Weatherford Democrat

February 2, 2014

ASK A MASTER GARDENER: Dealing with freeze damage


Weatherford Democrat

Here are this week’s gardening questions and answers, provided by Parker County Master Gardeners. To submit a question, send it to pcmgaquestions@gmail.com. For more information about Parker County Master Gardeners, or to become a member, call 817-598-6096 or visit www.pcmg-texas.org.



I have a large artemisia shrub that has freeze damage on several of its branches. I know it is still alive because I see new growth. Should I cut back the affected branches now or wait until early spring?

Artemisia is a perennial, evergreen herb with delicate silver-gray foliage. It is best to wait until early spring when the temperature is milder to prune this plant. The damaged branches on top of the plant will help to protect the roots if we get another freeze.

If you have already cut it back, be sure to mulch the plant heavily. We do not know what kind of weather is still ahead this winter. The colder temperatures may cause us to rethink our plant selections in spring when we see what was able to survive the hard freezing weather.



What is the difference between a determinate and an indeterminate tomato?

A determinate tomato plant produces ripened fruit once during the growing season. It tends to be bushy and smaller, 4- to 5-feet tall, and needs no staking. The fruit tends to ripen all at once, so that the main harvest is concentrated into a few weeks. This may be ideal for gardeners who wish to preserve fresh tomatoes for soups and sauces. Some examples include Rutgers, Roma, Celebrity and Marglobe.

An indeterminate tomato plant will produce fruit all during the growing season until frost kills it. These plants can grow 6-10 feet in a vine pattern and require staking. Some varieties include Big Boy, Beef Master, Early Girl, cherry types and most heirloom varieties.



Can grafted heirloom tomatoes be successfully grown in Parker County?

The Parker County Master Gardeners are conducting a research study this spring to determine if North Texas gardeners can successfully graft and grow heirloom tomatoes in the home garden.

According to several gardening magazines, our nurseries will be flooded with grafted tomatoes this year with a price twice as expensive as other tomato plants. Are these grafted plants adapted to our soil conditions here in Parker County? Will they tolerate the temperature swings that normally accompany our growing season? We are determined to find out by doing some research and experimentation.