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Dec. 17, 1996

By Peggy McCracken

Art of tree pruning

requires own manual

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I never get it right. Pruning trees is an art I haven't mastered. Last
weekend I went to remove a couple of limbs that were hanging too low
over my walking track. Instead of cutting each offending limb off the
branch, I made one cut near the trunk. Wrong! That branch had several
limbs that weren't in the way, and their absence leaves a hole in the
canopy. One February I cut so many branches off my grapevine there was
no year-old growth to produce grapes.

Every summer I notice dead limbs that need to be removed, limbs that
criss-cross each other, too-dense foilage that should be thinned.
Thinking that pruning in the summer is a no-no, I wait until the next
February, and then I can't tell what is dead or alive. Before I can get
around to all the non-fruiting mulberries,elms, mesauites, pecans,
pomegranates, oak, cottonwood, shrubs, grapevines, peach, plum and cedar
trees on "God's Little Half Acre," February is gone and the sap is

Now I learn it's O.K. to do light pruning and remove dead wood at any

In fact, you want to do some pruning in the summer when you can tell
what's dead and what's not and what's hanging down too far under the
weight of leaves. It's best to prune branches to direct growth in the
summer. And you can slow or "dwarf" the development of a tree or branch
by pruning soon after seasonal growth is compete.

Pruning during winter's dormancy is the most common practice. It gives
a vigorous burst of new growth in the spring. It is usually best to wait
until the coldest part of winter has passed. When would that be in
Pecos? How can you tell, when winter is more like fall in this desert.

Fall is a bad time to prune, because decay fungi spread their spores,
and wounds heal slower. Trees or shrubs that bloom in summer or fall on
the current year's growth should be pruned in winter. For trees that
bloom in spring from buds on one-year-old wood, prune when the flowers

The National Arbor Day Foundation gives keys to good pruning in its
Tree City USA Bulletin. They give step-by-step drawings showing how
proper pruning in the early years of a tree's life can save money in the
long run and result in safer, more beautiful, healthy, easy-to-maintain

It shows how to make a pruning cut, how to prune for desired form, how
to strengthen your tree by removing certain branches, how to maintain
the tree's health by removing trouble spots, when to leave temporary
lower branches and when to cut them.

"How to Prune" even shows how to hold a pair of pruning shears and how
to make pruning cuts at the proper angle. That's one I really need, and
I plan to take this bulletin home and use it as a guide.

You may want to send for your own free copy of the bulletin. Write to
"How to Prune," The National Arbor Day Foundation, Nebraska, City, NE

"And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground -
trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food." Genesis 2:9, NIV.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is an Enterprise writer and editor whose
column appears each Tuesday.


Habitat for Humanity puts poor in homes

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Dear Editor:
I was pleased to see your editorial of a few weeks ago reprinted in the
Midland Reporter Telegram, on the suject of affordable housing. You are
right, it is definitely a national problem; but, each of our communities
has to work on their specific problems. What happens is that our lower
income families are spending a disproportionate amount of their income
for housing; as a result, there is not enough money left for the other
necessities. This monthly tension causes all the negative things you
mentioned, violence, crime, etc.

We are going to need innovative programs in all of our communities,
which make the most of every dollar, and work with an attitude of "a
hand UP, and not a hand OUT." We must stress the need for education,
employment, and decent housing. We must find ways to encourage new job
creation. Poverty really is the greatest VIOLENCE out there; from it
comes all the rest. The cost of not correcting this problem will
continue to be larger than the cost of the solution!

There are many good housing programs you might want to look into, and
one that is being done here in Midland is Habitat for Humanity. It
involves the "partner family" putting in about 500 hours of sweat equity
into their own home, and being helped by volunteers from every church
and every walk of life. Habitat builds houses "in partnership with God's
people in need." It is indeed, a ministry. The family has to pay for the
house, but do not pay interest. Therefore, working folks of lower income
can afford to make the payments.

We would be glad to give information to anyone who is interested. My
number is 915-683-5181, or you can call the Habitat office, which is
915-686-8877. Our director is Lana Hines.
-- Don Hellinghausen, Midland
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Copyright 1996 by Pecos Enterprise
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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