October Horticulture Report by Nancy Peiser


We have had a rather eventful weather-filled summer,  ending with Hurricane Harvey.   For those neighbors whose homes and garages were flooded, gardening might be the last thing on the to-do list, but if your yard suffered flood water damage, there are things that should be done to minimize long-term effects.

Rain water damage is different than the damage from bayou overflow.  We can assume that the rain water is generally clean, unlike the bayou flood waters which usually contain very harmful chemicals, oil, gasoline, and dangerous bacteria. Rinse off any areas that were impacted by bayou or street flooding to remove the nasty stuff.  DO NOT USE plants, grass cuttings, or leaves that were contaminated with dirty floodwater as mulch or compost.  Nothing good will come of it.

If your yard suffered from the 40-plus inches of rain that Houston received during Harvey, you may see a lot of wash-out around roots of shrubs, especially boxwood and azaleas.  Apply garden soil and mulch as needed to protect these roots.  Also, standing water may have damaged plants.  Grass will survive a lot of this, but now that things have dried out, you should aerate your lawn.  Re-sodding may be required if you see that the grass has died, but first, till gypsum into the soil.  If areas of the lawn are still yellowing, treat with liquid iron.

Garden plants may have acquired fungal infections such as Aerial Blight that cannot be treated with fungicides.  Remove any plants that have the tell-tale signs:  gray, shriveled leaves and stem deterioration.    If your affected plants are annuals, go ahead and pull them all out and replace them with the fall and winter color plants.  Do not wait for the infection to take over your entire garden.   The prolonged exposure to water leaches nutrients from the soil.  You may want to add Microlife, fish oil emulsion, or seaweed extract to the garden soil.   Good compost is always needed in the fall.

We are in fall planting season now, so prepare your flower and vegetable beds for the new plants – broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, fall tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, carrots, turnips, kale, chard, and herbs: cilantro, basil, chives, dill, oregano, mint.  Feed your roses and get ready to enjoy improved blooms because of the cooler temperatures.  Rose blossoms are often larger and more colorful when the temperatures are a bit cooler.  One last note –  Do not forget to buy your bulbs for either winter forcing inside or for chilling for January planting!

Article written by Gail Branca