Garden View: Planting veggies, flowers and trees

The intermittent rain has been a welcome relief from those triple digit temperatures. The humidity is sky high, but hopefully the temperature will continue to decline as we move into Fall; not only enticing us back into our gardens, but making it the ideal time to plant, plant, plant. Plant vegetables, plant ornamentals and plant trees!

Even though the days are still warm, the evenings are significantly cooler and that makes a big difference to our plants.

PLANTING VEGETABLES

Cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower are ideal for a fall vegetable garden. There’s a huge variety of leafy greens that love the cooler weather, like lettuces, cilantro, kale, spinach, and mustards to name a few.

Because of our mild weather you can grow fall tomatoes here and if you plant them now you might not be too late. You can also mix in beans, carrot and cucumbers. Spacing and planting depth are important in achieving a full-sized product.

Make sure you are considering the mature size of the plant and that you allow space for growth and air circulation. Really small seeds need to be planted very close to the surface in order to get enough light to germinate.

Plan for any crops that may need to be caged or trellised and have those in place before the plants get too large. Check your plants daily to stay ahead of any pest or disease issues.

Review are vegetable planting guide for more planting suggests://hidalgo.agrilife.org/files/2012/05/ Vegetable-Planting-Guide1.pdf.

PLANT ORNAMENTALS

Landscape plants thrive in the Fall in South Texas. The days are warm, the nights are mild, there is usually rain and the plants take full advantage of the nice conditions. This summer has been hot with record breaking temperatures; most landscapes lost a plant or two. So, this is a good time to update your landscape, replace plants, change out your annuals, and maybe add some Fall themed container plants.

PLANT TREES

Fall is the best time to plant trees in our area. The weather is ideal for small trees to become established before they have to bear the heat of our tough summers. Here are some pointers for planting young trees.

>> The best time to prune is when you are planting. Look for a dominant central leader and remove any side limbs that may want to become co-dominant as the tree grows. For most trees you want to encourage a single trunk.

>> Don’t plant too deep. The gradual curve from the trunk to roots, known as the root flare, needs to be above the surface line.

>> Adequate water is important, the 1-2-3 / 3-2-1 method works well and is easy to remember. In month no. 1, water three times per week; month no. 2, water twice a week; and month no. 3, once per week. Small seedlings will only need about one gallon of water. Once the trunk reaches one inch in caliper you can roughly water five gallons per inch of caliper.

After three months you can water 1-2 times per month in summer and once per month in fall/winter. Adjust watering schedules to account for rain.

Regardless of what you are planting, healthy soil is going to be important. Incorporating some compost into your garden beds or with the backfill soil of your new tree is going to help water percolation, increase air space and improve nutrient availability for your plants. Don’t forget to add a hefty 2 to 4 inch layer of mulch to help deter weeds, retain moisture and to give that nice finished look. Never pile mulch up against a tree trunk, leave a generous 4 to 5 inch space. That area is not meant to stay wet and doing so will encourage pest and disease issues.

Ashley Gregory is the Horticulturalist for Hidalgo County with Texas A& M AgriLife Extension Service. She can be reached at the Hidalgo County Extension Office at (956) 383-1026 or by email at ahgregory@ag.tamu.edu.