Smith County Horticulturist
After all, Fall is our second gardening season – a perfect time to be planting many types of landscape and vegetable garden plants.
Here are some tips for gardening over the next few weeks.
If you are looking for some inspiration, check out the free First Tuesday in the Garden program on Oct. 2 the IDEA Garden in the Tyler Rose Garden.
Master Gardener Barbara Null will discuss “Texture and Variation in the Garden”, using different leaf color, shape and size to design a garden of interest even without blooms. She will use the IDEA Garden as a visual aid to provide attendees with inspiration on plants that perform well in the East Texas area.
Fall Garden Conference and Bulb Sale
Make plans to attend the annual Fall Garden Conference and Bulb Sale (renamed “Bulbs and More”), sponsored by Smith County Master Gardeners on Saturday, Oct. 13, at Harvey Convention Center, 2000 W. Front St., in Tyler.
This free event begins with twp talks, starting at 9 a.m. The featured speaker is Dave Whitinger, owner and operator of All Things Plants.
Whitinger is a member and former president of the Cherokee Co. Master Gardeners, and is the creator of many popular websites, most notably Daves Garden.com/and AllThingsPlants.com.
Master Gardener Merlin Eck will then give a rapid fire overview of hardy bulbs and plants (trees, ornamental grasses, and perennials) which will be available at the sale which follows the Conference.
The plant sale begins at 11:30 and ends at 1:30 p.m. Many bulbs and plants will be available only in limited quantities. There also will be a variety of unique garden “objects d'art” togive your landscape a unique accent.
The bulb and plant lists are available on the Smith County Master Gardener web site – scmg.tamu.edu under the Coming Events tab
WHAT TO PLANT NOW
Pansies, the most popular of the cool season flowers can be transplanted now. While you will enjoy a scattering of bloom this winter as they become established, the real show will be early next spring. Pansies make great companion plantings for spring bulbs.
Besides pansies, some other bedding plants that can be planted in October include pinks, dianthus, flowering cabbage and kale, giant red mustard, Bright Lights Swiss chard, stock, snapdragons, wallflower (Citrona erysimum), calendulas, diascia and nemesia.
Visit your local nursery to see what's in stock.
If you plan to save caladium tubers for another year, dig them in late October, and allow to dry in a well-ventilated but shady area. After 7 to 10 days, remove leaves and dirt, and pack in dry peat moss, vermiculite, or similar material for storage. Pack tubers so they do not touch each other. Dust with all-purpose fungicide as you pack.
Place container in an area where temperature won't drop below 50 degrees F.
This is also the best time to increase your supply of perennials by dividing and transplanting established clumps of daylily, ajuga, liriope, mondo grass, iris, columbine, penstemon, yarrow, Shasta daisy, coreopsis, purple coneflower, oxalis, and violets.
There are a few vegetables that can still be started – the ooner the better. These include beets, carrots, collards, garlic, leaf lettuce, mustard, radish, spinach, Swiss chard and turnips.
If you are short on space in your yard for a vegetable patch, grow them in containers on your patio (if you have enough sun). All of these can be successfully grown in large pots or boxes, provided you water and fertilize them regularly. If you have a traditional garden, be sure to mulch to prevent crusting and weeds.
If you have not fertilized your lawn yet for the fall, do so soon, provided you are also regularly watering your lawn! Fall fertilization, also known as winterizing, promotes continued lawn growth so the grass can continue producing and storing food reserves for use during spring green up.
October is also a good month to lime the lawn and flower beds, if needed, but do so only based on soil test results. Cooler weather brings dormant weed seeds to life. In the world of weeds, you can broadly classify weeds as warm season and cool season.
Cool season weeds need mild temperatures (and soil moisture) to germinate, grow and flower. Typical cool season weeds include henbit, chickweed, cranesbill (Geranium), lawn burweed, and annual bluegrass (Poa annua).
If you have maintained a thick lawn through proper mowing, watering, and fertilizing, then winter or cool season weeds should not be a big problem.
But, if your grass is thin, and full of summer weeds, you may want to consider using a preemergence herbicide to prevent cool season weeds from germinating. You need to put it out immediately, since this mild weather is ideal for seed germination.
Keep in mind that many pre-emergence products have no effect if applied after the seeds have germinated.
These products must also be watered in immediately or their effectiveness will be reduced or lost.
Always carefully read and follow label directions.
Keith Hansen is Smith County Horticulturist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. His web page is http://EastTexasGardening.tamu.edu.