the show

Texas Peach Handbook

air date: January 14, 2012

Grow the tastiest peaches ever with tips on selection, planting, pruning and insects from Texas AgriLife Extension horticulturist Jim Kamas, co-author of Texas Peach Handbook. On tour, visit a food and flower garden inspired by Italy. Daphne Richards explains how dormant oil now can protect your trees from later insects. Pick of the week: homegrown lettuce, an easy one to grow even in containers. Find out how to winterize pond fish and water features with Steve Kainer from Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery.

Episode Segments

On Tour

Cecilia Neuhaus and Tait Moring Italian garden design

Intense gardener Cecilia Neuhaus was ready to cut back on maintenance and water. In her new garden, she worked with Landscape Architect Tait Moring to capture the essence of Italy with low-maintenance patios and formal walkways that blend flowers and food, wildlife and soothing introspection, on her Lake Austin miniature “Grand Canal.”

Watch more "On Tour" videos on YouTube →

Question of the Week

How can we fend off insects from our trees?

First, let’s backtrack to fall 2010 when our friend Bob Harper sent us leaves from his red oak tree. As we reported then, these are leaves that were skeletonized by feeding insects. At that point, it was too late to do anything since the insects were long gone, so pesticides would have been completely useless. We advised Bob to keep the tree healthy, because it would grow new leaves the next spring, if it wasn’t stressed by other factors.

Recently, Bob’s neighbor Richard sent us pictures of the tree, now back to full health! To fend off damaging insects, this is the time of year that we can spray horticultural oil on fruit trees, as a necessary preventative, or other trees that have had problems, to naturally control overwintering insects, especially in their egg, larvae and nymph stages.

Horticultural oils, also known as dormant oils, because they should only be used when plants are dormant, can also control many fungal pathogens by blocking their access to tender plant tissues, where they can easily invade. It’s really a good idea to keep an eye out for pathogenic cycles. While some trees and shrubs are continually invaded by the same pests year after year, other pest cycles are only a problem on occasion, and so wouldn’t warrant much attention on an annual basis.

An example would be live oak trees and insect galls. Galls may be very prevalent on your live oak in some years, but the very next year you may have none. And anyway, these galls are not really susceptible to insecticides, and usually don’t cause enough damage to warrant any sort of treatment.

Watch more Question of the Week videos on YouTube →

Plant of the Week



Lactuca sativa

Thanks to Master Gardener Sheryl Williams for this great picture from her garden! Even if you're not a vegetable gardener, you should consider trying lettuce, which is one of the easiest to grow. You can even include it among your dormant perennials. Lettuce germinates quickly from seed or you can buy transplants. Like Sheryl, you can seed 'cut and come again' varieties every few weeks through February to snip off leaves for homegrown salads every night. All you need is fertile, well-drained soil in sun, but some shade is fine and even welcome when we get those hot days in late winter and early spring. Lettuce is a heavy feeder, so give it a drench or foliage feed every few weeks. Going the organic route with seaweed and fish emulsion, to add both macro and micro nutrients, works great. You should also mulch lightly to protect the leaves from direct contact with the soil, where pathogens may be present. Since lettuce leaves are so tender, they can be easily invaded by soil borne fungi and bacteria. You should also provide row cover or other protection if temperatures are expected to drop below freezing.