Beautiful gardens by William Johnson
Have you ever been to a high-end expensive restaurant where the chefs garnished your duck with an exotic red blood orange or served your salad sprinkled with pomegranate seeds?
When you’re pushing your cart through the produce section of a gourmet specialty market, have you ever noticed the price of Meyer lemons and those little kumquats? Meyer lemons, kumquats, pomegranates and blood oranges are all top gourmet fare but can be easily and inexpensively grown in any back yard in these parts. Tropic Snow peach is a wonderful fruit tree that can be grown in Galveston County home landscapes. A wide selection of citrus and other fruit trees will be offered at the master gardeners’ spring plant sale at the Galveston County fairgrounds in Hitchcock on Saturday, February 20. Photo Credit: William Johnson
A wide assortment of fabulous and hard-to-find citrus trees, along with plums, peaches, persimmons, pomegranates, figs, apples and pears, will be featured at the Galveston County Master Gardeners Association’s spring plant sale on Saturday.
The sale will be conducted from 9:00am to 1:00pm in the rodeo arena at the Galveston County fairgrounds along state highway 6 in Hitchcock. This is a new location for the sale as we have outgrown the space at our old location near the county extension office in Carbide Park.
A pre-sale seminar will be presented by master gardener John Jons at 8:00am in the fairgrounds’ youth building to discuss the plants and plant varieties that will be offered in the sale yard. The seminar is free and pre-registration is not required to attend.
In last week’s column, I discussed the array of vegetables and herbs that will be available at the sale. As you can surmise from my beginning narrative, there will be citrus and other fruit trees. One of the satisfactions that nearly all our area’s homeowners can have is to pick citrus, peaches, figs and other types of fruit from their own trees.
Over the past several years, I have gradually changed my home landscape from a traditional one appealing primarily to the visual senses to one that now includes appealing to the palette. My gardening friends know well that peaches are my favorite fruit trees to grow.
Just about any variety of peach that is homegrown is likely to far exceed any peach purchased from a grocery store in taste, texture and juiciness.
When folks ask what my favorite variety of peach is, I have to first admit I have a bias. There are three varieties that I recommend – there is Tropic Snow and then Tropic Snow and, as you might guess, Tropic Snow. This white-fleshed peach is delightfully sweet when picked fresh from the tree.
Figs have been a part of Texas homesteads since the early development of the state. They grow extremely well along the Texas Gulf Coast. I look forward to harvesting a bountiful crop of Celeste figs in my home landscape around mid June as they have an excellent fresh dessert quality with a rich sweet flavor.
Kumquats are small evergreen citrus trees native to the southeastern areas of mountainous China. Today, they are grown for their delicious fruits and as an ornamental tree in many parts of the world, including here in the USA.
A mature kumquat tree bears several hundred olive-sized, brilliant orange-colored fruits in the winter. The interior of the fruit resembles miniature juicy orange-like segments firmly adhering to each other and to the peel. Kumquats are distinguished from other types of citrus in that they can be eaten whole, including the peel.
I am nearing the end of the harvest season for the Meiwa kumquats in my home landscape and I harvested and consumed a handful of them while writing this column.
There will also be a master-gardener-grown and master-gardener-made booth at this year’s event, which will include a variety of gardening crafts and greenhouse-grown vegetables and herbs.
At last fall’s plant sale, there was one antique tractor on display. It garnered such interest that the members of the Bluebonnet Antique Tractor Club in Santa Fe will have an array of vintage tractors on display at this Saturday’s event to help acquaint urban gardeners with the rural lifestyles and family traditions of past generations.
Be sure to put a note on your to-do gardening calendar to attend the seminar and sale on Saturday. Map directions to the sale and a listing of the citrus trees, fruit trees, vegetables and herbs that will be available can be downloaded at aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/index.htm
Master gardeners will be available to offer advice about plants and to answer questions. Proceeds from the plant sale will help maintain the horticulture demonstration garden in Carbide Park.
William Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County office of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Visit his website at aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/index.htm.