Weatherford Democrat

Local News

February 9, 2014

ASK A MASTER GARDENER: Chittamwood a thorny problem

Here are this week’s gardening questions and answers, provided by Parker County Master Gardeners. To submit a question, send it to pcmgaquestions@gmail.com. For more information about Parker County Master Gardeners, or to become a member, call 817-598-6096 or visit www.pcmg-texas.org.

Can you identify the native tree on my property? The bark and leaves look like live oak; but it is small and scrubby, has long thorns and drops the leaves in winter.

This sounds like Chittamwood. This tree is usually found in open woods or along fence rows throughout Texas.

The leaves are thick and dark green on the upper surface, while the underside is tan and covered with hairs. Small white flowers bloom in early to mid-summer, and bluish black berries ripen in the fall.

This is an excellent tree for wildlife, but a bit unfriendly to humans due to thorns. If you mow around the tree or walk past it frequently, it’s a good idea to keep the lower limbs pruned.

I want to start a vegetable garden, but have clay soil. What is the best way to amend it?

Clay soil can be difficult to work with because it is tightly packed with tiny pore spaces.

Expanded shale will greatly improve the drainage. The rough granules in this product will create air pockets in the soil that will not degrade over time. You should add one inch of expanded shale and three inches of compost. Choose a day when your soil is fairly dry, and work both of these products in well. Your soil condition will be greatly improved and ready for vegetable plants this spring.

Soil test

Do you ever wonder what type of fertilizer is best for your lawn or garden? Now is a great time to complete a soil test.

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