Welcome back my little purple beans, and happy Friday to you all!

Everyone loves Friday, don’t they? I’m not even a 9-to-5er, and I love Fridays.

Friday is the day I gather my panel of experts and ask them a plant-related question. Then I cross my fingers and hope for the best. I never have any idea how they may answer. Don’t get me wrong – they are all smart people. Just not necessarily about plants. EZ Ed Johnson, for example, is an expert on sports but he doesn’t know that much about plants. Neither does newcomer Thack, but boy, is he an expert on computer stuff. I’m just happy everyone agreed to be here regardless of their plant knowledge.

I’m Liza, the moderator for the panel and author of this blog. I haven’t posted for the last few days so it feels good to be back. I have lots of great posts in the coming weeks and months, covering all sorts of fun subjects. For now, though, back to today’s post (sometimes I could use my own moderator, lol!).

On Fridays, I also roll out a plant puzzler. Last week in Name that Plant Problem!, I asked what was wrong with this Monstera plant.

I was convinced no one would guess this correctly, and was feeling pretty cocky about it. Then the guesses started rolling in. For reasons that are still unclear to me, I kinda sorta deliberately contributed to the confusion surrounding the actual plant problem by throwing in a misleading comment. Oops, my bad.

I’ll make all the necessary confessions and apologies, as well as naming the winner, after the panel of experts. I also have a brand new Name that Plant Problem! for you little peach blossoms out there. And I’m not going to be cocky about this one!

First, let’s meet the panel!

That’s Expert Tina Quintana, Expert EZ Ed Johnson, Expert Tim Thackaberry, Expert Dottie Correll, and Expert Lewis Casey. I think they look adorable with their sunflower heads. If you’d like to know more about our experts, including the newest expert, Thack, please click here.

Once again this week’s question comes from me. I’ve been complaining since day 1 that we haven’t gotten any burning plant questions submitted in the comments section, which is why we make them up ourselves. But in reality, we did get a question two weeks ago from Tina, who wanted to know if moss on your lawn means it’s acidic, and if so, what do you do about it. My reaction to that question was “Aaahhhh!” Because I have no idea what the answer to that is. I hardly ever even see lawns in Albuquerque! But my reaction doesn’t mean it’s not a good question, it is. So it’s on the list – we have these planned out a few weeks in advance, there are other questions in the queue before yours. Experts, start thinking moss!

Today’s question is, “When is the best time to prune fruit trees?”

First up is Expert Tina. Tina, what do you think?

A. Late winter when the tree is dormant is when to prune fruit trees. Pruning in the spring is useful to remove dead branches. HUGGS!

Uh-oh. Maybe I should’ve asked this question a long time ago. See, Tina always knows what she is talking about when it comes to plants, gardens and landscaping. So if she says to prune a fruit tree while it’s dormant, she’s correct. Problem is I pruned my Plum tree late last fall!!

Did I hurt it? Will it recover? Oh-no, I love that Plum tree!

I thought I had better take a close look at the tree, now that’s it’s spring here in the desert. I went out this morning and this is what I found:

Yay! She’s fine! Here’s the thing, most trees would rather have you prune them when they are “sleeping.” It’s less stressful and promotes better health. That said, trees and plants are amazingly resilient creatures. This Plum tree knows I love her – I tell her all the time that her blossoms are spectacular and her fruit delicious. So maybe I didn’t get the pruning quite right, but she’s going to weather it well.

Ok, back to our panel. EZ, you’re up next.

Q. When is the best time to prune fruit trees?

A. It’s best if I stay away from pruning. I once tried pruning an apricot tree on my family’s land in the Jemez and the limb nearly clobbered my mother on the head.

Well I wish you would’ve elaborated a little more on that story, EZ! We all love a near-miss clobbering!

So EZ, I’ve been pestering you about using your connections in the sports department of the Albuquerque Journal to see if you can score us a guest expert one day. So far, I have not been successful. Obviously, I’m not going to let past performance to stop my future questions! I was thinking about those cute little Henry brothers that play basketball for your Kansas Jayhawks. Do you think they’d like to guest expert one day?

A. We better get Xavier before he turns pro. He was born in Belgium, so maybe he could add to our European audience. His older brother C.J. mostly sits on the bench, so we have a better chance with him. He was born in Oklahoma. Do they have plants in Oklahoma?

Do they have plants in Oklahoma? Ok, EZ, I see what you’re doing. You’re angry that Oklahoma State beat your Kansas team a couple weeks ago, and now you think you can come on this site and use your bully pulpit to insult the entire state of Oklahoma. Well, I won’t hear of it. The good people of Oklahoma OF COURSE love their gardens just as much as people from other fine states. Sheesh – some people! You better go lick your wounds in private, buddy!

(We tease here on the Good to Grow blog, we tease!)

Ok, let’s get back to the game. Thack, here’s the question to you.

Q. When is the best time to prune fruit trees?

A. Um, I’m going to guess that the winter is the best time to do pruning.

However, I do know that the start of a new year is the best time to go through all of the files on your computer and “prune them back.” Most of us have all of our lives on our computer’s, so it’s extremely important to have everything organized in a manner that makes it easy to find things.

Speaking of prunes, are they really the best natural laxative, or is that just a myth? I’ve always wondered about that…

Good guess there, Thack! And thanks for the organizational tip! I don’t know the answer to your question about prunes. You know why? Because I don’t eat prunes. You know why? Because I’m not old. Hahahahahahaha! Just kidding! I have nothing against prunes.

Thack is right about staying organized. It’s liberating. One thing he taught me was to keep my email inbox sparse. He personally never has more than 10 emails in his inbox, but my limit is more like 15. Still, way better than the hundreds I had a few years ago. No one functions well from that far behind!

Let’s get back to the question of pruning, shall we? Up next is everyone’s favorite expert Dottie Correll! [Insert wild applause.]

Q. When is the best time to prune fruit trees?

A. The word “Pruning” never elicited much emotion one way or another until I met Liza and read one of her manuscripts revealing the “secret life” of plants: learning of the personalities unique to each specie. For example: The crotchety Cacti, the willing Willow, the fickle Fern, the languid Lavender, the aloof Azalea, the gossipy Grape Vine, the snippy snapdragon, the dazzling Daisy, the many frivolous Firs and of course the haughty Queen of them all, the Regal Rose!  The thought of taking a sharp instrument to one of their many appendages sends shivers up and down my spine. I have nightmares of them screaming as they are tortured. I admit I can no longer perform this barbaric but necessary function to my plant people — friend or foe!  The Question is not “When to Prune” but “Who” shall perform this dastardly deed?

Oh Dottie, my gosh you are adorable! Let me say a couple of things. One, you’re welcome for filling you with fear and giving you nightmares. It’s super that I was able to do that for you. Also, someone is still going to have to perform that dastardly deed. Eventually anyway.

Trees need pruning the way that humans need to clip their fingernails to remain functional (maybe you can dial a phone with two-inch fingernails, I cannot). Proper pruning promotes more blossoms, which means more fruit. Yay, fruit! Dottie, if it helps, do what I did when I pruned the Plum tree: I said in a whisper, “I’m sorry if this hurts, it’s for your own good, just hold your breath and it’ll be over in a minute.”

Thanks so much for being here, Dottie! Great answer once again this week!

Ok, next up is the venerable Lewis Casey. Here’s the question to you, boss!

Q. When is the best time to prune fruit trees?

A. Pruning is done in the late winter – early spring to remove old dead materials, branches that are growing crooked, back toward the trunk or straight up, crowded or rubbing against each other, diseased, broken, jagged. Sunlight should be able to shine equally on all the leaves throughout the tree at some time during the day. Pruning stimulates new growth thats why it is not done late in the fall or early winter, when the sap is down is the time to cut.

Use a good ladder, no broken steps or rails, don’t stand on the top step, don’t overreach, move the ladder, a fall from a short distance (6ft) can be just as deadly as from a greater height (20ft). Use good sharp tools and be careful working with tools and equipment while on the ladder or standing on a branch.

Time to go, got to get some rest going on a driving trip to Gettysburg PA, Emmitsburg MD, attending a Safety Officer training course as a American Red Cross volunteer at the DHS/FEMA Emergency Management Institution there. Leaving Albuquerque tommorow Thurs. 3-4-10 and driving till we get there. After the course we are going to Washinton DC. (80 miles away) and visit the Capital and the other great Monuments there. Now talking about needing to prune dead wood this is the place or if seeking to find fools (D) or idiots (R) you couldn’t spit and not hit a half dozen. Will keep you informed, maybe I can find a pack of those fools and give them my two cents of BS, what they do there is pert near the same, except they get paid for it. Be safe, Take care, Talk to you all later, I love a good adventure this should be one.

Lewis you crack me up. I wasn’t sure if I should include that last bit in your answer, but since you used the phrase, “you couldn’t spit and not hit a half dozen,” in it, I couldn’t resist!

Lewis is also very knowledgeable about plants and trees, so he is correct about pruning in late winter, or when the sap is down. But as I mentioned with my Plum tree, I goofed and pruned her in November – hardly late winter in Albuquerque.

At least, I think she’s ok. We’ll see when the blossoms come in the next week or so! Thanks Lewis for playing! Enjoy your trip to our nation’s capitol!

Ok, that does it for this week’s Ask the Experts. Thanks again to everyone for being here. We hope you enjoyed it!

Name that Plant Problem!

Here once again is the problem posed last week:

I thought, I am going to stump them so bad with this one. There is no way anyone is going to guess it. Then the first guess was from Eliza at sustainahillbilly. She guessed “watered by coffee”? Then there was another guess for coffee. “Ack,” I said to myself. “That’s half right!” I may have panicked a little – I really want to trick you little chile peppers out there but you are so darn smart! So I went on and commented that everyone was wrong, wrong, wrong. Apparently I’m ruthless when it comes to plant puzzlers. I did not know that about myself before now.

I can’t believe I even know the answer this plant puzzler at all. I wouldn’t know, but I happened to be there when it happened. But usually when you only visit an office once a week, you have no idea what the plant endures when you’re not around to witness. As a plant lady, I’ve found that people have poured coffee into the plants (it usually spills down the side of the pot, which is a dead giveaway), thrown trash into the pots (I found an empty fruit cup in a Pothos yesterday) and watered them on their own (“I’ll just pour what’s left of my water into the plant, it won’t hurt it,” they think).

So I considered myself lucky a few weeks ago when I was watering the plants at General Mills, the cereal factory and actually witnessed what happened to this plant. They’re forever training and having continuing education at the plant, so on this particular day, there were lots of employees wandering around the atrium, in between classes. I use my big ol’ watering tank so I don’t have to fill a water bucket at the sink 50 times, and I was maneuvering the tank around these clumps of employees. I got a little too close to a couple of guys, who both jumped back and who both spilled their drinks at the same time. One was drinking coffee, the other, Dr. Pepper.

I should probably give the glory to Eliza for getting it half right first, but I think the real winner is Claude because as a fellow plant care provider, he knows the perils office plants face each week. So congratulations Claude, and thanks everyone for playing and not getting too mad that I tried to throw you off your game.

Name that Plant Problem!

The new puzzler:

This poor Palm tree. There are many correct answers for this week’s puzzler. All of them sad and unfortunate.

Think you know the answer? Leave your best guess in the comments section. There are no prizes for playing, but there is glory and my gratitude for playing.

That does it for our Friday edition of Good to Grow’s Ask the Experts. Thanks everyone for being here. I’ll return on Monday with a very special post. Until then, happy indoor and outdoor gardening everyone!