Planting fruit trees can save you cash

January 25, 2012 3:08:06 PM PST
Wednesday was not the day to spend outside planting, but our weather team says this weekend is looking pretty good. And believe it or not, it's fruit tree sale season.

If you plant an avocado tree in the next couple of months, expect to harvest later this year. That's a big savings considering how much you spend at the grocery store. Fruit trees take a little more special attention than a plant, but if you learn the dos and don'ts, your harvest can save you money on your grocery bill.

The months of January through March are the beginning of the fruit tree sale season at local nurseries, and the downturn in our economy has made the idea of growing fruit trees more popular than ever.

"It has taught people how to be self sufficient and doing fruit trees is one of the ultimate ways to feed the family," GardenLine host Randy Lemmon says.

And in Houston, Lemmon says there is an array of fruits you can harvest all year long.

"Now it's neat to have a harvest from your own orchard year round; you can get something producing early spring and you get stuff producing all the way through the winter months around here because of our semi-tropic environment," Lemmon says.

Some of the fruit trees that do well are soft-skinned avocado trees, citrus trees -- like oranges, lemons and limes -- and peach, plum and pear trees.

Lemmon says the key to growing a fruit tree in our area is to be sure you pick a fruit tree that is meant to thrive in our Gulf coast climate.

"A big box store, a chain, a mass merchandiser, they get their products distribute regionally or nationally, so what gets distributed in Atlanta, Georgia where an Alberta peach will work, is still going to get distributed down here in the Houston area, and Alberta peaches will not work," he says.

Once you have picked your trees at the nursery, Lemmon suggests you keep it in the container until early spring.

"The theory is that you hold off until mid-March and that's still the case even though we are having a warmer than normal winter," Lemmon says.

When it comes to growing a young citrus tree, remove the fruit.

"The rule of thumb is that the first two years, you are supposed to remove the fruit so that all it does is it works on developing its root system and its growth up top and that is so hard for people to do," he says.

For stone fruit, like peaches, plums and pears, you must thin out your crop the very first years; you do this by pinching off the blooms.

"It's really hard to get a newbie to remove 80 percent of their crop," Lemmon says.

Finally be sure to feed your trees at least twice a year with fertilizer meant for fruit trees.

As far as price expect to pay anywhere from $25.99 to $39.99 for a young fruit tree. Avocado trees are more expensive anywhere from $30 to $50 for a young tree.

You plant a fruit tree the same way you plant a shrub -- a slightly raised flower bed in rose soil. Fruit trees also need at least six hours of full sun.

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Fruit tree classes/seminars


Montgomery County Master Gardener Fruit Tree Seminar with Tom LeRoy
Sat., Jan. 28 - 8-9 a.m.
Montgomery County Extension Offices
9020 F.M. 1484, Conroe

Montgomery County Master Gardener Fruit Tree Sale
Sat., Jan. 28 - 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Montgomery County Extension Offices
9020 F.M. 1484, Conroe

Harris County Fruit Tree Sale Preview
Sat., Jan. 28 - 8-9 a.m.
Harris County Extension Service Bear Creek Facility
3033 Bear Creek Drive

Harris County Fruit Tree Sale
Sat., Jan. 28 - 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Harris County Extension Service Bear Creek Facility
3033 Bear Creek Drive

Harris County Fruit Tree Seminar with Skip Richter
Sat., Jan. 28 - 10-11 a.m.
Harris County Extension Service Bear Creek Facility
3033 Bear Creek Drive

The Arbor Gate/Treesearch Farms Fruit Tree Seminar with Heidi Sheesley
Sun., Jan. 29 - 9-10 a.m.
15635 FM 2920, Tomball
281-351-8851

The Arbor Gate/Treesearch Farms Fruit Tree Sale
Sun., Jan. 29 - 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
15635 FM 2920, Tomball
281-351-8851

Galveston County Master Gardener Fruit Tree Sale
Sat., Feb. 4 - 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Wayne Johnson Community Center
Carbide Park, FM 519, LaMarque

Fort Bend Co. Master Gardener Fruit Tree Seminar
Sat., Feb. 11 - 8-9 a.m.
Fort Bend County Fairgrounds, 1402 Band Road
281-341-7068

Fort Bend Co. Master Gardener Fruit Tree Sale
Sat., Feb. 11 - 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Fort Bend Co. Fairgrounds, 1402 Band Road
281-341-7068

Brazoria County Master Gardener Fruit Tree Seminar
Sat., Feb. 18 - 8-9 a.m.
21017 FM 171, Angleton
(New Location, a mile from BEES office)

Brazoria County Master Gardener Fruit Tree Sale
Sat., Feb. 18 - 9 a.m.-noon
21017 FM 171, Angleton
(New Location, a mile from BEES office)

Harris County Precinct 2 Fruit & Veggie Seminar with Heidi Sheesley
Sat., March 3 - 8-9 a.m.
Pasadena Fairgrounds Campbell Hall
7600 Red Bluff, Pasadena

Harris County Precinct 2 Fruit & Veggie Sale
Sat., March 3 - 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Pasadena Fairgrounds Campbell Hall
7600 Red Bluff, Pasadena