Tips 2008

Tips For Your Garden

We are volunteers who work with AgriLIFE Extension to improve gardening skills and educate people throughout the community. We hope you will find these TIPS helpful in maintaining your garden.


Dove Johnson

Ok Spring Is in full swing and we are busy again but not so busy we can’t enjoy the pretty weather and our blooms. Besides the ever present weeds that need to be removed you need to dig and divide late blooming perennials like hosta, rudbeckia, obedience plant,purple coneflowers, daylilies, mums, and sedums. You can transplant them or give a gift to a gardener friend. Check your borders for volunteers that can be moved to another bed so they don’t become crowded. Work compost into your beds and apply fertilizer for healthy plants all summer. Mulch added to your beds will keep weeds down, conserve water and keep the soil cool so your plants will thrive. It is not too soon to start pinching back Fall blooming perennials and you might want to try rooting your little pinched off pieces.


Bob Lancaster

In June we begin to welcome the Texas heat, the beginning of the sizzling summer in Texas. It is during this time we should prepare our flower beds and gardens for that extra challenge they will receive. Hopefully good native and/or adaptive plants have been selected so now we just need to help them just a little for the coming heat and stresses they will experience. Mulching with good “organic mulch” provides that extra care that is so important to our plants during this season. Studies suggest unmulched plants may lose up to two-thirds of any water applied through evaporation from the soil and only one-third through plant use (transpiration). In addition to conserving water, good mulching practices can reduce soil erosion, moderate soil temperatures, reduce weed populations, reduce soil borne plant diseases and provide organic matter to the soil when it decomposes. A good mulch layer should be 3 to 4 inches thick. Mulch also translates into less work for the gardeners too. It just makes good sense to mulch our plants. Happy Gardening!

July Gardening Tip

Bob Lancaster

Don’t you just love the fresh taste of a healthy home grown tomato? Most of us do and so do others, especially our state bird, the mockingbird. If you don’t plant enough to share with the birds, there are several things you can do to protect your crop. Some people use scarecrows, noise makers, brightly colored ribbons blowing in the wind, etc. Unfortunately the birds wise up and soon adapt to most of these methods. Covering tomatoes with old discarded nylon hose (when the tomatoes are green) supposedly helps. Also placing red Christmas balls or ornaments around when the tomatoes are still green entices the birds to peck and inspect and loose interest in “something red”. A foolproof way to protect your tomato is to just harvest the tomatoes when they first start turning pink. You may not believe it but a tomato picked at the pink stage and ripened at room temperature has exactly the same taste and flavor as one fully ripened on the vine. Try it sometime.

Happy Gardening

AugustAugust tips

By Bob Lancaster

Watering New Trees

When summertime rolls around make sure your newly transplanted trees get special attention. Surprisingly it may take many months for the new tree to establish a good root system and grow into the new surrounding native soil, especially if the summers are hot and dry. Often times installed sprinkler systems are set so that the tree roots may not get watered properly. A weekly check of soil moisture condition and if needed a good soaking drip or sprinkle will ensure a healthy growing tree instead of a brown dry stick we have all experienced.

SeptSeptember Tips

Dove Johnson

Ripening peppers should be left on the plant as long as possible. Warm days and cooler nights inspire a good fruit and excellent flavor.

By this time drought tolerant plants may look pretty used up. Assuming flowering is finished,cut them back. It is safe to cut them back by a third.

OctoberOctober Garden Tips

By Sandi Stringer

Whew! Fall is finally here and this month is a great time to plant—both for you and the plants because of milder temperatures. While you are noticing colorful plants this month, think about planting some native grasses such as Little Bluestem, Gulf Muhly, Inland Sea Oats, and Bushy Bluestem or fall blooming perennials such as Mexican Bush Sage and Mexican Mint Marigold (the foliage has a licorice scent) and of course Chrysanthemums. You can actually keep planting through the fall and into winter. After planting, you want to mulch, as it will trap soil warmth, which will benefit the roots. And yes, mulch will help keep winter weeds at a minimum. If there is no rain, watering once every 3-4 weeks is sufficient to keep your plants alive through the fall and winter.

This is also the month to plant wildflowers. It is best to control existing weeds prior to planting or to at least mow them very close to the ground. Rake the soil surface so that the seeds have a place to fall into, sow the seeds, and tamp the ground. Now through November is an ideal time to plant woody ornamentals such as Crepe Myrtles. Last but not least, as the leaves start falling from the trees, think of putting them in a compost bin or just create your own compost pile.

For a more extensive list of native and adapted plants to plant during the fall and additional information, go to our library at the County Extension Office.

November Gardening Tips

By Sandi StringerNov. 22 is the average freeze date for the Dallas/Fort Worth area. After the first freeze has occurred, some plants will suffer damage. Annual plants (plants that complete their life cycle in 1 season) may appear damaged but if the following week is warmer, they may survive or recover. Perennials (plants that die back seasonally but have the ability to return the following season) may also appear damaged. Some of those that have woody stems can be trimmed back until you see some green on the stem. Others will appear to die completely but their root system will survive and the plants will return in the spring. Crowded perennials can still be divided and replanted at this time. Water lawns and plants if the ground is dry and a freeze is predicted. Don’t forget to replenish mulchCool season plants that you can still plant in our area are ornamental cabbage and kale, violas and pansies. All will benefit from a light to moderate fertilization every 4-6 weeks during the cool season.

Now is a good time to transplant trees and shrubs because they will be reestablished by the time hot weather arrives next year.

We do have fall color in Texas, maybe not quite as spectacular as the east coast but there are still some vivid colors. As deciduous trees (ones that lose their leaves) experience shorter days, longer nights, and cooler temperatures in the fall, the green pigment, chlorophyll degrades and the remaining pigments begin to show and thus we have yellow, reds, and oranges. Red Oaks with their red, Cedar Elms and Texas Ash with their yellow/gold, Maples with red and orange, and Bald Cypress with copper. Keep those fallen tree leaves on your property; it’s free organic matter for mulching and composting.
This is also a good time to have soils tested; you can get information and directions at the Somervell County AgriLife Extension office

For more information visit our website at or our library at the Somervell County AgriLife Extension office

Enjoy the fall season.

December Tips

by Barbara Lancaster

Holiday Gifts for Gardeners When shopping for your favorite gardener this holiday season, there are many choices available. Gloves are always a welcome gift. Leather gloves are especially good for heavy gardening work as they are more resistant to thorns. Cloth and rubber combination gloves are very good choices also. They are more flexible and will also protect your hands. Gardening books or magazines are always welcome gifts, but try to select those written specifically about Texas gardening. They will be the most informative for the area. Hand garden tools are also a popular choice. Look for ergonomically designed hand tools as these help reduce fatigue while working in the garden. Other great gifts for your gardener are “yard art”. This includes topiary, pottery, wind chimes and bird feeders, houses and baths, and feeders for other garden critters. And don’t forget the food for our garden critters!!!! And last but not least….gift cards to your local garden center or nursery are also great gifts for your favorite gardener.


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