grow

Plant: Fruit Trees

November is a great time of year to plant fruit trees in your urban space. Even though it is getting colder outside, Fall is an optimal season for planting because the plant is dormant; its roots are allowed to develop (generally without competition) before the tree begins leafing out in the spring. 

Apples, apricots, blackberries, blueberries, citrus, fig, grape, jujube, peach, pear, pecan, persimmon, plum, pomegranate, strawberries…all of these fruits can be grown well here if properly cared for!

Here are five things to keep in mind when thinking about growing fruit at home:

1.    Sunlight is the key to fruit production. Fruit trees need at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.

2.    Soil quality is important – pick a site with good drainage, and be sure you have a healthy native soil to nourish that tree.

3.    If space is limited, be sure you consider the mature size of the tree. You can purchase ‘dwarf’ varieties of fruit trees. Even better, keep the fruit tree pruned to a dwarf size.

4.    Choose a dependable and tested variety of plant for our North Texas region. Don’t just buy whatever a big-box nursery tries to sell you. 

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5.    Some fruit tree varieties need to be pollinated, so if you are looking to just plant 1-2 trees, be sure you choose a ‘self-pollinating’ variety.

We love these individual fact sheets from Texas A&M on various fruit tree types.

Plant: Green Beans

Dreaming of cooler weather? We are in the last week of August, and in the throes of back-to-school for North Texas. You may be wondering what you could plant in your garden now (easily and quickly before you dive back into the AC) - perhaps even something fun and easy for your kids or grandkids to try at home. Consider growing green beans at home!

There are two basic types of ways that beans grow, in a bush format or in a climbing format (often called ‘pole’ beans). There are two very different sets of rules for growing these guys, so be sure before you plant that you decide which path you are going to take and have your growing space prepared. Check out this guide for planting tips.

Here are some reasons we love to plant and grown beans:

  1. they germinate (begin to grow) quickly, and they are low-maintenance

  2. they like sunlight and are fairly tolerant of various soil types

  3. if watered well, you can harvest a good amount of beans at home until a hard frost (they will produce during the first months of Fall here)

  4. they are healthy to eat (a good source of Vitamin C and A)

  5. they provide a fun and easy kitchen activity for kids helping to cook at home

For recommended varieties of green beans for North Texas, see this link.

Plant: Peppers

If you want an easy and productive plant in your home garden, think about planting some hot peppers. They love our Texas heat, and they will prolifically produce peppers (can you say that five times quickly…) for months until winter arrives. And, you can save them in a variety of ways for use throughout the entire calendar year!

In our Dallas urban space, we’ve had good luck with serrano peppers, cayenne peppers, and jalapeño peppers. You can plant them directly in the soil in your landscape bed, or in a container for your patio. The most important thing is to give them at least six hours of direct sunlight every day. Water deeply, when you do water them.

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Once you start harvesting hot peppers from your garden, here are some creative ways you can use and save them at home. [Please note if you are getting hands on with these guys, the interior flesh and seeds can cause irritation to your skin, so use caution; and, if you must, use gloves when handling…]

  1. Use them whole in soups or to add some kick to your homemade stock.

  2. Slice or mince the whole pepper, and use in your everyday dishes depending on how spicy you want them to be.

  3. Dehydrate them whole in your oven, dehydrator, or if you want a cool aesthetic in your kitchen - string them up and hang them to air dry.

  4. Pulse/chop the dried peppers in your blender and save in your pantry. You can also mix them with other dried herbs and powders for a homemade rub on grilled summertime meats and seafood.

  5. Make a homemade pepper sauce.

Lastly, check out this wonderful tip sheet from Texas A&M on recommended pepper varieties and growing tips for our region. Happy planting, friends! Pick some plants to grow in your urban space that love our climate, and can feed your family.