Beginner growing fruit in Texas


#1

Hello,

I’m a beginner grower. I grew up in a high rise and most of our plants were fake. I’ve been living in a house with a big yard close to Houston Texas for about 5 years now. I’ve killed a lot of pants in that time, but I’m finally learning and growing some fruit.

I have a peach planted last year that grave us 4 small peaches this year, a mandarin orange planted a couple of weeks ago, and some blueberries planted a few weeks ago. The mandarin tree’s leafs are bent over and I’m not sure that’s normal. But it seems to still be alive and I’ve given it tons of water. The preach had some nibbled leafs, so I spread the leafs with an organic insecticide, fungicide and mitecide. The blueberries are having new growth, which is relieving since a few dried out and I thought they may die. I’m growing with all organic soil and nutrients. I’ve been using strawberry fields and happy frog soil from fox farms. I’ve been watering with the house, but I’ve been reading about the chlorine in the water, so I’ll be making a rainwater collection system soon.

I also have a white mulberry that grew on its own (there are many in the area, but I’ve only ever seen ours fruit, I wonder why that is). We’re currently making a clone of it and i hope we can get a second fruiting tree from it.

We tried transplanting a section of the blackberries from three creek into a planter but they died. I threw some berries in the planter and let the ones that dried out fall in there too. I think there’re some blackberry leafs poking out of the dirt now, but I’m not that great at recognizing the leafs and they’re still really small so I don’t know for sure yet.


#2

Mulberries sometimes have male and female trees. Only the females make berries.


#3

Using house water on blueberries is not good, and it has nothing to do with the chlorine. It’s just way to basic to be putting on acid loving blueberries. City water has to be basic else you would be like Flint, MI. The soil is not right either. Pine bark and peat only. Blueberries cannot handle nitrates, so do not fertilize with regular fertilizer. Use cotton seed meal or Holly-tone or any other acid loving fertilizers. The small blueberries pictured look OK though. Maybe native soil is acidic there? TX can produce hard growing conditions, good luck.


#4

Thanks, that explains. I guess I got lucky with a female. I hope the cloning is successful.


#5

Thanks! I didn’t know any of that. I did know about the ph one our water being too high and purchased a tester. I fill a bucket with a hose and test it. I was using some chemicals called ph up and oh down (now I just use lemons). But I only brought it down to 6 at the lowest.

I’m thinking now I should have planted the berries in a pot on their own so they can have their own soil and water. But we’ll see if they grow there. I did plant the blackberries in a separate planter, maybe they like the same things. Thanks again!


#6

Your 2nd year peach lacks vigor. Not sure if it’s the soil. You may want to fertilize it with urea to push its growth.

Love your flying pig.


#7

Thanks! Something has been eating its leafs so I’ve been spraying it. We also had a couple of freezes which is rare here and the tree seemed to hate that even with a cover. I’ll try urea, and to think I’ve been telling the dogs off when they tried going in the garden lol


#8

The plant growing from the planter (left) is not looking so much like the blackberries growing wild (right). I’ll give it some more time though, it’s still really small.

The mulberry clone is looking pretty bad, I don’t think this one will work out.


#9

You sure about that? I was reading an article today on the cornell website that was written by University of Michigan that said the lack of Nitrogen is the number one problem of blueberries and that they should be given N at least once a year. It went on to say things we all know, the different types of N are better, depending on acidity and organic matter in soil, but definitely said some type of N should be applied.

http://www.hort.cornell.edu/expo/proceedings/2016/Berry.Managing%20blueberry%20nutrition.Hanson.pdf


#10

Yes they are nitrogen hogs, they love it. I fertilize a lot. Not with nitrates though.
http://agebb.missouri.edu/hort/blueberry/newsletter/archives/2009/jul.htm

In this article see this excerpt:
Nitrogen in fertilizer comes in four forms, ammonia (NH3), ammonium (NH4+), nitrate (NO3-) and urea. NH3 is actually a gas or liquid which to use for blueberries is not practical. The blueberries evolved where there was minimal NO3- in the soil. Nitrates are not used well by blueberries since they have very limited nitrate reductase which converts nitrate into amino acid which is used to build proteins

Also see
http://www.soiltest.uconn.edu/factsheets/FertPracBlueberry.pdf
Fertilizers that supply nitrogen in the
ammonium form are preferred over those
supplying nitrogen as nitrate because
blueberries are sensitive to nitrate and injury
may occur.

If you need to change the pH use Hollytone, or even more rapidly Ammonium sulfate.
If pH is good use urea, as it only slightly lowers pH. All these forms are not nitrates. Any acid loving fertilizer is good Jacks Acid Special is AS, Miracle Grow for acid loving plants (Miracle-Gro Plant Food for Azaleas, Camellias, and Rhododendrons) which is urea. You can buy AS straight up from Amazon, be very careful with it. It highly acidifies, and can kill plants if given too much. I only use 1 teaspoon per 2.5 gallons. I no longer use it, for now. I use Jack’s and miracle gro. Jacks has a lower rate and is safer than pure Ammonium sulfate. I also use Hollytone.


#11

I got you now. I think I was confusing one type of nitrogen (nitrates) with nitrogen in general. Thanks for clarifying. I a bit thrown because I use a lot of holytone on mine, but it is the other type. I got it now!


#12

I needed to write that anyway for OP, it helps to understand what you’re doing. Holly Tone is great. What I do is the first of the month hit them with both. the soluble fertilizer works right away for about 2 weeks. And at about 2 weeks Hollytone starts to break down. So they are fed every 2 weeks. I found a way to do it a month at a time. Really need to save time, plus I’m lazy, this works for me. It worked much better with the old form of Hollytone that had cotton seed meal, they stopped using it as most cotton seed meal is GMO based these days. In my pots pH is steady so use miracle gro with Hollytone. In ground tends to slowly rise in pH so use jack’s special with hollytone. Not mixed, just at the same time. I water them first too!! Always water first when using the quick acting soluble stuff. Especially Jacks Special.


#13

Is the N in urine in the right form?


#14

Yes, it’s urea.


#15

Blueberries are not easy to grow, and can be frustrating to new gardeners In general i would advise growing them after you have some experience under your belt. But if you have them, you have them. A note on acids to acidify soil. Really only sulfur and sulfuric acid are acceptable for in ground plants. Citric acid in any form and vinegar which is acetic acid can work in containers, but is no good for raised beds or in ground. These latter two can break down and return pH to where it was before you used it. Sulfur once sulfuric acid (bacteria will do this in about 6 months) will bind high pH carbonates into gypsum which is very stable. So pH is permanently lowered. With containers you can use acetic or citric acid, just water heavy. Both acids will bind with carbonates and the heavy watering will flush them out of the pots. So it doesn’t matter if they change back you removed the high pH causing carbonates from the container.
All city water is buffered heavily with carbonates to avoid acids eating pipes, like the lead pipes in Flint MI. they failed to buffer the water. If they did, nobody would have been wiser to all the lead pipes still in use. When I run out of rainwater I use battery acid in tap water which is 30% sulfuric acid. It is safe to use. Battery acid has to be fairly pure, as heavy metals in acid can cause batteries to explode. The lawsuits would be a flying so the government has set standards for purity levels in various acids. Now I’m talking new acid you purchase not acid out of batteries as this would have very high levels of lead. Any decent auto parts store has it.
The amount you need will vary depending on pH of tap water and the amount of carbonates present in that water. Some city waters are basic but have few carbonates, and others have a lot, so you have to test your own. Ideal pH range for blueberries is 4.5 to 5.5 try to keep soil in this range. The pH of pine bark and also peat is around 5.0. So no acid is needed to lower pH except for your water. The soil will keep it low, but continued use of tap water will bring pH up. It is very easy to get pH too low if using pine or peat or both (preferred) for your soil. Which is just as bad maybe worse than a high pH, it will kill your plants. You need to monitor pH. I use these scientific plastic test strips used in commercial industry. They are extremely accurate and easy to use.
For soil after a good rain I stick strips in root zone and leave them there 10-15 minutes, then read. For solutions, just dip like litmus paper.
I like to use the 4.0 to 7.0 strips as this covers the range I need and they are extremely easy to read!
https://krackeler.com/catalog/product/6272/MColorpHast-Premium-pH-Strips

Don’t feel bad if you fail. In learning all this I have so far killed 5 plants. It seems I am destrined to always go through the school of hard knocks! Currently I have 9 plants the oldest is 7 years old and 5 feet tall. it produces hundreds of blueberries.
The last photo I took was of the flowers. it is so surrounded by other plants it’s hard to see whole plant, so I just focused on flowers. This is about half the plant. If you look in the background about 1 o’clock you can see another blueberry plant covered in flowers. Click two times on photo to magnify if you want a closer look.


#16

Thank you thecityman for asking that question. I was wondering if nitrates and nitrogen were equally bad for the plant. I have a bag of iron and soil acidifier from about a year ago before I decided to go organic and was wondering if it’d be good to bring the ph down, but it has nitrogen, so I wasn’t sure.

Thank you Drew for so much great information. I’ve only been using lemons, but if your using battery acid, lemons aren’t going to be enough. I’m going to do what you say and see how it goes. Yours look amazing! Thanks again!!


#17

Nitrates are nitrogen, blueberries love nitrogen, just not in the form of nitrates.

These will be fine to use. I add iron once a year. Anything with the word acid is fine to use. Iron is acidic too. Iron has so many protons in it’s nucleus it pulls electrons to it, usually from hydrogen ions. pH is a measure of hydrogen ions. For this scale the lower the number the more hydrogen.

pH is defined as the decimal logarithm of the reciprocal of the hydrogen ion activity, aH+, in a solution.

It is a logarithmic scales, so pH from 7.0 to 6.0 is 10 times more acidic. To 5.0 that would be 100 times more acidic. It’s not easy to lower pH that much.


#18

It’s good to see your enthusiasm, and folks here that give counsel will save you lot$ of money and decrease disappointment as you seek that counsel. In addition, you might also want to check out the facebook page for the Texas Rare Fruit Growers/Texas Fruiting Plant Growers, which has a Houston -area group. In July this group has scheduled a meeting where mangos and paw paws will be available for sampling, and guests are welcome.


#19

Thanks! That’s great information!


#20

Awesome! I love mangos, I was recently wondering if they’d grow in our area.