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Happy New Year!
As we dive into the 2013 gardening scene, my weekly missives are back. And, as always during early January, it's time to remind you of the upcoming fruit tree sales. And, for the first time since I've been writing about these sales — just over 12 years — the three biggest County Extension/Master Gardener sales will be running concurrently.
I highlight these sales each year because they truly matter when it comes to getting the right fruit varieties for our area. Maybe this is the year you're finally committing to growing fruit, and it's important to get started with those best for our climate.
Throughout the year, I get a myriad of calls and emails from folks wanting to know where they can buy specific trees and vines. While many of the independent nurseries and garden centers I highlight on GardenLine are getting better about offering a variety of fruit and citrus, this is the one time of year when most of them have just about every basic peach, plum, apple and pear. But nothing compares to the fruit tree sales put on by Master Gardener/AgriLife Extension offices. Add Urban Harvest's party-starter held each January for the past 13 years, and you'll see what separates these fruit tree sales from what can be found at local nurseries, especially the big stores.
A perfect example this year would be the new Carnavale apple variety for southeast Texas. The grower, Heidi Sheesley at Treesearch Farms, describes it as "a beautiful yellow apple with a large rosy-red blush. The fruit has firm, crisp flesh and a wonderfully complex flavor - sweet with a tart overtone. It is a heavy bearer of uniform, rounded fruits." Sheesley also notes that it is early to flower, "just slightly later than Anna with a similar ripening date." Carnavale has its origins in the vibrant country of Brazil. The tree may reach an average of 12 feet and has a nice spreading habit. It has good resistance to fireblight and is tolerant of heat and humidity. "Finally, we have an apple to go with Anna and Dorsett Gold," says Sheesley.
Besides the typical Gulf Coast apples, peaches, plums and pears, each of these sales features a plethora of citrus above and beyond a single variety of orange, lemon or grapefruit. You'll find soft-skinned Mexican avocados, like Joey, Alma, and Fantastic. Plus Star Fruit, Dragon Fruit, and another new introduction that sounds amazing, The Sapodilla (BELOW). It's been described as a small pear that "tastes like it's been soaked in brown sugar." I can't wait to see how it fairs in Houston. There are many other tropical fruits, too ...the list is gets more amazing each and every year.
Again, the important aspect of all the fruits you'll find at the sales below is that they are designed to prosper in our coastal counties. I pulled this info straight from each of the county websites. Some didn't list times, so I just assumed a time from last year's information. Get there early ... don't expect what you want to still be available after the first two hours. And if you have a wagon, bring it.
URBAN HARVEST - Sat., Jan. 19
Houston Community College Southwest
5601 West Loop, S.
8 a.m.-1 p.m.
HARRIS COUNTY - Sat., Jan. 26
8 a.m.-1 p.m.
2 Abercrombie Drive
MONTGOMERY COUNTY - Sat., Jan 26
Seminar: 8-9 a.m.
Sale: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
9020 FM.1484, Conroe
FT. BEND COUNTY - Sat., Jan. 26.
9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Ft. Bend County Fairgrounds
1402 Band Road., Rosenberg
GALVESTON COUNTY - Sat. Feb. 2
Heidi Sheesley Seminar: 8 a.m.
Sale: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
5115 Highway 3, Dickinson
ARBOR GATE - Fri., Feb. 15
Heidi Sheesley Seminar: 9 a.m.
Sale: 10:30 a.m.
15635 FM 2920, Tomball
BRAZORIA COUNTY - Sat., Feb. 16
8 a.m.-2 p.m. (Citrus only)
21017 County Road 171, Angleton