Weather in Texas! It’s hard to imagine we were worried about drought this spring.  Now the complaint is about the seeds washing out of the gardens, and newly-planted bushes popping up out of the ground. If you’re lucky enough to have the water drained out of your yard by now, it’s time to make an inspection. Check for downed or hanging limbs, items caught in the bushes, or things that might have blown through and which could be smothering plants. Mulch could have washed away as well, and a little care now can help with the cooler nights and cooler soil temperatures.

The cooler temperatures mean your lawn is slowing its growth, but the winter weeds are popping up.  Keep mowing to stop the weed seed heads from forming.  This mowing also chops up the leaves that fall, and makes it easier for the grasses to maintain their strength over the winter months.  If they are buried under leaves, it’s harder for them to survive.

The fall bloom season for roses is upon us, so enjoy the view.  No pruning or feeding on these babies for a while.  Mums, on the other hand, can handle some trimming after the blooms fade; this will force more root growth.  And if you bought some potted mums, stick them in your flower beds; they naturalize quite well here. Other perennial plants can handle the trimming as their growth fades in the fall as well. And now is pansy planting time; bulbs need to wait a while longer. And for winter color, you might try cyclamens. They will bloom all winter and only need protection from serious freezes.

Holiday plants are going on sale now.  Poinsettias and bulbs such as amaryllis and hyacinth are usually forced to bloom at this time.  This isn’t necessarily when they want to, so if you keep them and plant them in your yards, over time they will revert to their correct times.  All house plants, including the Christmas cactus and your rosemary tree, will need to be watched to make sure they handle the transition to your warm, dry indoor climate.  Read the care instructions and you should be fine.

Bananas are iffy plants; if it stays warm enough, and they don’t freeze to the ground, they can bear fruit in the next year.  It takes months for bananas to flower and fruit, and one of our cold spells makes them mushy and droopy. So if you think bad weather is coming, cut the trunk off at 6 feet of height, wrap with alternating layers of burlap and newspaper, and tape it up.  Leave the bundle until warm weather in the spring, and you should have a serious start on fruiting. 

Veg gardeners who did some succession planting should have crops coming in now, even with the heavy rains.  Empty spots in the garden can be filled now with artichokes, bok choy, cilantro, leeks, more green onions, turnips, and strawberries. And if you had sweet potatoes planted, time to dig them up!

Citrus comes into its own this time of year.  Satsumas are usually the first of the orange-type fruits to ripen, followed by all the orange varieties through February. Fruit can be picked when still somewhat greenish, so test a few to see if they are sweet enough to suit you. Don’t worry about the “sooty mold” that’s probably on your leaves or fruit; it doesn’t hurt the fruit itself, and can be easily washed off.  But it does indicate that you need to work on a spraying schedule starting in January.  Regular spraying of your fruit trees will eliminate all those weird curly leaves and the whiteflies and aphids that can turn a citrus tree into an unhappy looking fellow.

And as always, if you need a helping hand to identify a bug, learn about a garden technique, or just need information on how to become a fabulous gardener, contact the Chambers County AgriLife Extension Service, located in beautiful White’s Park.  Operators are standing by!

– Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.