot, heavily mulch your tomatoes and water regularly. Blossom end rot is caused by uneven moisture affecting the plants ability to take up and use calcium. I don’t care what Facebook says, adding your wife’s calcium tablets to your planting holes will not stop end rot. The calcium in those pills is not available to the plant. Even if it was available, uneven watering would still prevent the plant from taking it up. Learn to water properly.
While I love growing ornamental plants in my landscape, my favorite thing is cutting their blooms and foliage to make arrangements for the inside of the house. Things are finally beginning to bloom well enough to make fresh cuts. This week I will be bringing in iris, roses, rosemary (for filler), dianthus, coral honeysuckle and onion blooms. To keep your flowers producing fertilize with finished compost every couple of weeks. If using blended fertilizer use those with good Phosphorous and Potassium. These two nutrients encourage blooming and flower set.
OK yardeners, it now time for you. The general rule about fertilizer is “apply three weeks after the grass greens”. For my Zone 9 yard this is now. As a general rule use a 3-1-2 (15-5-10 or 21-7-14, etc.) fertilizer at the rate of one pound per thousand square feet about every eight weeks. Set mowers to 3” for sunny yards and 3 ½” to 4” for shady yards. The lower the setting the more frequently you will need to mow. Water your lawns only when they show stress. A good indicator is footprints. If you walk through and the grass pops back up, don’t water. If the foot prints remain then water the lawn to a depth of six inches. Even in the hottest part of summer you can get by watering every five or six days.
Now back to those bluebonnets. If you have them in your yard (and you want them next year) do not mow them until their foliage dies. Also do not fertilize the area they are in. Bluebonnets, and many other wildflowers, actually prefer marginal soil. If you improve your soil too much the wildflowers will move someplace else.
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