From selecting the right plants to proper watering techniques and dealing with pests, host Dan Gill delivers the information you need to garden successfully in Louisiana's unique climate.More from Bayou Garden »
The high temps with us from May through October their toll on the vegetable garden. Tomatoes, for instance, will set fewer fruit once it gets hot. Snap beans will produce poor quality beans. On the other hand, for some vegetables, the hotter the weather, the more they like it! These hot season vegetables are ideal to plant in May and June.
Grown and used in cuisines around the world, basil is indispensable to Louisiana cooks as well. Besides making food taste great, basil is really easy to grow and happens to be an attractive plant. Not only is basil a great addition to the herb garden, but with the numerous shapes, leaf colors, and attractive flowers, it makes a welcome addition to any garden.
Mulching is an easy-to-do, labor-saving gardening technique that all gardeners should take advantage of. A mulch is a material, usually organic, that we use to cover the soil surface around plants. Mulching beds is an important part of sustainable landscaping. Organic mulches, such as leaves, pine straw, ground pine bark, dried grass clippings, cypress mulch, and newspaper, are all derived from once-living materials. They also add beneficial organic matter to the soil as they decompose.
The Evolution Salvia is a cultivar of Mealycup Sage and it's been named a Louisiana Super Plant selection for spring of 2016. It comes in two colors. Mealycup Sage is a native wildflower of Texas and it's well adapted to long hot summer weather. Evolution Salvia was chosen as a Super Plant selection because of the intense color of its flower spikes as well as excellent performance in trials at the Hammond research station.
Some of the most popular vegetables planted in home vegetable gardens belong to the cucumber family. Members of this family are called cucurbits. Many from this family can be planted this month, including summer squash, winter squash, mirliton, pumpkin, gourd, gugutka, watermelon, cantaloupe, cushaw, luffa, and, of course, cucumber. All of these vegetables produce vines that crawl along the ground or climb. Summer squash is the exception as the vines are more bush-like. One thing to remember is that both sexes of flowers grow on the same plant, so you don't need multiple plants. Avoid using insecticides on your flowers in the morning, which is when your pollinators will be most active.
The Easter Lily is a plant popularly used to decorate for Easter. Many of these plants are simply discarded after the holiday has passed and they finish blooming. But Easter Lilies may be planted in your landscapes, where they will bloom year after year for many years to come. Once the flowers have all faded, you can plant your Easter Lily outside in a garden bed. Leftover Easter Lilies in stores and nurseries at reduce prices are an excellent bargain to obtain plants for your gardens. Easter Lilies go dormant in mid-summer.
If you're planning to add some trees or shrubs to your landscape, it's a good idea to get this done as soon as possible. The ideal planting season for hearty trees and shrubs here in the Baton Rouge runs from the fall into the spring and finishes around the end of March. The reason we want to get these plants in the ground now, is the weather is cool, and we can expect another month or so of mild weather. The transition from pot to ground is very stressful for the plants. Planting in hot weather increases the stress.
The next several months are a popular time for adding new beds of shrubs, ground covers, and flowers to the landscape. It's also a popular time for reworking and replanting existing beds you may have. When you're dealing with beds right next to your house, this work can affect your home's termite protection. Houses are typically protected from subterranean termite damage with chemical barriers in the soil. To protect the structure, the soil immediately next to the slab or piers is treated with a long-lasting liquid termiticide. The presence of this chemical in the soil provides a protective seal that prevents termites from tunneling through the soil and entering your home. This protective treated soil should never be disturbed or altered. Also be careful with mulch, as mulch can provide a bridge past the treated soil which termites can use to enter your home.
February, March, and April are popular months to fertilize. There's some real confusion about what fertilizers are and why we use them. That confusion comes about because of the terms we use, such as "plant food" and we're "feeding" them. Instead, fertilizer contains the elements the plants need to make food. Scientists have found there are 13 elements in the soil needed by plants to grown healthy. The elements used in the greatest quantities are nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.
As a gardener, you must understand a fundamental principle of how plants grow. Plants consume light to provide the energy they need to power and build their bodies. Plants are solar powered organisms. They use light energy to build sugar out of carbon dioxide and water. This sugar, along with tiny amounts of minerals absorbed from the soil, is used to build the body of the plant and run its biological processes. You must learn the light preferences of a plant and provide that light as closely as possible. Nothing matters if you don't get the light right.