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You’ll soon hear your first hummingbird “fly-by.” When the hummers arrive, fix their food a little higher in sugar content than normal. They’ve had a long trek. 

For the first week mix a 3:1 ratio of water to sugar. Please don’t use food coloring or artificial sweetener for our avian friends. During the second week, once the hummingbirds have recuperated, switch to a 4:1 ration of water to sugar. 

When the season gets going, we make batches ahead of time and store them in 32-ounce containers in the refrigerator with the lid tightly closed. We use 32-ounce containers because that is the size of our hummingbird feeders. You may use any container that is convenient for you. Do remember to close the lid tightly. If the lid is loose, you might be making rock candy.

MOSQUITOES

Before mosquitoes start to hatch, use these plants to help keep them away: basil, chrysanthemums, garlic, lemon grass, lavender, and marigolds. You can border your backyard and garden with these plants for a wonderfully smelling, beautiful, and, hopefully, mosquito-free spring and summer.

TO PLANT

Seeds: all hot-weather herbs, such as basil, chives, and milk thistle.

Plants: all hot-weather herbs and perennial herbs, such as artemisias, basil, bergamot, catmint or catnip, chives, comfrey, scented geranium, lemongrass, mints, oregano, pennyroyal, rosemary, santolina, and thyme. (Have you checked out cinnamon basil or chocolate mint for this year?)

Vegetables: beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, lettuce, melons, onions, peas, peppers, spinach, summer squash, tomatoes, and zucchini.

Stagger your plantings so you don’t have a harvest all at once but over time. For instance, if you have a section where you are going to grow your peppers, plant some this week and some next week. Although the growth rates of the plants will vary, we’ve done our due diligence to stagger our harvests. You might want to plant more for your elderly parents or grandparents who are unable to tend their own gardens.

ROOT FLARES — TO COVER OR NOT TO COVER

Robert of Kingsland asks: “We’re bringing soil in to build up the ground. Are we supposed to cover our tree flares?”

Luedeckes: “Robert, you want to leave the tree root flares uncovered. Root flares are one of the ways the tree receives oxygen.”

COLD STRATIFICATION

If you found a packet of wildflower seeds that reads in the directions that the best time to plant is a month BEFORE the last hard freeze, never fear: There is a solution. 

These seeds require winter stratification. Many seeds have a dormancy period that is broken with the freeze. Fill an ice cube tray half with water. Sprinkle seeds that need cold stratification on the water in the tray. Freeze for a couple of days, no more than three or four. Thaw and sow. Or, if you are “ice cubing” wildflower seeds, you can simply toss the ice cubes like seed bombs.

Keep your souls and soles in your garden! Remember the True Master Gardener: Jesus said, “I am the vine; my Father is the Gardener.” John 15:1

“In the Garden” is written by daughter-father gardening team Martelle and Bill Luedecke. If you have gardening questions, contact Martelle at 512-769-3179 or luedeckephotography@gmail.com or Bill at 512-577-1463 or bill@texasland.net.