By BJ Jarvis
When you have a few minutes to spend in the garden, it helps to be prepared with a month-by-month calendar of gardening to-dos. Here are a few tips to make 2011 a little more organized.
January: Cold protection is critical for plants not well suited to our occasional freezes. Apply horticultural oil while plants are dormant that have insect problems. Adjust irrigation to run no more than every other week. Too much water while plants are dormant can be harmful.
February: Start warm season vegetables like tomatoes, peppers and melons indoors this month, giving you a head start on March planting. While grass is dormant, give the mower a general overhaul. Especially sharpen blades for a healthy cut. Prune azaleas as soon as they finish blooming to avoid cutting off next year’s blossoms.
March: As plants start to grow, control weeds before they control the garden. Reapply mulch to maintain a two to three-inch layer. With warmer weather, grass should be cut at 3.5 to four inches for Bahia and St. Augustine. Watch for hummingbird activity this month.
April: Patience is a virtue and finally it’s time to prune. Winter weary plants should be showing signs of life. Prune back to living tissue. Watch for oleander caterpillars and treat with Bt or remove and destroy.
May: Lawn grasses often need fertilizer during fast growing periods. Use a turf fertilizer with 50 percent nitrogen in a slow-release form. Mow no more than 1/3 of grass blade off at a time for optimal health. Keep blades sharp.
June: Black spot is a fungus that is prevalent in hot, rainy weather. With the onset of the summer rainy season, a weekly fungicide spray on hybrid tea roses may be necessary.
July: Watch for black coating on plant leaves of crape myrtle, gardenia, citrus and other plants. This is a sign that insects are over the darkened leaves. Insecticide, not a fungicide, is the key to controlling.
August: Insects of all sorts thrive in the heat of summer. Practice integrated pest management by regularly scouting plants for caterpillars, grasshoppers, scale and other pests that may be munching on garden plants.
September: Month’s end is the last chance to fertilize and prune before allowing plants to go dormant for the winter.
October: Dig and divide perennials, such as amaryllis, daylily and ornamental grasses that have gotten compacted. Plant strawberries for December through March munching.
November: Halloween is a good time to start a cool-season vegetable garden. Lettuce, spinach, sugar snap peas and broccoli work best.
December: Christmas trees need to be kept wet so needles don’t drop and trees won’t become a fire hazard. Poinsettia, pansies, calendula and other colorful plants brighten the garden and prefer the cooler temperatures.
For more information about gardening in Pasco, visit the Pasco Extension website, www.Pasco.ifas.ufl.edu/gardening. There you’ll find a month-by-month gardening calendar.
BJ Jarvis is Pasco Extension Director and horticulture agent. She can be reached at or by calling (352) 521-4288.
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