Gardening with Laurie: Prune roses, woody perennials, get beds ready for spring flowers
The old saying about how fast the weather can change in Texas has proven itself to be true these past few weeks. One day, I'm dressed in four layers to stay warm, and the next day, I'm pulling out my summer clothes. But still, no rain.
The springlike temperatures have gardeners in the gardening mood. Sunshine and warm weather call for us to be outdoors sinking our hands in the earth. Now that the cold, damp, cloudy days are gone, gardeners need to get busy.
Grafted roses need to be pruned now and not later. Roses grown of their own root stock do not have to be pruned. Any pruning of them is strictly for cosmetic purposes. Climbing roses are pruned after they have their big flush of seasonal blooms. All roses need to be fed and composted now.
Woody perennials such as plumbago, esperanza and lantana should be cut back to about a height of 2 inches. If established, they should start coming back from the root system within a few weeks of warm, sunny weather. Feed woody perennials with your choice of natural fertilizers and spread good compost on the soil.
Most older gardeners say to plant potatoes on or around Washington's birthday Feb. 22. This date should also remind you to apply beneficial nematodes to your garden soil. Not only will they get rid of pesky wire worms that can destroy potatoes, but they will also get rid of many other bad pests we combat in and out of our soils.
Now is also the time to apply corn-gluten meal as a pre-emergent to help get rid of spring weeds. As the soil warms up, seeds will wake up. You will soon begin to see weeds everywhere.
Corn-gluten meal is a great natural nitrogen source as well as pre-emergent; it will prevent any seed from germinating. It is often used to get rid of grass burrs, but it will work on all seeds. Do not use it where you have sown any desirable seeds.
Now is the time to apply a couple of inches of compost to all your flowerbeds and to put out a natural fertilizer. Neither of these need to be watered in, but with the lack of rain, it will be important to occasionally water. Always try to water deeply. Plants require less water while temperatures are cool and more water as temperatures warm up.
Asparagus beds that have not been cut back this year should be cut very soon. With warm temperatures, new spears will be shooting up quickly. Apply some compost over the area after cutting the foliage down.
It is also a good time to plant asparagus. If you have never tasted fresh asparagus from the garden, you'll be in for a wonderful treat. It is delicious and so easy to grow.
Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.
Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.