WHAT TO DO IN APRIL
These are just a few of our suggestions for Central Texas. Please come visit us at The Natural Gardener for the best, most comprehensive advice, plants and organic gardening supplies, all appropriate to our area and the current season.
Fruits: LATE APRIL: Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Watermelon.
Herbs: Anise, Artemesia, Basil, Bay Laurel, Catnip, Chives, Costmary, Cumin, Fenugreek, Scented Geranium, Germander, Horehound, Lamb’s Ear, Lavender, Lemon Grass, Lemon Verbena, Mexican Mint Marigold, Oregano, Perilla, Rosemary, Sage, Santolina, Summer Savory, Winter Savory, Sesame, Sorrel, Tansy, Tarragon, Thyme, Woodruff, Yarrow.
Annuals: Ageratum, Balsam, Celosia, Cleome, Coleus, Coreopsis, Cosmos, Cypress Vine, Four o’Clocks, Gomphrena, Gourds, Hyacinth Bean Vine, Impatiens, Moonflower Vine, Periwinkle, Sunflower, Tithonia, Zinnias.
Fruits: Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Watermelon.
Herbs: Anise, Artemesia, Basil, Bay Laurel, Catnip, Chives, Comfrey, Costmary, Cumin, Fennel, Fenugreek, Scented Geranium, Germander, Horehound, Lamb’s Ear, Lavender, Lemon Grass, Lemon Verbena, Mexican Mint Marigold, Oregano, Perilla, Rosemary, Sage, Santolina, Summer Savory, Winter Savory, Sesame, Sorrel, Tansy, Tarragon, Thyme, Woodruff, Yarrow.
Caladiums, Celosia, Cleome, Coleus, Copper Plants, Gazania, Geranium, Globe Amaranth, Impatiens, Marigold, Penta, Periwinkle, Drummond Phlox, Portulaca, Purslane, Torenia, Zinnia.
Bulbs: Caladium, Elephant Ears, Lily.
Perennials: Black-eyed Susan, Coneflower, Shasta Daisy, Ox Eye daisy, Four Nerve Daisy, Lantana, Plumbago, Salvia, Yarrow, and many many more.
Grasses: There are much better choices than Pampas Grass! Ornamental grasses bloom in the fall, so plant them now to enjoy those gorgeous feathery seed heads. Maiden Grass, Bamboo Muhly, Gulf Coast Muhly, Big Muhly, Weeping Muhly, Mexican Feather Grass, Switchgrass, Inland Sea Oats (good for shaded area), Purple Fountain Grass.
Trees and Shrubs: Fall and winter are usually the best times to plant trees, but they can be planted with care this month. Plant with a little Flower Power, bone meal or rock phosphate in the hole. Use Plant Success or Bushdoctor Kangaroots Root Drench mycorrhizal fungi formulations, and water your new trees and shrubs with Maxicrop or Bushdoctor Kelp Me Kelp You liquid seaweed. When planting a new tree or shrub, be careful not to use more than 20% compost, if any. (Too much compost may cause settling as it breaks down.) For natives and well-adapted species, the backfill should be the native soil that you dug from the hole mixed with some Hill Country Garden Soil. How much to use depends on your existing soil, and what you’re planting. Some native trees may not need amended backfill at all.
Turf: Plant turf grasses and grass seed. Consider a native grass mix for a full sun corner of your yard. We have seeds for Buffalograss and Blue Grama, and both are sturdy native Texas turf grasses. We also have a great seed blend called Thunder Turf. Thunder Turf is a combination of Buffalograss (82%), Blue Grama (16%) and Curly Mesquite (2%). These three grasses combine to make a beautiful drought-tolerant lawn. Thunder Turf is perfect for full sun areas and also for areas with thin soil. It will grow to be 4” – 8” tall, but once it’s established, Thunder Turf can be mown to maintain a height of 3”-4”. It’s a great choice for a Central Texas lawn.
FEED AND CULTIVATE
Fertilize established trees, shrubs and other plants. Use an organic fertilizer such as Lady Bug 8-2-4 or Garden Pep Cottonseed Meal. Continue spraying the landscape with seaweed solution, as often as once a week, in the morning or evening. Use seaweed solution to water in new transplants to help relieve transplant shock and to stimulate rooting. Apply Lady Bug Terra Tonic or Medina Soil Activator to the soil. These products stimulate microbial activity and that improves the health of your soil. These microbes also improve soil texture and permeability.
If you haven’t done so yet, topdress your lawn, flower beds, and gardens with compost. You should do this at least once a year to replace the organic matter that gets used by plants and washed away by watering. (In vegetable gardens, add compost each growing season.) Topdressing with compost builds and maintains a healthy, fertile soil layer. It adds nutrients and beneficial microorganisms to your soil, it improves texture and increases soil depth, and it helps your soil hold moisture.
Is it the Spring Cankerworm or the Oak Leaf Roller? We may not know the exact species, but they are little "worms" (a.k.a. caterpillars or larvae) that dangle in great numbers from the oak trees each spring. What do we do to save our oak trees, and sometimes the underlying plant material, from defoliation? B.t. to the rescue. There is no need to go to a toxic poison for such a simple problem. B.t. (Bacillus thuringensis) is a disease-in-a-bottle for caterpillars only. (Don't spray it in your butterfly garden!) Spray it on the leaves of your oak trees and the underlying plants, and the caterpillars take a bite or two and start to get sick. Spray a couple of times according to package directions, and this should take care of the problem. This works on the Texas Mountain Laurel "worm" and the Tomato Hornworm, as well. As usual, our goal in organic pest control is to be as specific as possible, and B.t. fits the bill. It does not hurt your ladybugs or other beneficial insects. If you want to avoid the spraying altogether next year, mark your calendar to release Trichogramma wasps in January or February. These tiny, non-stinging wasps parasitize the eggs of these caterpillars as well as several other pests.
Keep floating row cover handy in case we have a late cold snap. The Hill Country gets freezes as late as Easter some years, so stay prepared!
Check local listings for springtime garden tours and garden-volunteer activities. It’s a great way to gain invaluable, hands-on gardening experience.
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