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Grow Your Faith Through Gardens

air date: June 17, 2017

What’s the delight and spirituality you find outdoors? Shelley S. Cramm, author of God’s Word for Gardeners, explains how scripture and plants strengthened her faith. On tour, designer Lisa LaPaso’s garden enriches her family through art, food, and flowers. Daphne shows how to grow drought-tough, photogenic golden barrel cactus. Plus, find out what’s going on with a viewer’s troubled grapefruit and Mexican plum trees. Author and designer Barbara Wise from Crescent Garden joins Trisha to style charming containers with a professional look.

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Episode Segments

On Tour

Food, Flower, Art Garden in Small Space

In a standard Avery Ranch backyard, Lisa LaPaso and Cavin Weber pack in a cornucopia of delicious scents, food, and colors. Although rich in diversity, it’s miserly on water.  Fruit trees shade a garden filled with raspberries, blackberries, grapes and vegetables.  A pond and perennial fragrant flowers and herbs attract countless pollinators and birds, including hummingbirds.  Designed for outdoor living, Lisa splashes color into every cozy bench and nook, inspired by her mother, Carol Maize. Her father, Jim LaPaso added colorful kinetic sculptures.

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Question of the Week

Can this grapefruit tree be saved?

Thanks to Linda Brooks for this great question!  She’s having some issues with a grapefruit tree that she planted from seed in 2003.

During a recent uncommonly cold winter, half of the tree froze and died. It was blooming and vibrantly healthy before the freeze, but since then, only about half of it has recovered. How can she improve the tree’s recovery and protect it from further damage?

We consulted Extension specialist Jim Kamas on this one, who confirmed what we were thinking: given what it’s been through, this tree actually doesn’t look half bad! Jim’s suggested strategy for improving this tree’s chance for survival is to prune away all of the dead tissue that’s easily accessible, while being very careful not to injure any of the new wood. That will be tricky, since the entire former trunk is dead and is now attached to the new, living trunk.

So, Linda, anywhere that you aren’t able to prune away dead tissue without damaging the living, leave alone. One of Linda’s main concerns was the potential for rot. Yes, the heart of the tree is exposed to possible invasion of insects and microorganisms, but there’s nothing to be done about that now, except to stay out of the way.

Let the tree work on its natural process of compartmentalizing and covering up the exposed area with new tissue, which it’s already on its way to doing. Due to the extent of the damage, it’ll take quite some time for the new tissue to completely enclose and seal off the old trunk system, so keeping the tree healthy and actively growing will be the key to faster recovery.

Regular fertilization will give the tree the extra nutrients it needs to grow as much as possible as quickly as possible, so be sure to fertilize late spring and early fall every year. You can use the fertilizer of your choice, but be sure that it’s high in nitrogen and lower in other nutrients. Organic products work fine, but since their concentration of nutrients are lower, you’ll need to apply them more often. Read the label of the product and consult a local nursery professional for guidance.

The leaves of the tree appear to indicate an iron deficiency, so a chelated iron product should also be applied. And be sure to cover the tree in the event of any future frosty temperatures, even just into the low 40’s.

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Plant of the Week

Golden Barrel Cactus

Golden Barrel Cactus

Echinocactus Grusonii

Golden Barrel cactus is a beautiful addition to any xeric landscape. As with most desert species, this cactus simply will not tolerate soggy soil, so unless your landscape is well-drained, even rocky, you’ll need to take special care with this plant, installing special beds or even building berms, and backfilling them with very porous soil materials such as sand and decomposed granite. If adjusting your landscape isn’t an option, barrel cacti are also very happy in containers. Native to high desert regions, barrel cacti are hardy to 20 degrees, should be planted in full sun, and should almost never be watered once established. The bright green trunk of this cactus will be only barely visible when this plant is young, as it will be covered with small, vibrant yellow spines. As it grows, the spines will begin to line up in regimented columns, exposing more of the trunk. Eventually getting up to three feet tall and about as wide, golden barrel cactus adds a striking textural element to the landscape and looks great planted either alone as a specimen or in small groupings near other xeric plants. Extremely slow growing, these plants will take many years to reach the flowering stage, when the center will become a gorgeous ring of bright yellow blooms. Our viewer pics this week come from Kim Simmons, of her Easter barrel cactus, and from Nichole Staehling, of a wasp visiting her Knock Out rose.

Backyard Basics

Container Plant Design with Barbara Wise and Trisha Shirey

Author and designer Barbara Wise from Crescent Garden joins Trisha to style charming containers with a professional look.

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