We had some very good rains in early August, between 3 and 4 inches depending on where you live.  However, after such a long dry spell we still need to conserve water usage as much as possible.  Remember, what goes up also comes down.  That includes the water level in the aquifer.  Stay abreast of water use restrictions; currently, Stage 1 in effect: once a week on the day that corresponds to the last number of your address, and before 11:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m.  Use sprinklers that disburse water close to the ground rather than into the air to reduce evaporation, and be sure they are not over-spraying onto streets or sidewalks. 

Walking through the neighborhood, I have noticed that some trees have ball moss.  It looks like clumps of short gray grass attached to limbs.  It may be unsightly, but it is an epiphyte (not a parasite), and does not take nutrition from the tree.  So, there is no need to worry.  If you walk along the riverwalk between E. Guenther St. and S. Alamo bridges, you will see many examples “growing” on the high concrete wall. 

Here is a good source of gardening information specifically for San Antonio and South Texas: the garden talk program on AM 550 radio each Saturday and Sunday mornings.  It is hosted by well know local nurseryman Bob Webster.  It is on from 5:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning.  Yes, gardeners seem to be early risers.  But for those who sleep in, it is also on from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on Sunday.  You do not have to call in to get a lot of useful information from the topics discussed. 

Garden Tips:  

  • Keep mulch 6 to 8 inches away from tree and shrub trunks to prevent trunk damage. 
  • Day lilies and iris can be divided now.  Give any surplus to a neighbor.
  • Monarch butterflies will be passing through Texas soon on the way to their winter home in Mexico.  They will be looking for late blooming plants for nectar to help them on their way, such as salvias, durantas, butterfly weed, marigolds, mistflowers and zinnias.  Monarchs are endangered, so plan for next year’s growing season if you do not already grow these and other host plants. 

Garden Note:  At a recent rummage sale I purchased a book entitled The New Garden Encyclopedia.  It was first printed in 1936 and revised in 1941.  It has 1,348 pages and is proving to be interesting reading.  I may refer to it in future articles to compare gardening techniques then and now. 

The following is taken from the book’s forward and, to me, says why many spend so much time gardening:  The rewards we get from a garden are of various kinds.  There is the pride of ownership of something fine and beautiful, and the inspiration of working hand in hand with Nature in creating it.  Always there is the well-merited satisfaction of having accomplished something that enhances the home and benefits the community.