Sunday, June 30, 2013

Fruit Trees in My Yard - Early Summer 2013

It is late June here in North Texas and almost all of my fruit trees are producing fruit this year (some more than others).  All eight of these trees listed below are self-pollinating.  That is the main reason I selected that fruit tree variety - so I would only need one.  Here in North Texas our soil is black gumbo clay.  We have experimented with our trees.  On some we have amended the soil by adding compost and sand.  In other cases, we have put the tree in the ground with no amendments.  We have had successes and failures with both approaches.  In my opinion, there is no silver bullet for success with fruit trees.

Peach Tree 
This tree was planted 3 years ago.  It was a 2 gallon size.  The year it was planted my kids ran into it and broke it in half.  I was ready to pull it out of the ground but my husband wanted to experiment.  He taped the tree together tightly at the break and it survived and thrived!  Just so you know - this is the 4th peach tree we have planted at this house.  We have planted them in various locations.  This is the only one that lived - even after it was broke in half.

Fig Tree
This tree was a 1 gallon size and was planted 2 years ago.  It is the 3rd fig tree we have tried on this property - all the others have died.  This one is doing well.  I have learned that if a tree dies - you can try another location where the conditions might be more favorable in your yard.

Asian Persimmon Tree
This tree was planted as a bare root "stick" that had come through the mail and was given to us by a neighbor about 10 years ago.  This is a wonderful tree and has given us many years of fruit.  I freeze the pulp and use in pumpkin recipes.

 Russian Quince
This Tree is 3 years old and was ordered as a bare root tree through the mail.  Last year it got fire blight and we thought it wasn't going to make it.  We cut off the affected portions (bleaching the pruners each time we made a cut).  It came back this year with no evidence of fire blight.  I hope it makes it.  This is the first year it has produced a fruit.

Pear Tree
This tree is a fabulous fruit producer.  We planted it the first spring we lived in this house about 11 years ago.  The only problem?  The pears are not good to eat fresh.  I'm sure they would make excellent jam, however I'm ashamed to say that I have never made jam from the fruit.  That is one of the things I need to do! (next year)

Jujube Tree
What is this fruit tree?  I read about it in Texas Gardener magazine - which by the way is an excellent publication.  I copied the link for your information:  

I ordered the tree (which was bare root) from a nursery in Washington State (the trees are not easy to locate).  I planted it 2 years ago and it has thrived and is approximately 6 feet now.

The fruits are very small and have the consistency and taste of apples. 

Almond Tree
We ordered the almond tree bare root through the mail.  This is its second year.  No fruit yet.  Notice how the leaves are very similar to a peach.  They are in the same family.  We noticed last winter that the tree was the last deciduous tree on our property to lose its leaves.

Pomegranate Tree
This tree resides in my front yard and is now six feet tall.  It is about four years old and has produced fruit every year (some years are better than others.  This year I only see a few fruit.

Pomegranate blossom
Pomegranate fruit

Saturday, June 22, 2013

2013 Vegetable Garden Harvest (Late Spring - Early Summer)

This is an update on my vegetable garden for the 1st day of summer in North Texas.  It is getting hot here (mid-90's).

Harvesting has been ongoing.  We freeze all our produce, although my Mother gave me my Great-Grandmother's (Grannie) nice canner to use.  My good husband replaced the gasket seal and pressure gage, but I continue to freeze because it is so much easier!  I can remember canning being an ALL day affair in my Grandmother's kitchen in the Arkansas Ozarks.  I thought it was amazing that canner parts can still be purchased for those old canners!

Regarding putting up produce (both freezing and canning), I use the book "Stocking Up" as a reference.  See link:

The green beans were harvested about a week ago.  We strung, snapped, washed, and blanched them for 3 minutes in boiling water.  They are then cooled in ice water, drained, and bagged in plastic pouches for storage in the freezer.

All the cold season vegies have now been harvested.

Our carrot harvest.  The carrots must also be blanched in boiling water prior to storage in the freezer. 

Below are pictures of two of the cauliflower heads we harvested from this year - about a month ago.  This was an exceptionally good season for them.  In past years, it usually gets too hot before they are ready to harvest.  We also harvested a lot of broccoli this year - unfortunately I didn't get any pictures.

A friend of mine posted on Facebook a recipe for Cheesy Cauliflower Patties - I'm going to try it - it looks delicious.  The link below is to the recipe.

We waited about a week too late to harvest this cauliflower head, but we ate it anyway.  It is the largest one I have ever seen.  See Joe's hand for scale.

Our onion harvest was dried on the back porch.  We thought we had planted all yellow onions because they last better, but half of our harvest turned out to be white onions!   Oh well -  I'll have to use them up first because they go bad more quickly.

After the onions were dried and the tops cut off, we put them in laundry baskets for storage in the pantry.  Yellow onions usually last me through December.

Tomato plants are putting on lots of fruit now.


Squash plants - they are still doing pretty well and we are harvesting them.  We typically assist the bees in pollination using a small a paint brush.  We read and have confirmed that pollination assistance has helped us in the past yield better harvests, especially with zucchini.  Unfortunately, the squash bugs decimated our zucchini plants this year, and we only harvested about 5 before we had to pull them up.

 We plant marigolds around the garden to ward off pests.

Every year I plant dill and parsley - in addition to using the herbs in cooking, the swallowtail butterflies use these as a host plant for their caterpillars.

 Swiss chard, peppers, and eggplants.


Bell peppers 

 Bell peppers

Banana peppers

These are pictures of some of the herbs in the garden.  Basil, Oregano, and Sage.
 Sage and Eggplant

 Asparagus patch on top, Parsley and Mint


We also have blackberry bushes in our backyard.  We have found that plants with thorns give better yields so we dug up all the thornless varieties.  That left us with about 4 blackberry bushes this season.  However, those 4 lone plants produced enough blackberries for 6 pies (4 cups each per pie).

We dug up all of our garlic and dried it on the back porch.  The garlic is my success story.  I bought 2 garlic bulbs in the produce section for .69 per bulb.  If you buy garlic bulbs to plant, the prices typically run around $3.99 per bulb.  Anyway, I took a chance that they were not treated to prevent sprouting.  Look at all the garlic I got for $1.38!

And finally - I'm adding a picture I took of my beautiful harvest in the kitchen.