Q. What are the weeds that are growing everywhere right now? There seem to be more varieties than normal?
A. There are lots of weeds this winter because of cool but relatively mild temperatures and reasonable rain. The clover that is growing is called black medic. It prospers in poor soils without sod. The sticky vine is called bedstraw. Henbit is the weed with the round crinkly leaves and little purple flowers. The weeds that have leaves like carrots are beggar’s lice. They are nearly as bad as sandburs. There are several kinds of thistles and two kinds of dandelions. Annual bluegrass and rescue grass are the two most common cool weather, grassy weeds. Rescue grass has the coarser leaf.
To try and control them with herbicides, use 2,4-D products for the broadleaf weeds and grass-specific contact herbicides for the grass weeds. Follow the instructions on the label closely for safe, effective control. Some gardeners will opt to control them by pulling and mowing.
Q. I know the live oak leaves fall now, but should the Monterey oak leaves also be falling? In three years this is the first time I have seen them turn yellow and brown and then fall?
A. Monterey or Mexican white oak leaves do fall off the tree at times. They don’t drop leaves on a regular schedule, but sometimes it is related to drought or cold. The Monterey oak is a good shade tree for our area and should re-leaf quickly.
Q. My neighbor says there is a trick to having the “first tomato” in the spring. He won’t explain what the trick is. Do you know it? I would like to beat him by harvesting the first tomato this spring.
A. The first-tomatoof the-season gardeners actually are busy right now working toward early tomato production.
These gardeners buy tomato transplants at the nursery now, even though it is too early to plant them in the garden. Their tactic is called “potting up.” Obtain 2-inch, 4-inch or even larger plants of your favorite tomato variety, and plant each of the transplants into a 1- or 3-gallon container that has been filled with well-fertilized potting mix. Fertilize with Osmocote or another slow-release product specifically for containers.
Next, the “potted-up” tomatoes are placed in a location in full sun but out of the wind. The tomatoes are kept well watered and are carried to shelter whenever temperatures below 40 degrees are forecasted.
Plant the large-blooming potted tomatoes in the garden after April 1 when the soil is warm. The fruit will quickly follow.
CALVIN R. Finch, Ph.D. is a Horticulturist and Director of Texas A&M Water Conservation and Techno