San Antonio Express News
Sunday, February 29, 2004
By Nathan Riggs
A big thank you to all of the volunteers and staff who made the 2004 Texas Trail exhibits at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo such a big hit this year. After the dust settled (mostly because of rain), an estimated 138,000 people graced our doors and were treated to a variety of educational exhibits. Folks learned about snake safety, ant identification, xeriscape principles, water conservation, 4-H, seatbelt safety, birds, gardening, wildlife conservation and gardening hardware and equipment for those with physical challenges. All in all, a great time was had by all despite periods of bitter cold and nasty rain.
The new tomato variety, “Amelia”, was a big hit for those looking to grow nice tomatoes and not have to worry about losses due to tomato spotted wilt virus. Extension Vegetable Specialist, Jerry parsons appears to be particularly proud of this one (or eager to get rid of existing stocks and start on a new creation).
Turning our thoughts to wildflowers now, a weekend trip to Corpus Christi and back revealed that the 2004 Bluebonnet crop has begun blooming. There are several spots along IH 37 between Campbellton and Mathis where Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes are blooming in thin numbers. At least one Bluebonnet was found blooming in south Bexar County on Saturday as well. Spring is such a wonderful time of color for South Texas. Let’s hope Jack Frost has some compassion for us, too.
Warm weather this past week has caused a few insects to become active. If you are pruning oak trees and others, be sure to spray those cuts promptly with latex spray paint to reduce the chances of oak wilt transmission (especially on live oaks and red oaks). Continue pruning those crepe myrtles and roses as well. It won’t be too long before they are sprouting new leaves and shoots for this season.
This is your last chance to spread pre-emergent herbicides to tackle the 2004 crop of spring weeds. Waiting more than another 10 days or so will mean that many of the weed seeds will have already germinated, rendering an application of pre-emergent herbicide totally useless.
If you do apply a pre-emergent now, it is crucial that you spread another application of the product in 90 days. Calculating these times for San Antonio is difficult because of our climate. Unfortunately, we have a “small window” in which to work because our weather is so erratic.
As the temperatures begin to warm up, we will be more enthusiastic about getting those spring gardening chores underway. However, don’t get too hasty with the lawn fertilizer. Before applying lawn food, remember that it is essential for the health of your lawn, that all danger of any freezes have past, the soil temperatures have warmed up, and the grass has begun to grow again.
If you are compelled toward your first spring work out, go ahead and drag out the lawnmower! Now is a good time to “scalp” the lawn for a clean, fresh start. Set the height on the lowest setting. If you use a bag, you will pick up dead winter thatch, leaves, weeds and weed seeds. This initial clean up will also allow products that you apply, to reach the surface of the soil where they can be the most effective. When done, be sure to raise the settings, so that the next time you mow, you will be “trimming”–not “scalping” your grass. This is the only time of the year that we “scalp” the lawn.
Many folks call the Extension office with questions about insects or needing insects identified. If the insect is in good condition, consider mailing it to our office. A dead insect looks the same as a live one in most cases! You might wrap it in a paper towel or cotton (to prevent it from being crushed in the mail) and place inside a baggie. Send the insect in a proper container to: Insect I.D., Texas Cooperative Extension, 3355 Cherry Ridge, Suite 212, San Antonio, TX 78230. Be sure to include information regarding where the insect was captured, what type of environment or plants it was living on, or in, and your contact telephone number. We will call to tell you what you have and what you need to do about it.
Residents Invited to Forum on Community Issues
All local residents who are interested in a better future for themselves, their families and our community are invited to participate in the Texas Community Futures Forum on Wednesday, March 3, at the Claude Black Community Center, located at 2805 E. Commerce. Registration begins at 1:00 p.m. with the Forum starting at 1:30 p.m.
The Forum is being conducted in every Texas county as a statewide effort of Texas Cooperative Extension and the Cooperative Extension Program, agencies of The Texas A&M University System, to bring together a diverse group of individuals, groups, and organizations to identify issues and concerns.
The Futures Forum process will help Extension develop its long-range plan for the next four years. The true goal is to facilitate the identification of common needs and define a process for addressing these needs to create a better economic, environmental and social situation in communities across the state.
The Extension staff in Bexar County encourages everyone to let their voices be heard in the Bexar County Forum on March 3. For planning purposes, please RSVP by March 1 by calling Carrie H. at 467-6575.
This article was written by Nathan Riggs, Extension Agent-IPM, with Texas Cooperative Extension in Bexar County.