Believe it or not, warm weather is not far away and plants will soon be putting on their spring growth.  Valentine’s Day marks the time to start getting the garden ready for the next growing season.  

One of the most important things to do now is to trim evergreens and perennials that have grown too large or have frozen back.  Plants trimmed now will begin to put out new growth in early March, which is usually past the last damaging frost.  Firebush, lantana, thryalis, plumbago, shrimp, Phillippine violets and variegated ginger are popular perennials in many gardens that should be cut back to about 6 inches tall.  Large evergreen shrubs can be trimmed to desired size and shape.

Read more: Out in the Garden: February 2017

Fall and early winter is a good time to add trees and shrubs to the landscape .

There are free lists of each to the right of the KWA’s office door. Many if not most can be found at privately owned local nurseries, such as Fanick’s.

To get your lawn and garden off to a good start next spring - yes spring - now is the best time to fertilize using an organic fertilizer. This is something else you can find at privately owned local nurseries. You do not have to immediately water in organic fertilizers. Put it off a day or so if rain is predicted and let Mother Nature do it for you.

We are at the end of another year of gardening. It has been an interesting one. South Texas weather has been described as long periods of drought interspersed by floods.

I hope you gardeners out there enjoyed reading about it as much as I did writing about it. Thanks for the many complements I’ve received about this column.

From The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain: A Book of Quotations. Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.

Garden Note: The minutes quickly turn to hours when I’m among herbs and flowers. -Alan Cash

Last month I wrote about a visit I made to the Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard. I have since discovered an olive tree growing nearby with olives on it. The tree is growing in the vacant lot in the 1600 block of S. Presa at Jacob Street. The owner of the lot happens to be a King William neighbor and told me that any newsletter reader was welcome to go by and pick as many olives as they like.

I found out during my tour of Sandy Oaks Orchard that you do not just pick an olive and eat it. Olives contain a bitter tasting compound and must be “cured” to make them palatable. I did a little internet research and found that at “Olives-Safe Methods for Home Pickling” there are directions for the curing process. If you are adventurous give it a try.

We are approaching fall and there are things to do to get ready for winter...

Read more: Out in the Garden: October 2016

Cool fall weather seems to be settling in. Now is the time to plant winter annuals that will bloom until January and again in March and April. These cool natured plants include snapdragons, stocks, dianthus, and calendulas. Snapdragons, depending on type, grow to various heights up to three feet. Stocks are fragrant, usually white or blue, and grow to 18 inches. Dianthus are red, white pink, and lavender, do not grow tall but do well in hanging baskets. Calendulas have yellow or gold blooms on one and a half foot stems.

With the cool weather, now is the time to put about 1/4 inch compost on lawns and in flower beds. If you have not yet done so you can still put out a good organic fertilizer. The combination puts needed nutrients in the soil.

It is not necessary to water lawns as often as we go into fall and winter. About every three weeks should be enough. Put automatic sprinkler systems on the manual setting and use only as needed. Remember, your sewer charge for next year is based on your water usage from November to March.

Tired of cutting and trimming a lawn or want to make changes in your garden so it is not so labor intensive? Consider putting in a xeric landscape using drought tolerant plants. A good example can be seen at 112 Mission St. Take a look.

From Wisdom of Mark Twain: A Book of Quotations:“To promise not to do a thing is the surest way in the world to make a body want to go and do that very thing.”

Garden Note: A beautiful garden is a work of love. -Alan Cash

Here is a suggestion for how to spend a pleasant Saturday.  Take the short ride, about 30 minutes, to the Shady Oaks Olive Orchard near Elemendorf (sandyoaks. com).  I recently visited and thoroughly enjoyed myself. 

The tour, conducted by owner Sandy Windkur, takes you through the 10,000-tree orchard and explains the process and things made from olives.  Besides olive oil, there are creams, lotions, soaps and even tea.  The tour usually starts about 11:00 a.m., only on Saturday.  The orchard is open from

Read more: Out in the Garden: September 2016