By Urban Harvest
I was walking through my garden this morning observing and examining our fruit trees. Some have already lost their leaves and are going dormant for the winter, such pomegranates, persimmons and figs. Others are showing signs of impending weather change, such as papayas, apples, pears and grapes. I’m starting to think about what needs pruning this winter, and what needs mulching.
I’m also trying to remember the last time I bought fruit from the grocery. It was when some of my grandchildren were coming to visit, and I knew they didn’t like the fruit that was ripe on the trees or the fruit in the freezer. For me, the last purchase was well over a year ago. We have lots of frozen papaya, figs and persimmons, and usually something fresh from the yard. It’s really nice to eat exclusively from our trees, not only because it saves lots of money, or because there have been no pesticides or chemical fertilizers used, but also that when freshly picked, the nutritional value is at its peak.
I often tell people that fruit gardening is much easier than vegetable gardening. It takes less planting, less watering, less weeding, less money invested, less time harvesting, less energy, with huge results in amount of food produced. And with a reasonable number of carefully selected trees, there can be production most of the year. You just need some sun, space and ground that does not hold water after a rain. And some fruit trees can even be grown in pots on patios and balconies.
Urban Harvest offers a variety of classes on growing and caring for fruit trees, with the first one being Dec. 5 -- Growing Citrus in Houston. These classes, which will be offered January through March, will provide all the information needed to successfully select, plant and grow fruit trees. I recommend starting with the easiest and most productive types of fruit trees, and then graduate to others, if you get the bug. Figs, persimmons, pomegranates, muscadine grapes, tangerines, lemons, oranges and kumquats are all easy, with just a little care involved.
Pears and apples are nearly as easy. The key is planting varieties that work in metro-Houston, and that is where Urban Harvest shines, with an array of classes, extensive website information (under Gardening Advice), and a fruit tree sale the third Saturday in January (Jan. 16), where only appropriate varieties are sold. The sale is like a child being in a candy store, with so many great options and possibilities that most people tote home a load of trees and then come back the next year for more. I seem to pick up a couple of trees each year, even though my yard is already overflowing.
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This article is provided by Urban Harvest, Inc. To learn about gardening classes, farmers markets, school and community gardens and more go to www.urbanharvest.org or call 713-880-5540 for more information. This article was written by Ray Sher who is a gardening and permaculture instructor, vegetable and fruit garden consultant, and works his large intensive home vegetable, fruit and herb garden using organic methods. Contact him at RayInTheGarden@sbcglobal.net