Winter Garden Cleanup: Anticipation of Spring


Fortunately, gardeners, another cold snap came and went quickly! How lucky we are to live in an area where it doesn’t get very cold for weeks or months at a time. The few days of frigid temperatures we get are more than enough for this gardener, who is eagerly awaiting the arrival of spring. Buy seeds from one of our many seed catalogs, or perhaps harvest seeds from last year’s flowers and vegetables (like I did) and start the process of germinating the seeds. A tray filled with seed starting mixture placed on a warming mat to aid germination. And as a thoughtful reminder, sprout your tomato and pepper seeds now so they will be ready to be transplanted into your garden by mid-to-late March. The date of the last frost is March 16th (it takes a week to give). But remember to provide frost protection for sensitive plants, especially tomatoes and peppers that struggle to recover from temperatures below 40 degrees. degree Fahrenheit.

Local weather patterns this week will be significantly warmer, reaching the 80’s or higher in some areas. Some spring-like things will most certainly occur in the coming weeks: Trees begin to sprout, bloom and form leaves. Many of us will be cleaning outdoors over the next few weeks. It’s still a little early to remove damaged limbs and restore shrubs and perennials.

Spring is coming, so I would like to anticipate the topic! One of my personal favorite gardening tasks is pruning trees and shrubs every year. Every year, we receive requests from horticulturists to review the method of pruning especially crape myrtle. Crape myrtle is a small, multi-trunked tree (or large shrub) that unfortunately too many gardeners stick to crape myrtle butcher practices. It is more commonly known as Crape Myrtle’s “Murder,” and every year before spring comes, I write articles addressing the unfortunate massacre.

If you drive around your neighborhood, you can be sure to find a “dismantled” crape myrtle tree. This image uses a car ignition key placed on a tree trunk to highlight the trunk damage. The tree has been “cut down” repeatedly over the years, causing black fungus to grow around the gnarled knots, setting the stage for disease progression and undoubtedly leading to early death. (North Carolina Cooperative Extension).

The phrase “crape myrtle murder” was coined in a 1997 article in Southern Living magazine, referring to the practice of cutting crape myrtle to stumps in late fall and winter. Unfortunately, any of us can drive through the Golden He Triangle (towns and neighbourhoods) to witness firsthand the effects of this horrifying style of pruning. People wake up – (landscapers and gardeners) Harsh pruning of crape myrtle destroys the integrity of the tree, causing it to slowly die from disease and structural defects. caused by ‘reaping’. Crape myrtle is a tree and shouldn’t be forced to become something it can’t be (again he’s one of life’s lessons). A chainsaw is used to prune crape myrtle to remove all top growth, but the fastest pruning technique is far more destructive and disastrous. Dismantling the trunk of a tree or cutting the trunk to the same height forces the tree to grow from where the pruning took place. Utilizing annual “pruning” techniques, trees form messy knots, degrading their aesthetics and destroying their inherent beauty over the years. Harvesting shortens the life of the tree. Thin, weak branches grow from the pruned parts, unable to support the weight of the flowers, and gusts of wind break the branches. The knots that form severely impair the structure of the large, graceful, undulating, vase-shaped tree that produces profuse blooms in spring and summer.

Follow these tips to prune crape myrtle.

• The best time to prune is now (winter).

If you drive around your neighborhood, you can be sure to find a “dismantled” crape myrtle tree. This image uses a car ignition key placed on a tree trunk to highlight the trunk damage. The tree has been “cut down” repeatedly over the years, causing black fungus to grow around the gnarled knots, setting the stage for disease progression and undoubtedly leading to early death. (North Carolina Cooperative Extension).

• Start by removing shoots (called suckers) from around the base of the tree.

• Remove dead and crossed branches (branches rubbing against each other).

• Remove bent branches (those that do not fit the shape of the tree vase).

• Remove branches that grow inward toward the center (to maintain vase-like structure and circulation.

• Trim branches back to the trunk, leaving no partial branches.

Hello gardeners, it’s been a while. Let him go out and grow a greener, more sustainable world, one plant at a time. The Orange County Master Gardener’s Plant Sale will be held on March 18th from 8am to 1pm at Jewel Cormier Park. More than 25 species of citrus trees are on display, as well as numerous fruit trees and berries. For answers to your gardening questions or for more information, email us: [email protected] Alternatively, contact the Orange County Master Gardeners Helpline at (409) 882-7010, visit their website: https://txmg.org/orange, Facebook: Orange County Texas Master Gardeners Association, or e-mail: Email: [email protected]



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