With the holidays quickly approaching and the cold weather rolling in, most of our stomachs are grumbling in anticipation for pies, cookies, cakes, and other sweets this winter season. Some of even have visions of sugar-plums dancing in our heads. But of course, the sweetest food of them all is – fruit! And now is the perfect time to start planting fruit trees in our gardens and backyards for tasty treats in the spring!
When properly planted and maintained, fruit trees thrive in the Central Texas climate. The “P’s” seem to do the best – peaches, pears, plums, pomegranates, and pecans – with apples, figs, kumquats, and loquats prospering as well. All that these trees need to produce delicious fruits is some TLC by remembering that fruit trees require a few key things:
- Deep Soil: Even though a lot of backyards in Austin are plagued by shallow limestone, fruit trees need to be planted somewhere with deep soil so that their roots can thrive. Many gardeners with shallow soil opt for container planting and have fruit trees in pots instead of in the ground.
- Plenty of Water: Once fruit trees are planted, they need plenty of water to establish themselves in their new environment. Many gardeners use soaker hoses to time their watering, and a layer of mulch on top of the root zone will help maintain soil moisture. Proper watering will ensure fruit for the next season.
- Suitable Weather: When you select a fruit tree to plant, be sure to note the tree’s “chilling hours” requirement. Many fruit trees need a certain amount of hours between 45°F and 32°F in order to create buds and consequently to fruit. Central Texas has, on average, between 650 and 850 chilling hours per winter. Not meeting this guideline can kill fruit trees!
- Protection from Pests: Make sure you are aware of any pest or disease that could plague your fruit trees. Observation is the best prevention, but there are natural oils and products that you can use to reduce the probability of attacks from pests.
Since now is the perfect time to plant those trees, be sure to check out one of our classes, held throughout the year on a variety of topics. Take your garden to the next step and add a touch of sweetness!