Year Round Gardening for Houston and Southeast Texas by Dr. Bob Randall is the comprehensive guide for growing vegetables in the Houston area. It includes updates of optimum planting times for Houston’s varied micro-climates.
Did you know it is also a comprehensive guide in ecological approaches to pest management and conservation? And, it is a gardeners’ delight in the care of a broad spectrum of fruit trees, including ratings of over 150 fruits for the Houston area.
Four easy steps to caring for your fruit trees, from Dr. Bob Randall’s Year-Round
Gardening for Houston and Southeast Texas.
In preparation for the virtual Fruit Tree Festival week of online events in celebration of Fruit Trees starting February 6th, instead of an annual Fruit Tree Sale in 2021, we are highlighting these easy steps outlined in Dr. Randall’s book to help increase production and vigor to grow healthy, resilient trees. Winter is the best time to restore and care for your fruit trees.
STEP 1: MULCH
Remove weeds or grass growing from the trunk to where the tips of the leaves end (also known as the “drip line”). Then, add mulch, 2-3 inches thick for healthier trees. Mulch is any organic matter used to cover the soil, such as, ground and aged hardwood trees, leaves, or coastal hay and dried alfalfa.
STEP 2: FERTILIZE
During the first year, feed your tree ½ cup high-quality, slow release organic plant food in February and May, increasing to approx. 3 lbs. or 10 cups in years 2 and 3. Apply it to the root zone which is from the trunk to the dripline. Also feed cold hardy trees, such as stone fruit, peaches, pears, apples and nectarines, in August
STEP 3: ASSESS
After 3 years, continue to ask yourself: Has my tree been adding vigorous new growth year after year? Does it look healthy?
If “No”, mulch your tree as described above. Adding organic mulch around the tree allows for the soil to be enriched, building the soil microbiology. Also, feed your tree following the Year 1-3 schedule above to get your tree health back on target.
If “Yes”, then you have a healthy, vigorous tree. There is no need to add fertilizer. Maintain your tree by removing weeds and adding another layer of mulch up to 3 inches thick, using leaves or native hardwood mulch regularly.
STEP 4: PRUNING
Pruning increases production and improves the health of your fruit trees. It is part science, part art, and you need to know about the specific fruit tree requirements. A list of tools and basics steps are included in Bob’s book. As with any art, practice and learning from a master are highly recommended.
We advise gardeners who would like to learn and practice pruning fruit trees to take the “Fruit Tree Training and Pruning 3 Class Series” which will be held virtually starting January 16, 2021.