2017 Fruit Orchard and Garden Tour

The 2017 Fruit Orchard and Garden Tour will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 20. Three sites are on this year’s tour route.

The master gardener volunteers and Galveston County AgriLife Extension Office will co-sponsor a Fruit Orchard and Garden Tour on Saturday, May 20, from 9 a.m. to noon. The program is free of charge and open to the public.

Three fruit orchards are on this year’s tour route. Each location will be open during the 9 a.m. to noon time period. You will have the option of touring all three sites or any combination of sites.

This year’s tour sites contain a wide variety of fruit trees ranging from an impressive fruit tree orchard (Fruits ’n Such Orchard located at 6309 Ave. U — Bogeyman Drive in Dickinson) and the Master Gardener Demonstration Orchard (located in Carbide Park in La Marque). Peach, plum, citrus, fig, apple and other fruit trees can be seen also.

All sites contain a wide variety of vegetables also. Vegetables are grown in dozens of raised beds at Carbide Park whereas vegetables are grown in the ground at Fruits ’n Such Orchard. Visitors may also tour an impressive herb garden next to the Fruits ’n Such Orchard. If you’re looking for the freshest produce to purchase, you can pick it yourself at the Fruits ’n Such Orchard.

If you are interested in seeing the amazing diversity of fruit trees that can be grown in a backyard, be sure to include a tour of Master Gardener Bill Verm’s home orchard located at 5202 Highland Road in Santa Fe.

If you have an interest in roses, be sure to visit the display beds of Earth-Kind roses located at the Carbide Park site. Homeowners love their magnificent blooms and fragrance.

Roses have had a centuries-long reputation of being the most neurotic members of the plant world. Consequently, gardeners spend considerable cash buying fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides to sustain their roses, and much time pruning, deadheading, and watering them to keep them blooming. Roses that qualify for the Earth-Kind designation are very low-maintenance and perform very well under a variety of growing conditions.

To obtain a map with directions to the tour sites, visit the Galveston County AgriLife Extension Office located in Carbide Park, 4102-B Main St., in La Marque (281-309-5065). A printable copy of the tour map and additional details are available online (http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/index.html).

Area homeowners who grow — or plan to grow — fruits or vegetables for home use will find the tour sites to be of considerable benefit.

Gardening Q&A

Q: My bougainvillea is several years old. I fertilize it regularly yet it blooms sparsely. What does it need?

A: One likely problem is that the plant is not getting enough sunlight. Bougainvilleas need at least 8-10 hours of direct sunlight every day. Another problem is excessive soil moisture. Be aware that some types of bougainvilleas bloom mostly in the fall in response to short days.

Q: How often should I fertilize my tomato plants?

A: It is necessary to fertilize the garden before planting tomatoes. Apply the fertilizer again when flowers start to set. From that point on, an additional fertilization (known as side-dressing) every week to 10 days is recommended. Plants grown on sandy soils should be fertilized more frequently than those grown on heavy, clay soils. A general sidedress fertilizer recommendation is one to two tablespoons of a complete fertilizer scattered around the base of each plant and worked into the soil.

Q: Why are some types of beans able to climb and others are not?

A: Pole beans are characterized by an indeterminate or vining growth habit, while bush bean varieties are determinate. In the vining type, flowers form in the axils of the leaves and stem, allowing the stem to grow indefinitely. In the determinate-type growth, the main growing point ends in a flower cluster, preventing stem elongation. Beans climb because of the twining growth habit of the stems.

Q: Do tomatoes require insect pollinators to set fruit?

A: Tomatoes do not require insect pollinators to set fruit. Tomatoes are wind pollinated in a gardening setting. Bumblebees may aid in pollination by shaking the flowers upon landing (a process is called buzz or sonic pollination). If you’re growing tomatoes in a greenhouse, you would need to give flowering stems a shake whenever you walk past to increase fruit set or run a small fan during morning hours to achieve adequate wind pollination.

William M. Johnson

is a horticulturist with the Galveston County Office of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Visit his website at http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/index.html.

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