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.

1 comment:

  1. In DFW now, Hou 5 yrs ago. In DFW, bring citrus in during winter. They stay in a shaded office faces west, has a large carport overhanging it, since 11/20 still harvesting Meyers, go out to 1/2 shade in 3/11 and will bloom b4 and after, 4 ft tall containered clipped tight, 14 huge fruit this year. Pruning twice a year. Topped off from "topiary" shape purchased, HDepo. 7 cuttings rooting from this tree in 1 BB ice cream container in kitchen, been rooting 3m will split in spring, all alive and thriving. In Hou grew only in ground, diff tree, still Meyer. Grew under pines, part shade, many years. Cutting started str8 into ground. Fruited 2nd year, mulched heavy to protect roots if freeze. Success far north as 610NW corner at 290. Make syrup, candy rinds, savory dishes, use every part, leaves use as herb. Well worth time/effort in Hou&DFW. No pests or disease. Pruned and ignored Hou - watered containered, fed, indoored DFW. Don't remember name of street but ck out asian plant nursery on road from Acres Homes goes to SHracetrack, nursery was on left side outbound towards tollway. Yr round citrus and exotics. Also other asian nursery, don't advertise, have many citrus varietals. Gr8 1 in Pearland on a NorSou running street had huge selection. Exotic edibles spring annual varietals at "Another Place in Time" in Heights, close to Joshua's and Buchanan's, worth stopping, think owner's dad starting himself(?). Twit frm P2H3K9. Love your blog&tweets. Best eggplant2010 at DFW Lowes, mismarked BlackBeauty, was same but white large, small plant gave huge harvest spring till freeze, dormancy in Aug., rooting cuttings in coldframe, never salted never bitter, name anyone? Still searching 4 green 1 grown in 1980's east tx, same descript but grn fruit.