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Garden Checklist For April Includes Pecan Field Day

by Dr. William M. Johnson
Galveston County Extension Agent - Horticulture

April 6, 2005

Gardening: Pecan Grafting imageJim Hall of Santa Fe demonstrates the basics of the four-flap or banana graft on pecans. He and other members of the Extension Fruit & Pecan Committee will be on hand to provide ongoing demonstrations at the Pecan Grafting Workshop from 4:00-5:30 p.m. on Monday, April 11, at Carbide Park in La Marque. Photo credit: William M. Johnson

April is a wonderful time to enjoy gardening. Azaleas are putting on their spring show and many types of citrus trees are blooming. Trees are putting out their new foliage that is such a delicate green. Add the pleasant temperatures and you have a strong invitation to get out in the garden.

Hopefully, you have already planted the trees and shrubs that you want to plant for the year and are ready to concentrate on annuals, perennials, vegetables, and lawns. Here's a checklist for keeping up with the chores while enjoying the pleasures of April.

Here's a checklist for keeping up with the chores while enjoying the pleasures of April:

- The Galveston County Master Gardeners will conduct a "Grafting Fruit & Nut Trees...The How To’s for Homeowners" workshop on Saturday, April 9, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon at the Galveston County Extension Office, 5115 Highway 3, in Dickinson. The workshop will be presented by Master Gardeners Herman Auer, Terry Cuclis, Bert Janke and Anna Wygrys who hold the title of Master Gardener Propagation Specialists in addition to Texas Master Gardeners.

A variety of grafting techniques for fruit and nut trees will be demonstrated including wedge grafting, T-budding, 4-flap, and inlay bark. Program participants will have the opportunity to practice grafting. There is no registration fee but class size is limited and pre-registration is required (by phone at 281-534-3413, ext. 6 or by e-mail at GALV3@wt.net).

- The Spring Pecan Field Day will be conducted on Monday, April 11, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Grafting demonstrations will be provided throughout the time period by members of the Extension Fruit and Pecan Committee. Graftwood from several varieties of pecans will be available (a donation of $1.00 per stick is requested). Graftwood of several fruit trees will also be available.

The Field Day will be held in La Marque in the Pecan Orchard at the Carbide Park (which is located on the North side of FM 519 about one mile West of the intersection of FM 519 and the I-45 Gulf Freeway, Exit #10). A printable map can be downloaded from the web site address at the end of this column (click on "Extension Educational Programs" link) or contact the Galveston County Extension Office for additional information (281-534-3413, ext. 6 or GALV3@wt.net).

- One tendency shoppers have is to buy transplants of summer annuals only with open flowers. Young transplants that have few or no flowers may be a smarter purchase since these plants will grow larger before flowering. The result will be a more impressive floral display in your home gardener.

- One warm season annual that many folks set out too early is periwinkle. These are warm weather plants. Periwinkles planted before mid-April are much more susceptible to a fungal blight disease that can wipe out a whole bed of plants. Delay planting periwinkles until the weather is consistently warm.

- Select caladium tubers while there are ample stocks available but do not plant caladiums too early. They typically should be planted from April into early May. Caladiums need warm soil temperatures (at least 70 degrees) for best growth.

- Wait to fertilize azaleas until after the major bloom season is finished. Consider using a fertilizer specially formulated for azaleas which provides plant nutrients in the right ratio and also helps to maintain acid soil conditions needed by azaleas. Because azaleas have a shallow root system, many gardeners have found it to be beneficial to apply several light fertilizer applications over time rather than all at one time.

- Periodically check your lawn mower blade for dullness and examine a few blades of freshly mowed grass. Use of a dull blade will result in the mowed (better descriptions would be torn and "whacked-off") end of leaf blades and stems being stringy and ragged. These tips will also develop a brownish discoloration shortly after being mowed. In addition to looking unsightly and causing the mower engine to labor harder, lawn grass cut with a dull blade is more susceptible to certain diseases.

- Mid-March to the first week of April is the recommended time to fertilize lawns. A good way to determine when to fertilize is to wait until you have mowed the predominant lawn grass twice. If you fertilize too early, you will be fertilizing the winter weeds! This allows time for the grass to green up naturally without pushing it into growth.

This practice results in a turf that is more resistant to summer stress. Use a 3-1-2 ratio fertilizer (such as 15-5-10) and distribute with a broadcast (cyclone) or a drop-type spreader. Uniform distribution is essential to prevent light and dark streaks in the lawn. For better distribution, divide the fertilizer into two equal applications. Spread one application lengthwise and the other crosswise.

- Use caution when applying the popular "weed and feed" type lawn fertilizers. Some weed and feed products can be used near shrubs and inside the drip line area of trees while other types of weed and feed products carry a strict warning to not apply the product near such landscape plants. It depends on the type of weed killer (or combination of weed killers) that is contained in a given product. Be sure to carefully read the label and never exceed the rate stated on the label.

- Pinch back leggy bedding plants to encourage side shoots. Pinching stops the terminal growth, thus resulting in bushier plants and more flower buds.

Dr. Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County
Extension Office of Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University. Visit his web site at http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/index.htm

Gardening: Scale insects and pampas grass - July 17, 2004 article

Gardening: Bananas - August 1, 2004 article

Gardening: August Gardening Calendar - August 16, 2004 article

Gardening: Trio Of Extension Programs Includes Pear Tasting, Master Naturalist Class & Rose Seminar - August 20, 2004 article

Gardening: Prepare Now For Fall Gardens - August 26, 2004 article

Gardening: Septemberís Garden Calendar Includes Fall Pecan Field Day - September 2, 2004 article

Gardening: Ornamental Grasses - September 8, 2004 article

Gardening: Don't Let Landscape Become A High-Maintenance Nightmare - September 22, 2004 article

Gardening: Oct. 10 Plant Sale & Seminar To Feature Butterfly Gardening - Butterflies Bring Color, Motion to Garden - October 2, 2004 article

Gardening: Plant It And They Will Come: Getting the Butterflies of Galveston County to Grace Your Yard - October 2, 2004 article

Gardening: Rose Propagation & Seasonal Decorating Workshops To Be Held - October 13, 2004 article

Gardening: Extension Office To Sponsor Open House On October 29, Seasonal Decorations and Onion and Garlic Workshops - October 20, 2004 article

Gardening: Extension Office To Sponsor Open House On October 29 and County Pecan Show - October 27, 2004 article

Gardening: November Is Pansy Time - November 6, 2004 article

Gardening: County Pecan Growers Display Their Successes - November 11, 2004 article

Gardening: Gardeners' Questions On Fall Crops - November 17, 2004 article

Gardening: Gardenersí Q&As For November - November 28, 2004 article

Gardening: Gardeners' December Checklist Includes Citrus Show On Dec. 9 - December 3, 2004 article

Gardening: Citrus Show A Huge Success With 185 Entries - December 19, 2004 article

Gardening: Trees and Shrubs - December 23, 2004 article

Gardening: Cold Weather Impact - January 4, 2005 article

Gardening: Gardeners' Checklist For January Includes Several Educational Programs - January 7, 2005 article

Gardening:Announcing the 2005 Galveston County Master Gardener Training - January 13, 2005 article

Gardening:Peach & Plum Growers' Workshop To Be Held Saturday, January 29 - January 19, 2005 article

Gardening: Gardening for Texas Wildlife - January 28, 2005 article

Gardening: Wide Variety of Citrus to Be Available at February 5 Fruit Tree Sale and Home Citrus Production - January 31, 2005 article

Gardening: Fruit Trees Of The Gods Featured In February 5 Master Gardener Plant Sale - February 2, 2005 article

Gardening: "If I Were A Tomato, I Would Want To Be Grown In Texas . . . Galveston County, That Is!" Workshop to be held February 12 - February 9, 2005 article

Gardening: February Is Rose Pruning Time...Attend Rose Care Seminar to Learn How - February 16, 2005 article

Gardening: Extension Activities At The Home & Garden Show On Feb. 26-27 - February 23, 2005 article

Gardening: March Gardening Calendar Includes Seminar On Butterfly Gardening - March 2, 2005 article

Gardening: Gardeners' Q&As From The Galveston Home & Garden Show - March 10, 2005 article

Gardening: Extension Offers Program On "Living To Be 100 . . . A Commonsense Approach." - March 16, 2005 article

Gardening: Program On Plumeria Offered On March 26- March 29, 2005 article

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