16 APRIL 8, 2005
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home ELLA TYLER
Get your Houston gardening information from
the gay garden club, Urban Harvest, the Texas
Extension Service, from anybody but Martha
Don't listen to Martha
MARTHA STEWART MAY BE OUT OF
prison and back to advising America
about its recipes, crafts and gardens, but
that doesn't mean that we Houstonians
should listen, at least to her gardening
Her gardening advice is wrong, wrong,
wrong for Houston. So, although her declaration that she would be out of prison in
time to plant her spring garden showed me
that she is a real gardener and doesn't
just play one on TV, it
is too late for us to
PLANT a spring garden.
That does not mean
that we cannot BUY a flower-
filled, absolutely gorgeous spring
garden. Nurseries all across the
area have a mix of cool-weather
and hot-weather bloomers now.
The cool-weather bloomers -
spring garden to Martha - are
in full bloom.
Annuals such as petunias, snapdragons, stock,
alyssum and primroses will
probably not thrive past the
beginning of June. Some references, even local ones, list marigolds
as hot- weather plants, but they really
are happier in cooler weather.
Annuals complete their life cycle -
from seed to bloom to seed - in one growing season. Unless they reseed, they will
not be back next year. Since there's not a
lot of time for these plants to grow, buy
big ones. Look for ones that have open
flowers and lots of buds.
Perennials bloom for a short time once
a year, then, with the right conditions,
good care and luck, they bloom again in
the following years. The conditions that
cause problems for perennials are our
summer heat and/or our lack of cold.
Some plants just need cold dormancy to
bloom. Fuchsias, for example, don't make
it through the summer; no matter how
hard you try Enjoy one, then send it to a
friend who lives in a cool, moist climate.
Geraniums will stop blooming in the
summer, but if you keep them in the shade
and move them back to the sun when it
cools down, they might bloom again.
It does not get cold enough here for
ft MORE INFO
Garden and Yard Club
713-661-6378 or 713-863-1066
Texas Extension Service
tulips to bloom again, but amaryllis and
some kinds of daffodils and lilies will
MOST BUSHES THAT ARE FLOWERING
now will not flower again this year. To
avoid transplant shock, which causes the
flowers to fall off, dig a hole and put the
pot in the hole. As soon as the flowers
fade, take the plant out of the pot and
plant it properly
Some gardeners I know recommend
cutting off the bottom of the pot, slitting
the side half-way-up, then putting the pot
in the hole. After filling the hole half way
with dirt, cut the rest of the way up the
side and remove the pot. I am certain I
would hurt myself, so I have never
k tried it and do not know if it works.
^ It is not too late to plant seeds for
summer-flowering annuals. Cosmos,
zinnias, celosia and sunflowers are
really easy to grow from seed. Others,
such as periwinkles and begonias are
tricky, but are available now in small pots.
The plants will get big soon enough if
you feed and water them regularly
You may plant gladiola, dahlia, ginger and caladium bulbs (or tubers)
now. Gingers and caladiums prefer shade.
Many vegetables and
herbs are decorative and
edible. Lettuces do not
like hot weather, so
Tomatoes set fruit
when nighttime temperatures are below 70
degrees, so grab some of the already potted plants of many varieties are available
now. I bought one that has flowers already
Peppers and okra are easy to grow
from seed, as are melons, cucumbers and
summer squash. They are so easy to
grow, be prepared to deal with lots of
whatever it is you are growing. There are
varieties of watermelon that produce
small fruit, but the plant is still big.
Vegetables and herbs require a lot of sun.
The first rule of successful gardening
is "chose the right plant for the right
place." Add, "plant it at the right time"
and most of the battle is won.
There is plenty of help for novices.
Any good gardener in your neighborhood
will be glad to give you advice, and the
lesbian and gay gardening club (Garden
and Yard Society) meets the second
Friday of each month.
Urban Harvest hosts classes and gives
great advice about gardening here.
Books are full of gardening inform-
tion, but use a local one. When Martha
starts her show up again, turn the TV off
when she talks about gardening.