- [Announcer] This gardener's happy place is in the backyard of her family home. It's filled with favorite shrubs, perennials and annuals, plus a sitting spot to be envious of. Julie Birbiglia sees how the Metro Water Department is growing out trees in a cost saving effective way. These trees will develop a strong root system then be planted out in public spaces to contribute to Nashville's tree canopy. Join us. If you're a gardener, you know one of the best things about this hobby is the sharing. - We're here visiting with my good friend, Lillian Hibett, who is a wonderful coleus collector. I don't think that I've ever met a coleus collector, Lillian. - Well, it's become a fun hobby to go around to different Garden Centers and look for different ones. I have a little notebook that I keep a list. Many of them that I have this year, I never have seen before. I didn't see them last year. So with over 300 coleus, you just never know what's out there in the market and there's something new every year. - [Tammy] That's wonderful. And you say one of the things that you really love about coleus is how easy they are to propagate - Very easy to propagate. And I like doing that and spreading them into pots in my yard. And then I give them away even as door prizes for our Optimistic Gardener Club. That was a fun thing last year, to give them as door prizes. - Show us how easy it is when you to propagate. - Well, you cut after the coleus plant gets sort of heavy on top. It may be, will begin to kind of droop a little bit. And so you cut a good stem, maybe at least two nodes down. - Right. - So you have enough to stick in the dirt. Sometimes I've put them in water, just in a cup and then let them root and bring them out to the dirt. But you can skip that step and just simply put them right into the dirt if you keep the dirt moisture. So I'll water it every morning. And then again, in the afternoon to keep the dirt moist And in about two weeks, it'll have a good root base and it's ready to go into a pot like here. - That's fast. - This will have come out of the little containers and into a pot. And look, I have just a combination of just things I've plugged in. - Nice. - And so it's fun to spread them and to give them to people. - And when you propagate these, do you leave these in the shade? - Well, you have to check when you buy them, some are sun coleus. But most, most of them do not like hot afternoon sun, morning sun, but you just have to check the label when you buy them. Of course they're annuals. They won't survive during the winter. But for me, part of the fun every spring is to go and find new coleus and experiment with them. 'Cause there's all kinds from big leaves to little leaves to solid speckle, even trailing coleus. - [Tammy] Even looking at these that you've propagated. There's so many different colors. And do you like to mix those together? - [Lillian] Yes. I mix them. I do have some pots that just one color, you know, that it stands alone. Then I'll mix some with other annuals. I love to go to Garden Centers to their clearance table and it's kind of fun to buy a 50 cent plant and I'll stick it a few of those in with my coleus. So it's, you know, it's just whatever you wanna do. - [Tammy] One of the things that really caught my eye is the the scarlet-red coleus that you've got. And then the kind of rust colored one, talk to us about those - [Lillian] That one's called red head and it's a solid color and it does stand alone and it's in the ground and it's getting sort of tall and bushy. So I'll probably be cutting on it maybe next week and spread it. So that's like I said, that's the fun for me. - [Tammy] You've got a mixture of them in the ground and in pots, do you find that they like either one? - [Lillian] No. They seem to do well either way and also have them in hanging pots. - [Tammy] One of the things that I like your garden is, one it's small and doable. - [Lillian] Yeah, that's my secret cottage garden that I get up every morning and work in it. And it's just fun for me. - [Tammy] And I like the whimsy that you've got all through your garden. - [Lillian] Oh, I love whimsy, I think that sort of gives you a garden personality. I have two bottle trees and lots of little statues. I'm a dog Glover, so a lot of dog statues and figurines and turtles and rabbits and all kinds of little concrete statues. So it's fun. - [Tammy] It adds a little visual interest. - [Lillian] Yeah, with wimsy. - [Tammy] Yeah. And your garden in the winter time, because you've just got coleus that are annuals. What do you love about your garden in the winter? - [Lillian] Well, in the winter time, I have a lot of hellebores, Lenten Rose that bloom, you know, January, February, March that gives some color. And also some of the succulents are not blooming but they're green. - Right. - [Lillian] And my shrubs and all. And I leave my bottle trees out in the winter. I've never had problem with them freezing or anything. So that's a pop of color, my cobalt blue bottle tree. So now it's not as colorful as it is now, but it's not just barren looking. - Lillian, you've got a rather interesting elephant ear. - Lime Zinger, it's a nice elephant ear that doesn't get huge like some of them. And it's pretty until right before a heavy frost, I go out and I cut it, cut it off the big leaves. And I bring the whole pot in. And you know it has a big tuber. - Right. - And you could dig them up, put them in a bag or something, but I just have been bringing in the whole pot. Then every spring I'll bring them out. And it's very easy to simply, I water it every day and low maintenance. - And I love that pop of color. - Yeah. - It's true to its name. - The Lime Zinger. - And to talk to me about your Rose of Sharon, it's just gorgeous. - [Lillian] Well, the old fashioned Rose of Sharon is really got a pop a purple right now and it fits this old farmhouse. You know, it's an old fashioned plant, up against the huge Natchez Crape Myrtle. That's just started blooming this week, the pop of wide of the Natchez Crape Myrtle buck behind the purple Rose of Sharon. It's a pretty accent, I think. - It is old fashioned looking. - Yes. - [Tammy] That's what I like about it. - [Lillian] Right. - [Tammy] I love the coleus with the pops of color in there, but I'll also like everything you've done with the annuals as well. You've done a great job with all that. - [Lillian] Thank you. I enjoy all the color. And of course my pond now that added in when I was remodeling, I enjoyed listening to the water and put a lot of sun plants around it, then shade plants with the coleus and all the other shade plants that I have... - Yeah, there's something... - A mixture. - [Tammy] Real wonderful about just hearing water run, isn't it? - Relaxing. - [Tammy] That's nice. So you've done a beautiful job, Lillian. - [Lillian] Thank you. - [Tammy] Really appreciate you letting us tour your garden today. - [Lillian] Glad you could be here. - [Tammy] And you've made me a lover of coleus. - [Lillian] Well, you need to, because like I said, there's over 300 cons and just go out there and be looking for different colors that you like. - [Tammy] I'm gonna stretch my imagination with coleus. - [Lillian] And then spread them when they get heavy on top, you know, instead of cutting them and just putting them... Throwing them away, give them to somebody. - [Tammy] It's absolutely. That's the best gift garden that you can do. - Yes. - Thank you, Lillian for being with us today. - [Lillian] Thank you. - Have you ever wondered what kind of effort goes into growing small trees out so that you can plant them? Well, you would be surprised at some of the ingenious things that people have come up with to grow out trees. So I'm here with Eric Kuehler at Metro Water Services in Nashville to find out about this really cool system. - Yeah, right. So we've got this initiative of planting half a million trees in Davidson County over the next 30 years by 2050. Trees can get expensive. And so we were looking for ways to come in with smaller trees that are less expensive, that we can plant more of them. So when I was with the Forest Service, we worked on this project of growing trees in gravel beds. To grow basically the root systems and then come August or September, we can take these trees out with full of leaves and outplant them. - [Julie] Well, Let's take a look at this, because this looks like a huge above ground bed, but I understand that it's actually a hydroponic system. So what all has gone into this? - Right, so basically it is. It is above ground system. We're using just a basic form to hold rocks in place. And then we're just gonna dribble water through here, four times a day, for about 10 or 15 minutes each cycle. And that water will just kind of make its way through the rocks and deeper in the profile. Everything will stay moist so that the roots will have water to take up. And there's plenty of oxygen down there, roots love oxygen. And so we've got plenty of pore space down there for oxygen and we've got the ability to kind of hold on to water so that the roots can have access to the water. And so you're right. It's just a big hydroponic system. - This is fascinating. So you got gravel, you've got soaker hoses and you've got bare root trees that you put in. - Right, yeah. So we were using bare root trees. Typically smaller trees adapt very well to their environment when you plant them out. And so that's the reason why we go with smaller trees. The survivability rate on this one, when we did this with the Forest Service, we did a hundred trees and 81 of them survived. So the survivability rate on these trees is fantastic. Smaller trees adapt real well to their environment and they tend to survive much better. - So typically when I see volunteers out planting trees, they have, you know, the trucks come by and they get that huge bald and burlap tree that takes, you know, most of the neighborhood to lift and move. So now there's no soil in here. So what happens when they come out? - Right, there's no soil. So when we do extract these trees we're basically just gonna shake the rocks off, because those roots, aren't gonna hold onto these rocks. And we're just gonna have a tree with fibrous roots and we can have the little kids carrying these trees wherever they need to go. And so it doesn't take a lot of heavy equipment. - [Julie] So this is such a really great system of growing trees. So you have the partnership with all the volunteers, with all the nonprofit organizations. And then we're in a very interesting place here, as part of our partnership as well. - Yeah, we're working with the Davidson County Sheriff's office. They are working with us and letting us use some of their land to put this bed. They work very closely with a lot of the non-profits, the tree planting non-profits. So when it comes time to extract these trees, at the end of the summer, we'll invite all of them out. We'll have the Sheriff's office out here. And it'll just be a big party when we're taking these trees out. - [Julie] This is so exciting. Now, like with other hydroponic systems, are you going to need to add any kind of special fertilizers or additives to that water? - Yeah, we will. We'll add a little bit of slow release fertilizer, complete fertilizer in here. We'll get some Osmo code or some type of slow release complete fertilizer to put in here just to augment what the trees will need, because they're only gonna be in here for six to eight months. They don't need a lot of fertilizer. In fact, maybe if you put too much fertilizer out here, those roots may not grow as well as we would like for them to, because they have too much nitrogen. So we'll just have to monitor that. We will put in, like I said, some slow release fertilizer here in April or May just to augment a little bit, so that the trees don't go chlorotic - [Julie] So you'll put this work into growing these trees. They're gonna be nice and easy for everybody to carry around and plant. So we want them to succeed and live once they're planted. So what kind of tips do you have for somebody that gets a new tree, especially in the fall and puts it in? - Yeah, so especially if it's bare root, the thing that I would most stress is that those roots need to stay moist. So it could be warm later in the summer and early fall. And so those roots can dry out. So if somehow you can get them into a white plastic bag with some wet material in there. I say, white, you don't want black, because black will heat up with the sunshine. If you keep the trees out of the sunshine, that would even be better. So anything that would stress the tree, like the heat and the sun may not be best but basically just keeping those roots moist. And then when you do put them in the ground, fill that hole up with water before you plant the tree and let that water kind of soak into the soil around there. You know, moisture is really what we need for these trees early on. - So you get your tree in, you've got it nice and moist and we still can't just walk away and leave it and declare it done, can we? - That we cannot, right. So once we get the soil back over the roots, we'll wanna mulch it with a two to four inches of organic mulch. I'm a big fan of wood chips. So put two to four inches of wood chips over the the planting hole and then come back weekly at least and put about five to 10 gallons of water on that tree. - So one of the really amazing things about this root Nashville program and all these great partners, like the Davidson County Sheriff's office, all of our volunteers is that we're growing trees for everybody. And I see from all these tags, you have a lot of different kinds of trees in here. I don't want anyone to think that there's not a tree for me. So what's an example of a small tree. I don't have much room. - Yeah, right. So we've got some Eastern redbud in here. We've got some American horn beam. Those tend to be understory trees. You find them under the mature canopy of larger trees in forests. Got some black gum out here. And I think that's probably the three of the small trees that we have, but then we also have some of the larger more mature, overstory trees, oaks and yellow poplar I'm trying to think of what else we have out here, but it's, you know, we've got a majority of the larger statured trees and we've got some of the smaller statured trees. The idea here is to create that overstory and then put some understory in there to maximize stormwater volume reduction. - Oh, wait, let's talk a little bit about that, stormwater volume reduction. So one of the reasons I know to plant a lot of trees is the idea that it's going to help us with what happens when it rains. So talk a little bit more about how these trees are helping us. - Yeah. So these trees are literally green stormwater infrastructure. So as these trees get older, they put on a lot of leaves and that leaves surface area intercepts rainfall. And so it prevents some water from going off into the storm system. But also once that water does get into the soil, then it wicks that water out of the soil so that we can put more storm water into the soil. So these trees are working for us to help with water quality and to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff that we have here in Middle Tennessee especially in Davidson County. - Oh yeah. So, you know, this is such a wonderful project, because by growing all of these little trees especially in this small space here, which is so impressive, knowing that they're gonna go out into people's lawns and out into the parks, out into along the sides of the roads. This is something that is a small investment really, in the future of our city, for absolutely everybody. - Absolutely. These trees are gonna work hard for us, over the next 30, 40, 50 years. - Think really hard about what trees might fit in your landscaping. Remember, like Eric said, There really is a tree for everybody. Maybe it's a small one, maybe it's one that's going to tower over everything in the future, but look around, find a good tree. And once you do take really good care of it, because it's going to take care of us. - I'm here with a beginning vegetable grower. Tell me, where did you get an interest in vegetable garden? - Well, you know, living as a gypsy for a lot of decades in this business, so we moved around a lot. And then finally I reached my aspiration. I got back to my home market where my parents live, where I grew up and I said, "Okay, I'm here." So the first thing I did was buy a house, right? I'd never thought crossed my mind, the purchasing process, "Where would I put a garden?" - Okay. - And so this was the only place I could find in it. And it's the only place that I get sun, because I'm backed up to these woods. So you're standing where the first plot went. So I got this plastic and I made my first raised bed, sort of a raised bed. And of course she made all the initial problems and errors that you do, you know, I over watered early on, I didn't plant the right stuff early on. So this is now the third year. And things have migrated down the hill as time has gone on. - That's a good way to start. You didn't overwhelm yourself. If you'd have begun this project in the very first day of your garden... - It'd been terrible. - You would have been very disillusioned. - 'Cause this was overwhelming at first. - I understand, especially if you've never really gardened and there's so many things that can go wrong. Well, let's just go down step by step and see what we have here. - The first thing I grew of course, was herbs. Because again, we cook a lot and to have fresh herbs at your fingertips is just, you know, one of the great benefits of having a little bit of sunshine, a little bit of soil. So you know, I have the plethora, I have my several versions of basil and I've got my sages and I've got oregano and parsleys and some hot peppers... - I see that. - And then I'm growing in the back too. So I learned that one should be careful where you put your lemon balm. - Oh yes. - [Jeff] It just takes over the world. - Well, let me tell you a little secret. When you have those invasive root system plants, you can actually take like a large black plastic liner, cut the bottom out, but be sure you go 12 inches or more deep so that the roots don't come up from the bottom and you can contain them and put that top over the soil about two to three inches and then put your plant down in it. And then that keeps it from being invasive. But of course, I'll give you another clue. Lemon balm will go to seed and the seed will germinate. So you just gotta be observant and don't let the lion out of the cage - Well, I have cut it back several times already. - And I see you have some dill and you need to watch that. So you can find the parsley worm. - [Jeff] The parsley worm? - [Annette] they like that deal. And this is a pretty basil right here. - [Jeff] Yeah. We love it. Of course, you know, when the wind blows, right. You can smell it. And I just love that. - [Annette] Oh, I know it. Oh, and you even squeezed in a squash - [Jeff] I had a little space. So I put in three plants. I know they get huge, but I kind of hemmed in. So I felt like I could keep it under control. - And you know, I see you had some started. - Yeah. There should be some fruit. I'm fortunate, I have a neighbor, two houses down who keeps bees. So I keep well pollinated. - Yes you do. Well, you know a nice little quick tip about squash and cucumbers. There is a beetle that likes to get down on them and they cause a wilt. And if you just take Seven, which is a really benign type of insect repellent and when they are first growing, you fuel spray them with the liquid form or powder them. - Okay. - Then you can put that beetle at bay. So what is it that you want it for this tomato? - All right. I want volume, that's what I want. I want production. - You wanted it to grow, didn't you? - Well, you know, I put it in the trail just because I know they get leggy, you know, and I wanted to give it a place to go - Well, now this is an indeterminant vine and tomatoes you have determined and indeterminate, but if it's an indeterminant, it will continue to grow to frost and it will grow. It's almost vine. It's like your peas or anything. Yes. It'll continue to grow with. And no actually limit of height is what that would be. But now, now that you've high hopes right here for something. And I see it coming out, - Yeah, . So a friend of mine gave me some potatoes that he put in, had some success, I put them in, I've never grown potatoes before and I'll just see how it happens. - So now we're standing in front of what I think you called your fancy schmancy trellis. - Yeah right. - Trellis for bees. - You can tell I got a wood shop and too much time on my hands. But actually this is not that fancy but it just seemed like, as it grew, you could tell very soon that they needed a place to go. You know, it needed some strings in it. 'Cause it wanted to climb. - Well, these are actually crowder peas and the color of the bloom will help you determine if it was a purple hall or see if it were a purple hall, it would have a purple gray. - Okay. - These, I would say are your crowder peas. And they're happy with the trellis and you'll get more abundance of yield. Now these, you have more peas here, another variety. And you can say the beneficial insects, like the wasp in here. - Yeah, they love it in here. - And I get the aphid so, if you stand still and don't create an air pocket, no wasp won't bother you. - Oh, that's good to know. - Now I see a problem child right down here - My peppers, what happened to my peppers, they don't like me. - [Annette] By just looking at them. First of all, I'd say that, looking at the soil you had some water maybe standing there. - [Jeff] Oh yeah, yeah. This was the last bed in the flood. And when I looked down, when it was really bad, this thing was overflowing with water. - Right. And so the roots have gotten a little bit compacted, but you know, a pepper is one of those plants that most flowers and vegetables, when you buy them from the grower, they're blooming in the spring. - Yeah. - But they don't all, typically continue to bloom or bear fruit or vegetables. So a pepper is one of those plants. It'll put that first two or three out. And then it'll be the last, when it gets to be September, October, it's one of the last vegetable standing next to the okra and the tomatoes because it loves that tropical heat that comes and a little bit of dryness. But you also have a deficiency too. They like calcium. And you know, I know some people that used to put a book of matches, you know, that has the sulfur and all that in it, under their pepper plants. But now you've also got a little bit... - You pointed this out earlier? I got something going on. - Yes. There is a woolly aphid, humpback aphid that will come from that type of us attachment onto the plant. - Okay. - I'm not real sure without getting down and looking at it, exactly what's happening, but I think it could benefit from a little bit of feeding. What I see here is you're a very user-friendly, with what you've done on either side. - Yeah. There's two pathways so I can access the beds without having to walk into them. And you know, it's funny as soon as I built it, now people are more prone, normally they would stop at the street and talk to me. Now, they actually walk into my yard because they see these nice little paths. - [Annette] That's exactly what a garden path does. - [Jeff] It's . - That's right. - That's right. Thank you again for allowing us to come into your busy life. And I know you have children and a wife, but you have accomplished something to add to the interest of your neighborhood and your family. - [Jeff] Oh, thank you. My boys do enjoy the garden. - Well, if you love digging in your garden, you'll have twice as much fun double digging in your garden. Today we're gonna double dig a bed. Now, this is a very old method of preparing beds by hand. Normally soils have a topsoil about eight to 10 inches deep and then the ground gets very hard, a lighter color. And it's quite lifeless, Today, we're gonna take off the top soil and loosen up that subsoil so that our plant roots can go way down deep and access moisture and nutrients or otherwise weren't available to them. There are places in Tennessee where even eight inches of topsoil are hard to find. It can oftentimes be only five or four inches deep. Once we get our initial trench dug, to a depth of eight inches. We'll notice that down below that the soil has a different color. Sub soil is oftentimes a little bit more yellow or red than top soil. What we wanna do now is to break up the sub soil. We're gonna use a digging fork to get down deep and really try to loosen it up and incorporate air. The first time you double dig a bed is gonna be the hardest. Of course, once you go back next year to double dig your beds, having already done it the year before, it will be much easier. Another tool we can use is a pick. The sub soils are oftentimes acidic. So we just take a small amount of lime and sprinkle it in that lower layer and mix it in real good. And then the plant roots to get down in there we'll have the pH adjusted to suit them more. The next step in double digging a bed is to take the next spit of land and push it over where we just dug. You'll notice how I'm leaving the top soil on top. I'm not bringing the sub soil on top because it is more lifeless. We don't have to work real hard, just move it over. When we double dig a bed, we're allowing our plant roots to get down to a earn whole new layer of moisture nutrients that were previously unavailable to them. A lot of gardeners use a rotor tiller, but I don't like the way the rotor tiller chops up the land so much. And then after a rain, the land packs and becomes like a big giant rock of cement. It's much better to use hand tools and it doesn't take that much work. It's a good exercise. After we get our bed dug, the little bit of soil topsoil we took out from the first run, gets wheelbarrowed over to the last run. Thus, we have our whole bed dug up and we haven't dug up to our elbows. And when we dig our gardens up to our elbows we'll soon be up to our elbows in vegetables.
May 27, 2021
Season 29 | Episode 18
On this episode of Nashville Public Television's Volunteer Gardener, an arborist demonstrates growing out the root system of bare root trees in a raised bed filled with gravel. We tour a home cottage garden that features lots of coleus varieties. Annette Shrader checks in with a beginning vegetable gardener. Jeff Poppen explains the benefits of double digging for healthy plant roots.