Pruning crepe mrytle

If you take care of your tools, they will return the favor. Proper care and routine maintenance of your garden tools make any gardening project easier, safer and more successful. A Garden Tool Care Workshop will be conducted by master gardeners on May 6 in Carbide Park.

WILLIAM M. JOHNSON/Courtesy

The cool front that arrived over the past weekend was refreshing. As May will soon be arriving, we should be prepared for warming temperatures and longer, sunnier days — a change of seasons.

We had had a few significant rainstorms occur in April; the weather station in the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden in Carbide Park recorded a rainfall of 3.9 inches a few days ago. Here’s hoping that the rainfall over the month of May occurs in evenly spaced installments over time and in amounts.

Busy days of gardening are in store for the May gardener in completing spring chores and in preparing for summer. The following gardening educational programs and gardening checklists will be helpful:

Garden tool care, a hands-on workshop: Galveston County Master Gardeners Henry Harrison III and Tim Jahnke will demonstrate the proper use and maintenance of garden tools. There will be a discussion on types of garden tools, followed by hands-on demonstration on cleaning, sharpening and using garden tools.

Additional discussion topics include selection of quality tools, ergonomically designed tools, basic sharpening, rust prevention and removal, safety, restoring antique tools, fluids/oils/solvents, techniques for tool use and storage. Bring up to three of your garden tools to the workshop reconditioning.

Henry and Tim will help you get your tools ready for a productive garden season and provide knowledge about keeping them in top working condition. The workshop will be conducted on May 6, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Galveston County Master Gardener Demonstration Garden located in Carbide Park (4102 Main St., FM 519) in La Marque. Preregistration required (email galvcountymgs@gmail.com or phone 281-309-5065). Class size is limited to 30 students and will take place rain or shine.

Home Fruit Growers’ Tour on May 20: Three fruit orchards are on this year’s tour. Each location will be open from 9 a.m. to noon.

This year’s tour sites contain a wide variety of fruit trees ranging from a peach orchard (Fruit ‘n Such Orchard located at 6309 Ave. U in Texas City), the Master Gardener Demonstration Orchard (located in Carbide Park in La Marque) and a sizable home orchard in Santa Fe. Tour maps and additional details may be downloaded from my website address provided with this column (click on the “Extension Educational Programs” link). Additional information will also be provided in next week’s garden column.

Open House at Demonstration Garden and Extension Office: The Master Gardeners invite area residents to tour their Demonstration Garden in Carbide Park on Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Demonstration Garden consists of several theme gardens including a Butterfly Garden, a Serenity Garden, an Earth-Kind Garden as well as dozens of raised vegetable beds and nearly 100 fruit trees.

My co-workers and I also extend an invitation to area residents to attend our Open House activities at the Galveston County Extension Office located at in Carbide Park (4102-B Main St.) in La Marque on Monday, May 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Homeowners are encouraged to bring plant and insect samples for identification. Or, you are welcome to just drop by, visit with us and tour our facilities.

Lawns: Many homeowners will level out low spots in the lawns this time of the year using sharp sand or bank sand as the only filler. While this is a common practice, it is not a good one. Use of sand to fill low areas in a lawn will very likely cause problems later on with unsatisfactory lawn growth.

Such areas will suffer more from drought stress during the summer and will likely have problems with soil nutrient uptake. For best results, use a good quality topsoil to fill in low areas of the lawn.

Blackberries: Blackberries will be coming into production in May. As canes which produced fruit this season finished bearing and start to die back, they should be removed at ground level. “Tip back” new canes to encourage branching; next year’s blackberries will be produced on these canes.

Fertilize vegetables: For best growth and yield of vegetables, apply small amounts of nitrogen fertilizer (called side dressing) every couple of weeks. This will keep vegetables growing vigorously so they reach their maximum yield potential.

William M. Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County Office of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Visit his website at http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/index.html

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