Some years we have a freeze; once the threat of a freeze has passed, it is advisable to begin spring pruning. To see past temperatures and dates, wee the Old Farmer’s Almanac Weather History Tool
This is also a good month to fertilize fruit trees, palms, and ornamental plants. I like to follow these steps (remember this is dry season):
1. Add fertilizer – a very small amount of composted manure or Organic Fertilizer for Fruit Trees. For palms, the manure works fine but epsom salts are really great for palms because of the need for magnesium sulfate. I get it from Sams or Costco; some garden supply stores will have it as well.
2. Water in thoroughly
3. add compost. For sandy soil, 4-6 inches of compost but leave 1 foot from the tree trunk untouched
4. Water thoroughly
5. Add 2-3 inches of mulch (grass clippings, pine needles, oak leaves, wood chips)
5. Water thoroughly
Since pruning stimulates new growth, take care to only prune based on the tree requirements (see below list of resources about pruning). I keep all the cuttings and chip them up for mulch and composting:
For specific pruning information for each plant, visit University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences web site
If you still have vegetables growing the gardens, fertilize those every 7 to 10 days. I always water first to make sure the soil is nice and wet before I fertilize. This keeps the fertilizer around the plants roots for better absorption. I like to use compost tea the most but you can follow the recipe below if you don’t have compost tea, mixed in a 20 gallon hose end sprayer, for a general all purpose fertilizer:
- 1 cup Good quality soluble fertilizer (20-20-20)
- 1 can of regular beer (I buy the cheapest full bodied beer)
- 1/4 cup of lemon dish soap
- 1 Tbsp. hydrogen peroxide (3% concentrate)
- 2 Tbsp. Fish Emulsion
- 2 Tbsp. Minor Elements Liquid
- 2 Tbsp. Seaweed or Kelp Liquid
Spray on the leaves and into the soil around the base of the plant for at least a 1 inch soaking into the soil. This is an all purpose fertilizer so you can use it on most things. The important thing to remember is that the dish soap softens the roots so the fertilizer can absorb better but may burn the leaves if applied mid-day. I like to apply as soon as the sun is almost down and then in the morning, I spray water on the leaves to rinse of any soap. This way, the soap can eliminate any pests overnight (like aphids, black flies, etc.)
Plants that have gone to seed can also be harvested and placed in paper bags to dry as described above.
You can plant seeds for an early summer planting using plants that will do well in the heat. Some of those are okra, some varieties of beans, some tomato varieties, amaranth, black-eyed peas, cucumber, crowder peas, Chinese spinach, Chinese asparagus pea (goa pea), Chinese yard long bean, eggplant, Malabar spinach, melons, mustard greens, New Zealand spinach, okra, peppers, summer squash, sweet potatoes and watermelon, heat tolerant herbs, and heat tolerant flowers.
Don’t forget to consider companion planting to limit pests and encourage strong growth and production.