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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Marketplace at The Roots

~ Marketplace at The Roots ~

A new Saturday market is opening at the Vegas Roots Community Garden.

The first market day is November 24th, from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

Please read the flyer and additional information below.

We really hope to meet you!

(Vendors, please see below)
Vegas Roots Marketplace at The Roots Flyer

Free Admission -

We have lots of room down here.  Parking and admission to the market are completely free.

Local Vendors -

We will strive to have between 25 and 30 vendors at each market.  Their wares will range from locally grown produce and honey to various artistic creations.  All local and all in need of your support.

We’ll try to provide a pre-market update of the vendors we expect, so you can plan your shopping accordingly.

Tour the Property -

We’d love to have you come down just to view the garden and its spacious four-plus acre grounds.  So, if you’ve ever been curious about the Garden or even if you’re just now hearing about it, our new Market will give you a great reason to pay us a visit!

You-Pick Garden -

Part of your tour of our sanctuary will include the chicken coops, the permaculture garden and the You-Pick garden.  Throughout the year, garden staff (volunteers) plant various crops.  Since Las Vegas has such favorable year-round growing conditions, local residents can usually find something to harvest.  There’s nothing quite like picking and enjoying a fresh tomato, squash or other vegetable right off the plant.

Kids Playground -

You are welcome to bring your children with you.  In fact, we encourage it.  Not only is it a great learning environment regarding food production and quality, but the young ones won’t get bored for a moment.  We have a very nice playground that frankly, doesn’t get enough attention.   Of course, we’ll need you to keep an eye on them, because the chicken coops are right beside the playground…

Music -

The Garden is a peaceful, restful and grounding place.  We’ll have some nice background music going, thanks to DJ Coco, to add to the enchantment.  Eventually, we hope to have some live musicians perform.  One step at a time…

Support Your Community -

This is a great way to make a difference locally.  A couple of times a month you can buy super-fresh produce and other perishables as well as various other goods, rather than shopping at your favorite grocery store or supermarket.  The Garden benefits, the vendors benefit, the community benefits.  Just the way we love it!


Please do!  This is a non-profit community garden.  It’s open to everyone.  The Marketplace at The Roots event is your official invitation to come on down and see the place.  Look around.  Shop.  Meet new folks.  Find out about all we have going on down here.  Maybe even volunteer?

This Clover-Looking Weed is Hard to Get Rid Of

Q. I have clover growing at the base of my spike plants. I pull them, and pull them, and pull them. Do we all just enjoy each other and smile or is there some way to get rid of them I've split off babies from the base of the plants and have four separate pots with spikes in them now and they are about one and a half feet tall now. I cleaned around the roots and put them in new potting soil, but their "friends" are hanging right in there with all four plants also. We do have other larger clover growing with our main clutch of aloe vera and have no idea how to approach that type (and tight) group without starting a full scale aloe army throughout our garden.

Symbiotic yin and yang or what, Professor?

A. I am not sure what you are calling Spike plants. The common name, spike plant, usually refers to a house plant called bcdefghi DY'`IY{L8n you may be referring to aloe as a spike plant.

Oxalis or wood sorrel.
            I am also not sure the plant you're calling clover is really a clover at all. I am wondering if this is oxalis, a plant whose leaves are very similar to clover in appearance. But this plant is much more difficult to control or eradicate than clover. It is also called wood sorrel.

            Oxalis can be spread through seed from the flowers, bulbs from the roots and also by bulbils. If you are going to control this weed you will need to clean all soil from your “spike plant” roots thoroughly and sterilize any soil you are using when you're a replanting these plants.

            Clover is not that difficult to control but oxalis is a terrible weed to control particularly among nursery plantings and in landscapes in our climate. An easy way to tell if this is oxalis is to taste a few of the leaves. Clover leaves will be slightly sweet to the taste. Oxalis leaves contain oxalic acid, the same chemical in rhubarb, spinach and brussels sprouts and will be sour to the taste. But my guess is you have oxalis.

Should I Cut Back Bareroot Apricot After Planting and Leafing Out?

Q. I planted several bare root fruit trees about three weeks ago.   They were shipped to me about four foot tall. I did not want to trim them until I could see some growth. They have started to leaf out except for the apricot. The apricot is the one that concerns me. It has no branches below the 2 ft level, six branches above 2 feet, and no visible growth yet.  Everything else looks good. My question is will it harm them if I cut them down to the 2-1/2 ft level at this time.  Or, should I leave them alone to establish themselves, then prune and cut them down to size in the winter when they are dormant.

A. They all appear like they can handle being cut back somewhere between your knee or no more than a foot above the knee. Use your judgement as to the exact location as it should be just above a branch or a bud.

                     It would have been better to cut them back before they leafed out.

            Limb up branches at the bottom that are too close to the ground (bend the branch and if it can touch the ground then eliminate it). On spur producing fruit trees (pear and apricot) cut the branches back to about 18 inches in length or no closer than 18 inches to the closest spur if any have been produced.

Sap Dripping from Tree Trunk a Common Problem

Q. We love your advice. Please explain and tell us any info about our trees. We sent you some pictures. I removed the dried area and flushed with water. We lost large cottonwoods years ago having same condition.

Slime flux or wetwood on a large established tree
which is not the readers.
A. The pictures show a liquid coming directly from the trunk of the tree. This may be a disease called wetwood or slime flux that can infect many different types of trees. The liquid coming from this disease will have a putrified, yeasty smell which quite often attracts flies. In many cases, the liquid does not seem to be coming from any cut or damage to the tree. It seems to come directly from the limb or trunk.

            This particular disease is normally not lethal. However, there are some trees where it seems quite deadly. One of them is Navaho globe willow. In this case it has been noted that it has killed trees. In any regard, this disease in poplars, elms, mesquite and other trees is usually not deadly. It is considered more of a nuisance than anything else.  

            Check to see if there is an odor to the liquid. See if flies are attracted to the liquid on a warm day when flies are present. If this is the case, there is nothing you can do about the situation but have the tree live with it. There are no fungicides or other pesticides that will make any changes. Hopefully the tree will have a long life living with this problem.

Yellowing of Apricot Leaves and Possible Causes and Cures

Q. I have an Apricot tree I planted in January (bareroot from the farm).  It has been doing really well until a couple of week ago I noticed something was eating some of the leaves.  More recently I have noticed yellowing of some of the leaves.  Any ideas as to what is causing this and how to remedy the problem?  I have attached pictures.  Thanks.
Typical of iron chlorosis is that the newest leaves will have a lighter green leaf than older leaves AND the veins remain a dark green compared to the leaf itself. (Newer leaves are farther out on the limb than older leaves).
A. Photos 2, 3 and 4 looked like a nutrient or watering problem. The leaf or leaves were light green with some scorching around the edges. There might also be some wind damage. In photo it looks like a critter could have been eating the leaves but that is no big deal if it only affects a few leaves and doesn’t bother the fruit. In the photos 2 – 4 it does appear to be a nutrient problem.
Not a clear picture from the reader but you can see the scorching of the leaves on apricot.

See how the leaves on the ends of the branch are yellowing more than the older leaves coming from the thicker part of the branch? This is a good indicator it is most likely an iron or irrigation problem. Irrigation, too much, can also mimic iron shortages or actually cause an iron shortage. This is what you need to do. If there is mulch, pull the mulch away from the trunk. If there is no mulch, then pull the soil away from the trunk until you start to see the roots that were in the original container. I am concerned you might be developing collar rot. Planting the tree a little too deep can also cause similar looking problems.

Again not the best picture but it does look like an insect could have taken a chunk out of the leaf but chances are, if there were strong winds recently, it was wind damage.

If you are on a watering pattern that is every day, try to get off of it. Go at least every other day or even best every third day in the summer but add enough water to get the water down at least 12 inches into the soil. If it is hard to do this, build a donut around this young tree at least 18 inches from the trunk. Two feet from the trunk is even better.

One of the many iron sprays. Just make sure you adjust
the chemistry of the water to be on the acidic side so that
the iron is not lost when you mix it with water. To be
on the safe side I would use distilled or RO water
and use it all up. Don't keep it premixed for any length
of time.
This donut or moat should be high enough to hold about three to four inches of water. Fill it twice until the next watering. Because we are now in July, spray the leaves early in the morning with an iron fertilizer spray. Pick an iron product made for correcting iron chlorosis, an iron chelate is best. I usually recommend EDDHA iron but that is for applying to the soil. It is expensive and you do not need this chelate for spraying on the leaves.

Any iron spray made for applying iron to the leaves should work fine. However, some plants, in fact many plant leaves will not turn green from an iron spray without multiple applications. So I would make a fresh spray of iron for the leaves about four times and apply the iron on four separate applications a few days apart. Remember to apply it in the cool of the morning.

I would use distilled water or RO water. I would also put a tsp of liquid dish detergent (one with no addatives like scents or lotions) in one gallon of spray mix. Shake it to mix the spray and detergent together but not allow it to foam. Spray immediately.  Do not hold it overnight. Make a fresh spray each time you spray. Next January make your normal fertilizer application to the tree and include an iron chelate to the soil that contains EDDHA chelate.

Pruning Citrus: How to do it

Q. I have a dwarf lemon tree that is about 14 years old. It produces plenty of fruit and I keep it relatively small. I trim it in the winter but have never professionally pruned it. Could you recommend to me a source on how to properly prune this tree?

A. I don’t know of a source to help guide you in pruning your citrus tree except the one I wrote and posted below this entry.  It was published by the California State Parks; Citrus State Historic Park. I will try to give you some basic directions but read below for more specifics.  Light pruning can be done anytime but heavier pruning should be done right after harvest. 

            Light pruning would include the removal of small branches that are interfering with growth or causing too much shade inside the canopy. You can judge if there is too much shade in the canopy by looking at the ground beneath a canopy. There is enough light passing through the canopy if you can see speckles of light throughout the shadow of the canopy on the ground. 

            First of all, remove branches that are crossing or any branches growing back toward the center of the tree.  Next, remove branches which are growing straight up or straight down.  Once you have done this, stand back and look at the shadow of the canopy on the ground.  Is light passing through the canopy and causing speckles to form throughout its shadow on the ground?  If this is now happening, perhaps you should stop pruning until after harvest. 

            Citrus does not require much pruning but getting rid of problem branches such as those that are crossing, growing to close together or growing back to rid the center of the tree would be recommended.

Lets Hope for a Gradual Drop in Temperatures This Fall

            Normally we enjoy very nice fall weather in Las Vegas until about the first week of December and oftentimes without frost. This would be pretty normal. To have freezing weather before this, or unusually cold weather, would be a bit odd. As long as the temperatures continue to drop slowly to our winter minimum lows our perennial plants that can withstand some light freezing weather will survive the winter.

Cold temperature damage to cycad. Notice there is more damage closer
to the ground where cold temperatures lay.
            If November temperatures drop suddenly, or we have snow before trees drop their leaves, then we can have problems. If we are enjoying, for instance, night time temperatures just falling below 50F and then it suddenly drops to 30F the next night, then we might see major freezing damage in plants that normally might tolerate temperatures to 20F. To survive the winter minimums, winter-tender plants need time to acclimate to these low temperatures so that they can create their “antifreeze” if they are to survive.

            Decreasing fall and winter temperatures also helps leaves to drop. One good cold snap in the fall can cause tree leaves to drop prematurely. One day the leaves are there and in just three or four days after the freeze, they are on the ground. Trees like ash and Chinese pistache don’t please us with their winter colors when this happens.

Reader's African Sumac with snow damage during the snow of December
2008. You will need to get out and hit the limbs with a broom during
heavy snow falls.
            There is a good side to this early leaf drop. If we have one of our “every five year” snow events, and it comes after early leaf drop, we miss all the damage snow can cause that time of year. If snow comes early and these trees have not dropped their leaves, then we can have massive limb breakage due to the snow load on limbs.

            How we manage winter-tender plants going into the fall months can make the difference between their survival and death from winter freezes. It is important to withhold fertilizers, particularly nitrogen, during and after the month of August. It is also important to change the irrigation clock so that water is delivered less frequently that time of year.

            If winter-tender plants are still pushing new growth or they are still succulent at this time of year, there may not be enough time for them to begin their adjustment for winter cold. This adjustment takes them a couple of months of decreasing temperatures and longer nights to accomplish this.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lemon Tree in Container with Yellow Leaves

Q. I have a small lemon tree growing in a large container. I now have many small lemons on it which seem to be getting larger. My problem is that the leaves are a sickly, yellow color. I fertilized it in late February with a fertilizer labeled for citrus. It looks like it needs some iron and/or more fertilizer. What is best to apply now that will not cause the little lemons to fall off, or is it best to wait before applying anything?

One pound canniser of EDDHA
chelated iron
A. Go to plant world nursery and get a 1 pound canister of EDDHA iron chelate. These chelate's are expensive but this 1 pound canister is not badly priced. Follow the label recommendations and apply it to the base of the tree and water it in to the soil.

            Next year apply this chelate to the soil in January or February just before new growth begins. This chelate should help green things up. Leaves that are already yellow may still stay somewhat yellow but the new growth coming out in the next month should be green.

            Make sure you check the soil moisture and do not irrigate if the soil is still wet. The soil should not completely dry out but should be damp and not wet. You can try one of those inexpensive soil moisture meters they use for houseplants and see if that helps you to judge the soil moisture before you irrigate. I hope this helps.

Figs and Pomegranates a Great Combination to Grow

Q. I have some Eversweet, Utah, and Wonderful pomegranates plus some unknowns, and was wondering what other types might do well in this area. Also have a Turkey, Kadota, and Mission fig, and was wondering the same for them. I recently saw a Blackjack fig in a local nursery but thought it may be another name for one I already have.
Crop of Wonderful pomegranates with proper pruning
watering and fertilizer

A. You have three of the best pomegranates out there available to homeowners. One that has come into alot of favor in the past few years is Parfianka and has outstanding quality. Like Utah Sweet, it has an edible seed that is quite small for a pomegranate. Some others that I have liked include Sharp Velvet, Red Silk and Granada.

            Black Jack fig is a good fig. I am not aware of a “bad” fig for our desert environment. All that you mention are good. I would also include on that list Janice, a “seedless” kadota type and Desert King or sometimes just called King.

Science in Action: Synthetic Play Surfaces in the Desert

Artificial turfgrass surfaces, in the past, were viewed as expensive playing surfaces relegated to professional sports fields and not meant for municipal or backyard applications. Now, faced with limited resources and an ever expanding user population, organizations and public entities are interested in finding ways to reduce costs and maximize athletic field capacity. Natural grass playing surfaces are being successfully challenged by these improved artificial surfaces in many different applications.
Golf course turfgrass and irrigation ponds add the equivalent of about a
70 ton air conditioner per acre to the local environment and water loss
from leaf surfaces keep the surface temperature at right around 95F
even when air temperatures hit 120F
            There has been an evolution in synthetic playing surfaces since the 1960’s during which AstroTurfTM became a household name. Due to clever marketing, AstroTurfTM was tied to the image of “space age” technology and domed stadiums like the Huston Astrodome for which it was named and Minneapolis’ Metrodome. Untreated nylon and polyurethane grass and mat surfaces were highly susceptible to decomposition by UV light and not very durable, with high maintenance costs. These surfaces were replaced on an average of every five years, certainly not within the budgets of municipalities and homeowners.

            But AstroTurfTM had numerous other problems as well which included its poor drainage characteristics, impact on ball roll and bounce, alteration in the speed of players on the field affecting play, increase in minor injuries to players and finally the players just didn’t like it. Instead of addressing the problems, Monsanto and other competing firms with similar products, suggested things like elbow pads and special turf shoes when playing on artificial turfgrass.

            The original AstroTurfTM no longer exists on any NFL fields as these types of products eventually evolved to newer and improved artificial surfaces (AstroPlayTM, FieldTurfTM, Sportexe Momentum TurfTM, RealGrassTM, and others) or in some cases fields were converted back to natural grass. A quick review of the artificial turfgrass evolution might be interesting.

            During the 1970’s little was done to improve the artificial turfgrass industry as Monsanto dominated the market with the exit of competing products from companies like 3M and Biltrite. AstroTurfTM was the only artificial turfgrass available, they had captured the market and so R and D came to a standstill.

            During the early 1980’s engineers attempted to correct the problems of ball roll and drainage problems still associated with artificial turfgrass. The ball roll problem was solved by “texturizing” the nylon grass fibers, making them kinked instead of smooth.

            During the late 1980’s new products began to emerge that attempted to combine natural and synthetic surfaces into one playing field hoping to capitalize on the best attributes of both. Surfaces such as the original sportsgrassTM emerged which used polypropylene grass blades held together with a woven backing that was applied to an amended layer of sand.

            Natural grass was grown by seeding or sprigging into this synthetic layer in hopes of preventing damage to the crown and root systems from heavy play. Roots could grow through the woven backing and into the sand below. Since grass roots grow down through the synthetic fibers and backing, the crown and roots of the plant would be protected. Complaints emerged in some parts of the country that the playing surface became hard from compaction and extensive play damaged the synthetic backing. This type of damage led to an unstable playing surface which in turn hampered regrowth of the natural grass.

            Engineers in the sports field industry also tackled the player injury and stability problem by paving the soil under the turfgrass with asphalt and adding a layer of PVC foam for cushioning. Outside fields subjected to heavy rains were “crowned”, making the center of the field 16 to 25 inches higher than the sides so that water would surface drain off of the field.

            Porous asphalt, a technology developed in England, was incorporated into the engineering of artificial turfgrass to improve internal drainage. First the soil of the field was leveled and then covered with a layer of crushed rock several inches thick. A layer of porous asphalt was laid on top of the gravel followed by a shock-absorbing pad and finally followed by the turf. After installation, the turf was glued to the pad and holes were punched through the foam pad for drainage.

            Things changed in the 1990’s when strong and soft polyethylene was chosen by artificial turfgrass manufacturers to replace the stiff but durable nylon of the past. The fibers were UV resistant and long compared to previous artificial turfgrass fibers. These fibers were “tufted” into a mat in a process similar in appearance to a shag rug. Once the “sod carpet” was in place, it was topdressed with “infill” which could be recycled rubber called “crumb” or a mixture of this rubber and sand. Recycled rubber has been a source of controversy as to its potential for damaging the environment and human health concerns. An average football field might require up to 400 tons of infill applied to its surface.

In most recent years, two groups of artificial turfgrasses have emerged with infill systems (NeXturfTM, AstroPlayTM and FieldTurfTM). These products carried claims that they realistically duplicated natural grass color and playability, allowed for more play, and provided a ten year life before replacement. If true, this was a significant improvement over previous generations of artificial turf and placed it with the budgetary reach of nonprofessional sports turf and municipal budgets. But the part that caught the eye of municipalities and managers of nonprofessional sports fields with smaller budgets were the claims that these surfaces lowered long term maintenance costs (no water, no chemicals, decreased labor), were more environmentally friendly (no pesticides or fertilizers) while at the same time reduced major injuries to players.

            During the early years of AstroTurfTM, players complained of numerous minor injuries such as "turf toe" (a ligament sprain in the big toe that was exacerbated by artificial turf), “turf burn” (skin abrasions like rug burn), foot blisters, and bruised toes. Since then numerous studies have been conducted to evaluate the safety and playability of synthetic surfaces. Mechanical devices have been devised to simulate human movement across a playing surface, injury from concussions, and the type and number of injuries occurring to athletes during events were counted and recorded.

Reports and studies are numerous that demonstrated fewer serious player injuries on artificial turfgrass compared to natural grass (NFL, NCAA, reports by the University of Nebraska, and the Amarillo Independent School District) while claims of minor injuries (such as “turf burn”) still persisted.  Researchers have suggested that the reason for fewer player injuries on artificial grass might be due to a more even and predictable playing surface and the accessibility of these fields to frequent and timely practices which were not possible on natural grass surfaces that needed repair after heavy play.

The rationale for switching to artificial turfgrass since that first installation has varied based on site location and user needs. Reasons have included: increasing playability during inclement weather, lower maintenance costs, and perhaps most relevant to the southwestern United States, the conservation of water. However, a potentially significant undesirable characteristic of artificial turfgrass is the elevated surface temperatures (approaching 170 F) which restricts play during the summer months and human health concerns for players.

Communities like Las Vegas have spent millions of dollars replacing turfgrass on recreational sporting fields with artificial turfgrass, with the goal of reducing maintenance costs, increasing play time while saving significant amounts of money by eliminating irrigation. Although the rapid increase in surface temperature in the presence of sunlight has been known for decades little research has been published on the subject, especially related to the controlling forces behind the rise in temperature. The majority of information currently available on elevated surface temperature of artificial turfgrass has come from unpublished studies available from internet web sites.

Research at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas examined the factors that influence surface temperature rise of artificial turfgrass. The data collection included surface temperatures, spectral reflectance, solar radiation and air temperatures associated with different landscape covers and artificial turfgrass components; and, an assessment of energy balance and heat transport through artificial turfgrass.


Protecting Palms From Winter Freezing

Freeze damage to "pineapple palm"

Q. Last winter we had a cold spell that turned the fronds on most of my Canary Palms brown and one of them is still recovering and hasn't reached its full width as of yet. My question...

How can I protect them from the cold that is coming in the next week and probably the rest of the winter? I've seen a few neighbors have wrapped the base of theirs where the fronds meet the trunk with burlap. Will this help? Any suggestions you can give me would be greatly appreciated as these are my favorites in our yard (we're from the Midwest originally so owning Palm trees is a kick)

Freeze damage to fan palm
A. There really is no magic way to do it. Many palm tree generate their new growth in the coming and future years from the terminal buds located at the tips of the trunks. Some will generate new trunks from the base of the trunk but not Canary Island palm which may also be called the pineapple palm due to its shape, often accentuated into the pineapple form by gardeners.

It is usually good to about 10F for short periods of time. If cold kills the terminal bud the tree will eventually die because it cannot continue its growth without that terminal bud. Damage can also occur to the trunk from freezing temperatures so wrapping the trunk or wrapping some lights around the trunk might help.

Remember that cold damage is measured in how low the temperature gets combined with the amount of time it stays at these temperatures plus any wind that might be present and the time of year. Extreme cold is more damaging in late fall and early spring than mid-winter. Winter damage to palms may not show up right after the cold temperatures. In some cases the extent of the damage my linger for years. I hope this helps.