With a turnout that filled the room to over-flowing into the hallway, Wells Branch gardeners turned out to share information and learn from the experts about growing fruit trees. Topics ranged from which varieties would actually grow in our soil to how big does the tree get to pruning and planting and location. Many of the attendees have fruit trees or have had them but still had questions on their care or if they had the right variety. We viewed a video clip from KLRU featuring Drew Demler from last year then followed with a Q&A session with Tim Pfluger from Green and Growing in Pflugerville.
We got information about root stock types and how to plant bare root and container grown trees. Lara's pears are rock hard. "Normal for that variety, probably a Bartlet, as it is a cooking pear," said our expert Tim. Best fruit trees for our area are pears, peaches and plums, and of course figs. Several varieties of apples grow well here too and are available locally in dwarf types that are much more suitable for back yard gardening. Apricots don't always do well as they are not very tolerant of late frosts, much like citrus that does best in containers that can be moved to a warmer location. Several people noted using CDs in the trees to scare off the birds but one lady said her grandchild asked if she was growing CDs which produced quite a bit of laughter.
Now is the time on a warm day to spray the fruit trees with dormant or neem oil to reduce the incidence of insects damaging the fruit. It is also the time to do pruning to shape the tree properly for fruit production. We even got advise on thinning the fruit on the trees to get larger, better fruits by removing the little ones right away to make room for the remaining ones to grow. Tim recommended a trip to Love Orchards in Medina, TX for apples. I found a blog entry about them too.
We also discussed berries, which to grow and which to leave to the farmers. Grow blackberries and raspberries in the ground and blueberries in pots. Leave the strawberries to the farmers unless you just want to nibble. More later on all the advise on soil amendments.