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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Tree Selection After Winds Toppled a PIne Tree

Q. My large Pine tree blew over. In researching on line I find there are lots of options to replace it.

Most have con's but I like the African Sumac, Raywood Ash, Weeping Willow and Poplar Trees.

Please send me your recommendation on these or any other one recommended. I live in

Mesquite, NV.

A. Definitely not weeping willow or poplars. The other two are okay. Weeping willow is a very short lived tree in our hot desert and may last ten years if you are lucky. It needs to be next to a lake or river. Poplars of all types and weak and break easily in winds and very very messy. If you have some others you like then run them by me and I can give you a thumbs up or down.

This is a good site to help you in your selection. Maybe someone out in that area has a favorite?

Random Thoughts Regarding the Desert and Our Hot Summer

Perhaps this summer has been brutal but plants like palo verde can handle “brutal” weather. 
 "Native" palo verde in Arizona in bloom
Be careful how these plants are pruned. The tendency is to prune them too high and this removes the shade that the tree naturally provides the trunk and limbs. Watering also helps. Plants like palo verde respond very nicely to increases in applied water very quickly..in just a few days. Water these plants with a hose to give them a shot of water and improve shading of the limbs and trunk. 
Sap coming from Palo Verde. Removing too many branches and exposing too many large limbs and the trunk can lead to sun damage of this thin barked tree.
Hopefully plants like palo verde were not pruned to allow excessive sunlight to shine on the trunks and limbs. Also, water in the soil helps keep limbs and the trunk from burning because these areas release water to the air and help cool the limbs and trunk through evaporation of water from microscopic holes that can open and close called stoma or sometimes called stomates. If water is restricted it cannot cool itself properly and they will burn. OR water loss can be faster than the plant can replace…as in the case of apple fruit…and burning occurs.

That is a wide variety of plants to have sunburn on. Sunburn on trees is usually restricted to trees with a think bark (palo verde fits this) and a lack of shade covering the limbs and trunk. Sunburn is on the sides of the trunk and limbs that face the sun and not on the other sides in the shade. If this damage extend into the side in the shade then it is something other than sunburn that is going on. 
In my opinion too many of the lower limbs were removed on this Palo Verde which can lead toward sunburn
You can apply the same logic to agave and desert spoon. Not enough water can contribute to sunburn. If they are droughty then will burn more easily than if they are getting enough water. 

A lack of soil improvement…poor soils that were not improved by adding compost at the time of planting…YES, this includes cacti!...may sunburn or turn yellow from intense sunlight. Sunburn comes in different degrees of severity…mild sunburn is a yellowing of leaves or fruit but not death of the plant tissues  beneath the damage. Medium damage results in yellowing with some brown or tissue death in or near the center of the yellowing…there is tissue death and this tissue death will attract bugs and other critters that sense the plant is damaged. 
Borers will attack sun damaged areas on the trunk and limbs of trees
These are bugs that are “decomposers” who want to break down these damaged plants and “recycle” them…naturally. The third stage is death of the tissues facing the sun, not only brown but cankered with bark or the skin dead and scaling or peeling back. This makes a pretty ugly plant. But the sides away from the sun are not damaged and the plant will survive unless some “decomposers” get in their and try breaking them down by feeding on them. Borers are in this category. They are goners if they look bad enough you cant live with them any longer. In most cases they will survive.

Pollenizers for Fruit Trees Can Be Region Specific

Honeybee collecting nectar and in the process pollinating a peach flower

Q. We purchased a Fuji apple tree from Nursery and the tag says that they are self-fertile. Everything we see on the internet says that is not so. Internet also seems to indicate that a crabapple is the best pollinator overall. Wondering if there are dwarf crab apples available that would pollinate because our backyard is crowded.
A.  A comment on terms. Just fyi, and I make the same mistake, pollinators are insects like bees and moths. Pollenizers are trees needed to set fruit.
            Little-known fact is that pollination is region specific and we can't follow the rule that "one size fits all" regarding pollinizers for fruit trees. A very good site to reference for our area regarding whether a fruit tree needs pollinator or not is the Dave Wilson Nursery website found at www.davewilson.com  Look up Fuji apple on this website and it will tell you what pollenizers are needed, if any.
            Dave Wilson nursery is a commercial, wholesale fruit tree nursery that sells to retail nurseries and orchards only. They provide excellent educational information on their website courtesy of Tom Spellman who works for them.
            The information I have also is that Fuji does not require a pollenizer in our area. I know Tom and he checks in my blog occasionally and maybe he will comment there as well. Some fruit trees will set fruit without a pollenizer but set a heavier crop with one.
            This can be sometimes good and sometimes bad because of thinning or removing the fruit to get larger ones.

Snail and Slug Control in the Garden

Q. I live in Las Vegas on a 1/2 acre lot with a large back yard. My #1 enemy is small grass snails that destroy the roots. Is there a product that you know of that will eliminate these pests?  FYI, we also have a desert tortoise, and dogs and would not want to harm them. 

These are pictures from other readers in the past regarding snails

A. Here are the options as I understand them for snails and slugs. Basically, slugs are snails without the shell so they are treated about the same.

Sluggo. This is a commercial bait that is advertised as safe for pets. It is a combination of iron and phosphorus but concentrated. Apply every two weeks around plants and the soil should be moist but no standing water. Since they come out at night, apply it at dusk.

Newspapers and cardboard. Lay wet newspaper and cardboard on the surface of the soil between plants where there are problems with snails and slugs. In the morning pull up the newspaper and cardboard where you will see them having a party. Put on your party hat, collect them and dispose of them.

Stale beer. I like Heineken for myself and Blue Moon in the summer but snails and slugs are less picky. Any old cheap beer will work. Open some cans of beer and let it sit for one day to get stale. Pour it into shallow dishes in the garden and they will come in there again, to party. In all of their excitement they drown in the stale beer. Collect them, dispose of them and put more stale beer out.

Aluminum foil. I have been told that a ring of aluminum foil around plants will keep them from getting to them. I have never tried it.

I don't like adding table salt to the soil or critters which I have seen recommended in the past.

Maybe some readers have some good ideas. Let's let them comment on my blog about this.