It’s time for a sprinkler system checkup! With the hot weather just around the corner, it’s time to fire up the sprinkler system again! For most of us, it’s been a long time since we’ve run our sprinklers and turning on your system may reveal a few surprises since the last time you watered the lawn. That may necessitate a few repairs to get things in working order.
Before your neighbor has to be the one to tell you that water is shooting up in the air, do a check on your system.
Turn on your sprinklers and take a walk around your yard.
Be sure sprinklers are aimed at watering grass, not concrete.
Adjust spray heads. On top of each spray-type nozzle is a small adjustment screw. Turn the adjustment screw to adjust each of your spray-type sprinklers so that they don’t spray onto sidewalks or walls.
Check the irrigation clock to make sure it has been reset and the timer is. Most folks tend to overwater because the clocks have not been checked since the day they were installed. Think about taking five minutes to make sure your clock operates properly. Be sure your clock is set to water before 10am and after 7pm.
Clean clogged sprinkler heads if water is not flowing evenly. These can easily become clogged with dirt over the winter months when not in use.
April can be a tricky month with the weather here in Texas. This year we had some cold nights in March, so you may have delayed your tomato planting. In order to get a nice summer harvest we recommend getting them planted soon. But if you’ve delayed until mid-April, here are some tips:
Which varieties are best? Choose your varieties carefully. With a late planting date, it becomes most important that you avoid the huge types like Big Boy, Beefsteak and others. They simply aren’t going to set fruit when temperatures climb above 90. There’s some type of physiological issue that prevents them from doing so, and that same problem stops fruit set when it’s below 70 degrees at night. You’ll be doing well to get five or six fruits from these types that were bred for the Midwest.
Thanks to seed company mergers and the ongoing quest for something new, you’ll also find many of your old favorite tomato varieties are no longer available. Carnival, Merced and 444 are just a few of the types that have disappeared from the market.
What are the best types? Small to mid-sized fruit. In order of increasing size, your shopping list should include Red Cherry, Red or Yellow Pear, Sweet 100 and other super-sweet types, Porter, Roma, Super Fantastic and Celebrity. Look for stout transplants in 4-inch pots. They should be 6 to 8 inches tall, and they need to be toughened to withstand sunlight and wind. If you’ve already planted tomatoes, and if you don’t have any of these smaller types, you still have time to add a few in.
How should I prepare the soil? Set your plants into well-prepared garden soil to which you have added several inches of organic matter (compost, pine bark mulch, rotted manure and sphagnum peat moss, among others). Plant in beds that have been raised by 5 or 6 inches to ensure good drainage should we have extended periods of rainy weather. Set the plants out 42 to 48 inches apart in rows that are 60 inches apart. If you have transplants that are slightly leggy, dig a shallow trench for each plant and plant it at a 45-degree angle. It will form adventitious roots along the portion of the stem that you plant below grade. Water the plants as soon as you have them all set out.
What are some key points for growing? Keep the plants off the ground as they begin to grow. Cages you can buy in stores are usually too small for Texas tomato plants. Your plants would probably grow up and out of them before you really started to harvest your crop. It’s much better, instead, to put 5-foot-tall wire cages around every plant. Concrete reinforcing wire works best. Cut it into 54-inch lengths, so that each cage will be approximately 17 inches in diameter. Allow all the “suckers” (branches) to develop, and keep them pushed back within the cages. They will shade the ripening tomatoes and protect them from sunscald.
You can also grow tomatoes in patio pots, as long as they’re large enough to allow normal root growth. In most cases, that will mean 7- or 10-gallon pots, and you’ll want to fill them with a lightweight, highly organic potting soil. Remember that potted tomato plants will dry out much more quickly than their in-ground counterparts, so prepare to water them frequently. Tomatoes that are allowed to wilt badly, whether in pots or in the ground, will typically develop blossom-end rot. The ends of the fruits away from the stems will have brown, sunken spots that will ruin the fruit quality completely.
What about pests? The prime pests of spring tomatoes, in order of their appearance, will be aphids, early blight and spider mites. Aphids are already showing up. They’re small pear-shaped insects that congregate on the newest growth. They’re not the worst pests you might encounter, but you’ll still want to keep them washed off with a hard stream of water. You can also eliminate them with most general-purpose insecticides that are labeled for vegetables.
Early blight usually shows up in mid-May. Thumbprint-sized, bright yellow blotches show up on the bottom-most leaves. Left unchecked, it then spreads up the stems. Keep the foliage as dry as you can, and apply a labeled fungicide to stop its spread. When grooming your plants, take care not to carry the fungal spores to healthy plants via your hands.
Spider mites typically appear about three weeks after you see early blight, so that usually means mid-June in our part of Texas. Lower leaves will have fine light tan mottling, and the discoloration will quickly spread up the stems. By the time you see fine webs between the leaves, you will have waited too long. If you want to confirm early outbreaks, thump a suspect leaf over a sheet of white paper. If you see tiny specks starting to move about freely, those are the mites. Most general-purpose insecticides will offer some degree of control.
Get ready for spring gardening at J&N Feed and Seed. Our greenhouse is stocked full of onion sets, seed potatoes, and cold weather crops ready for your garden. Our cool-weather crops, such as lettuces, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower, can be planted now. Look for tomatoes to arrive late March or early April. It’s a little early to get your tomatoes in the ground, but with the warm winter we’ve had, you may be okay planting earlier in the season. In order to get a nice summer harvest, we recommend getting cold weather plants in the ground by mid to late March and tomatoes following in early April. The average date of the last killing freeze in North Texas is March 13th. The weeks after that will be the best planting times. Use these next couple of weeks to prepare your garden beds and get the ground ready for planting. Working in soil amendments and natural compost can help give your tired soil the much-needed nutrient boost it needs.
Stop by J&N Feed and Seed for all your gardening needs. We’ve got a greenhouse full of herbs and veggies and various packaged garden seeds! Stop by our greenhouse and let’s get this garden started!
Keep your newly planted trees and shrubs hydrated with Treegator Slow Release Watering Bags. With the scorching summer temperatures here to stay, it’s important to water effectively to keep trees and shrubs hydrated. J&N Feed and Seed proudly stock the Treegator® Original Slow Release Watering Bag. Treegator delivers water directly to your plant for 100% absorption and no run-off. Pick up a couple of Treegators today and save your beautiful trees and shrubs from the Texas drought.
Treegator® Original Slow Release Watering Bag for Trees & Shrubs
With our Texas temperatures heating up, J&N Feed and Seed is working to find low volume watering products that will help conserve water and provide an effective way to keep your landscape alive. We are now stocking Raindrip Automatic Watering System kits. These low volume, drip irrigation kits, are customized for different areas of your landscape and garden and can convert your sprinkler system to a drip irrigation system. Installing a drip irrigation system is simple.
Raindrip Automatic Watering Kits with Timer
The Raindrip Automatic Watering Systems are simple to use drip watering kit that waters flowers, shrubs, and trees in your landscape areas (not for lawn use). They’re water efficient, simple to install and most* include a battery-operated timer so you can set your system to water automatically. Click here to read more about Raindrip Watering Kits.
Properly watering trees and gardens will make all the difference when it comes to the health and stability of plants. Using Deep Drip Stakes, which waters the plant directly at the roots, helps ensure deep roots and plants that are full of life! J&N Feed and Seed now stocks Deep Drip Watering Stakes.
Deep Drip Water Stakes are designed to help you maintain healthy, beautiful trees and plants by watering them directly at the roots, while conserving up to 50% of your outdoor water usage and protecting the environment.
Wondering what size to use? Deep Drip is available in four convenient sizes!
8″ – For flowers, fruits, vegetables, and small plants.
14″- Perfect for plants with shallow roots including: potted plants, shrubs, vines and small
24″ – Works well on all medium to large tree varieties including fruit trees and palms.
J & N Feed and Seed can special order a variety of “beneficial insects” to help clean up garden pests. These insects are an excellent, non-chemical way to help control pests in your garden or landscaping.
Lady Bug Beetlesare excellent aphid predators. They will also feed on whiteflies, mites, and other scale insects.
Beneficial Nematodes control pests that develop in soil. An effect way to control fire ants, termites, grubs and more.
Praying Mantis eat a wide variety of insects including aphids, mosquitoes, caterpillars, beetles, grasshoppers and crickets. There isn’t much these bugs won’t eat.
Trichogramma Wasps are effective in controlling webworms, canker worms, tent caterpillars and other vegetarian worms.
Stop by our store to order any of natures fab four and control pests in your garden this summer.
We love spring time at J&N Feed and Seed because it means time for garden planting, fertilizing, and preparing for the bloom of wonderful veggies, flowers and much more.
We have just received a new batch of veggies and various garden seeds! Stop by our greenhouse and let’s get this garden started! Now on hand, we have:
A great selection of vegetables, flowers and herb plants
Bulk and Small Package Seeds
Stock up on potting soil and mulch too!
Tips on Planting:
Having your very own veggie/herb garden isn’t as complicated as you might think, although it does require dedication. The most important part is planning and making sure you have all of the right materials and information. When setting up your space, it’s important to remember a few key items:
Do you have enough sun exposure? Vegetables love the sun. They need at least 6 hours of full sun every day, and preferably 8.
Know your soil. Most soil can be enriched with compost and be fine for planting, but some soil needs more help. Check with us at J&N Feed and Seed. We carry a variety of different types of soils and we can help you find the best match for your growing needs.
Placement is everything. Avoid planting too near a tree, which will steal nutrients and shade the garden. In addition, a garden too close to the house will help to discourage wild animals from nibbling away your potential harvest.
Decide between tilling and a raised bed. If you have poor soil or a bad back, a raised bed built with non-pressure-treated wood offers many benefits. We carry Yellawood Landscape Timbers, perfect for a raised bed.
Vegetables and fruits need lots of water, at least 1 inch of water a week. Make sure you have a good irrigation or watering system. IF you have a spot that is in full sun, consider an Olla irrigation pot, sold right here at J&N.
For more information on gardening, come visit us at J&N Feed and Seed.
Never cap your crape myrtle trees. Above – the wrong way. Below – leave them as trees.
A touchy topic is pruning crape myrtle trees. Do you prune them? When and how much?
The best time to prune is late winter, February – March. The goal is to enhance the trees natural form, don’t force it to grow in a small space or prune it into an artificial shape. Crape myrtles naturally grow as small upright or vase shaped trees with multiple trunks. A well pruned crape myrtle will have the trunks grow upward and outward, with branches fanning out rather than growing inward into the center of the tree.
Remove crossing and inward growing branches.
To determine if your crape myrtle needs to be pruned, examine the direction in which the trunks and branches grow. Starting at ground level, follow the trunks upward to where they begin to branch, focusing on the interior of the tree rather than the outer edges. Branches that grow into the center of the tree, crossing over other branches or trunks, should be removed.
To remove a branch, follow it back to where it joins a larger branch or trunk. Take a close look at the point where the branch joins the trunk. You will notice at the point where the two join the branch is swollen or enlarged. This area is known as the branch collar. Using a pruning saw, remove the branch by cutting just above the branch collar rather than flush with the trunk. If the branch was removed at the correct place the branch collar left behind will extend out a centimeter or two from the trunk.
The wrong way to prune. A misconception that crape myrtles need to be severely cut back in late winter or early spring in order to flower well in summer has led to the unhealthy practice of topping these plants. If necessary, crape myrtles can be reduced in height without being topped.
Topping (buck horning or de-horning) or “crape murder” involves cutting stems back at an arbitrarily chosen height rather than pruning back to a bud, side branch, or main stem. Topping trees and shrubs is harmful in many ways and regarded as an unacceptable practice by trained horticulturists and arborists. Research shows that stem decay significantly increases when topping cuts are made, and that more dead branches also occur within the canopy. The trees are more prone to disease as well with topping.