Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Plant of the Month: ‘El Capitan’ Chinquapin Oak

Chinquapin (Quercus muehlenbergii) oak is a New Mexico native tree that can grow very fast, up to 6′ per year, ultimately reaching 40′ tall and 25′-30′ wide. Trees vary in their fall color display. Fall color can be yellow, orangish-red, and red.

Chinquapin oaks have deep root systems so can be planted closer to structures than surface rooted trees like cottonwoods and willows. Oaks are long-lived trees with life-spans sometimes measured in centuries.El Capitan’ is a ‘Provenance Cultivar’ selected as a superior species since it has adapted to our higher elevations, whereas the Eastern or Texas Hill country Chinquapin oaks have adapted to lower elevations. ‘El Capitan’ Chinquapin oak can also tolerate a more arid low humidity climate than is typical of the species.

This oak grows best in well-drained soils, but will tolerate heavy clay. This oak is best grown with low to regular water and is hardy to USDA Zone 4. Trees That Please Nursery propagates Chinquapin Oak from acorns collected from native trees and is available in several container sizes. For additional information and more photos of the Chinquapin Oak, please visit our website at http://treesthatpleasenursery.com/.

Written by:
Stephen Sain
Staff Plant Physiologist

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Springtime Magenta Explosion

Texas Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis) is a small ornamental tree that announces the arrival of spring with a floral magenta explosion (photo).

It is grown for its showy spring display of blossoms and glossy heart-shaped leaves (photo).

It is smaller and more drought tolerant than the Eastern Redbud. It grows 8”-15” per year reaching 12'-15' tall and wide. It often is a short wide tree and often multi-trunked. Texas Redbud is a great specimen tree for the courtyard, entryway, or outside a picture window. Plant it where all can enjoy. Texas Redbud also provides good winter interest because of its grayish bark and crooked branches (photo).

This tree is best grown in partial shade sheltered from the western sun or as an understory tree as it tolerates dappled light. Low to regular water. Zone 6.   Email the nursery for more information at: treesthatplease@comcast.net.
Written by:
Stephen Sain
Staff Plant Physiologist

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mexican Feather Grass

Mexican Feather Grass, Nassella tenuissima, is a New Mexico native ornamental clump grass reaching 1'-2' tall and wide.  It produces a fountain-like clump of wispy green foliage that dances in the wind. Mexican Feather Grass never goes completely dormant in winter as indicated by occasional green leaf blades mixed with brown (photo). In dry areas this grass will grow as a clump but can become "lawn-like" or reseeds to naturalize where moisture is more abundant (photo). Mexican Feather Grass is a low maintenance plant. Normal care is late winter pruning, reducing the clump down to 4” – 6” to remove prior years growth. This produces a nice green fountain when growth resumes in Spring. Mexican Feather Grass is a great accent plant for xeric gardens, borders, groundcover, or for erosion control on sloped ground. Low to regular water. Zone 6.

Written by:
Stephen Sain
Staff Plant Physiologist

Sotol, The Desert Spoon

Dasylirion wheeleri

Sotol is a New Mexico native evergreen that has long, ribbon-like, light green leaves with serrated edges. The leaves form a symmetrical fountain-like clump or rosette with a 3’ diameter or larger. The common name, desert spoon, comes from the appearance of the leaves, when pulled out of the rosette, are shaped like a spoon at their base. On older specimens the rosette will sometimes sit atop a short trunk. Sotol produces spectacular 6 to 12 feet tall white stalks with greenish-yellow flower clusters atop. Flowers are dioecious, with males and females produced on separate plants. Flowers attract honey bees and hummingbirds. Flowers are not always produced annually but every couple years. Seeds have papery wings and are wind dispersed. Sotol does best on well-drained soils in full sun, and is drought and heat tolerant. Sotol makes a great specimen or ornamental landscape plant in the xeric garden. Sotol has been used to produce baskets, mats, ropes, even liquor ("sotol”). Low  water. Zone 6.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Soil Health: Level 1 - Introduction of Terms

Level 1 - This post is intended to introduce terms which describe the essential components of a healthy soil. This discussion is complicated, so we will provide increasingly detailed levels of information, at the risk of oversimplifying in the beginning. Next week look for Level 2 - Description of Terms. 

All plant varieties, found on earth today, evolved to thrive in a soil system filled with variety. Ancestral soils teamed with a variety of organisms and carbon compounds, which supplied abundant nutrients and water. What does a varied soil system look like when compared to a conventionally managed soil system?

A varied, or healthy, soil system contains the following essential components:
  • Carbon Compounds:  
    • Labile Carbon: 
      • Carbons which easily decay, such as those present in microorganisms, compost, crop residues, manures, and mulches.
      • These materials release mineral nutrients back into the soil.
    • Recalcitrant Carbon:
      • Contains Humic Acids which are essential to a healthy and productive soil, Humic Acids are known commonly as Humus.
      • Humic Acids endure the stress of time and will remain in an undisturbed soil for thousands of years.
      • Humic Acids improve soil structure, for as long as they remain in the soil.
      • Humic Acids increase a soils capacity to hold water more than any other soil component.
    • Both Labile and Recalcitrant Carbon levels are often very low in conventionally managed soils systems, because the pipeline of their formation has been compromised. 
  • A Diversity of Organisms:
    • Soil organisms, such as Mycorrhizal fungi, beneficial bacteria and earth worms, are absolutely essential in soil heatlh management.
      • Mycorrhizal fungi greatly improve soil structure and nutrient uptake.
      • Beneficial bacteria provide a wide range of benefits, including Nitrogen fixation.
      • Earth worms contribute enzymes and decompose labile carbons.
    • The diversity of microorganisms increases as vegetation types increase.
    • The redwood forests soils of California, with their incredible diversity of vegetation, provide abundant  fertilization as a result of this biodiversity. 
    • The lack of biodiversity, in conventionally managed soil systems, contributes to unhealthy and unproductive crops.
  • Nutrient Availability:
    • Mycorrhizal fungi increase plant root mass and solubilize mineral nutrients. 
    • Humic Acids increase Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC), thereby storing mineral nutrients.
    • Nutrient availability is greatly decreased when Mycorrhizal fungi and humus are not present.
    • Please see our blog for more information: Understanding the Importance of Cation Exchange Capacity .
  • Macroaggregates
    • Macroaggregates result when Mycorrhizal Fungi bind soil particulates together.
    • Humic Acids have been shown to increase macroaggregate formation.
    • Tilling of soil will destroy these structures, increase erosion and create soil compaction. Plaese see No Till and Water for interesting information on this topic.
    • Please follow this link for more detailed information: NRCS Water Stable Soil Aggregate Handbook .
  • Increased Moisture: 
    • Moisture must first be absorbed -  water will  penetrate soils when macroaggregates are present. 
    • Humic Acids and decomposing surface organic matter will then retain water which has penetrated an uncompacted soil.
    • Water in conventionally managed soil systems frequently runs off without being absorbed.
  • Decomposing Surface Organic Matter:
    • Mulches can be described as a decomposing surface layer which insulates and protects the soil from environmental stresses. 
    • This organic matter will eventually become part of the labile carbon fraction of the soil.
    • Conventionally managed soil systems often lack even thin layers of surface organic matter.
    • Please see Got Mulch? for more information.
Our most precious natural resource, healthy top soil, is disappearing at alarming rates. For generations modern soil management practices have systematically reduced the diversity of soils, resulting in reduced yields. To compensated chemical fertilizers have been added, the detrimental effects of which have reared their ugly, ineffective and costly head.
Stay tuned for Level 2.
Written by:
Aurora Fabry-Wood
Staff Biologist

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Arboretum Tome

The Arboretum Tomé is a collection of rare trees endemic to the desert Southwest. Started by the founder of Trees That Please Nursery and Soil Secrets in the 80's, the collection includes a huge collection of Oak trees, the genus Quercus, along with Redwoods, Giant Timber Bamboo, and Maples, including a Western native sugar maple called the Big Tooth Maple, Acer grandidentatum.  The Arboretum is a great place to spend some time under the shade of mature native trees, to study and observe, to be inspired, or to see the great variety of native landscaping trees the southwest has to offer.
The Arboretum also contains the production nursery for Trees That Please Nursery and is the proving ground for Soil Secrets products. All plants on the Arboretum grounds and Trees That Please Nursery are fed exclusively using the products and protocols developed by Soil Secrets.

The arboretum soil has served as the proving ground for the products of Soil Secrets, changing the original toxic clay soil and rehabilitating it into a healthy well drained soil that can now grow a wide variety of plants. The products of Soil Secrets LLC meet the benchmark of the USDA’s NOP (National Organic Program) and have been approved by USDA NOP Certifying Agents for use on Certified Farms.  Learn more about the products of Soil Secrets by following their blog at: http://www.soilsecretsblog.com
The Arboretum serves as a living laboratory and is available for school field trips, students, home gardeners, researchers, and individuals. The Arboretum is open for tours by appointment only by contacting Trees That Please Nursery.

2012 New Mexico Local Food Workshops and Events

2012 Growing Local Workshop & Event SeriesPrintE-mail
The Growing Local Workshop & Event Series covers a variety of food and agriculture topics including business development, access to land, funding opportunities and more. We will also be hosting mixers aimed at connecting people around specific topics. Whatever your interest in local food, there’s something for everyone.Background
TO DOWNLOAD THE FLYER, USE THIS LINK:2012_Growing_Local_Workshops_Flyer.pdf
TO REGISTER FOR WORKSHOPS: Use the links below after each workshop title, or visit www.abqmarkets.org, select “Vendor Resources” from the drop-down menu, and then select “Workshops” to find the event you would like to attend
Sarah Wentzel-Fisher - info@abqmarkets.orgLora Logan or Kristin Gangwer - localfoodnm@mrcog-nm.gov, 505-724-3619


2/08, 9:00-10:30am - Get Caught Up On the Co-op: A Tour of the New Distribution Facility & Info Session (No registration required) – Location: La Montanita Cooperative Distribution Center, 901 Menaul Boulevard NE, 87107
2/08, 4:00-6:00pm - Mapping & Mining the Field: Crop Budgeting / Metrics / Planning (CLICK HERE to register)
2/15, 4:00-6:00pm - Seed Money: Getting your Small Farm Financed (CLICK HERE to register)
2/29, 4:00-6:00pm - Beyond the Growers Market: How to Sell to Other Markets (CLICK HERE to register)
3/07, 4:00-6:00pm - Digging In: How to Find Land to Grow On (CLICK HERE to register)
3/21, 4:00-6:00pm - From Barren to Bountiful: Finding A Farmer & Putting Your Land Into Production (CLICK HERE to register)
3/28, 4:00-6:00pm - Making a Stand: Selling at the Growers Market (CLICK HERE to register)
4/04, 4:00-7:00pm - Growing Local Mixer Series: Land Seeker/Landholder Mixer (Registration not yet available)
4/11, 9:00-10:30am - Alvarado Urban Farm Grows Food and Farmers in the City: A Farm Tour and Info Session on the Veteran Farmer Project, Location: Alvarado Urban Farm, 101 Silver Ave SW, (No registration required)
4/18, 4:00-6:00pm - The Devil in the Details: Navigating Environmental Health Permitting (CLICK HERE to register)
4/25, 4:00-6:00pm - To Market, To Market: Introduction to Growers Markets for First-time Vendors (Registration not yet available)
5/01, 4:00-6:00pm - Alvarado Urban Farm Grand Opening & AGMA Market Season Kickoff, Location: Alvarado Urban Farm, 101 Silver Ave SW, (No registration required)
5/30, 4:00-7:00pm - Growing Local Mixer Series: Grower/Buyer Mixer (Registration not yet available)
6/27, 2:00-4:00pm - From Farm to Restaurant Plate: Buying Local for Your Restaurant or Food Service (Registration not yet available)
Date/Time TBD - Estate Planning for Agricultural Land Conservation (Registration not yet available)
Albuquerque Grower’s Market Alliance (AGMA): www.abqmarkets.org
MRCOG Agriculture Collaborative: www.localfoodnm.org
Bernalillo County Cooperative Extension: www.bernalilloextension.nmsu.edu

Monday, January 23, 2012

Got Mulch?

Mulch is woody to semi-woody, difficult to compost organic debris. Mulch is composed of recognizable plant material like branches, pine needles, leaves, wood, etc (see photo). Mulch helps to conserve water, protects the soil from heat, aridity, wind, weeds, and erosion. Mulch can be considered a blanket or cover for the soil. Mulch adds organic matter to the soil. Apply mulch around trees, shrubs, and other plants to a depth of 3-5 inches. Replace mulch as it decomposes.

Compost is organic matter that is almost gone, reduced to the point that it’s rich in mineral nutrients because of concentration that occurred during the composting process. Compost has little or no recognizable plant material left in it (see photo). In essence, it’s organic fertilizer. Compost needs to be treated as a fertilizer and applied lightly to the soil surface or tilled in.  DO  NOT MULCH WITH COMPOST.  If compost is applied inches thick it can potentially burn your plants, they will die, and your soil may become “toxic” for sometime.  Trees That Please Nursery carries both bagged and bulk mulches and TTP Supreme Compost, a Soil Secrets Product.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

List of January Garden Tips

1)      Water trees, shrubs, lawn, 1-2 times this month.
2)      Prune fruit trees, grapes, shade trees. Prune cactus using BBQ tongs.
3)      Rebuild water basins around trees and shrubs
4)      Reapply (refill) water basins with organic mulch (not rock).
5)      Clean the yard; rake up leaves and apply to garden or orchard soil, cover with mulch.
6)      Sit down and Plan you garden or landscape.
7)      Research and order bare-root fruit trees.
8)      Plant trees and shrubs, no water stress.
9)      Order specialty seeds, like peanut, if local nurseries don’t carry starter plants.
10)  Cut Russian Sage plants back to 6” and cut old growth off of clump grasses.
Contact Trees That Please Nursery for more........

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fast and Hard!

Fast and Hard describes our unique collection of Native New Mexico Oaks. There are several varieties of fast-growing hardwood oaks ideally suited as shade and specimen trees. Fast growing natives include: Gray Oak, Chisos Red Oak, Chinquapin Oak, and the New Mexico Live Oak. Under ideal conditions they can grow up to 4 feet per year but after establishment can be grown with much less water than other shade trees like cottonwoods, ash, and sycamores. The Gray Oak and New Mexico Live Oak are evergreen, meaning they hold their leaves through the winter. The Chisos Red Oak has brilliant red-maroon fall leaf color. Oaks have deep root systems so can be planted closer to structures than most other shade trees. Contact Trees That Please Nursery and ask for a copy of the oak trees we propagate.

Little Pricks!

Trees That Please Nursery has a great selection of little pricks for the xeric portion of your yard. Our little pricks, also known as cacti, are New Mexico natives and offer low water and low maintenance for the backyard gardener. Put them in the hottest part of your yard and watch them thrive. They also make great defensive perimeters, protecting windows or pathways from unwanted traffic. We propagate several varieties of Prickly-Pear, Cholla, Yucca, Agave, and Sotol. All produce flowers and some have edible fruit. Contact Trees That Please Nursery for our cacti (little pricks) list.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Plant Spotlight: Warren Pear – The Perfect Pear Tree?

Warren Pear might just be the perfect fruit tree for your backyard! Warren is sweet and juicy, buttery with no grit cells, self-fruitful, and fireblight resistant. Fireblight of pears caused by the bacterium, Erwinia amylovora, a destructive disease of pear trees is found in Valencia County, New Mexico. The more commonly planted Bartlett pear is susceptible to this disease. So if your Bartlett pear is in bad shape due to fireblight why not try a Warren Pear? In addition, if you only have enough space to plant a single tree then Warren is ideal as it is self-fruitful, meaning it does not need another different pear tree nearby for pollination.
Trees That Please Nursery propagates Warren Pear and other fireblight-resistant varieties like Seckel and Harrow Delight. Please contact the nursery for more information.

Do you also plant the trees you sell?

Trees That Please Nursery is a full service nursery. We can help you select a tree, shrub, or cacti that will thrive under your sites conditions of water, exposure, soil, shade, space, etc. We also offer delivery and planting services. We provide detailed Planting Instructions and a Tree and Shrub Care Sheet that explains how to water, feed, and prune your plants. We want you to succeed and therefore stand behind our products. We encourage you to contact us if you should have any questions or concerns about your newly planted tree or shrub. Please contact Trees That Please Nursery for more information and ask for our Tree and Shrub List.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Question: How close to my house can I plant a Cottonwood tree?

Cottonwoods grow to be immense trees attaining dimensions of up to 40 - 50 feet tall and wide with a root system to match. Cottonwoods have a surface root system that can heave sidewalks, crack walls and home foundations if planted too close. Cottonwoods should be planted a minimal distance from structures of at least 25 feet if not further. Trees That Please Nursery carries two varieties of cotton-less, Cottonwood Trees. Please contact us or stop by the store for more information.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Misconception: All Oaks Grow Slow.

Not True! Some of New Mexico’s native oak species can put on up to 4 feet annually. The faster growing natives include: Chisos Red Oak (Quercus gravesii), Gray Oak (Quercus grisea), New Mexico Live Oak (Quercus fusiformis), and Chinquapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii).
Native Oaks that can grow 1-2 feet annually (sometimes more) include: Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa), Gambel Oak (Quercus gambelii), Sandpaper Oak (Quercus pungens pungens) Vasey Oak (Quercus pungens vaseyana), Mexican Blue Oak (Quercus oblonggfolia) and Turbinella (Quercus turbinella). 
New Mexico’s native oak species make some of the best shade and specimen trees that are locally adapted to our high soil pH and conditions of low water input and high heat tolerance. They are deep rooted and so could be planted closer to structures than surface-rooted trees like cottonwoods, ash, or sycamores.

Where can I Recycle Nursery Containers?

Trees That Please Nursery located in Los Lunas, New Mexico will recycle your used pots / nursery containers. Rather than throwing away in a land-fill bring them to us for reuse. These plant pots do not readily breakdown and take a long time to decompose. Recycling containers helps all of us be Earth friendly.  If you have a large quantity please contact us and we will come get.

Plant Spotlight: Black-Spined Prickly Pear

Black-Spined Prickly Pear (Opuntia macrocentra) is also sometimes called Purple Prickly Pear is one of the more beautiful prickly pear species that does very in the Central Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico. It normally grows to about 3 ft high with a wider spread but can be kept smaller by pruning. As its name implies it is armed with black spines but these are normally limited to the top of each pad. Flowers are yellow with reddish centers. During winter the cooler temperatures cause the pads to turn beautiful shades of pink, purple, and blue-green. We have observed that during winter, pad droop (wilt) is usually less than other prickly pear species making it a good year-round addition for your xeric landscape. This cacti requires very little water and does best in well-drained soils. Available at Trees That Please Nursery in various container sizes.

Can you provide me more information about your Humus products like TerraPro?

We certainly can! Probably the best source to learn more about our humus products would be to visit the Soil Secrets website at: http://www.soilsecrets.com/. Trees That Please Nursery carries the full line of Soil Secrets products including the commercial grade TerraPro (Earth Magic) and Agriculture Grade grade TerraPro. These are available in various container sizes to meet your application needs. We also do custom blends of these products to meet the individual needs of farmers, landscapers, and home owners.

Do you stock Earth Magic and Protein Crumblies at your store in Los Lunas?

We carry the full line of Soil Secrets products including Earth Magic (Terra Pro), AG grade Terra Pro, Protein Crumblies, TTP Supreme Compost, Worm Castings, Earth Nectar, Earth Ambrosia, Supraplex, and mycorrhizal products. These are available in various container sizes to meet your application needs. We also can do custom blends of these products to meet the individual needs of farmers, landscapers, and home owners.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

What is a New Mexico Live Oak?

New Mexico Live Oak (Quercus fusiformis) is also known as Escarpment Live Oak. It is just one of  New Mexico’s native evergreen oaks and is found in the SE part of the state.  It is closely related to Southern Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) but is smaller, and more cold and drought tolerant. It has tough, thick, green leaves and can reach 20-25 ft tall and wide. Most often it grows with multiple trunks and has a deep root system. It can grow as much as 2 feet per year. Once established it is quite drought and heat tolerant making a great landscaping tree to cool off a west or south facing wall.

Do you sell Gray Oaks?

Our Gray Oaks are available in 5 gal, 15 gal, and larger Root Control Bag containers. 
Gray Oak (Quercus grisea) is a New Mexico native evergreen oak tree. It is found at lower elevations of the central mountain chain and into the Gila wilderness of SW New Mexico. It is a tap-rooted tree and grows up to 40 ft tall and wide. It has leathery gray leaves and is very drought tolerant once established. It can grow very fast sometimes adding up to 4 feet annually. It makes a great shade or specimen tree for the home landscape. Its deep root system allows it to be planted closer to structures than surface rooted trees like Cottonwoods or Sycamores. It makes a small acorn that birds like to eat.

Are Bartlett Pear trees a good choice for Los Lunas?

Bartlett Pear trees can be successfully grown here.  The trees are vigorous, productive, and self-fruitful. Pears bloom later than other fruits like apricots, cherries, and Japanese plums so are more likely to beat our late frosts and produce a crop. However, Bartlett Pears, are fire blight susceptible. Fire blight, caused by the bacterium Erwinia amylovora, a destructive disease of pear trees is found in Valencia County, New Mexico. To beat this disease we are making available sweet & juicy, fire blight resistant pear trees. Our blight resistant Pear tree collection includes: Warren, Seckel, Tyson, Harrow Delight, Atlantic Queen, and Shinko (Asian Pear).

Friday, January 6, 2012

Do You Sell Bare Root Apple Trees?

Answer: Yes we do! We carry standard varieties of apples such as Golden Delicious, Jonathan, and Granny Smith.  We also are developing an Heirloom apple collection, with varieties such as Hudson's Golden Gem, Cinnamon Spice, Pitmaston Pineapple, and Cherry Cox. We are also interested in propagating your favorite backyard tree.We can order any Heirloom Variety which might appeal to your taste buds, especially if it's sweet and juicy! The same applies to our pear trees.