Smith County Horticulturist
The East Texas Turfgrass Conference is set for Feb. 7 at the A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Overton. Topics include soil testing, irrigation practices, weed control, IPM and its role in school districts, turfgrasses and laws and regulations for applicators.
Five TDA and four Structural Pest Control License CEUs will be given. Registration costs $30 at the door and includes lunch. The agenda is posted at easttexasgardening.tamu.edu.
The East Texas Garden Lecture Series kicks off Feb. 16 at Tyler Rose Garden Center with Scott and Lauren Ogden, nationally known authors, garden designers and horticultural consultants who design public and private garden spaces around the country.
The Ogdens’ latest book, “Plant-Driven Design: Creating Gardens that Honor Plants, Place and Spirit,” is the topic for their first talk.
They have each authored three other books. Scott Ogden’s “The Moonlit Garden” is the subject of the second lecture. The Ogdens’ books will be available for purchase.
Gardening businesses and organizations will exhibit services and sell garden products.
The fee is $25 (cash or check, registration at the door.) Registration starts at 8 a.m. and the lectures begin at 9 a.m. Check out the Facebook page: (facebook.com/ETGardenConference) for updates.
The Lecture Series topic on March 16 is container gardens and on April 13 the topic is arranging cut flowers for home use..
East Texas Fruit & Vegetable Conference will take place on Feb. 26 at Tyler Rose Garden Center. Topics include agriculture exemptions, vegetable and strawberry production, managing weeds in orchards, water requirements for fruits and vegetables, and sustainable versus organic production. Following a catered lunch, afternoon topics will include creating a sustainable vegetable garden plan, managing fruit problems, honey production, and raised-bed gardening.
Registration will begin at 8 a.m.; the program follows at 8:30 a.m. The cost is $30, which is payable at the door with cash or check, and includes lunch. Attendees with TDA pesticide licenses will receive two hours of continuing education credits.
Finish pruning peach and plum trees early this month. These fruit trees are not pruned for better harvests and easier picking. Pruning peaches regulates tree height, opens the center up and stimulates new growth.
Prune roses in mid-February to induce new growth and spring blooms. Postpone pruning of climbing roses until after their major flush of spring bloom.
Don’t whack crepe myrtles! It is not necessary and ruins the graceful form of these beautiful, all-season, well-adapted plants.
Check out what’s new at nurseries. New plants are arriving for late winter and early spring planting. By planting now, plants will be off to a good start and be more ready to face the summertime stresses of drought and heat. Shrubs, roses, shade, fruit and nut trees all can be set out now. Have a plan and goal in mind before making purchases, or you may end up impulse buying plants you don’t need or have space for.
Early to mid-February is vegetable planting time for cool season crops including onion transplants, lettuce, Irish potatoes, radish, greens, collards, spinach, Swiss chard, sugar snap peas, carrots, broccoli, beets and turnips. Early planting assures a good harvest prior to summer heat. Don’t be in a hurry to plant summer vegetables such as tomato, peppers, squash, etc. A late frost or freeze will result in repeated plantings. Summer vegetables require warm days and warm soils to quickly establish.
Never work the soil when it is wet or saturated. The structure of wet soil is easily destroyed when cultivated, forming clumps, clods, and slick surfaces that impede air and water movement. Wait until the soil only moist, but not wet.
Fertilize pansies every few weeks to encourage growth and a long blooming season.
Mid- to late-February is time to apply a pre-emergence herbicide for lawns that had a summer weed problem. Grass burs are one weed that sticks in people’s memory; crabgrass is another pesky weed that invades thin spots in the lawn.
Treat this month or in early March to prevent those weed seeds from germinating if you had a problem.
A second application may be needed in late May or early June. If if your lawn is thick and healthy and didn’t have weeds last summer, it is better to not use a pre-emergent herbicide this time of year. Grasses are coming out of dormancy and some products can unnecessarily stress your lawn. The very best defense against lawn weeds is a healthy, well-managed, thick turf. Frequent mowing, adequate fertility and timely irrigation are keys to good turf. Don’t rely on chemicals alone.
It is too early to fertilize the lawn. Wait until the lawn greens up and is actively growing before making the first application of fertilizer.
Keith Hansen is Smith County Horticulturist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. His web page is http://EastTexasGardening.tamu.edu His Blog is http://agrilife.org/etg.