ANNUALS AND PERENNIALS:
Continue watering and fertilizing cool-season annuals to ensure productive flowering. Use NutriStar Color Star time-release fertilizer once a month for continuous feeding. Pansies are particularly heavy-feeders, and will always respond to fertilization with added blooms. Continue planting pansies, violas, ornamental cabbage and kale, snapdragons, dusty miller and cyclamen (protect cyclamen from freezes).
If you plan on growing transplants for spring planting, count back 6-8 weeks from the last average frost date to start tomato and pepper seedlings. This is early to mid-January in Central Texas. Place seed trays in a warm location (like on top of a refrigerator) until germination takes place, then move to a sunny location or place under grow lights. Lights should be approx. 6” from top of plants, and adjusted as they grow. Remember to “harden-off” the seedlings by taking them outside for 1-2 hours a day once they reach planting size, and avoid windy days.
Begin planting beets and carrots about mid-month, direct-seeding into the garden. Spinach, lettuce, Swiss chard and other cool-season greens may be direct-seeded now as well. Be prepared to cover seedlings as needed on freezing nights. Parsley likes the cool season as well, and will do well if planted this month. (See our “Germinating Parsley from Seed” article for more tips!)
Plant asparagus crowns now through February. Watch our VIDEO to see how!
It is time to set out onion transplants. Do not purchase the round onion “sets” sold at some box stores. These varieties do well in the north, but will not “bulb” with the day length and timing in Central Texas. Texas Legend, 1015Y, and Southern Belle Red onions do well in Central Texas. For more information, read our article, “What Makes Onions Bulb?”.
Fertilize winter veggies every four to six weeks with a complete garden fertilizer such as Happy Frog Tomato and Vegetable organic fertilizer or Fox Farm ‘Grow Big’ liquid fertilizer.
Cole crops, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and kale may be planted mid-month for a spring harvest. Water-in transplants with Fox Farm ‘Grow Big’ liquid fertilizer or incorporate Fox Farm ‘Jump Start’ organic fertilizer at time of planting. Continue fertilizing weekly for the next two to three weeks to get them off to a good start.
TREES & SHRUBS:
If you have woody ornamentals you would like to transplant in your yard, now is a good time to do it. Try to get as much root system as possible, and trim the top back to lessen transplant shock. Water-in well, and keep up regular watering throughout the winter.
The winter months are the best months to prune most plants. The exception would be spring-only blooming trees or shrubs, which should only be pruned right after flowering. These plants formed the flower buds on last summer’s growth, and removing growth now would remove blooms for spring.
Learn about proper pruning techniques by consulting the “Tree Care Kit” on the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension website. By making a pruning cut in the correct location, the tree will heal correctly and you will avoid complications from insect and disease.
Attend our “Late Winter Pruning” Seminar with Mary Kay on Saturday, February 15, 2020 for timely information on what to prune, when to prune and how to prune plants the in your yard, complete with demonstrations.
Continue to rake leaves off the lawn. Southern lawns need the winter sun, and may suffer if covered by leaves.
Spreading a 1/3” layer of screened compost on lawns will give the lawn a boost in the spring. If you have had problems with Take-all Patch fungus in the past, a thin layer of Sphagnum peat moss will help acidify the area in which the fungus spreads, and help prevent spread of this fungus. Use one 3.8 cf compressed bale of peat moss per 1000 sq.ft. of lawn.
Areas that are too shady for grass to grow could benefit from a planting of groundcover. Now is an ideal time to prepare the soil and plant.