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Why Grow Organically

encore date: September 10, 2015

original air date: September 12, 2015

To celebrate the Austin Organic Gardeners’ 70th anniversary, Forrest Arnold picks top how-to tips that guarantee healthy growing.  On tour, students at Gonzalo Garza Independence High School dig into graduation thanks to the Garza Gardens. Are your lemons, limes, and oranges pitted and scarred? Daphne explains what happened to our citrus. Looking for an evergreen herb for part shade? Check out lemon balm, a groundcover with delicious, healthful leaves for teas and recipes. What’s the one essential tool every garden needs? Jeff Ferris from The Natural Gardener’s got a surprise!

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Episode Segments

On Tour

Gonzalo Garza Independence High School Garden

How does gardening impact students challenged about high school graduation? At Gonzalo Garza Independence High School, meet the young game changers who head to college, thanks to teacher Martha Cason’s hands-in-earth science and innovative growing techniques that challenge them.

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Question of the Week

My citrus fruits are pitted and scarred. What happened?

Thanks to Valerie Amaro and Christina Pasco for their fabulous pictures! Like them, many gardeners run into scarred fruits at the onset every citrus season, when their lemons, limes, oranges, and other citrus begin to ripen.

At first, this may look like some horrible disease. But Texas A&M’s fruit and pecan specialist Monte Nesbitt assures us that we’re not facing disaster!

So, what’s happening? Mockingbirds!

They peck at ripening citrus fruit, bringing juices and volatile compounds to the surface, which then attracts, you guessed it, fungal spores that lead to a mottled appearance.

To protect your fruit, consider netting, and be sure to wrap it around the trunk, to keep the birds from sneaking up under the canopy.

Christina also ran into chomped leaves, but saw the culprit in action this time: a katydid.

Jesse’s troubled leaves on his citrus are due to leaf miners, not a serious concern.

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Plant of the Week

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is an easy-care herbaceous perennial and culinary herb valued for its lemony taste in recipes and soothing qualities in teas. A tea made with lemon balm can reduce stress and relieve discomfort from indigestion. Lemon balm grows much the same way as mint, creeping across garden beds by shallow underground rhizomes. It stays reliably short and makes a great groundcover, only getting over a foot tall if it contained and unable to creep. As with mint, a close relative of lemon balm, you’ll need to stay on top of lemon balm to keep it from moving into unwanted areas of the garden. Choose a spot that gets early morning sun. It even thrives in part shade.  It likes well-drained soil and a bit of extra moisture in times of drought when it gets lots of sun. Lemon balm also spreads by seeds, but the flowers are relatively small and unstriking. To keep it in shape, shear lemon balm regularly, and all the way to the ground in late winter, to force the production of new growth.

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