- [Narrator] No doubt, a homemade pecan pie is a treat, but what if those pecans came from your own trees? Tammy Algood explores the possibilities on a visit to Rock Bridge Trees. We'll learn how long before the first yield, what's required for successful pollination, and the surprising longevity of these strong trees. Plus Jeff Poppen visits the Pegram Community Garden to learn about the diversity in crops and the diversity in the talents of the community members who grow here. Stay tuned! - First Jeff Poppen sees how the creation of a garden can bring people together to grow, learn, and connect. - We're west of Nashville this morning, at the Pegram Community Garden. My good friend Chris has started a garden here about 10 years ago and has invited us up to show us some of the diversity of crops and the diversity of people that make a community garden successful. Well, hello there, Chris! - Hey Jeff, welcome to Pegram Community Garden. Great to have you up here. - [Jeff] Yes, this is looking beautiful. It's a nice spring May day, and I just can't help but admire your potatoes, mine are just barely coming up. - [Chris] These are the red potatoes, Pontiacs, and then we've got some Yukon Gold over there. This side of the chives. - [Jeff] Yeah, yeah, so you must've got these in early. - [Chris] Yep, probably about a month ago. - [Jeff] Yeah, great. - Check out the garlic. - Oh yeah, this is prized garlic, holy moly! - One of our gardeners is a garlic fan, and he got these out of Minnesota, I believe. So there's some Chesnok Red, and we're spanning three different harvests here. So there's early, middle, and late. - Oh, okay, well that's a good idea. So one of the things I noticed here is this is such diversity. You have so many different kinds of plants here. Do you know how many kinds? - [Chris] Well, we try to keep it between 25 and 30. Yeah, and not by design, it's just there are a lot of things we want to grow for vegetables. And then we a lot of herbs and then plants for the bees. - [Jeff] Yeah. - [Chris] So we get some pollinators up here, and it usually ends up about, besides the wild flowers on the edges, you know, what's in the trees, we try to keep it around 25 or 30. - [Jeff] That's great. Yes, and you have a diversity of people at work that helped you on this project, is that correct? - [Chris] Everybody pitches in, we've got a neighbor, Wood, and he's the hardware guy, he gets the beds in shape, he's our- - [Jeff] Architect? - [Chris] Yeah. - [Jeff] Gets the things made? - [Chris] And then Kim and Cecilia, Cecilia keeps a bed of iris, and Kathy keeps the corner bed. Kim keeps us current on varieties that chefs might like. - [Jeff] What varieties of onions do you like, Chris? - We've got some Texas Sweet and some Walla Walla, and we've got some red onions for salsas. - [Jeff] Oh, yeah. - We've grown some of these from starts and some from sets. - [Jeff] Oh, okay. Yeah, we grow that Walla Walla too. It gets like, that big! - [Chris] Oh, the slices are so big! - [Jeff] They're really good. - [Chris] I can taste it now. - Yeah, and over here, you have some, it looks like some broccoli already heading up, right? - [Chris] Little spring crop, broccoli's heading up. - [Jeff] Isn't that beautiful? - And I think we're going to get ahead of the cabbage moths. - [Jeff] Yeah, yeah. It looks like you are. - [Chris] That's one of our goals. - [Jeff] Yeah, they start getting bad in June, don't they? - [Chris] They do. - [Jeff] Nice cabbages. - Cabbages are heading up a little bit, and then the romaine's on its way out. - Okay, so I can see where you've cut several of them. - [Chris] If you need a salad, you just come pick one. Yeah. - [Chris] We put in some limas over here. - [Jeff] And this is to keep the animals from getting them? - Yeah, the tomato cages, if we have to store them and stack them, it's just extra work. So they really do a really nice job of keeping the critters out of there. - Yeah. - And we'll pull them when the beans start to trail. - Yeah. - But they do double duty. It's really cheap to have a stash of those. They do so many jobs. - [Jeff] Yeah. - [Chris] They don't just stake tomatoes. - [Jeff] Wow, and do you have trouble with the animals up here, deer and- - [Chris] It's amazing, we have never had a deer issue. - [Jeff] Whoa. - We have a barking dog here, barking dogs here. - Okay, so I'm guessing you're in kind of a populated area. - But deer, I mean, there's sign of deer but they've never really preyed on our, they have a lot of forage in the woods too. So if they pass through, it might be to get a drink or just to check it out. - Yeah. Chris, tell me a little bit about the herbs you grow in your garden. - Well, we, since we installed some bees, we've needed some bee forage, so this is a hyssop. I found this at a perennial plant sale in Nashville, and we just love the purple spikes it puts out. The bees are all over it. We've got some rue and some feverfew. - [Jeff] Do you use these medicinally? - [Chris] I dry them, yes. Medicinally and not so much culinary these, but really for bee forage. We've got a lot of borage coming out. And the culinary stuff is over here a little bit more. - Okay, so here you have some rosemary, I see. - We did not plan this bed. A neighbor, just to speak to the diversity issue, a neighbor said, "Well, what do you need?" And I said, well, we could, I didn't know what to say. I said, we could use some herbs. And a few days later, a flat of herbs showed up right there, and so we put them in. So we've got some, you know, stuff for the kitchen, some thyme, rosemary, cilantro, basil. - [Jeff] Yeah. - [Chris] We put the fennel, we put some fennel and oregano in another bed. The fennel's, I guess it's not really friendly to a bunch of other- - [Jeff] Yeah, that's what I've heard. So are you familiar with companion planting? You know, one of the first books that I ever read on gardening was Companion Planting by Philbrick and Gregg, and it was this great book my parents had, where they just had gardeners and experimenting with, you know, carrots like tomatoes, or onions are bad to have near peas, and things like that, it was really interesting. - [Chris] Oh, I think it's a given. And you can kinda tell, if you're around plants enough, you can tell if they're happy. - [Jeff] Right. - [Chris] If they are, you know, they're rubbing shoulders the wrong way, and we've got the room to spread some of that around. - [Jeff] Yeah. - [Chris] And, but just paying attention. - [Jeff] The chives are really pretty, Chris. Have you had these for a long time? - [Chris] They're in their second year, we've been cutting and drying for kitchen use, and just getting them fresh. There is a marvelous mellow flavor in the allium family. But when they started to flower, I thought about taking them all out, but we left them, they're beautiful. There was a little girl up here, picking a bouquet of these the other day, and I'm so glad we left them. And then I'll probably collect a little bit of seed. - [Jeff] Yeah. - [Chris] And they're partially seeding, also. - [Jeff] Yeah. - [Chris] It should be pretty, and I think that'll attract a lot of pollinators. - [Jeff] Oh yeah, yeah. - [Chris] This end, well, I was weeding a little bit here, probably want to stick in some squash. We got a little space on the end of this bed. - [Jeff] Still to plant something later. - [Chris] To get something in, yeah. - [Jeff] What's this contraption for, Chris? - [Chris] This was built by neighbor Wood. It's cheap, in its fourth or fifth year. It's showing a little wear, but we'll just rewire it, and it's to keep insects from digging, or dogs. In the winter, we can throw some plastic on it and make a little- - A little greenhouse? - A little greenhouse. But right now- - Got some beets, I see. - Got some beets coming up and some radish on that end, a row of radish, two rows of beets. And we have several of these, that they move really easily. They're very lightweight, and we can cover any bed. - [Jeff] Well, that's handy. - [Chris] And they're cheap to build. - [Jeff] Yeah, perfect. Chris, I know you're a big tomato fan. What varieties you got here? - Well, this is a Cherokee Purple, it's extremely popular. - [Jeff] Yeah. - I had started some tomatoes in the greenhouse. None of them are in this garden. None of them are in this garden! Everybody brought their favorite varieties up and said plant these, so that's what we're doing. - [Jeff] Great. - [Chris] So we've got a row of Cherokee Purple here, they're established. We put them in a week ago, what? Two, three weeks ago. - And what varieties do you have over here, Chris? - These are some Early Girls and some Better Boys. Again, drop-offs, and we put them in some pretty warm soil. Again, drop-offs, and we put them in some pretty warm soil. - This plastic is warming the soil up. I'd never seen a plastic with little holes in it like that. - [Chris] Oh, well that was also a donation, and it drains really well. Underneath, we just did the weeds with a weed eater. I covered it with some chicken manure, which is this darker stuff, and it's just marvelous, setting up to be a marvelous medium for introducing the tomatoes into without a whole lot of- - [Jeff] The plastic warms the soil up and keeps the weeds down both. - [Chris] Right. - [Jeff] I noticed another use for the tomato cages is to hold the plastic down. - [Chris] Tomato cages are super handy. - [Chris] They'll get to their main job here in a little bit, when these guys get bigger. - And I was just gonna say, this is all done organically? - [Chris] Yes, we don't use any pesticides. I think as we build the soil and put organics into it, it sort of takes care of itself. - [Jeff] Oh, it's just so wonderful to be up here with this diversity of crops, and the diversity of people that you've brought together in a community garden. Chris, that's a wonderful job down here. - [Chris] Well, it's great to have you come check us out and spend some time with us, and yeah, we'll just keep building. - [Jeff] Keep up the good work! - [Chris] Thank you, brother. - I'm in beautiful Bethpage, Tennessee, at Rock Bridge Trees with David Hughes to get a growing guide to pecans from seedling to harvest. So let's talk about how they get started. This is what we say that we're eating. - [David] Yeah, we don't think about a pecan being a nut, a nut being on seed, but a pecan is a seed. And if you look at one of these and pull it up, you'll see that a root comes out of that, and this is how pecan tree starts. It starts out as just a pecan that sprouts, all of that good stuff in there is the energy that produces the young tree. And the tree needs this until it gets big enough to have leaves on it, and then the nut can come off of it, it doesn't need it anymore. But this is producing the energy that allows it to produce this root down here, and produce a stem, until the stem gets big enough to generate chlorophyll and begin to grow. - [Tammy] So the little squirrels are giving us all of this? - [David] Yes, when the squirrels go lose those pecans that they buried in the ground, this is what will come up from it. - [Tammy] I love it. And these, we start all of our own pecans here, and we use a northern rootstock. So we're growing a rootstock that can handle the cold weather in the wintertime. - [Tammy] Nice. - The pecan trees that come out of Georgia are grown on mostly on, what's called an Elliott rootstock, and Elliotts actually came out of Mexico, and they're not winter hardy up here. The weather, they're not spring hardy, they're winter hardy. They make it through the winter, but as soon as you have a 70 degree day, the sap comes up in those trees and begins to try to generate activities, springtime activity. And if you have a cold spell late in the spring, and have a hard freeze in the low 20's or upper teens, it'll kill those trees shotgun dead, just right away. - And that's what we have. - And that's what we have. We have that variable weather here. These are about six weeks old. - [Tammy] Sweet! - So this starts out, as soon as we see this, if you'll notice, we've tried to kill this taproot right here on this nut. So that if you don't, this tree will put four feet of taproot on before he gets this tall. It'll just send out this huge root down into the ground. And what we're trying to do is we're trying to give you a tree that can be transplanted, and you can see that taproot here in the bottom, but you also see a lot of little feeder roots in here. See all these little bitty roots? This is what makes this tree survivable. Otherwise, it would just make this, it would put all its energy into that root right there. Well, after this has grown for about two years, then we can come in and graft a known variety onto one of these. These are pecan trees, nothing wrong with the trees you get from the state nursery, but they're just like these. They are pecan trees, they're not varieties, they're just a tree, and you don't know what kind of pecan they're going to make. They may make little bitty ones, they may make great big ones. They may have a thick shell, they may have a thin shell. You just don't know exactly the qualities that you're going to have. But by grafting a known variety onto a rootstock, we know exactly what this is. And this is a Kanza grafted onto a Giles rootstock. - [Tammy] And so you did this, and this stays on here for how long? - [David] Well, I'll cut this off. This is about ready to be cut off right here. - [Tammy] Okay, so it's established itself? - [David] This is healed on there, and this is ready to go. Now let's talk about, now's where the complicated part of the sex life of a pecan tree comes in. - Ah, okay! - Pecan trees have male and female flowers. This is the female flower up here on the top. That little tiny thing, each one of those is a pecan. - [Tammy] Aww! - [David] So there are female flowers up here, and there are male flowers here. But these flowers are going to be able to be pollinated before the pollen generates down here. - [Tammy] Okay, so what do you do? - [David] This one is a type two, this one has female flowers ready and then pollen second. A type one will have pollen ready, and then the female flowers ready. And this is a strategy to prevent this tree from self-pollinating and prevent inbreeding. This will make these nuts more viable, and better to make more trees. - So these little females have got to be pollinated from somewhere else? - They're going to be pollenated from a different tree than this one. That's why you have to have two trees. You have a type one and a type two, and they have to be compatible in that their pollen shed is compatible between the two. - [Tammy] That's interesting. So this particular one, this Kanza, what kind of nut does it produce? - It makes it nicely, it's a little, short, fat, football-shaped nut. It's almost as wide as it is long, it's more round. And it's a really nice thin shelled pecan, it's got really good quality, got a high oil content, got a light colored kernel. It shells out in whole halves, real easy. - Nice. - It's a wonderful, beautiful pecan, and it was, it was released by the USDA, their breeding program down in College Station, Texas, oh, just a few years ago, maybe 15 or 20 years ago. But this is one of the more popular varieties right now. - So how long, because you know, we gardeners sometimes get a little impatient, how long before this tree becomes, maybe not this, but at least becomes a bearing tree with pecans? - Well, I planted these trees, not this plant row here, I planted these trees in 2012. - Okay. - In 2018, which is six years later, I told my wife we had enough pecans to make a brownie. Not a batch of brownies, a brownie. We had about a handful of nuts the first year. The next year, 2019, we had about a pound of nuts to the tree, which is not a lot, but it added up to several, because I had several trees. Last year, we got froze out, our May freeze froze this out. This year, we're going to get loaded up if we don't freeze again. So according to the University of Georgia, if they know what they're talking about, these trees should produce close to 10 pounds of pecans apiece this year. - And this tree is nine years old? - Nine years old. - And how long will this tree give you pecans? Decades, right? - Not over 150 more years. So they're going to produce pecans for a long, long, long, long time. These will reach maximum production at about 20 to 25 years of age. So that's when they're going to max out. They'll have better years and worse years, of course, depending on weather. But this tree is going to produce nuts. A mature tree is going to produce about 100 pounds of nuts to the tree. - [Tammy] Wow, and this one is just starting to come out, and this is what we're afraid might get nipped if we have a late freeze. - [David] Yeah, these are the male flowers right here. This is a type one, so it's producing male flowers, and these stems will grow out here and have female flowers on the end of them. So we'll have to have a type two somewhere nearby. These are wind pollinated. The bees may collect pollen off of them, but they don't pollinate the flowers. But these, the pollen will blow from this tree to the next tree over there and pollinate that tree that way. - That's quite interesting. And one of the things I like about pecans is the shape of the tree. Have you done anything to this tree to encourage the shape, or is this its own doing? - I do a little bit, I do some cosmetic shaping. I prune branches that grow into the tree. - [Tammy] Right. - [David] So that it's not crowded in the tree. So you look at it, it's mostly an open try to maintain a central leader. If you don't maintain a central leader, you'll wind up with weak crotch angles, just like an apple tree or- - [Tammy] Peach tree, right? - [David] So it's the same sort of basic principle, but pecan trees overall don't need near as much pruning as say, a fruit tree, and they do grow. They do grow pretty quick. I mean, this tree's, what'd you say, 11 years old, nine years old? - [Tammy] It's nine years old, that's nice. - That's a pretty good sized tree in nine years. And as you know, if you've never had a fresh pecan, you've never had a good pecan. - This is true. It's completely different than store-bought, isn't it? - Yes, it is. - Yes it is! So thank you, David. You've educated us quite lovely today on pecans, and now I'm hungry for pie. - Isn't it amazing how necessity is the mother of invention? In today's food-conscious world, homeowners with small spaces are looking for innovative ways that they can vegetable garden in their own small spaces. Karon, thank you for what you're going to be able to educate us on about garden and hay bales. - Well, thank you for asking me, yes. - Okay. - I hope this helps some other people too. - Tell us how to do this. - To start your bale gardening, you need to make sure you pay attention to what is the top of the bale and the bottom of the bale. And if you notice, the top of the bale looks like it's had a haircut, and its each little piece of straw, actually it does, it looks like a straw. - Well, that was the color. - Yes, and when you apply the nitrogen and water it in, that's like a funnel for the- - What does the bottom of the bale look like? - Well, the bottom of the bale is kind of folded. - Oh, it folds it over. - [Karon] Mm-hmm, yeah. - [Annette] Oh, it's yeah. Well, I can understand that knowing farm machinery, but okay, I see that. - That was, that's something I learned, because I didn't know. - Well, actually, I didn't know that either. Okay, now what's in it? - Well, when you apply your nitrogen then, and you water it in, and it's a half a cup per bale. And the whole process of conditioning the bale takes approximately 12 days. On your first, and your third, and your fifth day, you take a half a cup of nitrogen per bale. - Now that's ammonium nitrate? - No, this is nitrogen. Ammonium nitrate, in some areas of the country, you may be able to get, because here- - The co-op? - I got this at the co-op. And you need to make sure when you get your nitrogen, it's the 34-0-0. It has no slow release, it's just pure nitrogen, and it has no weed- - Yeah, you don't want to choose a fertilizer that's got a pre-emergent in it to keep weeds, 'cause that'll inhibit it. But you can plant seeds in this, correct? - Oh yes, yeah! - So you wouldn't want to do anything that had anything but the necessary. - The nitrogen. - Right, okay, now. - Then, when you start your process, the first day, like I said, first, third, fifth day, half a cup of your nitrogen and new water in. Your second, your fourth, and your sixth day, you just do nothing but water your bale. And you make sure each time that the water is running out the bottom so that way you know it's totally penetrated the bale. On your seventh and eighth and ninth day of the process, you apply just a fourth of a cup of nitrogen per bale, and you water it in. On the 10th day, you would take your general fertilizer. Now you could do a 10-10-10 general fertilizer- - Yeah, like that one there. - Like this one here, or you can do an organic, if you decide to go that way. And I'm actually going to do the organic. And what you would do, you apply a full cup of that per bale on the 10th day. And then you totally water that in. - Well, I wonder, because there are some organic fertilizers that you dilute in water. - Yes. - Now, I don't think that would change that process though, because you're going to water the other end anyway. - Actually, yes, yeah. So you could still use your liquid fertilizer, or organic fertilizer. - Okay. It's very obvious Karon, that you thought this through, you've put down landscape fabric to keep you from having to do maintenance in between the rows, because we know that you're going to have many things grow underneath here. You've also, these are very stable, your stakes that you put in, and the twine that you've wound through that. Now, then, I think you're ready to begin telling us about what you've planned to do. - Okay, yeah, you put your bales in a north-south direction so that way, when the sun comes up in the east, then your leaves will have the tendency to, well, all the dew will get dried off of it. - Takes care of the bacteria. - But the string I've trellised, because I want my tomatoes and my squashes, and I want to be able to trellis them, and so that way it actually makes it easier for me, or whoever decides to do this type of gardening, to pick the fruit of the work. - You can do cucumbers on it too. You know, you also could grow some green beans that would come up through there. - I am. Now I'm going to do something. I'm going to do a bush bean, and I'm going to do a bush cucumber. - Yeah, that's good. - But I'm still leaving the trellis up, because it will help kind of give support and all that to the plant. The way I dig my hole, I use just a plain old steak knife. - Well, that works, and I suppose everyone will find their way. - Yes, exactly. You go in and you just, it does take a little bit of work. - [Annette] Well, what doesn't? - Yeah, but you just, and you can tell- - [Annette] You're going with the grain, you can tell when you're going across, can't you? - [Karon] You can tell when you're going across. And then what you do, you pull out, and, you know, you just kind of slice it like a steak. - [Annette] Well, can you lift it out with this? - [Karon] That does help, yeah. Now I found out my fingers work better, but- - Well, I'll just have it here in reserve. - Okay, yeah, and it takes just a little bit of time to work that out. - [Annette] So, in this process, then, you've got your hole, you're going to have to have soil. - [Karon] Exactly, and you want that so the root ball is totally covered with dirt. - [Annette] Okay, so you probably will put your plant in and then you will put just a little in the bottom. - [Karon] Yeah, a little bit in the bottom, and then you would put your root ball of your plant in, and then you would top it off with- - Additional soil. - Yes. - I see. Well, you know, I think as you go through this process that anyone will learn their own little tricks, and I can see that you might take one of these little augers that you could plant bulbs with, and it just might do these holes. - It'd make the job easier. - And I realized that this is a fast forward process here. This bale has not been through the total condition of the process. - [Karon] So what I've done, because I do live in this subdivision, I wanted this to be kind of pretty to the eye also. - [Annette] Showcase it. - [Karon] Yes. And so I've done the basil in the back, 'cause it'll get kind of tall, I've done chives in the center, and that way it will have a pink blossom on it, and then I've got a flat parsley and that'll get kind of bushy. And in the front, I've done- - [Annette] Thyme. - [Karon] Thyme, it's thyme. And it'll grow kind of out and down. And then what you do, and this helps with the insects also. I'm going to put marigolds in the sides. - Oh, I think very, an easy way for someone could put this on a driveway. - Yes, you could put this anywhere, because you're not really concerned about what's underneath it, because your total container's contained in that bale. - Yeah, now then, the one other thing is when we're finished with this next fall, you actually could plant, I believe, like little seeds of lettuce and extend your growing season. - Exactly, yes, and that is one of the advantages of the bale gardening. It actually extends the growing season for you. - [Annette] And then even though you've got a perennial herb in here too, this will become a compost pile, won't it? - Exactly. When I'm finished growing my vegetables, and it gets toward the end of the season, then I'll cut the straps, I'll break the straw down, and I put maybe a little bit more of ammonium nitrate or nitrogen on it to start the cooking process, and it will sit all winter, and next year, when I'm ready to put extra- - Well, if you've got it. - Wonderful stuff in my flower garden and all that, and then I'll have a compost already. - Well, guess what? - So this is gonna go after the end of the season. - Well, you call me when all these things are ready, because my garden is still too wet to plow. And so you're going to have all of these things before I do. - [Karon] I'm gonna get a headstart. - [Annette] So give me a call and thank you. This has been very informative, and I think people can use it. - [Karon] Thank you.
July 15, 2021
Season 30 | Episode 03
Going along with the knowledge that fresh is best can hold true for a nut crop too. Tammy Algood educates us about the culture and longevity of pecan trees. Jeff Poppen visits a community garden that was established on an empty lot in a suburban setting. Annette Shrader introduces us to straw bale gardening.