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The New Year will
soon arrive. Experienced
are already tending
winter gardens
and look forward
to the spring, summer
and fall gardening
Over the last
weekend, I sliced
a tomato grown in
the garden. The
tomato had not ripened on the vine. It was picked a few
days ago while it was green because the mother plant
had been killed after the arrival of cold temperatures.
Most full-size green tomatoes will ripen if left on a window
sill. After enjoying the tomato, I then went out into
the back landscape and harvested a few kumquat citrus.
Gardeners in the Upper Texas Gulf Coast region can harvest
crops in every month of the year.
What are the most common mistakes made when it
comes to creating and maintaining productive gardens
and attractive landscapes? You would be correct in thinking
that surely there are more than 10 mistakes we make
but I think I have found the big ones based on my experiences
as a Galveston County Extension Horticulture
Agent. Rarely do I take a negative approach to a subject
but in this case, it seems to be the best way to get the
points across.
Think of them when making your New Year resolutions
for successful gardening.
1.) Not fertilizing the plants. We seem to plant them and
forget them. To keep ornamentals growing well, periodically
fertilize through the growing season. Bedding plants
and vegetables need even more frequent feedings.
2.) Setting plants too close together. Sure, we want the
instant effect but close planting is only good for short term
container gardens. Note spacing on plant labels or garden
guides. If plants are too close, they are far more likely
develop pest problems and quickly become overgrown.
3.) Pruning too often. Let your plants grow a little. Pruning
back to the same size and shape stresses your plants.
It is best to selectively remove overgrown branches and
shoots and not back to the same spots.
4.) Planting too close to the home or other buildings.
Gardeners are always worried about trees affecting their
homes mainly because they have been planted too close
to the structures. Keep trees 25 or more feet from your
home. Shrubs need room too. A general rule is one-half
the expected width of the tree canopy plus one foot from
a building.
5.) Picking the wrong plant for the site. No other plant
has this problem more than the crape myrtle. Oak trees
are another example as gardeners often fail to appreciate
their spread and height when mature.
6.) Expecting gardens to grow without our care. One
friend said, “visit your garden each day for five minutes
and you will spend an hour caring for the plants.”
7.) Not training young landscape trees. Trees need your
guidance to keep a straight trunk and good branching.
Early training can avoid the need for major pruning in the
8.) Planting at the wrong time. How many home gardeners
still try to grow tomatoes during the heat of a Texas
summer? Use a recommendation guide to make sure
vegetables are sown or transplanted at the right time. For
trees and shrubs in the landscape, January is an ideal
time to transplant.
9.) Not preparing the soil before planting. Whether
it’s growing tomatoes in the garden or trees in the landscapes,
proper soil preparation is critical to plant growth.
10.) Not providing plants with optimum drainage. Although
we have assurance that the “40 days and 40
nights” ordeal will not be repeated, we often experience
only slightly less here in Texas. The need for good drainage
was exemplified soon after Hurricane Harvey made
landfall last August. Most vegetables detest “wet feet.”
Unless your soil is very well drained, raised beds are a
lifesaver. Remember, “It is easier to water a desert than it
is to drain a swamp.”
New Year resolutions tend to have a short lifespan. I
have provided ten common mistakes that gardeners
make. Make the avoidance of these mistakes part of your
gardening resolutions for the coming New Year. It’s not
incidental that I provided ten of them for like the biblically
based Ten Commandants, gardeners who think the
above are optional or frivolous are also headed for disappointment!
And also like the Ten Commandants, we
(including myself) should regularly assess our adherence
to these guides.
Upcoming Programs
WHAT: Growing Avocados and Papayas in the Home
DATE: Saturday, January 6
TIME: 9:00 – 11:30 a.m.
WHAT: Growing Peaches in Galveston County
Saturday, January 6, 2018
TIME: 1:00 – 3:30 p.m.
WHERE: All programs conducted at the Galveston
County AgriLife Extension Office located at 4102-B Main
Street (Carbide Park) in La Marque. No fee but pre-registration
requested (phone: 281-309-5065; e-mail galvcountymgs@

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