You’d think you could sit back and relax a few days here toward the tail end of summer — that finally I’d leave you alone. But, no, here I come with more timely assignments. In fact, a few of these are your last calls for the year. Please do read through them.
Planting broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower transplants. Fall is the ideal time to raise these, especially Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Those two require longer times to mature, and in the spring garden the warming weather often catches up with them. Plant vigorous potted transplants in mid-to-late August and you’ll have some very nice fall feasts.
Your only concerns will be keeping them watered well enough in the several hot weeks ahead and then protecting them against cabbage looper caterpillars as they grow and start to mature. Apply Bacillus thuringiensis (“B.t.”) at he first signs of the loopers.
Sowing seeds of lettuce, spinach, radishes and other leafy and root crops. These are also of higher quality in fall’s cooler weather. They mature more quickly than the cole crops, however, so you can plant them the last week of August or the first few days of September.
Planting new turfgrass from sod, seed or plugs. Our North Texas grasses are classed as “warm-season” grasses, meaning that they do almost all of their growing when it’s warm. That limits the times you can plant them pretty much to April through mid-September. However, it’s best to get your new turf planted as soon as you can now so that it can get its roots deeply established before the soil starts to turn cool.
That’s doubly important for Bermuda grass that’s planted from seed, also for St. Augustine sod.
Choosing and planting crape myrtles while they’re in full bloom. Nurseries still have good selections, but as varieties sell out, only the very best sellers will be restocked this growing season. If there’s an unusual color or variety that you’re wanting, shop as soon as you can. You can certainly plant crape myrtles now. All they need is regular watering, probably every two or three days through the end of September.
Digging and dividing crowded daffodils. If you have beds of daffodils, narcissus or jonquils that have become overcrowded over the years, or if you have some you’d like to relocate, do so very soon. They start putting out new roots very early in the fall growing season. Try to have this finished by the end of August.
Planting spider lilies, fall crocus, oxblood lilies and other fall bulbs. The better local nurseries will begin to stock these this month, but they will sell out very rapidly. These are all bulbs that typically bloom in late August or September, although that may not happen the first year that they’re planted. They’ll put out foliage in the fall. The leaves will provide nourishment for the bulbs for next year’s production of flowers, so it’s critical that you get them into the ground in time to let the leaves do their work.
Sowing spring wildflower seeds. This is one of those things where you have to think way ahead. Bluebonnets and the other spring bloomers germinate in early fall. They spend the fall and early winter establishing deep roots, then they spring forth with blooms as soon as the weather warms. To get that sequence going you have to sow them by the end of August or very early September.
Wildflowers do best where they don’t have to compete with turfgrass. That’s because you have to leave them unmowed into early summer so that their seeds can mature and re-sow. Don’t improve the soil too much, either, or you’ll get rich foliar growth with very little floral production. Specifically with bluebonnets, plant seeds that have been treated to soften the very hard seed coats. The acid treatment that gives the best result is not a process you should try at home, but Texas mail-order sources can ship the treated seeds to you immediately.
Nutsedge (“nutgrass”) control. This most noxious of all weeds in Texas requires special treatments. Apply either Image (original formulation specifically intended for nutsedge) or Sedgehammer. Read and follow label directions implicitly. Treatment must be made now, before the nutsedge plants start to go dormant in four to six weeks.
Applying pre-emergent herbicides to prevent germination of winter weeds. This is a huge issue. Use Team, Dimension, Halts or Balan to prevent germination of annual bluegrass, rescuegrass and ryegrass. Apply Gallery to prevent germination of clover, dandelions, henbit and chickweed. There are no combination products, so you will have to make two passes across your lawn. These materials must be applied no later than Sept. 5 to have the best possible chance of preventing the winter weeds.
Remember that you get no second chance with the grassy weeds. Once you have annual bluegrass growing in your lawn or shrub beds, it will be there until heat kills it next May. Don’t miss your chance!