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Fruit Trees Of The Gods Featured In February 5 Master Gardener Plant Sale
by Alcestis "Cooky" Oberg
The much sought after Republic of Texas orange 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
When the mythical Greek gods wanted something wonderful to eat, they would pluck an assortment of perfect, fresh ripe fruit from their trees and make "ambrosia": a fruit salad so delicious its name became synonymous with "heaven."
The Olympian gods would feel right at home in Galveston County. Our climate and rainfall permit us to grow a huge variety of the most succulent fruit. This fruit is worthy of being included in any ambrosia: juicy peaches and nectarines, luscious figs, scented pears both soft and crisp, sweet plums, flavor-bursting citruses, and grapes that would make the Greek mythology gods faint. And they didn't even know about the persimmons, blackberries, pecans, and pluots we can grow here either!
HARD TO FIND VARIETIES
This year's Galveston County Master Gardener Fruit Tree Seminar & Sale will be featuring an enormous selection of the best fruit trees for our area. Many of the trees are exclusive to the sale and not available in mass-market gardening stores. The sale will be held from 9:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 5, 2005, at the Carbide Park Wayne Johnson Community Center (4102 FM 519, La Marque). A talk featuring the stars of this year's choices will be given prior to the sale by Heidi Sheesley of TreeSearch Farms from 8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m.
NEW AND WONDERFUL
New among the selections this year is the Flavor King pluot, a fruit we're becoming familiar with in our grocery stores. The pluot is a complex cross between a plum and an apricot. A pluot is also predominantly plum in its parentage. However, the sugar content and juiciness of pluots tend to be much higher than either of their parents. This is why pluots are sweeping the nation as a favorite summer fruit. Though most pluots require a colder climate than ours to grow, the Flavor King is the exception. Thus, the Flavor King pluot is the best option for our area. The Flavor King pluot will require another plum to pollinate it. Many great pollinating plums are in the sale: the prolific Beauty Plum, the delicately-flavored Mariposa and the old standby Methley. The exciting spectacular "Gulf series" of plums developed by the University of Florida for Gulf Coast growing is also available: Gulf Blaze, Gulf Beauty, Gulf Ruby and Gulf Rose.
Also new is the Bloomsweet grapefruit, a cross between a pummelo and a sour orange. The Bloomsweet grapefruit is juicy, big and pear-shaped. It is a grapefruit/orange flavored fruit which can be peeled and eaten like a navel orange, in luscious, mostly-seedless segments.
TASTE TEST WINNERS
When the Galveston County Extension Office held its pear tasting last summer, the Asian pears ranked very high on everyone's tasting tally, with 20th Century and Hosui at the top. In previous tastings, Shinko and Shinseiki did very well. All four will be for sale along with the top-taste European pear variety winner, Tennessee.
ALWAYS IN DEMAND
Galveston County's best peach, the sweet-tasting and white-fleshed Tropic Snow, will be making a return engagement. But not to be overlooked are some excellent newer varieties of peaches. These peaches ripen somewhat earlier than Tropic Snow. EarliGrande is an improvement of the old Early Amber variety. TasKing is a variation of the old Galveston County standby, TexStar. TexStar will also be for sale.
We are especially pleased to be able to provide our widest offering to date of citrus varieties, including the highly sought after Republic of Texas orange. A large number of Mexican Thornless limes have been ordered for the margarita maniacs in our county, along with the ever-popular Meiwa kumquats which you can eat right off the tree, peel and all, or make into the best marmalade and preserves on the planet.
The finest fig, the Celeste, is ready to pop in the ground too. Celeste produces its first harvest in only a year or so. By request, there will be several Pakistani mulberry trees along with a large assortment of berries, grapes, pecans, pomegranates, nectarines, apples, apricots and even exotic fruit like jujubes and pawpaws.
Finally, the four finest persimmons in the world will make their appearance for the first time in many years: Suruga, Giombo, Fuyu, and Matsomotowasefuyu.
SPONSORED BY THE GALVESTON COUNTY MASTER GARDENER VOLUNTEERS
The Fruit Tree Seminar & Sale is sponsored by the Galveston County Master Gardener volunteers. Of course, dozens of Master Gardeners will be on hand to help you select your fruit trees and to give out the secrets of making every one of these trees flourish beyond your wildest imaginings.
Proceeds from the sale of the plants are used to develop and maintain the Horticulture Demonstration Garden located at the Galveston County Extension Office. The public is invited to visit, enjoy and learn from the Horticulture Demonstration Garden year-round. For more information, visit the Galveston County Extension Office located at 5115 Highway 3 in Dickinson, or call 281-534-3413, ext. 6.
There's ambrosia available for all seasons and all tastes, right in our own Galveston County back yards. Be sure to make a notation on your gardening calendar to attend this year's Fruit Tree Sale & Seminar to get the right start toward producing your own homegrown harvest of ambrosia.
Alcestis "Cooky" Oberg is a Certified Texas Master Gardener and Extension Volunteer with the Galveston County Extension Office of Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University.
Dr. Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County
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