Saturday, February 28, 2009

Compost Demonstration Site

We are nearly done with the construction phase of our Compost Demonstration Site. Many thanks to the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council for the grant that is funding this project! Signage, one more composter, and some more plants are all that remains until this construction phase is complete. Come by and learn how to compost your household and yard waste - It's good for the environment - It's good for your pocketbook - and it's good for your garden!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Peaches for the Rio Grande Valley

Please, can you tell me what "brand" of peach tree will produce fruit here in Cameron County? We are wanting to purchase at least one this Spring. Dana

Dr Enrique Perez, Cameron County Extension Agent, writes: Back in the mid 80's a group of Starr County producers established an orchard on approximately 75 acres. The varieties adapted to the area or chosen due to chilling hours were EarliGrande and Rio Grande. From my evaluation, these two varieties performed well. A chilling requirement of a certain number of hours of winter temperatures between 32° to 45° F is needed to break dormancy and induce normal bloom and vegetative growth. This chilling requirements caused some problems for the commercial producer in terms of size and yield. But for a home owner this may not be an issue. The other problem is cotton root rot disease which exist through the Rio Grande Valley. Also, we have the issue of pH in the soil. Our soils here are alkaline. Peach varieties have a problem with alkaline soils. The life span for production of these trees are from 5 to 10 years.

One Master Gardener shares that she has had great success with the EarlyGrande variety. It sets lots of small to medium fruit. She gives it minimal care: water, a little pruning and a little horse manure on occasion. Her tree came from Grimsell's Nursery in Harlingen. Rivers End Nursery in Bayview specializes in fruit trees. The varieties they list in their newsletter are Tropic Beauty, Tropic Snow and Florida Glow. They grow what they sell and can give you specific information about each variety. Most local garden centers will stock peach trees during the spring. Their staffs tend to be knowledgable on varieties that do well in the Rio Grande Valley.

For more information on Peach Production in Texas, check out Aggie Horticulture.

Return to "Ask a Master Gardener".

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

One of the weekly tasks at the Compost Demonstration Site is turning the compost piles. In Week 1, the Master Gardener Interns put most of the material through the chipper/shredder and refilled the bins, sprinkling the material as they went. The bins are currently heavy on brown stuff (carbon) - but members help keep the Compost Demonstration Site supplied with green stuff (nitrogen) by bringing trimmings from their homes and gardens, and old fruit and vegetables from fruit stands.

Week 2, the piles are warm to the touch - so we know they are "cooking". We have found it is easier to empty the entire bin and turn or mix it in the open ground. Then it is reassembled, adding water as needed. Remember, our compost piles should be damp to the touch - like a wrung-out sponge.

We've also been rustling leaves . . . . Our last few bags are leaning against the storage shed in the photo above. Any bagged leaves left on the curb are likely to be snatched and added to the demonstration.

It is amazing how fast we are making compost now that we are turning the piles every week!
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