Rabbit pellet soil conditioner | Apple tree pruning
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Issue: December 16, 2000


Rabbit pellet soil conditioner

Question:

Are rabbit pellets a good soil conditioner?

Answer:

Yes, rabbit manure is an excellent soil conditioner. Dr. George Dickerson, Extension Horticulture Specialist, states that rabbit manure is "high quality" soil conditioner. Since such manure is accumulated most often in the case of pet rabbits, there is very little likelihood of weed seeds in rabbit manure since the rabbits are often fed prepared rabbit food which does not contain viable weed seeds. He reminds us that there may be some weed seed in the rabbit bedding material, but that should not be a major concern.

Rabbit manure is also less likely to burn plants than some other manures, so it can be added directly to the garden. However, as with most manures, it can be composted with plant material waste before being added to the soil. Manure contains nitrogen which helps with the composting of plant wastes.

Dr. Dickerson also recommends starting a vermicompost under the rabbit cages. Get some "compost worms" often available at fish bait stores as "red wigglers" and release them into a pile or bin of bedding under the rabbit cage. Then you will have a source of good manure, worm castings, and a source of compost worms for other compost sites in your landscape. You can find more information on vermicomposting at the NMSU Cooperative Extension Service web site:
www.cahe.nmsu.edu/pubs/_h/H-164.pdf.

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Apple tree pruning

Question:

I have already pruned my apple tree. Did I prune it too early? Do I need to put pruning paint on the cut now, or can I wait until spring?

Answer:

Late autumn, after trees are dormant, is a good time to prune most deciduous trees and shrubs, so you didn't prune too early. You can prune these trees from fall until the buds begin to swell in the spring. However, remember not to do major pruning on roses or grapes at this time of the year. If the roses have long stems that may be damaged in the winter winds, they may be pruned slightly, but do your major pruning in the spring. They will do best if pruned a month or less before the last expected freeze in the spring. Others that should not be pruned now are spring flowering shrubs such as lilac and forsythia. Their flower buds are now present on the branches and pruning now will remove next spring's flowers.

Regarding the pruning sealer: The Extension Service does not recommend use of pruning sealers. If the tree is pruned properly, there is no need to use the pruning sealer. It is important to prune properly; this will do much more to maintain the health of the tree than the application of pruning sealer products.

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Send your gardening questions to Yard and Garden, ATTN: Dr. Curtis Smith NMSU Cooperative Extension Service 9301 Indian School Road, NE, Suite 112 Albuquerque, NM 87112

Curtis W. Smith, Ph.D., is an Extension Horticulture Specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator.

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