GardenLine Profile: Southwest Fertilizer (Bissonnet & Renwick)
And the goofy weather just keeps on dealing us sucker punches, doesn't it??? Normally, by October, temperatures have at least tapered down to the point where highs are in the 80s and night time lows are in the 60s. But as of this week, that just hasn't happened yet. The good news: It is still keeping Brownpatch at bay. And it makes for a quick reminder that if you haven't put down your preventative control yet for Brownpatch, do so today.
But the main point of this week's email tip is to remind you to hold out on planting the cool season annuals for a bit longer. In fact, if you can wait until Halloween, so much the better. I realize many nurseries and garden centers have cool season annuals coming in, and they are already available for purchase. But that doesn't mean the gardening -educated should buy them just yet. Of course, for the benefit of the uneducated, if the garden center they visit doesn't have what they want at this time, they may never come back. That is why nurseries have to make them available right now. Ironically, they will be coming back anyway, because I can all but guarantee that if a cool season annual is planted in this heat and humidity, it will not come to fruition. And the uneducated go back and purchase more, when they should have held out in the first place.
But fear not, there will be plenty of cool season annuals still available come November 1st, and at least it should be considerably cooler by then. The one exception that I may give you has to do with Mums (and some other transitional color). If you've noticed, they are already for sale everywhere. And, because they're just about to bloom, I know many of you are thinking about getting them before they pop. While that's a good idea on the surface, I would keep them babied in the container for a couple of more weeks. As noted, if planted in this heat, they are likely to fail.
That's enough bad news for right now. The good news is that there are "transitional" color plants. These are the ones we can plant right now, but we might have to remove when it gets too cold. If we are fortunate enough to not have a severe freeze by December through February, many of these plants can be maintained into next spring.
No matter what you plant, keep two things in mind when transplanting cool season color (spring and summer color too). Always use the Medina Hasta Gro (or any other liquid organic fertilizer) as a soil drench prior to planting, and then side dress or pre mix into the planting hole, a slow-release blooming plant food like Nelson's Color Star. There are others on the market such as Fertilome Start-N-Grow and Carl Pool's Colorscapes… but Nelson's Color Star is the most readily available in our market. If you do those two things, you'll first help abate transplant shock and then you'll set them up to where they don't need to be fed for another 3 months.
Finally, here's a list of some cool season annuals that you can try other than the quintessential Pansies-when things cool down a bit.
5828 Bissonnet, Houston, TX 77081
First, don't let the name fool you. While it started as a Fertilizer/Feed store years ago, it is so much more than that these days. In fact, they've become one of the "go-to" places for anything ORGANIC in the gardening world. Plus, I've said this so many times on the air, that if I had a quarter for each time I said it, I would have some serious jack for the slot machines in Las Vegas. But it goes like this: "If I (Randy Lemmon), were ever to open up my own retail garden-related shop in town, it would have to be a whole lot like Southwest Fertilizer."
They carry everything I talk about and then some. They are usually the first to carry anything innovative for our gardening practices. A few examples: They were the first to carry the slow-release 3-1-2 ratio fertilizers for Houston-area lawns, getting people away from the 13-13-13 blend that was sold for years. They were the first to introduce the 2-in-1 pre-emergent herbicides such as Barricade and Pendimethlin. They were the first to really combine the best-of-both-worlds-thinking when it came to carrying both Organic and Synthetic products.
Want me to go on? It's so easy I may not know where to stop. They have a staff there that can answer your garden questions and that provides old-time carry out service to your car. And there's nothing they can't possibly order for you if they don't have it on their shelves. They'll even deliver product to your house, if you want to order via the internet at either www.southwestfertilizer.com or www.yardgeek.com. That way, if you live in the Woodlands and you don't want to drive all the way to Bissonnet and Renwick, then you have no more excuses as to why you haven't ordered something from Southwest Fertilizer.
How and why the place has stood the test of time in the exact location it started in is truly an anomaly and not something I will ever understand. But the consistency of their customer base has only grown over the years, despite the fact that it may seem more logical for them to have re-located in a more "subdivision" like setting of Katy or Clear Lake. But years ago, when feed stores were the place to go other than nurseries, Southwest Fertilizer filled both the agronomic needs of a then agrarian-strong Harris County. They still sell tons of feed and grain etc. to those who have farms and ranches or just large plats of land, but they honed the retail garden part to a new level.
This is also a Vegetable Growers dream store. Forget the tiny little packets of seeds for veggies you can find at any big box store these days, Southwest Fertilizer is loaded with bins of every kind of vegetable seed and multiple choices for one type of veggie. In two ways, at least you know they have the right kind of vegetable seeds for our area - the bin type or the mini packets, whereas the big box store's veggies probably aren't designed for the gulf coast.
And finally, they have their own on-site lawnmower repair shop. While Southwest Fertilizer has always had lawnmowers for sale, the adjoining lawnmower shop only recently became part of the whole Southwest Fertilizer company. Which means (much like their customer service on all things gardening by the bag or bottle) now they have one of the most attentive lawnmower repair shops in town. And they will bend over backwards to try and get anything fixed that helps your lawn and garden, from weed whackers to edgers to blower to riding lawnmowers.
5828 Bissonnet (corner of Bissonnet and Renwick)
www.southwestfertilizer.com or www.yardgeek.com
Hours: Mon-Sat. 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sun. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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