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South Central Gardening: Gardening Calendar

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South Central regional contributor Dee Nash shares her month-by-month calendar of gardening tasks.

South Central Regional Map

March

  • Plant bare-root roses that don't mind heat and humidity, such as Polyanthas, Chinas, or disease-resistant cultivars.
  • Choose flowering trees and shrubs: crabapples, deciduous magnolias, dogwoods, redbuds, and purple smoketree.
  • Sow summer blooming bulbs and corms such as gladiolas, crinums, and oxblood lilies.
  • Sow calendula, borage, violas, and nasturtiums, which are edible and beautiful atop salads.

April

  • Pair red Clematis texensis with a white or yellow climbing rose for instant romance.
  • Build two raised beds and start small on your vegetable garden. A small bed is easier to care for.
  • Transplant tomatoes and peppers toward the end of the month -- after the soil warms and the danger of frost is past.

May

  • Replace lost or broken tools. Essentials are trowels, hand pruners, hoes, and a wheelbarrow or garden cart.
  • Start a compost pile in an attractive prefab bin. Place it in a spot with easy access to the garden and water.
  • Take a class on "good" and "bad" bugs. You don't want to squash a ladybug lion just because it looks fierce.

June

  • Grow two thornless blackberries plants -- you'll soon raise a good crop without the tears.
  • Sow another crop of bush beans to harvest in late summer.
  • Gather squash blossoms and make a summer delicacy of tempura-battered blossoms filled with ricotta cheese.
  • Build a birdhouse. Kits are available for this fun project. Birds are also great natural predators.

July

  • Sow seeds of fast-growing, annual flowers and herbs such as zinnias, sunflowers, and cosmos to replenish the garden in late summer and early fall.
  • Water at night to reduce evaporation and give plants a chance to absorb moisture.
  • Wear sunscreen and a garden hat when working outdoors for protection and to keep you cooler as you weed.

August

  • Cut back leggy and tired-looking annuals and perennials by one-third to one-half so they can harness their energy and bloom again in September.
  • Harvest vegetables/fruit and can or freeze. Blanche tomatoes so that skins are easy to remove; store them in a zipper freezer bag and enjoy all winter in sauces, soups, and stews.
  • Replant bush beans for a fall crop. Choose early maturing varieties such as 'Contender' or 'Provider'. Further south, short-season tomatoes can also be grown.
  • Fertilize roses to increase fall bloom. In southern Texas, don't fertilize after August to give canes time to harden off before winter.

September

  • Plant fall-blooming asters and mums. In Texas, grow cool-weather annuals and perennials and sow alyssum, calendula, and larkspur seeds.
  • Sow leftover seed from early-spring crops: spinach, Swiss chard, lettuce, and onions.
  • Buy row covers to extend the vegetable season into late fall.

October

  • Plant pansies and violas. They perform beautifully for fall and overwinter for a good spring show, too. Violas are smaller, but they often bloom more generously.
  • Root cuttings of tropical plants grown as annuals to overwinter indoors.
  • Bring tender plants indoors before the first frost.
  • Clean up the vegetable garden by removing dead foliage and composting it. Don't compost diseased plants.
  • Plant a cool-weather cover crop such as clover or annual rye in fallow bed; till under in spring.

November

  • Plant spring-flowering bulbs. Narcissus are extremely reliable in the south. Heirloom species, jonquils, and tazettas multiply best. Crocus tommasinianus, C. chrysanthus 'Snow Bunting', Ipheion uniflorum, and spring starflower all do well in our region.
  • In southern Texas, plant fall vegetable garden seeds such as spinach, chard, mustard, and radishes during the first part of the month. Cool-weather herbs like cilantro, dill, and parsley, along with most perennial herbs, can also be grown as plants.
  • When temperatures rise above 40 degrees, apply dormant oils sprays on ornamental and fruiting trees and shrubs to control scale, mites, and other sucking insects.
  • Fertilize cool-season lawns with organic fertilizers such as well-rotted manure or compost.

December

  • After several hard frosts, mulch strawberry plants with straw to protect them from freeze/thaw cycles.
  • Sow poppy seeds; you'll be rewarded with a beautiful late-spring crop. Don't disturb seeds once planted.
  • In Texas, protect new plantings from a hard freeze by covering them to the ground with five-gallon plastic buckets, sheets, or row covers. Ground warmth will accumulate under the covers and keep plants from freezing.
  • Water plants thoroughly before a projected hard freeze to prevent permanent damage.