currently in Austin

the show

Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods

air date: November 30, 2013

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle, examines nature-deficit disorder and how it impacts our children.  On tour, their daughter’s birth sent Deborah Paredez and Frank Guridy to Randy Jewart from Resolution Gardens to turn their lawn into organic food.

Daphne recalls family garden traditions and recommends native Monterrey oak to start a tree-planting tradition. Trisha shows how to grow, propagate and dry mint for those holiday recipes.


Question of the Week

How and when can I prune my live oak trees?

One of my favorite gardening and holiday traditions is the annual live oak pruning at my family’s house. The trees are over 30 years old now, and we’ve been pruning them many years.

If you have a live oak, you’ll know that they are prolific branch producers. And many of those branches will be heavy with lots of side branches, weighing the tree down and decreasing air circulation in the canopy.

In nature, live oaks grow very close together, and so prolific branching is often a competitive advantage.

But in a landscape, where your live oak hopefully has plenty of room to grow and spread, this habit can be annoying at best, and unhealthy for the tree, at worst. Heavy branches droop down, even touching the ground in some cases, and can break more easily. But if you’ll selectively prune the tree, you can remove that weight, and give the other branches the space they need to grow.

When I returned home every year for the Christmas holiday, we spent a day out pruning. My dad was up on the ladder with the pruning saw and I was down on the ground, pointing out each limb to cut and then running back and forth across the street to get a wider view after each limb dropped. My mom was responsible for taking photos and directing traffic, while my nephew dragged all of the limbs to the back yard to my brother, who was manning the chipper shredder.

To help prevent oak wilt disease, prune from late November to February 1st. Paint all wounds and disinfect tools between cuts.

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Plant of the Week

Monterrey Oak

Monterrey Oak

Quercus polymorpha

Like live oaks, Monterrey oaks are semi-evergreen, meaning that they retain their leaves through the winter, but drop them all in the spring. This tree has a more upright shape than live oak, and the leaves are much larger. It gets about 40 feet tall, and is a great choice for a larger landscape space. Mexican white oak performs best in well drained, even rocky soil, so if you have clay soil, you may want to choose a different tree. Since it is sensitive to being overly wet, once established, you really shouldn't water it, except in the hottest, longest of dry spells. It will require a little pruning to raise the canopy, but otherwise won't need anywhere near as much shaping as a live oak to be healthy. The new growth is frost tender, which I learned the hard way, after fertilizing my tree just a little too early last year and having all my luscious new growth completed frost bitten. It didn't take long to grow out of that damage, though, and after an abnormally wet fall, I expect my Monterrey oak may spring up several feet this growing season.