Tuesday, November 30, 2010

‘Tis the season for Citrus

Tonight I went to the Urban Harvest Growing Citrus in Houston class taught by Bob Randall himself. For those of you not in the know, Bob Randall is the author of Year Round Vegetables, Fruits, and Flowers for Metro Houston, he is also the recently retired director of Urban Harvest, and as far as I am concerned the foremost expert on fruit and vegetable growing in this fine city.

I signed up for the entire Backyard Orchard Series, I wasn’t particularly interested in growing more citrus, but this class was part of the deal so I thought I would go and listen.

I currently have 8 fruit trees in my backyard, 3 of which are citrus (uju kitsu, meyer lemon & satsuma ‘dobashi beni’). I was really thinking that I couldn’t fit many more fruit trees into my landscape, but I got a few good ideas tonight. (Not to mention Dr. Bob doesn’t live that far from me and he says he has over 100 varieties of fruit in his backyard.)

What changed my mind…
  • Kumquats. These are relatively small trees that don’t take up as much space as most citrus. I don’t care for many seeds in fruit and I noticed Urban Harvest is selling a couple of seedless varieties at the fruit tree sale in January.
  • Citrus don’t have to have full sun! They are actually understory trees. Wow, this opens up all kinds of possibilities. I have several available places that get part-sun.
  • He also mentioned a good idea about planting them against the south or southwest side of your house. Most of my fruit trees are planted on the south side of my house in full sun. But, the southwest side, now that’s a thought. I just happen to be putting in a new flowerbed there, a citrus tree would make a nice ornamental planting.
On a related note, did you know that citrus comes true from seed almost 100% of the time. That means that if you find a fruit you like, just plant the seed and the fruit from that tree will likely be exactly what you expect. But, if you do this, don’t let the seed dry out. Just eat your fruit then immediately plant your seed.

Speaking of citrus, one of my uju kitsus fell to the ground a few weeks ago. I’ve been saving it on the countertop while it continues to ripen. Tonight, I had the first uju kitsu of the season. You’re probably saying to yourself, what is an uju kitsu!? Well, they are difficult to describe, they are like a really mild orange with a hint of lemon.

The Urban Harvest Fruit Tree sale is January 15th at Univ. of Houston. Check out the list of what they will have for sale. If you’re busy that day, don’t worry there are other fruit tree sales around town in the spring. Keep an eye on my event calendar for more fruit tree sale information.

And don’t miss the Citrus Tasting event on Saturday, Dec 4, you can sign up for it on the Urban Harvest website.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Epic Fail

I have (actually had is a better word) three squash plants this fall. A yellow squash, a zucchini (Black Beauty), and a white bush scallop aka pattypan. They were all doing great, nice big dark green leaves, deep yellow flowers, and the pattypan produced an abundance of fruit.

Then, around the first of October, it hit.
Powdery MildewIMG_1533

I ignored it for a week or so. Maybe the stuff will just disappear…

Hmm, it is still there.

Time to research this. I am almost exclusively an organic gardener and I have successfully grown squash before (but that was in Colorado, where I didn’t seem to have these kinds of problems). So, I (lightly) researched organic treatments for powdery mildew.

I stumbled upon this blog post about using a milk and water mixture to treat powdery mildew. Note: One of the keys to this method is faithfully applying this mixture on a weekly basis. That should have been a red flag.

Fast forward 6 weeks:
Failure refers to the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success. (wikipedia)

That sounds about right.


Criteria for Failure (wikipedia)
A situation considered to be a failure by one might be considered a success by another. Similarly, the degree of success or failure in a situation may be differently viewed by distinct observers or participants, such that a situation that one considers to be a failure, another might consider to be a success, a qualified success or a neutral situation.

No doubt the powdery mildew considers this a success, not a failure. DH might also consider this a success since we were being overrun with pattypans. I however, consider this a failure.

Types of Failure (wikipedia)
   1. Failure to anticipate-check
   2. Failure to perceive-check
   3. Failure to carry out a task- check

So, that’s my sad tale of powdery mildew this year. Although, that’s not to say that I won’t test this organic approach again. Just because it didn’t work this time doesn’t mean it is ineffective or does it?? Have any of you tried this before? Do you have a recommended organic solution to powdery mildew? I would love to hear about it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day from Big Bend

I’ve spent the past week in Big Bend Ranch State Park and Big Bend National Park. I wanted to post this on Monday, but Wi-Fi was hard to come by out there.
For those of you who have not heard of Big Bend, it is along the Texas/Mexico border along the big bend in the Rio Grande. It takes awhile for most people to get there, it really isn't close to anything, but it's an interesting place to visit. I'll post a few pictures from my trip in the next few days.
This is what was blooming there on Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.
Desert Marigold Baileya multiradiata
Wooly Paperflower Psilostrophe tagetina
Tree Tobacco Nicotiana glauca
Yellow Stingbush Eucnide bartonioides
possibly Centaury Centaurium calycosum

Thanks to May Dreams Garden for hosting Garden Bloggers Bloom Day!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Playing around with a new IPad app I downloaded today, it’s called ColorSplash.

Garden Walk Buffalo

Jardin Botanico de Quito

If you like these pictures, let me know, but please don’t steal ‘em. If you would like to redistribute photography from this blog, email Houston Garden Girl.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hawk Sighting

Yesterday, my husband captured this picture from our living room. I’ve never seen a hawk in our neighborhood, either because I haven’t been looking or they are uncommon in the middle of Houston (not sure which).  I used the Backyard Bird Finder from National Geographic to try to identify it. I think it is a young hawk. Possibly a Red-Shouldered Hawk or Cooper’s Hawk. I’m not a bird expert, so if someone knows what bird this is, please let me know.