Palms

 

                                      Palms are great to give your yard that tropical paradise feel!

Palms are true trees, although they grow on a single unbranched trunk, with a crown of large leaves at the top.

These leaves can be long and divided, like giant fern leaves, or they can be rounded and fan shaped, the two types being call “Feather” or “Fan” palms.

Palms mostly grow in the company of other trees, so they like the shade, at least when they are young; but there are few among the taller palms that insist on it.

Palms vary enormously in height; some of the clump-formers grow only about 6 or 10 ft. tall and can be placed in a garden like shrubs; others can reach about 90 ft. and are sufficiently stately for the largest gardens. The most magnificent palms are strictly for frost-free climates. Some of the more modest palms must be grown indoors; but they are among the most attractive of all house plants. They are mostly easy to grow. Give them reasonable light, don’t over-water them and don’t use a pot that is too large for the size of the palm.


Some species have their sap tapped to make wine or toddy. There are some whose young shoots can be cut out and cooked like cabbage.

Maas Nursery has a wonderful supply of palms and tropicals.

WE WILL BE ADDING CONTENT ON SPECIFIC PALM FOR OUR CLIMATE SOON

Fruit Trees & Berries

We carry all of these in varieties for our climate:

 

Anna Apple

The Anna Apple is a remarkable fruit tree for mild-winter climates.  It produces heavy crops of sweet, crisp, flavorful apples.  These apples are great fresh or cooked.  200 chill hours are needed.  It is self fruitful, or can be pollinated with Dorsett Golden or Einshemer.  Fruit is red and ripens around July.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Einshemer Apple

The Einshemer Apple isheavy-bearing, very low chilling requirement. Sweet yellow apples in early summer. Excellent pollinator for Anna. Chill Hours, 100. Self fruitful. 

 
 
 

 Golden Dorsett Apple

 

 The Golden Dorsett Apple is an outstanding sweet apple for warm winter areas. It is firm, very flavorful and sweet like Golden Delicious.  It needs 100 chill hours.

 

 

 

 

 

Avocado

 

Rabbiteye Blueberry

 

A new blueberry is the Rabbiteye Blueberry. Its early ripening.  Most of the fruit ripens in a short period of time.  The crop load is moderate to high.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southern Highbush Blueberry

 

 

The Southern Highbush Blueberry  (U.S. Plant Patent 11,807) It is an early to mid-season berry.  It has a slightly tart flavor.  The Southern Highbush has exceptional growth habits and produces very large fruit.  It grows upright and is vigorous.  Plant with other midseason varieties for optimal pollination.  Chill hours are 200 or less.

 

 

 

Misty Southern Highbush Blueberry

 

 

The Misty Southern Highbush is a vigorous tree that grows well on the coast or inland areas.  150 Chill Hours needed.  It thrives in mild winters and hot summer climates.  Produces large fruit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunshine Blue Southern Highbush

 

 

The Sunshine Blue Southern Highbush has great flavor. It is a firm berry.  It ripens approximately May to June.  It is a semi-dwarf bush with beautiful fall color.  It needs approximately 150 chill hours.  This plant is very cold hardy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackberry

 

 

Dragon Fruit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celeste Fig

 

 

Brown Turkey Fig

 

Brazilian Grape Tree

 

Muscadine Grape Vine

The Muscadine Grape thrives on summer heat and need very little to almost no chilling hours.  They range from bronze to dark purple to black when ripe, some stay green through maturity.  They have a tough skin.  Great for eating fresh or making wine, juice or jelly.  Rich in polyphenols.  There are many varieties of Muscadine Grapes.

 

 

 

 

Kiwi

The Issai Kiwi is a fuzzless fruit with no need to peel.  This fruit is smaller and sweeter than a standard kiwi.  Its high in Vitamin C.  This kiwiw is very winter hardy, but new growth is sensitive to frost, however, recovers quickly.  Often sets fruit 1st year.  Self Fruitful. 300 Chill Hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Photo courtesy of Dave Wilson Nursery

 

Leche

 

 

Mango

 

 

Pakistan Mulberry

 

 

 

The Pakistan Mulberry tree produces extremely large ruby-red to maroon colored fruit. It reaches two and a half to five inches long.  It has firm berries with very sweet flavor and the juice is said to be non-staining. (Spring Only)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Desert Dawn Nectarine

 

Desert Dawn Nectarine has solid red skin and juicy yellow semi-freestone flesh with a rich flavor.  It ripens mid to late May.  250 Chill Hours.  Self-fruitful.  

Arbequina Olive

 

The Arbequina Olive is recognized for its aromatic ripeness, low bitterness, pungency and stability.  It is self pollinating with low polyphenol content. It is a small fruit and cold hardy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arbosana Olive

 

Arbosana Olive is self-fertile.  It has a medium polyphenol content, with small fruit and is cold hardy.

Koroneiki Olive

 

 

The Koroneiki Olive is strongly fruity, herbaceous and very stable fruit with mild bitterness and pungency.  It has a very high polyphenol content with small fruit and is cold sensitive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Papaya

Carica papaya (‘Solo Sunrise’ and ‘Waimanolo’)

Life: Perennial

 

 

Size: 15′

 

 

Light: Full Sun

 

 

Water: Moist in heat, Very Little in cold, Excellent Drainage at all times

 

 

Soil: Light and Fertile

 

A picky, tender little tree, but it produces such delicious fruit that it’s worth it to tend it carefully. Papayas are believed to be native to southern Mexico and other Central American areas, but they are now grown in most every tropical and subtropical country; these two cultivars are from Hawaii. They are extremely sensitive to both cold and excess moisture, and should be planted on a mound in a sunny, well-protected place to ensure proper drainage. They can also be kept in a large pot for easier protection. A light frost can damage the foliage and spoil the fruit’s taste; a freeze will usually kill it. They also dislike wind, but will tollerate it without too much detriment. However, they are normally neat and tidy plants, having only a single trunk unless damage causes branching. The leaves are large and the beautiful, creamy white flowers have a delightful little fragrance.

Of course, it’s the fruit that most papayas are grown for. ‘Solo Sunrise’ has firm, sweet pulp of a pinkish-orange hue, about 1½ pounds per fruit, and begins bearing when about 3′ tall; ‘Waimanolo’ has sweet pulp in a yellow-orange color, about 2 pounds per fruit, and will normally begin bearing when 4-5′ tall. Both are juicy and sweet, with a flavor similar to canteloupe, and will often begin fruitation within their first year. When harvesting, pick the fruits when the skin is mostly yellow-green and ripen them the rest of the way indoors at room temperature until the skin is almost entirely yellow and a little soft to the touch; leaving them on the plant to ripen can result in the fruit falling off and splattering everywhere, making a mess at the base of your plants (the birds may eat it, but you likely won’t want to). The seeds are also edible and have a spicy taste like black pepper. Unripe, green fruits should not be eaten raw because of the latex they contain, though they can be boiled and eaten as a vegetable. Young leaves can also be cooked and eaten, similar to spinach.

Pear

Name: Pear, Acres Home
Description: Bears at 3 years.  Has naturally spreading shape.  Chill hour requirements is 300-350.  Perfect for the Houston area.  Fruit is very large, traditional pear shape with red blush on exposed side.  Bears heavily each year.  Great landscaping tree.  Pollinate with Southern Queen, Southern Bartlett,

Name: Pear, Atlas Super Orient
Description: Atlas Super Orient Pear Tree has low chill hour requirements.  Fruit is medium in size and with speckles.  Hard Canning Pear

Name: Pear, Hosui Asian
Description:

Semi-Dwarf tree, great for milder climates.  Ripens around July.  Pollinate with Southern Bartlett.  Large brownish-orange fruit

Name: Pear, Keiffer
Description: Kieffer Pear grows large yellow fruit.  Very cold hardy.  Can grow up to 30 feet tall.  Heavy bearer

Name: Pear, Korean Giant Asian
Description: Also known as the Large Korean or Olympic.  It’s globe shaped fruit ripens to a golden brown and can weight more than a pound.  Flesh is cripsy, juicy and sweet, with an almost spicy flavor.  Grows to be approx 15 ft.  Any European pear or Asian Pear can cross pollinate.

Name: Pear, Shinseki Asian
Description:

Shinseki is a round, medium sized, golden pear with sweet, white, crisp and juicy flesh. Fruit ripens in late July, to mid August and stores well until March.  Bears fruit at a young age and requires 250-450 chill hours.  Great quality pear.

Name: Pear, Southern Bartlett
Description:

Fire blight resistant.  Bartlett shaped fruit, 450 chill hours, great for Houston and surrounding areas. Pollinate with Southern Queen or Acres Home.  Southern Bartlett has a spreading shape, and bears in about 4-5 years.  Pollinate with Acres Homes, Tennessee or Southern Queen

 

 

 

Peach

Name: Peach, August Pride
Description:

The August Pride Peach is a large, all purpose yello freestone peach for milder climates.  Sweet, aromatic, rich flavor.  It’s one of the very best!  Less than 300 chill hours needed.  Ripens 3-4 weeks after the Mid Pride Peach.

 

 

 

Name: Peach, Eva’s Pride
Description: The Eva’s Pride Peach  is a delicious, fine flavored peach with very low chill hours needed.  Ripens in June, Medium to large freestone Peach.  Our good friends the Northrop’s grow these Peaches and we just love them!  Photo Courtesy of Dave Wilson Nursery. 

 

Eva’s Pride

Name: Peach, Flordaking
Description: The Flordaking Peach tree produces a high quality, early season peach.  Large semi-freestone, sweet fruit.  450 Chill hours or less.  Photo courtesy of Dave Wilson Nursery.

Name: Peach, May Pride (SPRING ONLY)
Description:

David says that this is the finest peach!  Very early ripening peach for warmer climates.  Ripens in May.  Delicious and sweet.  Produces beautiful pink blossoms.  175 to 200 Chill hours, self fruitful.  Photo courtesy of Dave Wilson Nursery.

Name: Peach, Mid Pride
Description:

The Mid Pride Peach is a yellow, freestone peach for warmer climates.  Exceptional flavor, mid season, 250 chill hours.  We have grown and enjoyed this variety for over 20 years!

Name: Peach, Red Baron (SPRING ONLY)
Description:

Red Baron Peach is a large, firm, juicy yellow freestone peach.  Produces double red blossoms.  Long time favorite in Texas and California.  250-300 Chill Hours, self-fruitful.  Photo courtesy of Dave Wilson Nursery.

Name: Peach, Rio Grande
Description:

The Rio Grande Peach is a large, yellow-fresh fruit.  Usually ripens around June.  450 Chill Hours needed.  Rio Grande Peaches are freestone, meaning the seed/stone comes out clean.  Photo courtesy of L.E. Cooke

Name: Peach, Sam Houston
Description:

Sam Houston Peach is a medium sized yellow to red blushed fruit.  Freestone, low chill hour requirement.

Name: Peach, Tropic Snow
Description: Low Chill hour peach tree (225 hours).  White flesh, semi-freestone peach for South Texas and central Florida areas.  Low acidicy, extremely sweet flavor.  Self-Fruitful.  Photo Courtesy of Dave Wilson Nursery.

 

Persimmon

Name: Persimmon, Fuyu
Description: Delicious non-astringent Japanese Persimmon.  Very heavy bearer.

Plum

 

Name: Plum, Methley
Description:

Self-fertile.  Japanese Plum, fruit is sweet and juicy.  Red to purple color.

Name: Plum, Santa Rosa
Description: Juicy, tangy and flavorful plum.  Reddish purple skin, amber flesh with tinges of red.  300 Chill Hours.  Self-Fruitful.

Name: Plum, Methley
Description:

Self-fertile.  Japanese Plum, fruit is sweet and juicy.  Red to purple color.

Pomegranite

Name: Pomegranate, Red Silk
Description: Produces large fruit with edible seeds that have a sweet berry flavor.  150-200 chill hours, self-fruitful. 

Raspberry

Star fruit

Strawberry

And others!

 

 

 

Japanese Maples

JAPANESE MAPLES

Japanese maples have long been considered difficult or even impossible to grow in south east Texas.
Over the last 30 or so years I have learned how to grow them here. There are a few things that you need to know:

Japanese maples do not like our Houston summers, so they need to be planted with that in mind. In our climate they are best used as under story trees, which means, plant them in the shade.

Crimson Queen Japanese Maple photo by Jim Maas

Japanese maples are grown for their graceful growth patterns and interesting foliage. Many Japanese maples have brilliant colorful leaves. The leaf color is more intense if there is new growth and cool nights. We don’t get too many weeks of that each year. The second thing that keeps the leaves colorful is sun. The problem becomes giving them enough sun to keep them colorful without giving them so much that they burn or die. My best results are when the maple is in the shade from 11:00 to 3:00 in the summer. Any more sun and they burn, any less and they grow great but have a shorter period of the most intense color

The Japanese maples like good drainage. If they are planted in a loose well drained bed , like a rose or an azalea, they do very well rooting down into our clay soils.

All Japanese maples are deciduous. Most have great fall color, but only if there is cool weather before they loose their leaves.

We grow and sell dozens of varieties or Japanese maples. We specialize in varieties that tolerate our hot summers. However, I have found that there is a difference in heat tolerance even within plants with the same name. Some growers have what could be referred to as sort of sub varieties that are better in the heat Those are the Japanese maples that we sell. Even when using the correct variety they almost always stress a bit in the summers. A few brown tips on the leaves is normal.

Keep them watered. Japanese maples do not like extreme drought conditions. The first 2 summers are the most critical. Daily watering is required to allow them to root in well.

Most of the named varieties ( the more interesting ones are the named ones) are grafted with up to 8 or 10 grafts. This means that the interesting maples are not available in any size smaller than 3 gallon pots. Grafting makes them cost a bit more, but it is the only way to insure a strong root and an interesting top. The seed grown (non grafted) plants are available in 1 gallon pots and cost much less.

The following is a list of some of the varieties we sell. Remember, just because it is on the list does not automatically mean that it will do well here. You also need a heat resistant strain.

Acer plalmatum: Japanese maple. (seed grown). A small green leafed tree that grows to 20 to 25 feet. The foliage is light green and deeply lobed, and tends to have brilliant fall color, in those years when we have a fall before they drop their leaves.

Red Leaf Japanese Maple.(seed grown). Colorful fall color and nice spring color. An 18 foot open growing tree.

Bloodgood. Very attractive foliage with red coloring fading to green with summer heat. Scarlet fall coloring. Interesting dark bark on older trees. Nice slender airy form to 15+ feet.

Burgundy lace. Graceful tree with deeply lobed finely serrated burgundy spring leaves. To 10-12 ft.
Crimson Queen. Low branching dwarf tree with graceful weeping limbs. Crimson spring leaves, greening in the summer. To 10 ft.

Emperor 1. Small (15′) dark red tree. Leafs out later.

Black.Slow growing tree TO 10-12 ft. Black red new foliage, maturing to a deep purple red.

Oshio-Beni. To 15 ft. Leaves are more orange-ed.

Coral Bark. 20-25′ tree with pink stems in the winter. Leaves are a light green turning brilliant colors in the fall

Coral Bark Japanese Maple, fall color Photo by Jim Maas

Shiana. Dwarf, to 8′ or so. bright red new leaves maturing to maroon.

Waterfall. Fine green foliage, golden in fall. Weeping form.

We also carry 8-10 other dwarf weeping varieties in limited quantities. You need to come in to see these because we don’t keep an updated list. Some varieties are so new they have not even been named yet.

I hope you enjoy the Japanese maples as much as we do.

Japanese red maple bonsai grove, fall color Photo by Jim Maas

Jim Maas

 

Mulching

Shrubs and vegetables can benefit from mulch.

Mulching involves placing a layer of material around the base of plants to stabilize temperature, conserve moisture, and control weeds.  as ti decomposes mulch adds to the soil. The insulating qualities provided by the mulch will help protect roots from heat stress. This results in stronger, healthier plants. With lower water evaporation rates, a consistently adequate soil moisture supply is available, and nutrients are more easily obtained by plants. This helps prevent blossom end rot on tomatoes and other plant diseases related to lack of nutrients.

For vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and squashes, mulch acts as a barrier between the soil and the fruit, keeping vegetables clean and dry, and lessening the risk of spoilage. Weeds are also controlled by a covering of mulch, resulting in less competition for water and nutrients by the vegetables, and fewer back problems for the gardener.

MULCH MATERIALS

Organic material is usually best. Recycled tires and plastic will never add to the quality of your soil.

Leaf litter, grass clippings, compost, and peat moss are biodegradable materials readily available to most gardeners for use as mulch. Peat moss tends to form an impermeable mat when used on its own, and can act as a sponge, preventing water from passing through to the soil. It is best used sparingly in conjunction with other mulching materials.

Grass clippings and leaf litter are good mulches, as long as they are weed free, and are not fresh and green. Fresh vegetation can heat the soil as it is decomposing, and deplete the soil of nitrogen more than mulch that is partially broken down. Do not use grass clippings from a lawn that had a weed killer applied within the last two mowings.

Older grass clippings and leaves laid down as a mulch can also cause a temporary nitrogen deficiency, as soil microorganisms pull from the soil the nitrogen they need to break down the vegetation. Once the mulch is broken down, the nitrogen will be released to the soil, but to avoid a temporary deficiency, some extra nitrogen should be provided. Compost used as a mulch will not present this problem.

Mulch should be laid in the garden in early July for warm weather vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and vine crops. By this time, the soil has had adequate time to warm up, and the plants have had a chance to become established. If the soil in your garden has a sandy texture, it will warm up to favourable temperatures more rapidly in spring, so mulch can be applied two weeks earlier. However, if the soil is a heavy clay, mid-July is the best time for mulching warm season vegetables.

For cooler season crops such as peas, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, mulching can begin two weeks earlier than with warm season crops, adjusted to the type of soil you have in your garden.

In landscaped beds, mulching is usually done in spring and/or fall.

DO NOT OVER MULCH. Thick applications of mulch can smother the roots of your good plants, and can even kill them.

Some years existing mulch can be turned to extend it’s use.

When it is time to mulch, the garden should be watered well before placing a 1/2to 2 inch depth of grass clippings and leaves around the bases of plants. Mulch is good to insulate the soil root zone and lower evaporation rates. As the leaves break down, add more material to the top to maintain the same depth throughout the growing season. This will ensure that your vegetable roots will remain relatively cool with a consistent supply of moisture through the hot summer days. After harvest, the mulch can be worked into the garden to supply the soil with organic matter. With its many attributes, mulching is a practice well worth trying for the back yard gardener.

Composting

Gardeners have used compost for centuries. When materials such as leaves and grass clippings are composted, a microbial process converts plant wastes to a more usable organic amendment. Many homeowners may find it convenient and economical to compost these materials in their own backyards. In either case, the finished compost can be used as a soil amendment or mulch to improve most soils for gardens, landscape beds, lawn preparation or even as 15% of a potting medium.

Decomposition of organic material in the compost pile is dependent on maintaining microbial activity. Any factor which slows or halts microbial growth will also impede the composting process. Efficient decomposition will occur if the following factors are used to their fullest advantage.

AERATION: Oxygen is required for microbes to efficiently decompose the organic wastes. Some decomposition will occur in the absence of oxygen (anaerobic conditions); however, the process is slow and foul odors may develop. Because of the odor problem, composting without oxygen is not recommended in a residential setting unless the process is conducted in a fully closed system. Turning the pile once or twice a month will provide the necessary oxygen and significantly hasten the composting process. A pile that is not mixed may take three to four times longer before it can be used. A well mixed compost pile will also reach higher temperatures which will help destroy weed seeds and pathogens.

MOISTURE: Adequate moisture is essential for microbial activity. A dry compost pile will not decompose efficiently. If rainfall is limited, it will be necessary to water the pile periodically to maintain a steady decomposition rate. Enough water should be added to completely moisten the pile, but overwatering should be avoided. Excess water can lead to anaerobic conditions. Water the pile so that it is damp, but does not remain soggy. The compost will be within the right moisture range if a few drops of water can be squeezed from a handful of material. If no water can be squeezed out, the material is too dry. If water gushes from your hand, it is too wet.

PARTICLE SIZE: The smaller the size of organic wastes, the faster the compost will be ready for use. Smaller particles have much more surface area that can be attacked by microbes. A shredder can be used before putting material in the pile, and is essential if brush or sticks are to be composted. A low cost method of reducing the size of fallen tree leaves is to mow the lawn before raking or run the lawn mower over leaf piles after raking. Raked piles should be checked to insure that they do not contain sticks or rocks which could cause injury during operation of the mower. If the mower has an appropriate bag attachment, the shredded leaves can be collected directly. In addition to speeding up the composting process, shredding will initially reduce the volume of the compost pile.

FERTILIZER AND LIME: Microbial activity is affected by the carbon to nitrogen ratio of the organic waste. Because microbes require a certain amount of nitrogen for their own metabolism and growth, a shortage of nitrogen will slow down the composting process considerably. Materials high in carbon relative to nitrogen such as straw or sawdust will decompose very slowly unless nitrogen fertilizer is added. Tree leaves are higher in nitrogen than straw or sawdust but decomposition of leaves would still benefit from an addition of nitrogen fertilizer or components high in nitrogen. Grass clippings are generally high in nitrogen and when mixed properly with leaves will enhance decomposition. Poultry litter, manure or blood meal can be used as organic sources of nitrogen. Otherwise, a fertilizer with a high nitrogen analysis (10-30%) should be used. Other nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium are usually present in adequate amounts for decomposition.

During the initial states of decomposition organic acids are produced, decreasing the pH. In the past, small amounts of lime have been suggested for maintaining and enhancing microbial activity at this time. However, high rates of lime will convert ammonium nitrogen to ammonia gas which will lead to the loss of nitrogen from the pile. Research indicated that lime additions may hasten decomposition; however, the loss of nitrogen from the pile often offsets the benefits of lime. In general, lime is not necessary for degradation of most yard wastes. The pH of finished compost is usually alkaline (pH = 7.1-7.5) without the addition of lime. If large quantities of pine needles, pine bark, or vegetable and fruit wastes are composted, additional lime may be necessary.

Many organic materials are suitable for composting. Yard wastes, such as leaves, grass clippings, straw, and non woody plant trimmings can be composted. Leaves are the dominant organic waste in most backyard compost piles. Grass clippings can be composted; however, with proper lawn management, clippings do not need to be removed from the lawn. If clippings are used, it is advisable to mix hem with other yard wastes, otherwise the grass clippings may compact and restrict airflow. Branches and twigs greater than 1/4 inch in diameter should be put through a shredder/chipper. Kitchen wastes such as vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells may also be added.

Sawdust may be added in moderate amounts if additional nitrogen is applied. Approximately 1 lb. of actual nitrogen (6 cups of ammonium nitrate) is required for 100 lbs. of dry sawdust. Wood ashes act as a lime source and if used should only be added in small amounts (no more than 1 cup per bushel or 10 pounds per ton of compost). Ordinary black and white newspaper can be composted; however, the nitrogen content is low and will consequently slow down the rate of decomposition. If paper is composted, it should not be more than 10% of the total weight of the material in the compost pile.

Examples of other organic materials that can be used to add nutrients to the pile include: blood meal, bone meal, livestock manure, non-woody clippings, vegetable and flower garden refuse, hay, straw and lake plants. Livestock manure and poultry litter are nitrogen sources for composting. Approximately 100 pounds of poultry litter will provide 1.8 pounds of nitrogen.

Some materials may pose a health hazard or create a nuisance and therefore should not be used to make compost. Adding human or pet feces cannot be recommended because they may transmit diseases. Meat, bones, grease, whole eggs, and dairy products should not be added because they can attract rodents to the site. Most plant disease organisms and weed seeds are destroyed during the composting process when temperatures in the center of the pile reach 150-160 F.

Although plants that have been treated with herbicides or pesticides should be avoided for composting, small amounts of herbicide-treated plants (e.g., grass clippings) may be mixed in the pile as long as one is careful to allow thorough decomposition. Ideally, clippings from lawns recently treated with herbicides should be left on the lawn to decompose.

Use of plastic garbage bags is perhaps the simplest way to make compost. The bags are easy to handle, and require minimal maintenance. To make compost using this method, 30-40 gallon plastic bags should be alternatively filled with plant wastes, fertilizer and lime. About one tablespoon of a garden fertilizer with a high nitrogen content should be used per bag. Lime (one cup per bag) helps counteract the extra acidity caused by anaerobic composting. After filling, add about a quart of water. Close tightly. Set aside for six months to a year. Bags can be set in a basement or heated garage for better decomposition during winter months. Using garbage bags requires no turning or additional water after closing. The main advantage of composting in garbage bags is that it requires little maintenance; however, because oxygen is limited, the process is slow.

The barrel or drum composter generates compost is a relatively short period of time and provides an easy mechanism for turning. This method requires a barrel of at least 55 gallons with a secure lid. Be sure that the barrel was not used to store toxic chemicals. Drill 6-9 rows of 1/2 inch holes over the length of the barrel to allow for air circulation and drainage of excess moisture. Place the barrel upright on blocks to allow bottom air circulation. Fill the barrel 3/4 full with organic waste material and add about 1/4 cup of high (approximately 30%N) nitrogen containing fertilizer. Apply water until compost is moist but not soggy.

Every few days, turn the drum on its side and roll it around the yard to mix and aerate the compost. The lid can be removed after turning to allow for air penetration. Ideally, the compost should be ready in two to four months. The barrel composter is an excellent choice for the city dweller with a relatively small yard.

For larger quantities of organic waste, bin type structures are the most practical. As an example, a circular bin can be made by using a length of small spaced woven wire fencing and holding it together with chain snaps. The bin should be about three to five feet in diameter and at least four feet high. A stake may be driven in the middle of the bin before adding material to help maintain the shape of the pile and to facilitate adding water. With this design, it is easiest to turn the composting material by simply unsnapping the wire, moving the wire cylinder a few feet, and turning the compost back into it.

A very efficient and durable structure for fast composting is a three-chambered bin. It holds a considerable amount of compost, and allows good air circulation. The three chambered bin works on an assembly line idea, having three batches of compost in varying stages of decomposition. The compost material is started in the first bin and allowed to heat up for three to five days. Next, it is turned into the middle bin for another 4-7 days, while a new batch of material is started in the first bin. Finally, the material in the middle bin is turned into the last bin as finished or nearly finished compost.

To make a three-chambered bin, it is best to use rot resistant wood such as redwood, salt treated wood or wood treated with an environmentally safe preservative or a combination of treated wood and metal posts. Unless the wood is treated or rot resistant, it will decompose within a few years. Each bin should be at least three to five feet in each dimension to contain enough volume to compost properly. Using removable slats in the front offers complete access to the contents for turning.

The compost pile should be located close to where it will be used and where it will not interfere with activities in the yard or offend neighbors. From the aesthetic point of view, it is best to compost in a location screened from view of both your property and neighbor’s property. Examples of good locations for the pile include: near the garden or between the garage and house. Do not locate the compost pile near a well or on a slope that drains to surface water such as a stream or a pond. The pile will do best where it is protected from drying winds and in partial sunlight to help heat the pile. The more wind and sun the pile is exposed to, the more water it will need. Locating the pile too close to trees may also create problems as roots may grow into the bottom of the pile and make turning and handling the compost difficult.

Organic wastes, such as leaves, grass, and plant trimmings are put down in a layer eight to ten inches deep. Coarser materials will decompose faster if placed in the bottom layer. This layer should be watered until moist, but not soggy. A nitrogen source should be placed on top of this layer. Use one to two inches of livestock manure, or a nitrogen fertilizer such as ammonium nitrate or ammonium sulfate at a rate of one third of a cup for every twenty five square feet of surface area. If these nitrogen sources are not available, one cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 25 square feet of surface area will also suffice. Do not use fertilizer that contains herbicide or pesticide.

About a one inch layer of soil or completed compost can be applied on top of the fertilizer layer. One purpose of adding soil is to ensure that the pile is inoculated with decomposing microbes. The use of soil in a compost pile should be considered optional. In most cases, organic yards wastes such as grass clippings or leaves contain enough microorganisms on the surface to effect decomposition. Studies have shown that there is no advantage in purchasing a compost starter or inoculum. One way to insure that activator microbes are present in the new compost is to mix in some old compost as the pile is prepared.

Most compost piles should initially be prepared in layers. This will facilitate decomposition by insuring proper mixing. Each pile ideally should be about 5 feet high. If only tree leaves are to be composted, layering may not be necessary. Fallen leaves can be added as they are collected. Leaves should be moistened if they are dry and since dead leaves lack adequate nitrogen for rapid decomposition, addition of a high-nitrogen fertilizer (10- 30% analysis) should be added to speed up breakdown. Approximately 5 ounces (about 1/2 cup) of 10% nitrogen fertilizer should be added for each 20 gallons of hand compressed leaves.

To prevent odors and hasten decomposition, the pile must be turned occasionally. Turning also exposes seeds, insect larvae, and pathogens to lethal temperatures inside the pile. Odors may arise either from the addition of excessive amounts of wet plant materials like fruits or grass clippings, or from overwatering. A properly mixed and adequately turned compost heap will not have objectionable odors. An actively decomposing pile will reach temperatures of 130-160 F in the middle.

Reasons for the pile not heating up may be due to: too small a pile, not enough nitrogen, lack of oxygen, too much or not enough moisture. The pile should be turned when the temperature in the center begins to cool. This will introduce oxygen and undecomposed material into the center and subsequently regenerate heating. The composting process is essentially complete when mixing no longer produces heat in the pile.

Generally, a well managed compost pile with shredded material under warm conditions will be ready in about 2-4 months. A pile left unattended and material not shredded may take over a year to decompose. Piles prepared in the late fall will not be ready for use the following spring. When the compost is finished, the pile will be about half its original size and have an earthy smell to it.

Bonsai

houston bonsai
View of one bench of the bonsai selection

We have been making and selling Bonsai trees since the 1960’s.

Soon we will be adding more information and articles about growing Bonsais in our climate.

Be sure to watch for our bonsai classes.

Our prices run from $25 to $1000.

Because the inventory changes so often be sure to call first.

We will be posting photos of bonsai plants we have and have had here at Maas.

If you have a bonsai you are proud of, send a photo and we will put it here for all the world to see.
Bonsai Tips

Selecting a Pot

Bonsai is an art form. Because bonsai grow in shallow containers, they require frequent watering and inspection, careful pruning as well as occasional fertilizing, root trimming and repotting, to keep them healthy and within bounds. Bonsai are outdoor plants, but they may be brought indoors for short periods of time on special occasions or for display purposes. To keep top and bottom growth in healthy balance, a plant is periodically removed from its pot and three roots are trimmed back to encourage growth of new feeder roots, then repotted in fresh soil.

Styles: five main (but over 30 in all)
1. Formal upright
2. Informal upright (curved trunk)
3. Slanting
4. Half cascade
5. Cascade

Always balance SUN, WATER, AIR, SOIL and NATURAL NUTRIENTS

houston bonsai
ficus, nice exposed roots

Spring

Bonsai grow and develop from spring to summer, thus they must store up nourishment in the soil to prepare for the winter. Spring is when most bonsai begin their growth cycle. Monitor your watering to meet the requirements of your plants. Pay particular attention to deciduous bonsai who are at their peak growing stage and coupled with warmer weather may require additional moisture. For flowering bonsai, after the buds have blossomed, remove any remaining flowers and buds from the tree (berries may be left on). Take care to rotate the plants often so that each side receives equal amounts of sun to avoid one side becoming weaker and the other over developing. You should begin fertilizing in April for most plants but not newly transplanted or repotted plants. Evergreens will be happy and flourishing if fertilized from the middle of March on. Wait until the middle of May to fertilize deciduous trees, otherwise the leaves get too big. Start pinching back to control new growth and keep the plant’s shape. Pinching terminal buds on a branch will force side branches to grow. Leave on buds that point in the direction you want a branch to grow, removing all others, particularly those on the underneath side of a branch. Cypress and juniper tips can be pinched back with your fingers at the joint. Best not to use shears or the ends will turn brown. Watch for wiring that may cut into the trees.

Fertilizing is particularly important because of the confined area in which bonsai grow. Underfeeding is better than overfeeding. Organic fertilizers such as cottonseed meal, fish emulsion or meal, blood meal, and bone meal are preferable to chemical compounds. Fertilize broad-leafed evergreens when new buds and growth appear in April. Apply small amounts of liquid fertilizer twice a month. Do not fertilize for two months after transplanting or repotting. Give acid-loving plants (camellias and azaleas) iron-based fertilizer. Don not fertilize fruit or berry bonsai with strong nitrogen when fruit is forming.

Summer

Continue rotating the position of the plants, as well as location (from sun to partial shade). Water regularly, preferably in the early morning or late afternoon. Overhead watering is beneficial, but avoid doing this during mid-day and the late evening.
Weather can be very hot this month so be careful to guard against sunburn. Feed all fast growing deciduous trees (except those with fruit, flowers or berries). May and June is the time for transplanting satsuki azaleas. Do not engage in any drastic pruning now that the growth period had ended. Wiring of smaller branches can be done. Continue with the usual fertilizing. Do not transplant or report in late summer.

houston bonsai
Ulmus
elm

Fall

The growth period is ending and the plant will not require as much watering, but do not allow their trees to dry out. Try to keep a delicate balance between the minimum water requirement and evaporation due to any hot, dry weather. By mid-September, most conifers and deciduous trees can be transplanted. Begin preparation for winter. Trim any strong growth on the upper portions of conifers and clean off any dead needles. November is the last month that bonsai can be safely transplanted. Focus should be on dormancy, not stimulating growth. On deciduous trees, remove any wires that may be cutting in to avoid losing that branch during the winter. Remove any remaining leaves on deciduous trees. Refrain from fertilizing, transplanting or wiring this month.

 

houston bonsai
serissa

Winter

Summer Bonsai are in their dormant stage. They require less watering because of colder weather and rainy days, however if weather is warm, check your plants daily. No fertilizing or transplanting this time of year. January is a good time to shape deciduous trees, but be careful because branches can be brittle. Consider pruning any fruit-bearing bonsai. You may begin grafting on deciduous trees as well as pines and conifers. The best months for grafting conifers are January and February. In general, February to early March is the best time to transplant, replant or change soil. The best indicators of a need for soil change is not time, but the condition of the bonsai. A vigorous, healthy bonsai does not need its soil changed and should not be disturbed.

 

 

 

 

 

houston bonsai
A work in progress
Buxus macrophylla
Potted July 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

houston bonsai pots
We stock 100’s of bonsai pots!