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Gardening


Wide Variety of Citrus to Be Available at Feb. 5 Fruit Tree Sale and Home Citrus Production

by Dr. William M. Johnson
January 31, 2005

Gardening: Oranges imsgeMany people are surprised to learn that the Upper Gulf Coast has a thriving home citrus "industry." Shown above is the much sought after Republic of Texas orange which produces a heavy crop of tasty fruit during the late fall season. A wide variety of fruit trees will be available at the upcoming Master Gardener Fruit Tree Seminar & Sale on Saturday, February 5, at Carbide Park in La Marque. Photo credit: Heidi Sheesley, TreeSearch Farms

Our subtropical climate allows gardeners to grow a remarkably wide selection of plants. Even so, many people are surprised to learn that the Upper Gulf Coast has a thriving home citrus "industry." The Galveston County Citrus held last December was a testament to that increasing occurrence as area citrus growers submitted a record 185 entries for viewing.

 

SATURDAY, February 5.
Fruit Tree Seminar & Sale to be held Saturday, February 5 from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m at Carbide Park in La Marque.

Sale
The fruit tree sale will be from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Seminar
Before the sale starts, Heidi Sheesley of TreeSearch Farms will provide a Fruit and Citrus Varieties seminar from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., highlighting the star varieties.

Location
The sale and seminar will be at the Community Center in Carbide Park. Carbide Park is located at 4102 FM 519 in La Marque. (To obtain a map and directions, contact the County Extension Office at 281-534-3413, ext. 6.)

Indeed, producing your own home-grown citrus does not require unique skills or special growing conditions. Not only can you pluck fresh and tasty citrus from your own backyard tree, you can impress your neighbors or your friends that may be visiting from up North.

Whether you’re just thinking about growing your own citrus or you’re an experienced home grower, make a notation on your gardening calendar to attend the annual Master Gardener Fruit Tree Seminar & Sale on Saturday, February 5, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Before the sale starts, Heidi Sheesley of TreeSearch Farms will provide a Fruit and Citrus Varieties seminar from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., highlighting the star varieties.

This time the sale is not located in the cramped parking lot at the County Extension Office in Dickinson, but in the spacious Carbide Park located at 4102 FM 519 in La Marque. The seminar will be conducted in the Wayne Johnson Community Center in Carbide Park. (To obtain a map and directions, contact the County Extension Office at 281-534-3413, ext. 6.)

Now back to the subject of home citrus production. Our area is well-suited to home citrus production. Summers are long and hot–the absolute favorite growing conditions for most citrus. Rainfall is generally adequate and soils are suitably fertile. The climate is adequately seasonal, a necessity because most of the familiar varieties of citrus require the crisp, cool nights of autumn to properly ripen and color fruit.

In the late fall and early winter months, citrus fruit just bursts from our Gulf Coast trees. A wide selection of citrus will be featured in this year's sale, the biggest selection ever: oranges, mandarins, satsumas, limes, kumquats, grapefruits, lemons, and several hybrid citrus varieties such as limequats, tangelos, and mandarinquat.

All of the citrus to be offered are outstanding for our area, and most are not commonly found in area nurseries. For instance, you won’t have to kill for a rare Republic of Texas orange this year. The supply is good for this hardy, delicious citrus that has grown in our part of Texas since the 1800's. Virtually all the great satsumas and mandarins for our area will be available, including early, mid and late season producers.

A new offering at this year’s sale is the Bloomsweet grapefruit. It was developed from a cross between a pummelo and a sour orange which results in a big, pear-shaped, juicy, grapefruit/orange flavored fruit. It can be peeled and eaten like a navel orange, in luscious, mostly-seedless segments.

Homegrown citrus and the Texas Upper Gulf Coast go hand-in-hand. A common question during the harvest season is, "When is my citrus ready to pick?" Hands-on experience is perhaps the best way to ensure that the flavor is to your liking. If not flavorful when picked, let the citrus hang on the tree a week or so and taste again.

Citrus should not be harvested prematurely. Fruit color is not an accurate indication of ripeness, because some fruits can develop fully colored rinds well before they can be eaten. The only sure way to determine maturity is to taste the fruit.

Don't expect citrus fruits to increase in sweetness or ripen more fully once you've picked them, as do peaches and some other fruits. Unless damaged by cold temperatures, citrus fruit keeps longer on the tree than if picked and stored. If the fruit is to be consumed immediately, it can be harvested by handpicking. However, if you do plan to store citrus fruits, they should be clipped from the branches to leave a small section of stem on each fruit.

The Fruit Tree Sale & Seminar is sponsored by Galveston County's Master Gardener volunteers. Of course, dozens of Master Gardeners will be on hand to help you select your fruit trees and will tell you everything you need to know about planting, pruning, fertilizing and caring for your fruit trees.

Proceeds from the sale of the plants are used to develop and maintain the Horticulture Demonstration Garden located at the Galveston County Extension Office which the public is invited to enjoy and learn from year-round. For more information, visit the Galveston County Extension Office located at 5115 Highway 3 in Dickinson, give us a call at 281-534-3413, Ext. 6, or visit our web site address provided below.

Growing citrus does not have to be as "chancy" an adventure as many area gardeners might believe. Citrus trees can become an attractive and low-maintenance yet productive member of your landscape.

Dr. Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County
Extension Office of Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University. Visit his web site at http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/index.htm


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Gardening: Bananas - August 1, 2004 article

Gardening: August Gardening Calendar - August 16, 2004 article

Gardening: Trio Of Extension Programs Includes Pear Tasting, Master Naturalist Class & Rose Seminar - August 20, 2004 article

Gardening: Prepare Now For Fall Gardens - August 26, 2004 article

Gardening: Septemberís Garden Calendar Includes Fall Pecan Field Day - September 2, 2004 article

Gardening: Ornamental Grasses - September 8, 2004 article

Gardening: Don't Let Landscape Become A High-Maintenance Nightmare - September 22, 2004 article

Gardening: Oct. 10 Plant Sale & Seminar To Feature Butterfly Gardening - Butterflies Bring Color, Motion to Garden - October 2, 2004 article

Gardening: Plant It And They Will Come: Getting the Butterflies of Galveston County to Grace Your Yard - October 2, 2004 article

Gardening: Rose Propagation & Seasonal Decorating Workshops To Be Held - October 13, 2004 article

Gardening: Extension Office To Sponsor Open House On October 29, Seasonal Decorations and Onion and Garlic Workshops - October 20, 2004 article

Gardening: Extension Office To Sponsor Open House On October 29 and County Pecan Show - October 27, 2004 article

Gardening: November Is Pansy Time - November 6, 2004 article

Gardening: County Pecan Growers Display Their Successes - November 11, 2004 article

Gardening: Gardeners' Questions On Fall Crops - November 17, 2004 article

Gardening: Gardenersí Q&As For November - November 28, 2004 article

Gardening: Gardeners' December Checklist Includes Citrus Show On Dec. 9 - December 3, 2004 article

Gardening: Citrus Show A Huge Success With 185 Entries - December 19, 2004 article

Gardening: Trees and Shrubs - December 23, 2004 article

Gardening: Cold Weather Impact - January 4, 2005 article

Gardening: Gardeners' Checklist For January Includes Several Educational Programs - January 7, 2005 article

Gardening:Announcing the 2005 Galveston County Master Gardener Training - January 13, 2005 article

Gardening:Peach & Plum Growers' Workshop To Be Held Saturday, January 29 - January 19, 2005 article

Gardening: Gardening for Texas Wildlife - January 28, 2005 article

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