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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
February 6, 2013     Hays Free Press
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February 6, 2013

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Page 2C + NEIGHBORS Hays Free Press February 6, 2013 tips to "t's fruit tree planting time again. When properly .planned, planted and cared for, many of the basic fruiting trees can do quite well here in central Texas. Apples, peaches, plums, pears and of course the state nut- the pecan- are all pos- sibilities for edible specimens and/or shade trees in your yard. Most fruit trees require a few basic conditions to do well. Deep soil (I know, I know, good luck on that!) is a necessity. But that doesn't have to mean just ground soil. Planting the tree in a raised bed is an effective way to increase soil depth in areas with hard caliche. They also need an adequate source of moisture. Soaker hoses are a good way to control the direction and amount of water to where the trees need it most- on the drip-line at the edge of their canopies. If you put some mulch over the hoses and around the tree's root zone, this ~ also help to control moisture levels, especially in the heat of the summer. A fruit tree also needs to be properly watered the season before to fruit well the next year, as the buds begin to form that prior season. 'Chilling hours' is an im- portant term for fruit growers. This is the number of hours in the winter when the tempera- tures drop below 45 but above 32 degrees. Many fruit trees, including apples and peaches, need a certain number of these hours to bud out. On average central Texas sees between 650 and 850 chilling hours each winter. The number of hours varies with each variety and type of fruit. hours). IT'SABOUT~ Peaches are well known as a Texas Hill Country crop and these smaller trees can fit quite nicely in many suburban back yards. They are beautiful when in bloom and are a good replacement for ornamental trees in the landscape. For pest and disease man- agement you can apply an all-season horticultural oil before the trees buds out in the winter, and again spar- ingiy as needed during the growing and fruiting season. Be aware that cotton root rot is a problem here, so if you've had trouble growing peaches or other susceptible fruit trees, don't replant in the same place. However you can plant a pomegranate or pecan tree, which are resistant to this disease. FRUIT TREE BASICS: Apple trees are an Ameri- can classic, from the tales of Johnny Appleseed to the groves still thriving after 100 years in Utah's Capitol Reef National Park. Here in Texas we need tO make sure that we choose va- rieties that do well with fewer chilling hours. You Hill also need two different varieties with similar chilling hours to ensure production, as most ap- ple trees are cross-pollinated. Gala and Fuji are good partners, and Granny Smith can actually self-poUinate if you only have space for one, as apple trees can grow quite large. Other good varieties for this area include Anna and Dorsett Golden (200-300 chill- ing hours), Ein Shemer (350 hours and self pollinated) and Golden Delicious (600 - 700 Peaches are self-fertile, so if you only have space for one fruit tree, this is a good choice. Pay close attention to the chill- ing hours because if they're too low the tree may bloom too early and those blooms could freeze. Best varieties: Belle of Georgia, Elberta, La Feleciana, Sam Houston (very pretty pink flowers), Redskin and Loring. Plums: If you enjoy fresh plums, Methley and Santa Rosa are good choices, and both are self-pollinating. Others may need a partner to produce. Bruce, Morris and Ozark Premier are other op- tions. Overall plums do well in our area. Pear trees are another fruit- ing option for the Hays and Travis county areas. You can get away with only plant- ing one, especially for home needs, but if you plant two you'll get more fruit. Ori- ent and Moongiow are good choices. Last, but not least is the official state nut of Texas- the pecan. (No political comments please!). While our native pe- can is good for a root stock and as wildlife food, if we want the big grocery store pecans we need to buy a grafted variety such as Choctaw, Wichita or Shawnee. Pecans make a wonderful shade tree and live for a long time. There are 100-year-old pecan trees on family property COURTESY PHOTO The Desirable Pecan Trees feature medium-large soft shelled pecans, and are very productive, being a consis- tent bearer. The Desirable Pecans are noted for their good eating quality, and the large sizes of the trees. It is also disease and scab resistant, and ripens around late October through early November. in Taylor that are just beautiful (and still producing). I do need to mention one pesky problem for pecans: web worms. Keep close tabs on the trees and break up the nest and spray with bT at the first sign of a problem. Happy Gardening Everyone! Master gardener Amanda Moon's blog can be found at ea- If you have a gardening question, send an email to: iathyme@ya- (Please put 'Ask Chris Winslow' in the subject line.) Or mail your letter or postcard to: Ask Chris Winslow. It's About Thyme: 11726 Manchaca Road, Austin, TX 78748 + 7 |r'r~imevenomousagain for a "beware ~ ~J~i of snakes" .l. warning. "Wow! Look MOUNTAIN CITY at this!," I heard RonTom ex- MQNTAGE claim from outside the office window, as a yellow-stripe- on-top Texas Garter Snake slithered into an opening in the French drain in our planter box. The snake cer- tainly appeared longer than the average max of 3g-inches. That was on a warm day before it warmed up several weeks ago. Living in Central Texas, I've learned that non-venomous snakes are our friends, with a valuable part in a healthy balanced landscape. Venom- ous snakes bring value, too. But, it's not feasible to have them slithering around in Mountain City with pets and children and gardening hands attached to adults. Rick Thomas (512) 393- 1986 provides Snake Rescue service for Mountain City. He's available to relocate any unwanted snake. He's around most afternoons after 4 p.m. and on weekends. Judge Beth Smith gets many reports of rattlesnakes and coral snakes (our two venomous snakes) from around Precinct Two. Last spring, many calls came from Plum Creek and Blanco Vista. It's time to cut back out- door plants. Use caution. Wear garden gloves. Pound ground with a long stick before crouching. Enjoy the quiet of Mountain City while listening for a telltale rattle. Speaking of pounding. The Wildflower Center offered free admission in January. The last Saturday featured a tree sale and demonstra- tions. RonTom and I watched and learned at the tree plant- ing demo. The presenter planted a Lacey Oak, Quercus glau- coides. He recommended the native tree because of its beauty (the bark changes color) and because it is not susceptible to our dreaded oak wilt. Pound dirt with handle of shovel about halfway through filling an irregular- dug hole that's 2-3 times larger than the root ball of a tree from a container. Water. Then, poke holes again, after completely filling the hole around the tree. This breaks up air pockets. Other instructions from the tree-planting demo: Mix some good grade compost (that looks like cof- fee grounds) in with fill dirt. The base of a planted tree tree without reaching the tree. Stop mulching about a hand's length (not a foot) from the trunk. Once the tree is watered in, water thoroughly every three weeks, allowing it to dry in between. The presenter at the Wild- flower Center recommended planting Huisache under ash trees now to start taking over,' for the coming time when the ash tree will die of old age. Huisache is very fra- grant and extremely drought resistant. I asked about Possumhaw, which "leafs" a bare tree with red berries in winter. He gave it a thumbs up and recom- mended several beside one another for the vivid visual in winter. The small tree re- quires a male and female, but not in the same yard. He said Mountain City will already have males in close enough proximity for fertil- ization. I'm always asking readers to furnish tidbits, prom5678@ or (512) 268-5678 Thanks! Love, Pauline should be slightly above _~ ground level. ~ ~~~ Con sider pecan -'~~dE~,~!: ~, mulch (available from Texa Disposal Systems) I~~~ provides v~L~ q~mll~lL color and works well. :'~ Make a raised ~~~ berm at tree's drip line -- ~ ~ ~j on First of all I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all who had a part in naming me the Buda Chamber of Commerce Citizen of theYear. I am very humbled by such an award. Thank you one and all. Valentine's Day is extra sweet and special this year since that is the day for the official "ribbon cutting" for the new Onion Creek Senior Citizens Center in Buda. The. event Hill be at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14 at 420 Bartons Crossing, just off FM 2770. Ya'll come out and see our facility and stay for our noon lunch. First Thursday is coming up again for downtown Buda businesses. Come to town on Feb. 7 for evening shopping at the antique and specialty shops and also to enjoy a meal at one of the local restaurants. e "The Sisters Brothers" by Patrick de Witt is the February book for Buda Public Library adult book club. The group will meet Thursday, Feb. 14 at 6 p.m. for a lively discussion of the novel. Spoke with Myrtle Heideman of Uhland and she sends her "howdy" out to all her friends. She is doing very well now and sounds cheerful and healthy. Birthday wishes go out to Tammy Gray on Feb. 9; Tiber Nunneley on Feb. 11; ten- year-old Emily Ann Saxon on Feb. 13. Drive with care on FM 1626 north as the construction of the new roads continues. Reserve your space no later than Friday, 22nd