Organic Matters

The Online Newsletter from Rohde’s Nursery and Nature Store and Green Sense Fertilizers

Rohde’s April 2017 Organic Gardening Calendar

  1. PREFACE
  2. VEGETABLES
  3. FLOWERS
  4. ORNAMENTAL_GRASSES
  5. TREES_SHRUBS_VINES
  6. LAWN_TURF_GRASSES_GROUND_COVERS
  7. GENERAL_PESTS_DISEASES
  8. OTHER_THINGS_TO_DO_THIS_MONTH

We are in USDA Cold Hardiness Zone 8a with an annual minimum temperature of 15 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit,
and in Texas AgriLife Extension Service District 4 (East Region) - North (Dallas):
http://dallas.tamu.edu/.
Our soil is predominantly blackland prairie clay or "Houston Black" officially with areas of sandy Cross Timber soils north, east, and through parts of Ft Worth's Tarrant County. (
http://www.soils4teachers.org/files/s4t/k12outreach/tx-state-soil-booklet.pdf)

Plant heat zones for Dallas-Ft Worth: The zones give the average number of days a year that an area has over 86 degrees temperatures. The temperature many plants apparently become affected by heat. Click here for more information: http://www.beorganic.com/additional_info/plant_heat_zones.html.

AHS Plant Heat Zone Map;. Dallas, Ft Worth, north, west,&  south is zone 9 (120-150 days). Rockwall, north & east is zone 8 (90-120 days).
Plant Maps Interactive Heat Zones Map for Texas; Dallas Ft Worth is also in zones 8 (91-120 days > 86°F ) or zone 9 (121-150 days > 86°F)
Sunset Climate Zones; We are in ZONE 33. North-Central Texas and Oklahoma Eastward to the Appalachian Foothills

NOAA's Weather Forecast:

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/enso_advisory/ensodisc.html

EL NIÑO/SOUTHERN OSCILLATION (ENSO)

DIAGNOSTIC DISCUSSION

issued by
CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER/NCEP/NWS
and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society

09 March 2017

ENSO Alert System Status: Not Active

Synopsis: ENSO-neutral conditions are favored to continue through at least the Northern Hemisphere spring 2017, with increasing chances for El Niño development into the fall.

Most models predict the continuation of ENSO-neutral through the early Northern Hemisphere summer.  However, some dynamical model forecasts, including the NCEP CFSv2, anticipate an onset of El Niño as soon as the late Northern Hemisphere spring (March-May 2017).  Because of typically lower skill in forecasts made at this time of the year, and the lingering La Niña-like tropical convection patterns, the forecaster consensus favors ENSO-neutral during the spring (March-May) with a ~75% chance.  Thereafter, there are increasing odds for El Niño toward the second half of 2017 (50-55% chance from approximately July-December).  In summary, ENSO-neutral conditions are favored to continue through at least the Northern Hemisphere spring 2017, with increasing chances for El Niño development into the fall

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/90day/fxus05.html

PROGNOSTIC DISCUSSION FOR LONG-LEAD SEASONAL OUTLOOKS
NWS CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER COLLEGE PARK MD
830 AM EDT THU MAR 16 2017

SUMMARY OF THE OUTLOOK FOR NON-TECHNICAL USERS

The April-May-June (AMJ) 2017 temperature outlook favors above-normal  temperatures for much of the U.S. For the contiguous U.S., above-normal seasonal mean temperatures are most likely for an area stretching eastward from the Southwest to much of the central and eastern U.S. with the greatest odds indicated for the south-central plains and eastern U.S.

The AMJ 2017 precipitation outlook indicates enhanced probabilities of above-median precipitation for areas of the northern Rockies, northern plains and western areas of the Gulf Coast.

See below for a graphical weather scenario for April-May-June:

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/long_range/seasonal.php?lead=1

PREFACE

April is the time to plant all the warm season vegetables you didn’t plant in March. And yes, that would be me.
April is also the start of lawn grass planting time. The soil should be warm and wet enough sometime during the month.

VEGETABLES, HERBS & ANNUAL FRUITS

Now’s the time plant the following vegetables:
Dates are for seeds unless specified: S=Seed, T=Transplants.

Vegetable

Spring Planting
Dates

Air Temps, Day

Soil Temperatures

(N=Night)
(D/N=Avg)

Min

Optimum
Range

Max

Beans, Lima Bush (Phaseolus limensis var. limenanus)

Mar 23 - Apr 13

80-85, N:55-60

60

65-85

85

Beans, Lima Pole (Phaseolus limensis)

Mar 23 - Apr 13

80-85, N:55-60

60

65-85

85

Beans, Pinto (Phaseolus vulgaris)

Mar 20 - Apr

80-90, N:>65

60

60-85

95

Beans, Snap Bush (Phaseolus vulgaris var. humilis)

Mar 23 - Apr

80-85, N:55-60

55-60

60-85

95

Beans, Snap Pole (Phaseolus vulgaris)

Mar 23 - Apr 13

80-85, N:55-60

55-60

60-85

95

Beans, Yellow Bush (Phaseolus vulgaris var. humilis)

Mar 20 - Apr

80-85, N:55-60

60

60-85

95

Cantaloupe Muskmelon (Cucumis melo var. cantalupensis)

Mar 23 - Apr

70-95, N: 55

60-70

75-95

95-100

Corn, Sweet (Zea mays var. saccharata)

Mar 23 - Apr

D/N:68-72

50-65

60-95

100-105

Cucumber, Pickling (Cucumis sativus)

Mar 23 - Apr

80-90, N: 60-70

60-65

60-95

90-105

Cucumber, Slicing (Cucumis sativus)

Mar 23 - Apr

80-90, N: 60-70

60-65

60-95

90-105

Eggplant (Solanum melongena var. esculentum)

April

72-86, N: 70-75

60-65

75-90

90-95

Mustard (greens) (Brassica juncea)

Feb 15 - Apr 27

60-65

40

45-85

105

Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus)

Apr - May

>85, N: 70-75

60-75

70-95

105

Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa)

May - Jun

60-80, N: 40-50

35

50-70

85-90

Peas, Southern (Vigna unguiculata var. unguiculata)

Apr - May 25

85-95, N: 60-65

>65

>65

 

Pepper, Hot (Capsicum annuum var. longum)

April

85-95, N: 65-70

55-60

65-95

90-95

Pepper, Bell (Capsicum annuum var. grossum)

Mar 23-May 11

80-90, N: 65-70

55-60

65-95

90-95

Potato, Sweet (Ipomoea batatas) (Slips)

Apr - May 15

D/N:>72

>65

>65

 

Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo var. pepo)

Mar 23-Apr 20

85-95, N: 60-70

60

70-90

100

Radish (Raphanus sativus)

Feb - Apr 13

40-70, Optm 60-65

40

45-90

90-95

Spinach, New Zealand (Tetragonia tetragonoides)

After last
freeze - April

70-95, N: 60

 

70-75

 

Squash, Summer (Cucurbita pepo var. melopepo)

Mar 23 – Apr

60-80

60

70-95

100-105

Squash, Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo)

Mar 23 – Apr

60-80

60

70-95

100-105

Squash, Winter (Cucurbita moschata)

Mar 23 - Apr

60-80, N: 55

60

70-95

100-105

Tomatoes, Large-Fruited (Lycopersicon esculentum)

Mar 23 - May 11

80-85, N: 60-70

50-60

60-85

95-100

Tomatoes, Small-Fruited (L. esculentum var. cerasiforme)
& Tomatillo (Physalis ixocarpa)

Mar 23 - May 11

80-85, N: 60-70

50-60

60-85

95-100

Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus)

Mar 23 - Apr

80-95, N: 60-70

60-70

70-95

105-110

It’s normally too early, for planting parsnips, but if it warms up early, you can do so now.
Plant strawberry plants for next year's spring harvest.
More herbs and vegetables are still coming in.
See http://www.beorganic.com/additional_info/Rohdes_Planting_Dates,_Spring_Fall.htm for the whole planting charts with explainations of columns, sources, and other information.

FLOWERS

Flowers are coming in each week. They are moving fast so you may need to come by at least once each week to not miss out on what you want. Early spring is when many flowers are available in 4 inch pots. Later in the summer, one gallon plants may only be available.

ORNAMENTAL GRASSES

The best time to plant ornamental grasses is early spring after the last freeze. The grasses will have the longest time to establish their roots before the heat of summer or the cold of winter. Deep established roots give many plants better drought, heat, and freeze tolerance. Those we had during the winter are coming up now, but we have new plants also. Look for 4 inch pots tool.

Grasses are susceptible to crown rot, especially in winter. The majority but not all, prefers well drained soils in sunny location.

It is probably too late to cut back the dead tops of grasses to short clumps before, as they are starting to grow again. If there is not too many blades, you can still cut them without the grasses looking like a bad haircut after they grow out.

You can divide clumps every three years or so as some grasses will do better, as the centers die while the grass grows outward. You usually do this while the grass is still dormant like you would prune most plants, but some sources suggest dividing just as the grass breaks dormancy and starts greening or even while they are actively growing. Regardless, do so by spring to give the grass roots time to recover before the extremes of the coming summer and winter.

 

TREES, SHRUBS, & VINES

Planting:

While fall and winter is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs, it’s still a good time to do so now. You just want to get them in the ground as soon as possible to allow the roots to start becoming established before the stress of summer comes.

Ask about our delivery, planting, and guarantees. Don’t forget the soil amendments; Green Sense Kelp Extracts for root stimulation, Green Sense Mycor granules to inoculate plants with mycorrhizae fungi, both bulk and bagged compost, well composted bagged manures, and a variety of mulches.

Pruning:

Prune spring flowering trees, shrubs, and vines after they bloom if needed. Althea, Azaleas, Camellias, Forsythia, flowering or ornamental fruit trees, Hydrangeas, Indian Hawthorn, Mountain Laurel, Quince, Rose vines, Spirea, Wisteria, Weigela, etc,

Prune evergreen shrubs by cutting out entire limbs to retain natural form instead of shearing to a ball or box shape.

Different fruit trees need specific pruning to encourage strong limbs and to control the amount of fruit and where the fruit grows on each limb. Good places to start:
Howard Garrett's article: http://www.dirtdoctor.com/Prune-Fruit-and-Nut-Trees-2014_vq5101.htm,
Jerry Parson's article: http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/fruit/pruning.html & http://www.plantanswers.com/garden_column/011902/011902.htm,
Texas A&M Agralife articles: http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/fruit-nut/,
Texas Gardener Magazine article: http://www.texasgardener.com/pastissues/janfeb11/Pruning.html,
and many other website articles or books.

Don’t prune Oaks trees that are susceptible to Oak Wilt disease unless there is snow or storm damage. The insect disease carrier, the Sap Beetle, will be active. It is very important to paint Rohde’s Green Sense Tree Goop to the wounds immediately and to insure it stays on for 2 days till the wound’s sap hardens.

Prune cold-tender plants such as: oleander, pittosporum, and palms when the last chance of a freeze has past.

Fertilize:

If you didn’t fertilize your landscape in the last 3 or 4 months, do so now with Green Sense All Purpose Lawn & Garden Fertilizer, and every 3 or 4 months form now on.
If you are growing camellias and azaleas, fertilize after they bloom.
Potted plants need fertilizing every month.

LAWN, TURF GRASSES & GROUND COVERS

Plant

April is the start of Grass planting time. You can sod your lawn now, though sod can be planted whenever the soil can be worked. It’s like a perennial. Sodding is the quickest way to control weeds also. Call Rohde’s to help you with this. Consider Zoysia grass for replacement. It’s slower spreading, more expensive, not quite as shade tolerant, but more resistant to St Augustine's fungal diseases and the cold. More important, Zoysia can go brown and dormant in the summer while St. Augustine goes brown and dead. Zoysia has its own diseases, but they are not as prevalent due to Zoysia not being as common. St Augustine is still the favorite of most people. Mixing grasses is ok too. I'm experimenting with Zoysia and buffalo grass in different places. See https://aggieturf.tamu.edu/texas-turfgrasses/  for grass selection help. It has maps of Texas showing where the grasses grow best.

If you are going to re-sod your lawn, try to incorporate an inch or two or less (what you can afford) of compost into the top 6-8 inches of your soil. This is the best thing you can do to make your lawn health drought tolerant.

Bermuda grass seed or sprigs can be planted this month as long as soil temperature is at least 65°F with 68°F to 75°F the optimum. Hulled seeds will germinate quicker. Planting too early may stunt the growth, slowing down the establishment of the grass past what a later sowing would achieve.

If you find you can’t grow grass under your trees, plant some of the many ground covers Rohde’s sells. Don’t plant it right up against trees to keep the root flare exposed.

Whatever you do, don’t leave the soil bare. At least cover it with compost.

Fertilize

If you didn’t fertilize in the last 3 or 4 months, do so now with Green Sense All Purpose Lawn & Garden Fertilizer, and every 3 or 4 months from now on. It takes about three to four months for soil microbes to substantially break down any organic compost or fertilizer. We recommend applying a different mineral supplement like Greensand, Humate, Dry Molasses, or Sul-Po-Mag each time you fertilize.

Spread 1/2” layer of compost to poorly growing parts of the lawn.

Watering, Mowing, Trimming

How to Mow: (Most of this comes from https://aggieturf.tamu.edu/texas-turfgrasses/ and Howard Garrett's web site https://www.dirtdoctor.com/garden/MowingLawn-Care_vq1914.htm )

Mow at optimal height in table below to give thickest turf for blocking sun from weed seeds. Grasses that wants to be cut less than 1.5 inches will require a reel mower instead of a rotary mower, and more level lawns. A reel mower is like one of those old fashion push mowers without a motor. You can still get new ones now for you sporty mowers. Golf courses use powered reel mowers for the putting greens. These are expensive though. You must rake up all of the trash, branches, rocks, big seed pods, beer bottles, and stuff before you mow with a reel mower. It can’t chew up junk like a rotary mower.

To ease stress on the grass, mow no more than 1/3 of the grass height at any one time. If you are mulching the grass instead of bagging it with the mower, and there are little obvious piles of mowed grass left behind, you are cutting too much off at one time. Cut the grass when it reaches the ‘Height to Mow” column. The values are 1/3 more than the optimum height values. If the grass is too high to cut to optimum height at one time, cut a little off one day, wait 2 or 3 days, and cut down to optimum height.

The base of the grass or crown, where blades grow up and roots grow down, can raise up from the surface if the grass get too tall, and can be mowed off, killing the grass. If you spread more than a half inch of compost down on your lawn, as is recommended periodically, the base of the grass will try to rise above it thinking it’s the new soil surface. When the compost is broken down into the soil, it leaves the grass base susceptible to being mowed off. Deep thatch can cause the same thing. Mowing off the grass crowns brings up the problem with uneven lawn surfaces. High points will be scalped, killing or weakening the grass, allowing disease and / or insects to take hold in the yard.

Variety

Mowing Height Range

Optimal Mowing Height

Height to Mow

Buffalo grass

2 to 4 inches

2.5 inches

3.33 inches

Centipede grass

1.5 to 2.5 inches

2 inches

2.66 inches

Common Bermuda grass

1 to 3 inches

1.5 inches

2 inches

Hybrid Bermuda grass

0.75 to 2 inches

1 inch

1.33 inches

Kentucky Bluegrass

1.5 to 3 inches

2 inches

2.66 inches

St. Augustine grass

2.5 to 4 inches

2.5 inches

3.33 inches

Tall Fescue

2 to 4 inches

2.5 inches

3.33 inches

Texas Bluegrass (Reveille)

1.5 to 3 inches

2 inches

2.66 inches

Zoysia japonica (coarse bladed zoysia)

1 to 2.5 inches

1.5 inches

2 inches

Zoysia matrella (fine bladed zoysia)

0.75 to 2.5 inches

1 inch

1.33 inches

How to Water:

As with watering the vegetable garden, water the lawn when needed. Water an inch a week maximum and at one time. Poke a screwdriver or stick in the ground to see if the ground is dry before watering. You may only need to water once every 2 weeks until it gets hotter. It’s better to water in the morning. Letting the grass go a little dry is better. The grass is just starting to grow this month, but on a well growing lawn, when your footprints don’t spring back, it is time to water.
https://watermyyard.org/#/Location
WaterMyYard.org is a free website that lets Texas residents know when and how much to water based on local weather patterns, the type of irrigation they use and other factors. (Not every area is in the system, but if you are and signed up, you will receive automated emails or text-messages to let you know how much to water your landscape based on local weather conditions.)
http://water.tamu.edu/water-resources-homeowners/
Texas A&M Agrilife Water Education Network: Water Resources for Homeowners (Lots of info and videos on saving water in the home and in the landscape.)

Pests, Disease, & Weeds

Consider applying Rohde’s beneficial nematodes now, as soil pest are becoming active.

Grubs may not a problem now. They are not eating much. They are pupating into June Bugs that will come out later in the summer to mate and lay eggs. The newly hatched grubs are the grass root eaters in the late summer and fall. Some can pupate too deep for our nematodes to reach also. But if you still find them just under the surface, the nematodes can still get them.

It’s too late for Corn Gluten Meal for pre-emergent weed control and probably too late for an organic herbicide as your warm season grasses are coming out of winter dormancy, but frequent mowing will help slow down many of them, particularly as it warms up. Mowing couple of times a weeks maybe needed. Use the grass catcher and throw out the seed heads collected. Don't be afraid to manually pull up the bigger weeds.

It should be warm enough for spot control of weeds with a Vinegar spray. Hotter the day, the better.

Howard Garrett’s recipe is found at http://www.dirtdoctor.com/organic/garden/view_question/id/62/ and is listed below with Rohde’s products used in the formula … for some reason.
Vinegar Herbicide Formula:

1 gallon of Green Sense 8% Vinegar. (Acid that burns the foliage)
1 ounce Green Sense Orange Oil. (Solvent to dissolve protective plant coatings)
1 teaspoon liquid soap or other surfactant such as “Bio Wash” or “Plant Wash”, Dawn or Ivory dishwashing soap without bleaches or antibiotics. (Helps the mixture to stick to the foliage)
Add Green Sense Blackstrap Molasses, table sugar, or corn syrup at 1 tablespoon per gallon. (The sugars may help initiate foliage rot)
Do not add water.

An interesting non-organic web site for weeds with germination info: http://www.weedalert.com/.

Other jobs:

Divide ground cover if needed.

GENERAL PESTS & DISEASES

Trichogramma Wasps:
Toward end of February is the time to start releasing Trichogramma wasps, if you had problems with tent caterpillars, or other caterpillars, and/or have fruit and nut trees. They are almost microscopic size, nonstinging wasp, that lay their eggs inside other insect eggs. You will have to use a magnifying glass to see them. Gnats are bigger. Needless to say, apply on a windless day. The wasp babies then eat the insides of the insert eggs. Howard Garrett recommends multiple releases of Trichogramma wasps, and Green lacewings over several weeks to a month in his "Fruit & Pecan Tree Organic Guide", http://www.dirtdoctor.com/garden/Organic-Pecan-And-Fruit-Tree-Program_vq2255.htm. You will need to set up delivery with an on-line supplier. The wasp come as larva in little moth eggs attached to a sheet of card stock paper. We tried to stock Trichogramma wasps in the past, but they will only last a week before hatching out of the moth eggs, even under refrigeration.

Order them from:
Beneficial Insectary, Inc.
9664 Tanqueray Ct.  Redding, CA 96003
530-226-6300 / 800-477-3715
http://www.insectary.com/

They can help you pick which specie you need and they will send you how many you need, when you need them.

Nematodes:
The nematode specie we carry is Steinernema feltiae. It is special in that it is active down to 50°F. Others are not. Take advantage of this and apply them when the soil temperature reaches 50°F or more, about 1 to 4 inches down in the spring. Use any thermometer. Many insects hatch as the soil temperature reaches the 50’s in the spring. They help control grub worms, fleas, fire ants, chiggers and other pests. Grub problems are not as common as once thought. Many grubs just feed on dead organic matter rather than plant roots. Some become predatory beetles. Lawn damage may be more likely caused by fungi than by grubs. Grubs you would treat in the fall. http://www.beorganic.com/Rohdes_Nematode_Application_Instructions.htm

Rohde’s carriers the full complement of organic pest and disease controls, for both inside and out. Stop by and see.

If you are spraying anything, protect yourself with goggles and at least a NIOSH N95 approved Respirator Dust Mask. This stuff may be organic but it could be hazardous to inhale or sprayed in your eyes. Don’t take the chance.

OTHER THINGS TO DO THIS MONTH

Add mulch and/or compost to bare or thin ground. If not done this spring, add compost to beds/gardens at least, and around trees, bushes, and a half inch on the lawn if possible, to enrich the soil.

Keep moving winter sheltered house plants and tender plants outside. Put in shade first and increase sun a few hours each week.

Have landscape and garden soil tested now to know how to prepare your gardens and lawns for the spring. Rohde’s recommends “Texas Plant & Soil Lab” at 5115 West Monte Cristo Road, Edinburg, Texas 78541-8852, 956-383-0739. They can give you organic recommendations.

Birds are arriving and starting to nest. Rohde’s has a very good selection of wild bird food and supplies.

Most of this calendar is designed for Dallas, Tx in USDA Hardiness Zone 8a, with a predominant soil type of blackland prairie clay.