Spring is just around the corner, and Valentine’s Day is a good time to get started on this year’s garden.  Fertilize lawns, shrubs and flowerbeds if has been three or more months since the last time.  Use an organic fertilizer.  It will not burn plants, so you can wait a while to water it in and hopefully spring rains will do the job.  SAWS rates went up January 1, so every little bit helps.  Also, mulch around shrubs and in flowerbeds to a depth of 3 to 5 inches.  This will keep roots cool and preserve soil moisture as it gets warmer. 

As you start work in the garden, it is also a good time to start a journal in which to keep notes on what you do.  Record what and when you plant, when you fertilize, sources of garden supplies, when different plants bloom and other useful information. 

Trim shrubs to keep them in bounds.  Many perennials may freeze, but even if they haven't they should be trimmed to 4 to 6 inches above ground.  If not trimmed, they can become large and unsightly.  If trimmed now, new growth usually will not start until early March after the latest frost.  With the freezing weather during the first half of January, Mother Nature may have already made that decision for us. 

I like to think of gardening as a hobby that repeats itself every year.  So here is my annual pitch for a small tree that I think should be in every garden.  The Mexican Plum is one of the first plants to bring color in spring, covered with brilliant white flowers.  It is a good understory tree, meaning it will do well under the outer canopy of larger trees that lose their leaves in winter.  A good example of Mexican Plum is just inside the side drive gate at the Steves Homestead at 509 King William St.  It may seem large, but has been there many, many years. 

To help you select plants for your garden there are free lists in the box outside and to the right of the King William office door at 122 Madison St.  The plants are adapted to our area and tend to need less water. 

Weather can be unpredictable and vary over short distances.  The downtown San Antonio area and south along the river in the King William area seem to have its own microclimate.  Temperatures during the cold snap the first week of January demonstrate that.  Each morning from January 1 thru 3, I recorded the temperature on my back porch on Mission St. and the official airport temperature.  The MIssion St. temperatures each morning were 33, 35, and 30.  The airport temperatures were 26, 25, and 23.  This variance can be a guide in deciding when to haul garden pot plants in and out of the garage or greenhouse. 

Happy gardening in 2018!

Garden Note:  A seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible. - Welsh proverb