Ask Farmer Jason

Question: My teacher said the trees are budding? What does that mean?

-Brendan, age 6, Nashville, TN

Farmer Jason: In wintertime, most trees go to sleep. The roots don't send water from the ground to the branches. This sleep causes the leaves to dry and fall off the tree. When the weather warms in the early spring, the trees wake and send water to their branches again. This water, which is also called moisture, gets sent to the new baby leaves. These baby leaves are called buds. These buds start to swell with moisture called "budding." As the weather gets warmer, the buds keep swelling until they are leaves.

Question: I like apples. Are apples fun to grow?

-Destiny, age 8, Bloomington, IL

Farmer Jason: Apples are very fun to grow. Anyone with a yard can grow an apple tree. Apples can grow almost anywhere in the United States. Apple trees can grow even in the desert, if kept watered. However, it's best to plant small apple trees, called dwarf or semi-dwarf. It helps to have two types of apple trees. Bees carry pollen from one tree to the other tree. Bee's pollen makes better apples and more of them.

Question: How do birds fly?

-Andrew, age 7, Sewanee, TN

Farmer Jason: That is a very good question. Birds do not fly the same way that airplanes do. They fly more like helicopters. When they flap their wings the motion pushes against the air. This lifts the bird. Also, birds have very light bones making it easier to lift them into the air.

Tip the Farmer: For you grownups; Big Beef is a great tomato to grow in Tennessee. The biggest issue with tomatoes for us here is disease. Between the humidity and heat, Tennessee has the perfect climate to breed diseases! Big Beef is resistant to most diseases and tolerant to hot, dry weather. It is an indeterminant, which means it will keep growing all year but needs to be staked or caged. When I say staked or caged, I DON'T mean those puny cages and stakes that Wal-Mart sells. These plants can grow to be 8' tall. Make BIG stakes or BIG cages. I usually use 8' concrete wire made into 2' diameter cages.