Beautiful gardens by William Johnson
THE COOL front that arrived over the weekend was refreshing. As May will soon be arriving, we should be prepared for warming weather and longer, sunnier days – a change of seasons.
We have had a few significant rainstorms in April; the weather station in the master gardeners’ demonstration garden at Carbide Park, La Marque, recorded a rainfall of 3.9 inches a few days ago. Here’s hoping that the rainfall over the month of May occurs in installments evenly spaced over time and in amounts.
With busy days in store for the May gardener in completing spring chores and preparing for summer, the following gardening educational programs and gardening checklists will be helpful:
Garden Tool Care: a hands-on workshop: Galveston County Master Gardeners Association members Henry Harrison and Tim Jahnke will demonstrate the proper use and maintenance of garden tools. There will be a discussion on tool types followed by a hands-on demonstration on cleaning, sharpening and using the tools.
Additional discussion topics will include selection of quality tools, ergonomically designed tools, basic sharpening, rust prevention and removal, safety, restoring antique tools, fluids, oils and solvents, techniques for tool use and storage.
You can also take up to three of your garden tools to the workshop for reconditioning.
Henry and Tim will help you get your tools ready for a productive garden season and provide knowledge about keeping them in top working condition.
They will conduct the workshop on Saturday, May 6, from 9:00-11:00am in the master gardeners’ demonstration garden and it will take place rain or shine. The class size is limited to 30 students so pre-registration is required, either by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 281-309-5065.
Home fruit growers’ tour: Three fruit orchards are on this year’s tour, which will be conducted on Saturday, May 20. Each location will be open from 9:00am to 12:00 noon.
This year’s tour sites contain a wide variety of fruit trees ranging from a peach orchard at Fruit ’N’ Such orchard at 6309 Avenue U in Dickinson, the master gardeners’ demonstration orchard in Carbide Park and a sizeable home orchard in Santa Fe.
You may download tour maps and additional details from my website, the address for which is below, by selecting its Extension Educational Programs link. Additional information will also be provided in next week’s Beautiful Gardens column.
Demonstration-garden tour and open house: The county’s master gardeners are inviting residents to tour their demonstration garden in Carbide Park on Monday, May 1, from 10:00am to 4:00pm. The garden consists of several sections, with themes including butterflies, serenity and Earth kindness, as well as dozens of raised vegetable beds and nearly 100 fruit trees.
My co-workers and I also extend an invitation to residents to attend our open-house activities at the county’s A&M AgriLife Extension Service office in Carbide Park from 10:00am to 4:00pm on Monday, May 1.
We encourage you to bring plant and insect samples for identification or, if you prefer, you are welcome to just drop by, visit with us and tour our facilities.
Lawns: Many homeowners will level out low spots in their lawns at this time of the year using sharp sand or bank sand as the only filler. While this is a common practice, it is not a good one. Use of sand to fill low areas in a lawn is very likely to cause problems later on, with unsatisfactory grass growth.
Such areas will suffer more from drought stress during the summer and will probably have problems with soil nutrient uptake. For best results, use a good-quality topsoil to fill in low areas of your lawns.
Blackberries: Look for this fruit to come into production in May. As canes that produce fruit this season finish bearing and start to die back, they should be removed at ground level. “Tip back” new canes to encourage branching; next year’s blackberries will be produced on these canes.
Vegetable fertilization: For vegetables’ best growth and yield, apply small amounts of nitrogen fertilizer – called side dressing – every couple of weeks. This will keep them growing vigorously so they reach their maximum yield potential.
William Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County office of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Visit his website at aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/index.htm.
If you take care of your tools, they will return the favor. Learn how their proper care and routine maintenance make any gardening project easier, safer and more successful at a workshop on May 6. – William Johnson