What Makes Onions Bulb?

Have you ever planted onions, only to be disappointed in the size of bulb produced, or even have no bulbs produce at all? Here are some guidelines to ensure bulb production of onions in your garden. Choose the right variety: onions are characterized by the length of day required for them to produce bulbs. “Long-day” varieties will quit forming leaves and begin forming bulbs when day length reaches 14-16 hours. These varieties do better in the NORTHERN STATES. They are often the little onion “sets” you find at the box [...]

By | 2017-12-11T10:53:43+00:00 December 11th, 2017|Plants|

Protecting Your Plants in the Winter

Do you have a plan for keeping your tender plants alive this winter?  Are you wondering which plants will need protection? The first thing you need to know is what hardiness zone your plant is classified in. Is it zone 10, like the Bougainvillea? Or zone 9, like Lemon Grass? The hardiness zone determines the minimum cold temperatures that a plant will tolerate. It is just a guideline, however, as other factors will also need to be considered. A tender plant that is well established going into the winter will [...]

By | 2017-12-04T17:31:45+00:00 December 4th, 2017|Plants|

Caring For Your Christmas Cactus

Christmas cactus is a tropical plant native to South and Central America. They are not actually a cactus. They grow in similar environments as epiphytic orchids, in the forks of tree limbs, where they grow in decayed leaves and other natural debris that accumulates there. When you bring your Christmas cactus home, it will most likely be in bud and bloom. To prevent bud drop, locate the plant in a humid environment, or place water in a saucer with gravel under the plant to increase humidity. Do not place them [...]

By | 2017-11-27T16:44:27+00:00 November 27th, 2017|Plants|

Poinsettia Care

Poinsettias are such a symbol of the Holidays, and can be kept fresh-looking longer with just a few easy care instructions. Locate your Poinsettia close to a bright window if possible. The bracts will continue to “color up” with sufficient light. If you are satisfied with the color, you may display the plant in a darker area, but be aware that the color may fade. Check the soil daily for water. When the surface of the soil is dry to the touch, or if the pot feels light, remove the [...]

By | 2017-11-21T17:14:43+00:00 November 21st, 2017|Plants|

Fall Harvests and Versatile Chard

Well, hopefully your fall vegetable garden is well underway, and you even have some greens to harvest and prepare. Keep an eye on those Cabbage Loopers! The little guys feed on the underside of the leaves of cabbage, broccoli, collards, brussels sprouts and other Cole crops at a time in the fall when the plants really need those leaves to produce carbohydrates for root and leaf growth. Continue using Bt or Spinosad weekly to control those little buggers! Swiss chard is not only a pretty plant that can be used [...]

By | 2017-11-12T15:35:34+00:00 November 12th, 2017|Vegetable Gardening|

Twig Girdlers

I came out one morning and my driveway was covered in the tips of the branches from my enormous Cedar tree. (Actually, what we call a Cedar in Central Texas is really an Ashe Juniper.) I picked up one of the fallen branch tips. It was about 3-4” long.  I examined the cut end of the twig. Yep. I could see the smoothly chewed groove that caused the twig to fall. It was Twig Girdler damage, all right! Twig Girdlers are small beetles that may cause disfiguring damage to many [...]

By | 2017-11-06T16:45:44+00:00 November 6th, 2017|Insects|

Trees for Fall Color

Fall color in tree leaves is determined by many factors. Any tree grown from a seed, such as an acorn, will have genetic variability in developing fall color. This is observed by watching our native “Spanish Oaks” as the leaves begin to turn in fall. Many will have beautiful red fall color, but we also observe some trees with leaves that simply turn brown and hang on the tree most of the winter…. What if I want to be SURE that a tree that I plant will have fall color? [...]

By | 2017-11-01T13:12:36+00:00 November 1st, 2017|Trees|

Japanese Maples in Central Texas

Fall is upon us, and many of us are looking for trees with brilliant fall color to enhance our landscapes. Japanese Maples can fill this need for color in the fall, with their dissected leaves giving contrast in texture as well. Japanese Maples can be an attractive addition to almost any landscape. To assure trees that thrive, locate your Japanese maple where it will receive dappled sun under the canopy of trees, with no more than two to three hours of morning sun. Japanese Maples will tolerate low winter temperatures [...]

By | 2017-10-25T17:28:15+00:00 October 25th, 2017|Trees|

My Lawn is ALIVE!

Soooooo many calls the past two weeks about “creepy crawlies” on lawn grasses! What is going on, and what can we do about it? Many lawns were visited a month or so ago by hoards of 1-inch-wide tan or mottled gray moths. The moths laid eggs and the Armyworms have hatched! The rains last month gave these pests the conditions they needed to reproduce and cause rapid damage to lawns. Typically, these Armyworm larvae feed and are most active at night and on overcast days. In daylight, they will hide [...]

By | 2017-10-18T13:06:34+00:00 October 18th, 2017|Insects|

Brown Patch on Lawns

Brown Patch is a fungus that shows up in our lawns in the spring and fall, when temperatures begin to cool. Because it needs cool, moist conditions, we do not see brown patch fungus in the summer. If you have had brown patch in your lawn in the past, it is likely you will see it again once conditions are right for it to develop. St. Augustine is most often infected, but Bermuda and Zoysia will become infected under the right conditions. Over-watered and over-fertilized lawns are more susceptible to [...]

By | 2017-10-11T14:33:28+00:00 October 11th, 2017|Lawn Care|

Beneficial Nematodes

Beneficial nematodes are microscopic, whitish to transparent, unsegmented worms. There are thousands of kinds of nematodes, each with their particular feeding preferences. Nematodes actively search for insects, insect pupa and insect larvae in places that are consistently moist. There are more than 250 susceptible insect species, including white grubs, termites, Peach tree borers, fire ants, stink bugs, fleas, chinch bugs, field crickets and flea beetles. What does this mean to you? Nematodes can be used instead of chemicals to control lawn and garden pests. Backbone Valley Nursery sells and recommends [...]

By | 2017-10-11T12:58:43+00:00 October 11th, 2017|Uncategorized|

October Gardening Check List

The best tree and shrub planting season continues now through mid-March. Root systems will continue to grow all winter long, giving you a fairly well-established plant by the time the real heat sets in. A better established root system conserves water and is more drought resistant next year. (It is also easier on YOU,  as you will be watering less often in the winter!) Try planting some spring-flowering trees and shrubs such as azaleas, redbuds, Mexican plums, anacacho orchid trees, and Texas scarlet flowering quince. -Don’t miss the fall fertilization [...]

By | 2017-10-05T14:55:30+00:00 October 5th, 2017|Lawn Care, Plants, Vegetable Gardening|