Bryan’s Desk Category
It’s time ….. to plant maples! Over the years, I have had people tell me time and time again that Bigtooth Maples don’t grow. We have grown a small forest of these wonderful trees at Love Creek Nursery and I want to share them with you.
Aside from the beauty of the Bigtooth maple, planting trees increases your property value and can reduce your cooling bill in summer.
As we learned in school, trees absorb sunlight as part of photosynthesis. If the light that previously fell on your house is absorbed by your trees, your house will stay cooler. We all know how hot concrete sidewalks and driveways get in the summer. That heat is radiated out at night keeping the air around your house warm. Shading your sidewalk will help keep your yard cooler in the evenings.
The cities of San Antonio and Austin know this and are offering rebate programs to help finance planting of native trees like the Bigtooth Maple. CPS Energy is offering rebates to help cover the cost of planting on the East, West or south side of your house. Austin is continuing their Urban Forest Grant Program. Depending on the size of the tree planted, these programs can cover the entire purchase price.
So what are you waiting for?! Call your local nursery and ask for Bigtooth Maples, spec them into your landscaping build, or come on out to Love Creek for lunch, ice cream and a Maple tree.
Spring is here! The trees and bushes at the orchard are starting to grow and bugs are starting to appear with the warm weather. Naturally some of the bugs are mildly harmful and some are majorly harmful but others are beneficial. I would like to concentrate on a couple beneficial beetles: the ladybug and the soldier beetle.
The Ladybug. Most people are aware that the ladybug or ladybird bug is a beneficial beetle which feasts on aphids, mites,
and scale. In addition to the common red with black spots, they can be orange and yellow with black spots or even black with red spots. Don’t confuse black lady bugs with the smaller brassy willow beetle. The brassy willow beetle is a harmful beetle which eats leaves and has a distinctive brassy shine.
It is also important to learn what the ladybug larvae looks like. These scary looking critters eat hundreds of aphids before they grow up to be ladybugs so don’t kill them!
You can buy ladybugs from the internet and release them to help clean your garden. If you do this, remember that they will follow the food and water so keep the plants moist and don’t be surprised if they leave once the aphids are gone.
The Soldier Beetle. Also called the leatherback beetle and the leather wing beetle, the soldier beetle eats aphids, mites, and even caterpillars. They are long, grey and black with red, orange or yellow color and are thin, sometimes resembling fireflies but without the luminescence. They are often found on flowering plants eating pollen or lying in wait to ambush other bugs.
The soldier beetle larvae are dark worm like creatures often found in the soil, under dead bark, or in dead leaves. They eat the eggs and larvae of grasshoppers and moths.
I am not aware of soldier beetles being for sale, they just show up in swarms some years. They are currently swarming the peach trees and blackberry bushes at Love Creek Orchards.
It is important to know these beneficial insects. Using pesticides to kill aphids can kill the beneficial bugs feeding on the aphids. If the aphids are too much for the labybugs or soldier beetles to control, a strong stream of water can kill aphids without hurting the beneficial bugs. In fact, the ladybugs will appreciate the water on the leaves for them to drink.
Now is the time to plant your trees whether apple or Bigtooth Maple. Trees are best planted when the tree is still dormant and there is some moisture in the soil. This allows time for the roots to start developing before leaves appear at the tops of the trees. For Texas, this usually means February or March. Trees can break dormancy in Texas early if we get warm weather early.
The number of nurseries that carry the Bigtooth Maples from Love Creek Orchards has increased in the last few years. Ask your local nursery about the Bigtooth or come out to the Apple Store for a scenic drive to buy your trees. Stay for lunch! Our Patio Café is listed as one of the “40 Best Small Town Cafes in Texas” by Texas Monthly Magazine!
To help cover the costs of your trees, San Antonio and Austin offer grant and rebate programs for trees which qualify. Both programs include the Bigtooth Maple! These programs have an expiration date, so get your applications and purchases in soon.