Issue 9
February, 2012
Links to Articles
Pruning Fruit Trees
Winter Suet Can Save the Day
TYN Advisory Board Q&A
Garden Tip #1
You can selectively prune evergreens for size and shape.  Selectively prune hydrangeas during the last week of the month.  After pruning, dispose of clippings to prevent disease or insect spread. 

Avoid pruning flowering shrubs such as forsythia, quince, spirea, azalea and other early spring flowering shrubs since they produced their buds last fall and pruning them now will result in the loss of flowers.
Helpful Links
Water Quiz!

This month's quiz is a tough one!  The person with the first correct answer will win a TYN pen-type magnifier!

 Send your answers to

How many gallons of water do you get per acre when it rains one inch?

a. 5,000 gallons per acre
b. 300 gallons per acre
c. 27,000 gallons per acre
Garden Tip #2

If you plan to grow your own annuals such as ageratum, verbena, petunia, vinca, or other slowing plants, the seeds should be started indoors this month. Also, start seeds of herbs indoors for later transplant outdoors.

How to Render Suet


1. Trim excess fat off beef cuts and store in the freezer until enough fat is accumulated or purchase beef fat from your grocery store or butcher.


2. Grind beef fat with a meat grinder or finely chop it.  


3. Heat fat over a low to medium flame until liquefied.  


4. Strain by pouring melted suet through a fine cheesecloth.


 5. Let cool to harden.


6. Repeat steps 3 and 4. If the fat is not rendered twice, the suet will not cake properly.


Let cool to harden and store in a covered container in the freezer.



Apple Dumplings Suet Recipe


3 Cups  

Rendered Suet  


1 Cup  

Whole Wheat Bread (dried & crumbled)    


1/2 Cup  

Shelled Sunflower Seeds    


1/4 Cup  



1/2 Cup  

Chopped Dried Apples  



1. Melt suet in a saucepan over low heat.


2. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl.


3. Allow the suet to cool until slightly thickened.


4. Stir suet into the bowl of mixture. Mix thoroughly.


5. Pour or pack into molds, feeders, or any household item.


6. Refrigerate until hardened or freeze.


Recipe from: 


 A Winter Recipe


   3 lb. can  

of vegetable shortening, such as Crisco (This is a good substitute for suet; however can also use butter.) 


2 cups  

peanut butter (creamy or chunky)


5 lbs.  

white flour


2- 24 oz. containers  

of cornmeal


Optional: add raisins, currants, sunflower or peanut hearts



1. Melt the shortening in a large pot until it is liquid, taking care not to burn.  


2. Add the peanut butter and let it melt thoroughly, stirring till blended.  


3. Add the flour and stir till blended, then add the cornmeal and stir.


4. Pack it into plastic cartons about the size of a suet holder and freeze, or into milk cartons and refrigerate to be later cut into slices.


Recipe from: 


Bird Bread 

Peanut butter variety that doesn't melt in the heat! 2x this recipe makes 14 cakes



4 cups  

melted peanut butter(36 - 40 oz. jar)


4 cups  

cornmeal or stale dry cereal, blended into crumbs (you can also use breadcrumbs)


20 oz.  

warm water per recipe works well


3 cups  

wild bird seed


3 cups  

raisins or other dried fruit (15 oz.)



1. Melt the peanut butter in a microwave safe container in the microwave for 2 minutes per 40 oz. (Be careful! 3 minutes melted a plastic container of peanut butter.)


2. Pour peanut butter into a large bowl; mix in the cornmeal/cereal/breadcrumbs


3. Add the water (This is important. The dough hangs together better with it, and it's less messy to handle.)


4. Add the seed and raisins (To get them well mixed, first mix them in a separate bowl.)


5.  Sprinkle bottom of mold with cornmeal so the suet will come out easily.



Using one mold, make each cake. Lay all on a large jelly roll sheet and place in freezer until hardened. Then wrap each in plastic wrap and return to the freezer.



Fill 9 molds with the mixture, freeze them solid and then pack them into one or more freezer boxes (such as Tupperware breadbox) and return to the freezer.



Keep extra cornmeal at hand for adjusting the dough's stickiness iif you use your hands to mix it.


Recipe from:   

Lyn Bale's Easy Mix
 A Customizable Recipe

1. Melt 4 cups of Crisco
2. Stir in 4 cups of chunky peanut butter
3. Mix in as many mixed seeds as it will hold
4. Pour into plastic recycled suet trays

10 or 12 cakes
Option:  Mix in oats

Garden Tip #3

Check your gardening tools for rust.  Clean rust from spades and hoes.  Prevent future rust by coating tool heads with mineral oil or used motor oil.  Inspect your pruning saws, clippers, and shovels and sharpen if needed.
Last Month's Winner and Answer!

Congratulations to last months winner Joellyn Brazile with the answer of one tablespoon!!
Pruning Tools

There are two basic types of blades used in pruning tools, the anvil and the bypass.

Anvil pruners and loppers have a blade that closes against an anvil on the lower jaw. These tend to crush material being cut and are used where cleanliness of cut is not as important as removal.   
Bypass pruners and loppers have a blade that sweeps past the lower jaw. A bypass pruner or lopper is reserved for cuts that affect the health of the plant. It should be kept razor sharp. Save the grunt work for anvil pruners and loppers.
Pruner         Looper
The difference between a looper and a pruner is just the handle length, the looper has long handles to reach high into branches.  


Dear (Contact First Name),

Greetings! Is it spring yet?? We here at TYN are already feeling the first symptoms of spring fever. With such unseasonably warm weather you would think it's right around the corner, but we still have a little ways to go. To keep busy and warm until then we will keep you informed on what you can do right now in your gardens and backyard habitats. Starting off, we have David Lockwood giving us an in-depth "how to" on pruning fruit trees. Lyn Bales explains why birds love suet in the winter and how making your own suet is a "piece of cake." Our final feature article is a Q&A with TYN Advisory Board member, John Watson, who will give us some information on the nursery industry and other tips when looking to purchase plants. Also, check out our great sidebar with garden tips, water quiz, tool tips and much more!

As always, keep checking our website for workshops and other important events and join us on Facebook. Like us on Facebook   



Happy Valentines!

The TYN State Management Team


Pruning Fruit Trees 
by David Lockwood

Pruning is an important practice for fruit trees every year of their life, beginning with the year of planting and continuing until the trees are removed. For new trees, pruning is accompanied by training to develop the desired framework for the trees and to impact when the trees might begin fruiting. Training involves things such as limb selection and limb spreading whereas pruning involves making selected cuts on the tree to obtain the desired response.


Pruning Objectives

The reasons for pruning include: 

  • reducing disease pressure
  • removing older marginally productive or unproductive wood to encourage the development of new growth where the highest quality fruits will be located for the next few years
  • opening the tree canopy for greater sunlight penetration
  • determining the location of new growth
  • controlling tree size

Disease Control

Some of the diseases that affect fruit trees will persist in cankers on the tree. Identification of these problem areas and pruning them out while the tree is dormant will lessen the pressure for reoccurrence of the disease in coming years. Prunings from these trees should be removed from the vicinity of other fruit trees to prevent reinfection.



Encouraging New Growth

Over time, shoots on fruit trees will lose their ability to produce the same amount or quality of fruits. For some types of fruit trees, fruiting will occur on shoots that grew the previous year and will never fruit in that same area again. Identification and removal of this marginally fruitful or unfruitful wood will encourage the growth of new shoots that will be the site for fruit production in the coming year or years.


Providing More Sunlight

Proper pruning will open the canopy of the tree up to greater sunlight penetration. Fruit bud formation in any area within the tree canopy is dependent on having certain levels of sunlight. A goal of regular pruning is to maintain fruiting throughout the tree canopy. Fruit color and sugar development in the fruit are also related to sunlight levels reaching the fruit. Fruits and foliage that dry off quickly after rains, fog or dew are less prone to disease development as well. Along with good sunlight penetration, pruning will enhance air movement and spray penetration throughout the canopy of the tree, both facilitate better disease control.


Determing New Growth

Pruning can be used to determine where new growth will occur in the tree canopy. Pruning back a shoot on the tree will generally encourage the buds just below the pruning cut to start growth. Heading a shoot back to a bud facing the outside of the tree will result in shoots that grow in that direction resulting in a more spreading canopy.


Managing Tree Size

Within limits, pruning can be used to restrict tree size. While pruning cannot be used to maintain a standard size tree the same size as a dwarf tree and still maintain fruiting, regular pruning is part of a management program including fertilization that is beneficial in keeping trees within acceptable size limits.


Pruning Cuts

Two types of pruning cuts are used in fruit trees: heading cuts and thinning cuts.


Heading Cuts

Heading cuts involve shortening a shoot or branch by cutting back part of its length. This type of pruning is most often used on young trees as a way to force side branching and to stiffen limbs so that they will be able to support the weight of fruits and foliage in coming years.


Heading cut used to develop central leader and first layer of scaffold limbs on a newly planted apple tree. 


When cutting the top out of a shoot, make the cut at an angle so water will drain off the cut surface. Cut about ¼ inch above a bud on the shoot. Cutting too close to the bud could result in damaging the bud. Cutting too far above the bud will leave a stub that could die back resulting in loss of part of the shoot.




Thinning Cuts

Thinning cuts are used on older trees to keep the canopy open to sunlight, remove less productive wood, and encourage the development of new wood for future crops. With thinning cuts, the entire shoot is removed instead of just a portion of it. Removal of the shoot releases suppressed buds at the base of the shoot resulting in a new shoot for future crops.


Thinning cuts involve removal of: 1. vigorous watersprouts growing on the upper sides of limbs; 2. weak shoots growing downward on the underside of limbs; and 3. crowded shoots and those that threaten to outgrow the main leader on a limb.

 Thinning Cuts


Large Limb Removal Process 

When removing a large limb from a tree, use a 3-part sequence to protect the tree:

1. Cut about 12 inches out from the base of the limb, undercutting the limb about 1/3 of its diameter.

2. Go another 6 inches further out the limb and cut the limb off. When the second cut is almost complete, the limb will drop down and tear back to the undercut and then fall free.

3. Once this is done, cut the stub off at the outer edge of the collar (swelling where the base of the limb joins the trunk).



Managing Pruning Wounds

Most pruning should be done during late winter to early spring prior to bud break. Cut surfaces do not need to be treated with a wound dressing. If a cut is properly made, it will heal quicker without a wound dressing.


Good equipment makes the chore of pruning easier and results in cleaner cuts that heal quickly. Pruning shears with a bypass head as opposed to a blade and anvil head will do less damage to the tree. Purchase good equipment and keep it in good shape.


David Lockwood is a professor in the Plant Sciences Department at the University of Tennessee and currently works as an Extension Fruit & Nut Crops Specialist.



Stephen Lyn Bales

In Winter: Suet Can Save The Day

By Stephen Lyn Bales


Hop. Hop. Peek. Scratch. Peek. Dig.


The petite black-and-white downy woodpecker hitches around the trunk of a tree in search of a meal. Scarcely weighing one ounce and measuring only six inches long, it's the smallest woodpecker in our woods; it's also the most acrobatic.


Like all the other woodpeckers that spend their entire year in Tennessee -- pileated, red-headed, red-bellied, flicker, and hairy --the downy feeds primarily on insects hidden in and under the bark of dead or dying trees.

The Petite Black and White Downy Woodpecker


They are not the only birds that rely on insects for fats and proteins, many do. In the warm weather months, times are good, the cup runneth over. Bugs. Bugs. Bugs. Nature produces lots of six-legged arthropoda that never live long enough to see their first birthdays. Ultimately they are the main culinary course that sates a host of avian appetites.


Wintertime is the real bugaboo. The smorgasbord closes. There are far less insects out and about. Slim pickings. Most insect-eating birds solve the cold-weather food scarcity easily enough, like the Joads in "The Grapes of Wrath" they migrate, not west but south. In some cases, they fly as far away as South America where summer and insects abound.


The feathered insectivores that remain brave the elements. They spend each and every day foraging for whatever insects they can glean from the meager pantry.  And there's not that much, especially by the time we get into February.  As soul man Ray Charles sang, "Cause there'll be hard times. Lord those hard times. Who knows better than I?"


Many birds simply do not find enough food to survive winter. And if they do not, they die.  How can you help?  In a word: suet!  In two words: suet cakes!  The fats, minerals, and protiens found in suet can make all the difference to a woodpecker, chickadee, titmouse, nuthatch or wren that manages to eat enough to make it through a long cold winter's night.

Red Breasted Nuthatch enjoying the suet cake!

Making suet is not like baking a delicate soufflé; it doesn't call for a French crème pâtissière. We're taking lard.  Although the word "suet" implies animal fat, it can be made without it if you worry about avian coronaries. Suet ingredients are not exact. Many recipes call for a one-to-one mix of crunchy peanut butter and lard or vegetable shortening, i.e. Crisco. Start by melting either of the latter and then stir in the former. After that, mix in any combination of oatmeal and seeds, perhaps even yellow cornmeal. Whatever you have is fine.


Lard and corn meal?

It sounds so very Southern; cookery even Paula Deen would be delighted to prepare, and the birds will thank you for your hospitality.



* Suet replaces insects in many birds' wintertime diets.

* Many seed-eating birds are attracted to suet.

* Suet is inexpensive to make and easy to store by freezing.


Stephen Lyn Bales is a senior naturalist at Ijams Nature Center, author of "Natural Histories" and "Ghost Birds" published by UT Press. Visit his nature blog at

TYN Advisory Board Q&A
John Watson


Tell us a little about your background, your lawn & grounds maintenance company, Common Grounds Landscape Management, and the work you do for the Tennessee Nursery and Landscape Association (TNLA). 

While attending the University of Tennessee I worked in all areas of the "Green Industry" at Jim McClain Nursery and Garden Center in Knoxville. In 1989 my wife and I purchased the maintenance division. In 2008 I was invited to join the board of the TNLA as 3rd Vice President. At the Winter Education meeting January 2011, I became President of the 107 year old association headquartered in McMinnville, Tennessee. TNLA represents every part of the industry: nursery production, landscaping, irrigation, and lawn care with 400 plus members.


When looking for a reputable landscaper what do you recommend customers look for and what questions should they ask?  

First, I would ask if they are members of a professional association such as TNLA or Professional Landcare Network (Planet) and if they hold a professional certification. Second, it is ok (and viewed as professional) to ask for proof of required license and insurance. This can be done easily from the web. Third, inquire about whether they know what IPM is and whether they practice it. Lastly, it is always a good idea to check references.


If a customer is interested in native plants that aren't carried by their local nurseries, what kind of approach would you use to speak with a nursery owner about stocking more native plants?  

If the nursery is customer service driven, all you should need to do is ask if they can order native plants for you. You can also turn to the web at and under the Buyer's Guide tab, search for Tennessee companies that sell select plants, or offer certain services or products.


Recently you were interviewed on the fuel efficiency and practicality of using propane mowers over gas mowers. How fuel efficient is propane compared to gasoline, and why is it more environmentally friendly?  

During the study with UT we found no difference in the fuel consumption rates. Along with the lower cost per gallon, when we take into account that cleaner burning propane gives us lower emissions and longer engine life, it was the right thing to do for us. 


From your perspective as an owner of a lawn maintenance company, what TYN message would you like to share with your industry's counterparts?  

I like to remind our industry that we are the original "Green Industry" and should be striving to protect it.



More About TNLA

The Tennessee Nursery & Landscape Association (TNLA) was founded in 1905 as an organization where nursery and other related industries would have the opportunity to share ideas, foster research and further educate our members in order to benefit owners, employees and consumers.

TNLA hosts an annual trade show, sponsors seminars, offers scholarships and lobbies legislative issues. Currently, there are 440 member companies that come from every part of the industry: nursery production, landscaping, irrigation and lawn care.

For more information visit:TNLA

Friends of TYN!
Beardsley Community Farm's 2012 Calendar

Calendar Cover
CAC Beardsley Community Farm is an urban demonstration site that has promoted food security and sustainable urban agriculture through practice, education, and community outreach since 1998. Their calendar and growing guide is full of information that will help both novice and experienced gardeners. Each month's page features suggestions for which crops to start indoors, transplant, direct seed, and harvest. Calendars are on sale for $20, and each purchase of the calendar will support Beardsley Community Farm.

To purchase a calendar, send an email to

For more information on the calendar and Beardsley Community Farm go to:
Beardsley Community Farm

Upcoming Events

"TYN Home Landscaping Workshop"
Saturday February 25th 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Location: TN Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, 2931 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919
Cost and Registration: $35/person or $50/couple.
To register call Knox Co. Extension at 215-2340
Lunch provided by Alliance @ TVUUC
Advance Registration Required 

"TYN Home Landscape Workshop"
Friday March 9th 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Location: City of Germantown, Economic & Community Development, 1920 S. Germantown Road, Germantown, TN 38138
Cost and Registration: $35/person or $50/couple.
To register call Shelby Co. Extension at 752-1207
Lunch provided by the City of Germantown & Town of Collierville
Advance Registration Required

"Chattanooga's Native Beauty: Gardening with Native Plants" (a native plant symposium)
Saturday, March 10, 2012 from 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Chattanooga State Humanities Building Auditorium.
To register or get more information go to:


See Ya' Next Month!

Thanks so much for reading!

Check back with us next month for details on our new projects and more tips on achieving a healthy home landscape. Until then, follow us on Facebook!

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Contact Info
Ruth Anne Hanahan and Dr. Andrea Ludwig
TYN Statewide Co-Directors
Tennessee Water Resources Research Center
University of Tennessee
311 Conference Center
Knoxville, TN 37996