Here are this week’s gardening questions and answers, provided by Parker County Master Gardeners. To submit a question, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Parker County Master Gardeners, or to become a member, call 817-598-6096 or visit www.pcmg-texas.org.
When do I need to plant tomatoes for a fall garden?
With our hot Texas summers, many vegetable gardeners report that the fall is a better time for growing tomatoes.
The planting time is crucial if you want a successful harvest. Tomatoes should be planted from late June to early July, with all planting complete by July 15.
My landscape is being taken over by snails, slugs and roly poly bugs. Please advise how to get rid of them.
Remove debris from garden beds and wait to apply mulch until they are under control. Leave a flat container of beer out overnight in problem areas, and they will drown in it.
Slug and snail bodies cannot tolerate sharp edges. Sprinkle human hair, egg shells, pecan shells, etc. in your garden beds. You can also put copper collars around special plants, sprinkle hot pepper or cedar flakes under problem plants, or use citrus oil spray. When you reapply mulch, consider using cedar mulch. Most insects don’t like cedar sap.
If you use the above treatments and still have a problem, diatomaceous earth and snail/slug bait is the least harmful to beneficial insects. You may also treat with carbaryl, methiocarb baits or metaldehyde baits. These are the chemical elements and not the trade names, so be sure to check the label for ingredients. These pesticides should be used in the late afternoon, and pets should be kept away from the area overnight.
Fire ants follow up
We have had some further results from our search for an answer to last week’s question about fire ants in a vegetable garden.
One master gardener reports using Spinosad for fire ants in an herb garden. She mixed the product with water and poured it over the mound. Spinosad also comes as bait, which is taken into the mound by foraging ants and fed to the queen. When the queen dies, the mound dies.
This process may take longer than products that immediately kill the mound. It is organic and can be effective for several months, even preventing new mounds from forming.