the show

Fall Into Winter Vegetables

encore date: September 10, 2016

original air date: September 8, 2016

Yes, it’s still sidewalk fried egg hot, but we’ve got to get that fall vegetable garden in gear. Travis County Master Gardener Patty Leander and Jay White team up to show how to beat the heat and what and when to plant. Jeff Ferris from The Natural Gardener picks your #1 vegetable garden tool to let you know when to seed. On tour at Crockett High School, students are growing their future, including raised beds and an aquaponics greenhouse they built. Daphne analyzes white growth on the bottom of oak trees: is it bad or harmless? Plant of the Week is Variegated Cuban oregano, a tasty tropical to add spice to your containers and your recipes.



Episode Segments

On Tour

Crockett High School Gardens and Aquaponics Greenhouse

At Crockett High School, students are growing their sustainable future. Science, nutrition, and tasty food (even kale chips!) come together in their raised beds and an aquaponics system they designed and built.


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Question of the Week

Is this white fungus on our oak trees harmful?

Thanks to Lisa and Desi Rhoden and Nina Roberts for this great question!

Both noticed a very troubling sight recently at the base of their trees: a white substance that seems to be growing on the bark, and wondered what was causing it and if they could do anything about it.

Both situations appear to involve a fungal organism, or perhaps a slime mold, and are most likely caused by mulch remaining being placed around the trunk. The trees might also be planted a bit too deeply, which is common in most landscapes.

The good news is that the organism here truly does appear to be growing on the bark. It’s clearly not a shelf fungus, which grow out of the heart of the tree, creating larger, more protruding fruiting bodies, and which cannot be treated.

Since the organism is growing on the bark it is may be possible to mitigate the damage and get the tree back on a healthy path. First, push all soil and mulch away from the trunk of the tree until you see the root flare, an area where the trunk flares out, indicating the junction where the trunk ends and the root begins. You’ll want to keep that flare exposed, so that the trunk of the tree remains above ground and exposed to the air, touched by neither soil nor mulch.

When the trunk stays wet, which would have been the case in a rainy spring such as the one leading up to this problem, microbial organisms take advantage of their good fortune and move in for the kill.

But if the area can dry out and remain dry, the fungus will die, and the infected bark will eventually be far enough from the wood that it likely won’t be a problem. Some of the fungus-covered bark may slough or peel off, but don’t be tempted to hurry the process along by removing it, which would expose the inner, more vulnerable wood of the tree to further invasion by other, potentially more harmful, insects and diseases.

After our typical hot, dry summer, this problem should be less noticeable, and probably well on its way to being completely gone.

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Plant of the Week

Variegated Cuban Oregano

Variegated Cuban Oregano

Variegated Cuban oregano is a gorgeous tropical herb that not only looks great in the garden, but, like its cousin, common oregano, is also useful in the kitchen. Since it’s native to tropical regions, it will almost certainly be an annual in your garden, but I think it’s well worth the time. If planted in containers and brought indoors when there’s a potential for frosty temperatures, it may last a few seasons, but really, it will look better and be more robust if you replace it each spring. The leaves of variegated Cuban oregano are large and bright, making it a striking addition to any area of the landscape. Its name derives from the fact that it is commonly used in Cuban cooking, not from its native habitat, India. As with most herbs, good drainage is important, and a bit of compost in the soil is also good. Cuban oregano will tolerate light shade, but will thrive in full sun. Water well, but sparingly. As with most herbs, Cuban oregano has soft, succulent leaves and will rot if it stays too wet. Getting about a foot and a tall and about as wide, Cuban oregano fills in nicely and makes a great addition along borders and beds.