by AMANDA MOON
In my last fruit tree article, I covered peaches, plums, apples, pears and pecans. These are all wonderful choices, but the options in home fruit trees far exceed those five basics. For example, you can also grow pomegranates, persimmons, loquats, and figs. All four are super-easy to grow in central Texas and they require little if any care to thrive.
Pomegranate – This is probably the most common and most eye-catching of this collection. They’re as easy to grow as a crape myrtle and just as showy, with their abundant bright orange flowers. They can often be found growing on old homesteads around the state.
The Wonderful Pomegranate is the large, juicy “superfood” that’s been the subject of so many healthy eating articles lately. Other ornamental varieties are also available, including flowering only types, and compact growers for smaller beds needing a little color.
Oriental Persimmons – Here is another super-healthy edible to grow in your yard. There are two types of fruit to choose from: astringent and non-astringent. With the astringent varieties, you have to let the fruit fully soften for it to become sweet. The non-astringent varieties are sweet from the start and can be eaten firm or soft.
Persimmons make delicious jelly or can be eaten fresh, scooping out the flesh with a spoon. Eureka and Hachiya are good astringent choices and Fuyu is a widely grown non-astringent variety.
Figs – For those who love figs but don’t want to shell out $5 for a little basket at the store, then a tree in your yard will provide you with all the figs you will ever need. Probably the most restrictive problem to overcome is having enough space for one. In Texas, figs tend to be very large bushes (I mean can get to 15’-20’ round large). In cold winters they can die to the ground which doesn’t allow them to be trained into tree form.
Many people look for figs with a closed-eye (on the fruit) because this helps keep out pest and disease. Celeste is one option with a closed eye. Some of the other more common varieties for Texas include the Texas Everbearing (aka Brown Turkey), Alma, and Black Mission. Many figs can be found around Austin that have been growing unaided for decades and are still producing, although the severe cold snaps from a few years ago killed some of them.
Loquat – I must confess that until last year I had never tried a loquat (and I suspect I am not the only one). We have grown loquats in Texas for years and most of the time they are planted as an attractive evergreen understory or specimen tree and not for their fruit. But the loquat is high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. The leaves are even used as a tea in Asian countries. You have to watch out for the seeds like many fruits, but they have a wonderful taste similar to apricots (some describe the flavor as more apple-like). Harvest loquats as soon as they are soft, as they will ripen on the tree in late winter to early spring.
The great thing about growing your own food is that you alone (well, also maybe the birds) control what is put on the tree so that you are absolutely sure that what you are eating is safe. Freshly picked fruit also always tastes better and lasts longer than fruit that has been sitting in a warehouse for a while before it makes it to the produce section in the grocery store.
Happy gardening everyone!
If you have a gardening question, please send it via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Please put ‘Ask Chris Winslow’ in the subject line.) Or mail your letter or postcard to: Ask Chris Winslow. It’s About Thyme: 11726 Manchaca Road, Austin, TX 78748
- Basic fruit trees for Central Texas and tips to keep them thriving 02/6/2013
- Growing olive trees is easy 12/5/2012
- Chilling hours for fruit trees 12/21/2011