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Top Tree Questions

air date: January 13, 2018

When should you fertilize trees, when can you prune oaks susceptible to oak wilt, how do animals kill trees, and what’s the latest threat to crape myrtle trees? Mark Mann, ISA Certified Arborist with The Davey Tree Expert Company answers your top tree questions. Daphne identifies fuzzy growths on live oak trees and explains why they aren’t a problem. Zach Halfin, tree advocate, demonstrates fruit tree pruning at a Yard to Market Co-op workshop. On tour, a young family in LaGrange grows fruit, food, and fun. Plant of the Week is golden California poppy for early spring’s busy bees.


Episode Segments

On Tour

Bernsen Family Vegetable Garden

In this family of seven, toddlers on up join homeschooling parents Brianne and William Bernsen to grow most of their vegetables and fruits.  When Brianne started their garden near La Grange, she wanted fresh, organic food for her family. The children jumped right in to grow plots of their own, set up drip irrigation and help build trellises. What they don’t eat, can, or share, they sell to a local restaurant.   Get their family tips for constant crops all year.

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Question of the Week

What’s this fuzzy growth on my live oak tree?

Thanks to Veronica Junghans for her picture of these fuzzy growths on her live oak tree. She discovered that they are Cynipid wasp galls, and actually won’t cause any long-term or significant harm to her tree.

There’s no need to treat these pests, but even if you did, that fuzzy structure provides pretty solid protection to the wasp larvae growing inside, so insecticides have no effect.

The wasps emerge in spring, about the time that live oaks are getting to drop those leaves and make new ones anyway, so even the unsightly growths don’t have to be tolerated for long.

The adult wasps will likely return to your yard, but not each year, or even every other year, necessarily. Like many insects, they have cyclical growth patterns, with some years have a higher population than others.

In addition to these fuzzy-gall producing wasps, there are also wasps that produce smooth galls, of various colors, But they all have the same life cycle, and the same nil-effect on your trees, so they should all be ignored.

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Plant of the Week

California Poppy

California Poppy

California poppy is a native annual that we normally seed in fall along with other wildflowers. Even in winter or early spring, you can usually find nursery transplants to dot your dormant landscape with golden-yellow flowers and harvest the seeds for next year. This Western U.S. native needs very shallow, even rocky soils to survive, and will thrive in situations where other plants die. If you have any amount of soil at all, be careful not to overwater these plants. If we have a rainy winter, you’ll be rewarded with prolific blooms when these plants regrow each spring. As annuals, the parent plant will die after flowering, resprouting from seeds each fall, when they may need a little extra water if we aren’t seeing much rainfall. You can also plant them in containers, in which case you’d be better off reseeding each year, or replacing with new transplants. Full sun is best, and shady spots should be avoided. If you don’t live in the Hill Country or another rocky area, you should build berms or otherwise amended beds for these plants. Sandy soil and decomposed granite would work well.