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Gardening Q&A

Ask the Master Gardeners: November 2010

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Guadalupe County Master Gardeners is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.

October 29, 2010 | 1,405 views | Post a comment

Q: My citrus tree by the house is getting way too big. When can I prune it?

A: Our AgriLife Extension agent says to prune in the cold months. Other sources within Aggie-Horticulture agree. One says that the best time to hedge and top citrus is during the cooler months, after harvest but prior to bloom. Another source says that all pruning on older trees should be done in January and February. Citrus trees are pruned primarily to control tree size and to remove dead, diseased or damaged wood. Also, pruning trees of bearing age thins out thick growth which makes spraying and harvesting easier. Another article on Texas citrus by a Dr. Boudreaux said that the removal of long vigorous growing shoots sticking up at the top of the tree will help to control the size of the tree. He says these shoots should be traced to where they originate on larger branches and cut off flush at the point of attachment. He also suggests removing dead branches and branches that cross over each other, as well as branches that touch the ground (which makes it far easier to mow.)

Pruning freeze damaged citrus is a different story. These trees should not be pruned until the extent of cold damage has been determined. The damage may not be evident until July and August, after the second flush of growth. Pruning a freeze damaged tree consists of removing the dead wood to the point where the live wood starts.

Q: How do I plant asparagus? When do I cut asparagus?

A: The Aggie-horticulture website under vegetables has a great print out on asparagus written by Dr. Jerry Parsons and Dr. Sam Cotner which starts by reminding us that asparagus grows better in cooler areas. It does grow here, however, because my neighbor has a beautiful row. Make sure your asparagus bed is in full sun and deep, well-drained soil. Asparagus grows well in high-pH soils. Before planting, till in 3 inches of manure or compost. Dig a furrow 4 inches wide and 4 to 12 inches deep. Place the asparagus crowns 12 to 14 inches apart in the furrow. Cover the plants in the furrow with 1 inch of compost topped by 2 to 3 inches of soil. Firm the soil. Then as the shoots grow, gradually fill the furrows. By the end of the first season, the furrow should reach its normal level. Once the beds are established (two years), the spears can be harvested. When you harvest them, snap them off at ground level when they are 4 to 10 inches long. If not harvested, the spears develop into fernlike stalks. After the first hard frost or freeze of fall, cut off the fern tops at ground level and mulch the bed with manure. As always, dispose of the tops because the asparagus beetle likes to spend the winter in the old ferns or trash in your garden.

Clara Mae Marcotte is a Texas Master Gardener with the Texas AgriLife Extension. If you have a question to be answered, call the Master Gardeners at 830-379-1972 or leave a message to be answered. The website is http://guadalupecountymastergardeners.org . The Master Gardener research library is open Mondays from 8:30 to noon, on the second floor of the Texas AgriLife Extension building, 210 East Live Oak in Seguin.
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