Do grape vines and roses need to be completely covered in soil to survive the winter? Why some people’s plants really DO need to be buried alive to thrive. Plus, host Mike McGrath speaks with Abby Eisenhart from the Arbor Day Foundation about their efforts to shore up New Jersey with tons of trees. And, answers to all your growing questions.
Photo from cod_gabriel on flickr
Question of the Week:
I understand why not to mound mulch around the base of trees, but even viticulturists who agree with that stance strongly recommend mounding grape vines for the winter—and I’ve been getting newsletters from state ag agencies telling me that it’s time for me to start mounding. Why the different practices between trees and grapes?
— Tony in Pittsburgh
Harvey in North Carolina is interested in the elderberry plant. He is concerned that the elderberry plant does not do well in his part of the country and wanted some reassurances from Mike. Fortunately, Mike quells his fears by explaining that the plant is recommended for areas like Harvey’s. The only accommodation, however, is to make some afternoon shade if Harvey were to grow his own elder berry plant. Mike adds that,”this is one of the most useful fruits known. As I like telling people on the show, the elderberry produces the best, most quantified, most studied, natural anti-virals”.
Mary Ellen in Haddonfield, NJ is mourning her dogwood tree. Confused as to why it died when the other plants in front of her house survived, she made the assumption it received too much sun throughout the afternoons. Mike tells Maryellen that it should be the opposite way around: In the morning the plant should get sun to dry it off, and they prefer shade during the afternoon to prevent from them burning up. He adds, that since she gets so much sun during the afternoon, to get herself a native tree that does not require that much care.
Mike speaks with Abby Eisenhart, tree program manager at the Arbor Day Foundation. They are undertaking a massive effort to get trees back to home owners affected by Super Storm Sandy, which occurred in the fall of 2012. The Arbor Day Foundation is rasing throusands of seedlings to offer to New Jersey residents. If you would like to get on the list for a possible tree to replace a damaged one on your landscape in New Jersey visit the Arbor Day Foundation.
Mindy in Delaware County, PA has a blackberry bush that bears amazing berries over the growing season but the thorns sometimes make them unreachable and has poked her many times. Mike advises that most people in her situation would use a powerful lawn mower or brush cutter and when the patches become big it will cut lanes through them. Also he added she should get herself gloves that were specifically made for rose growers that are leather and come up to your elbow with holes in the fingers to feel the branches as she goes.
Carl in Philadelphia, PA has a Christmas tree that takes up half his living room. Mike instructs him to lightly prune the skirt of the tree outside in a big bucket of water to keep it hydrated. Mike advises sealing everything up and putting the tree back inside after 24 hours. Mike assures Carl he won’t harm the tree by pruning about 6 inches to a foot of every branch to make the tree look more like a christmas tree and less like a tree found in the wild.
Rita in Bristol, PA has a fig tree that she got about 30 figs from last summer, but over the winter it died and turned completely white. She also got a lot of shoots coming up from the bottom. Not knowing what to do, she let it go. Mike assures her that she should be patient until “those big leaves start to appear and prune off any dead parts, any parts you don’t like but the more leaves the more potential figs you are bound to get”. She should not reduce the height of the plant in this winter season and continue the wrapping the plant with a sheet around sticks. However, this may only be temporary so Mike says to leave it for right now, because regardless she will have a clean slate in the spring.