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Ready, Set, Prune!

air date: January 21, 2017

Off with the old and on with the new as we head into late winter cleanup! Julie Clark from Stronger Than Dirt explains how to tidy up for springtime renewal. John picks a few tools to make the pruning job easier. Daphne’s Plant of the Week, drought-tough Yucca pallida, sparks silver even in part shade. And find out why a fungus on a viewer’s cedar elm tree is bad news. On tour, when Ben McConnell and Steph Hengle turned their front yard into food, the neighbors stopped by for dinner! See how permaculture techniques turned rocky land into the Bouldin Food Forest.

Episode Segments

On Tour

Front Yard Food Forest: Ben McConnell & Steph Hengle

When Ben McConnell and Steph Hengle turned their front yard into food, the neighbors stopped by for dinner!  See how permaculture techniques turned rocky land into the Bouldin Food Forest and a weekly neighborhood farm stand.

Watch more "On Tour" videos on YouTube →

Question of the Week

What’s this growth on my cedar elm tree?

Thanks to Kathy Bartsch for this great question! Kathy writes that over the last several months, she’s noticed what looks like a yellowish growth on one of her cedar trees. When she pulled a bit of it off, it had a very tough, rubbery consistency.  Kathy also notes that the substance is located on spots where limbs have been removed, and so she wondered if it may be the tree’s way of healing, or if it’s quite the opposite. Kathy says that the foliage is still green and there isn’t an unusual amount of leaf drop. A nearby cedar doesn’t have this problem at all, but she recently noticed an old pecan stump is now encrusted with this same “blob.”

Well Kathy, unfortunately, this is a fungus, and it’s feeding on the interior of your tree. Most fungi feed on dead tissue, not living. And since the interior of your tree, the wood, is dead, by definition, if fungal spores are able to find an entry point and the environment is right (in other words, overly humid), the spores can grow and will begin to digest a tree from the inside out. The entry could be a pruning cut or any other type of physical damage that creates an entry point for the spores.

The good news is, if the surrounding trees don’t have any open wounds, the fungus is not “contagious.” The old pecan stump nearby is simply a more exposed, and more common, food source for the fungus, and fungal feeding on dead logs is part of the natural process of decay that occurs in the woods. For the tree in question, you may either remove it now, or take an observational approach, waiting until it begins to decline to remove.

Watch more Question of the Week videos on YouTube →

Plant of the Week

Yucca Pallida

Yucca Pallida

Yucca pallida, also called pale leaf yucca for its silvery leaves, is native only to certain regions of North Central Texas. This species of yucca looks similar to those in the same genus that are native to desert regions, and it also has a similar low water-use habit and requires excellent soil drainage. Unlike many other yucca species, pale leaf yucca stays close to the ground, never developing a visible stem. And it often grows into a colony of multiple offshoots, getting to about 3 feet wide in total. In spring, a lovely flower stalk will begin to shoot upwards, often bringing the plant from a height of about 3 feet to almost 6. Yucca pallida can be planted in light shade, but plant in full sun for the best floral display.

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