Thursday, April 09, 2015


One of my biggest regrets about moving from our old house was leaving behind my fruit trees. In the 10-plus years in that house, I'd planted pear, pecan, peach, plum, fig... and that was a pretty small yard. Last year was the first time they all produced fruit. Some had been more productive than others, sure, but last year marked them all reaching maturity. Talk about frustrating, leaving that behind after all that time and effort, grafting, pruning, cultivating... you get the idea.

So, in light of that, imagine my delight to walk through the back yard of my new house, where I've spent considerable effort planting new and various fruiting plants, to discover a lot of them a bursting out with flower buds! And that's not even counting the plum and peach trees I planted, which flower young but don't set fruit for a year or two after that.

ArcticFrost mandarin

First up is my Arctic Frost satsuma mandarin. This is a new cultivar developed in San Antonio that supposedly thrives in our climate and soil conditions, and is cold-hardy down to at least 20F. That's pretty impressive for citrus! I picked this one up in December for $12 on clearance in a one-gallon pot. Later I learned they're supposed to be precocious, setting fruit at a young age. Well, yeah, but I didn't expect it to start flowering this small. Color me impressed.

Mandarin Orange Frost Satsuma

This is Orange Frost, a sibling cultivar of Arctic Frost above, also developed in San Antonio. It's not quite as cold-hardy but supposed to be every bit as vigorous and productive. I got it at the same clearance, also in a 1-gallon pot. The kids love mandarins, and are eagerly looking forward to our first crop. I won't let either set fruit this year, though. I'd rather they put all their energy into growth.

Li jujube flower

Jujubes have long been on my wish list to grow. They're supposed to thrive in Texas and be a trouble-free fruit tree. I got this one in a 5-gallon pot two weeks back--sadly, not on clearance--and was surprised to see the young plant (maybe 4' tall) set a whole bunch of flower buds as soon as I got it home. They're not really self-fertile, so don't expect any fruit this year, at least not unless I get another type to pollinate it.

Saijo persimmon flower bud

Another new fruit crop for me at the new house is persimmons. There are some astringent persimmon trees growing at my late grandmother's farm, but I've never grown any myself. This year I planted three commercial types--a Prok American persimmon along with Saijo and Ichi-Ki-Kei-Jiro Asian persimmons. The Prok is growing well, but not setting any flower buds (as I expected). However, to my complete surprise, both the Jiro and Ichi are setting flower buds--the Ichi is seriously covered in them. Wow. That's a Saijo bud above. Again, I won't allow them to fruit because I want the trees to get some size first, but wow.

Texas persimmon flower

Asian and American persimmons aren't the only species of that fruit I have growing. There is a grove of oak trees in my front yard, and what I took to be weedy saplings and low branches has turned out to be a companion grove of native Texas persimmons! The fruit are small and seedy, but have a reputation for being sweet and flavorful--deer absolutely love them. And these trees are flowering very, very heavily with their very, very tiny flowers. Hopefully I can save some from all the neighborhood deer for myself.

caterpillar on Texas persimmon

This isn't a fruit or flower, but a little caterpillar I spotted on one Texas persimmon. Just thought I'd share.

dwarf apple blossom, unknown cultivar

I don't know if I've mentioned it here or not, but during my battles to cut back massive primrose jasmine thickets, I uncovered two feral dwarf apple trees. I have no idea what types they are, but after pruning back their shrubby growth, they look halfways presentable. And they are flowing like crazy, so I hope it's something worth eating. The fact that two neglected apple trees thrived in the back yard encouraged me to plant heirloom Arkansas Black and Royal Limbertwig apple trees as well (at the old house I tried several times, but the apple trees never lasted more than a year or two). I also planted two Blanco crabapples in the front yard, but all of my new apple plantings are far too young to flower.

Brazos blackberry flower bud

At the old house I tried growing dewberries for a while, but the yields were always disappointing and drought finally did them in. At the new house I have enough room to seriously grow berries, so I've planted Brazos and Ouachita blackberries. They're growing well, and son of a gun, the Brazos is already showing off with flower buds!

muscadine flower buds

Finally, I've been growing a muscadine grape vine in a pot for several years now. I really like the nutty flavor of muscadine grapes, and love wine made from them. I don't know why I kept it in a pot rather than planting it, but I'm glad I did. It's fruited sporadically for me, but it was seriously root bound and should be much, much happier now that it has room to grow.

I've got other trees that still need to go into the ground--pindo palm and loquat--and I haven't even gotten around to getting the bananas, paw paws and avocados I have plans for. But this is a good start indeed, and takes some of the sting out of the fact that someone else is going to enjoy the fruits of my old orchard this year.

Now Playing: John Mellencamp Dance Naked
Chicken Ranch Central

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