Archive for November, 2009

How Many Fruit Trees Can You Put in the Front Yard

I took a walk with my daughters through the neighborhood, and I noticed two homes that had around twenty fruit trees in their front yards. Is this practical?

I wonder if I am seeing a growing trend with more fruit trees in my neighbors yards. There have always been fruit trees in the area. I have three in my front yard, and five in the backyard. These trees are fairly well spaced away from each other; however, seeing two yards packed with fruit trees, I felt that I might be encountering a trend.

    I have noticed that more homeowners have added vegetable gardens, and I have spotted a fruit tree here and there being added to a home garden. I thought that some people are responding to the recession and higher food costs. I think that growing your own vegetables is great for the children, and it may involve homeowners with their gardens more, which is alright with me. I think that people who are new to vegetable gardens may not realize that it is a bit more work than what they may have expected. This leads to these beds being discarded., which I would rather not see. Getting back to these two yards decked out with trees, is this wise? I think not. Most of our front yards contain limited space, which means that the spacing of these trees is about five feet. When the trees mature,  the shade will cause the grass to recede, and the branches will intertwine allowing no air flow for health. The roots will cause problems for the foundation if the trees are too close to the house, and they will cause problems for piping or underground services.

   I like the idea of having fruit trees in our yards, but we should balance them with other aspects of the garden. If you are going to add fruit trees to your yard, check on the height and width of a mature tree to place it properly in the landscape. This should be done for any tree. To really get fruit production going, you will need to wait till the tree matures some. Fruit trees are for the future, while vegetables are for the present.

Time to Prune

Pruning is an important step for the health of your plants.

My son is having a birthday party this weekend, which means that my wife wants the garden to have a new look, and pruning may be the easiest way for me to accomplish her wishes.Why does my wife want the garden redone for each party? I have no idea, but it has been her habit. Fortunately for me, I was already transplanting several plants, so that helped;  however, she felt that the garden had “messy” look. Some plants were doing well this year, expanding out of their bounds.
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Transplanting in Autumn and Planting for a Winter Harvest in Houston

When is it a good time to rearrange the garden? Transplanting in Autumn can help the plants thrive, but you can have some vegetables for a winter harvest in Houston.

My daughter, Katya, and I have been creating a new garden through transplanting. This has been a wonderful solution to give the garden a new look, while not spending money on new plants; however, I have been spending money on plants and seeds anyway.

    I bought the seeds from Southwest Fertilizer for planting in January. Well, Katya, who is three has her favorite vegetables, so we had to buy those seeds. Moreover, my baby, Sakura, decided she needed beans. Both girls love being in the garden. Katya insisted that we start our seed beds now, so I am trying out the swiss chard, beets, and beans in a bed that I was preparing for the January plantings. I did find some celery plants and nasturtiums at my seed shop. I also went to Tea’s Nursery for some lettuce and arugula. We are having salads in my home soon.

    I had let one of my vegetable beds become to wild. I grow vegetables all over the home, so no bed is strictly a vegetable bed. One of my main beds to harvest produce for my dinner happens to be where I set up an outdoor reading room. Each time a plant was harvested, I would put another plant in. As the seasons marched through the year, I had quite the riot on my hands. Green onions, kale, arugula, lettuce, parsely, and daikon were all over the bed. I was fine with this set up, but it does not make for a visual pleasing site. Katya grabbed her shovel, and I plunged in with my hands. We gathered all of the same plants from this bed into one spot on a tarp that we had layed down. We had fun finding the earth worms, while checking to see what else lived in the soil. After turning the soil, while adding some compost and coffee grounds, I planned out where to make my mass pantings.

    Bunching plants in mass gives a rich effect to the eye, and it makes it easier for my wife and son to locate a vegetable when I need them for a dinner. When we dug the plants out, we were careful to cause as little damage as possible. Katya and Sakura are not so careful though. The prepared soil made it easy to creae holes for the plants, and we spaced them fairly close together. I discovered that good care allows me to pack plants in a little closer that the recommendation on the plant tags.

    This process is traumatic for the plants, so the next step was to water everything. The girls decided that they needed to be watered too. It has been fairly temperate lately, but if it gets much colder I will mulch my transpants. I watch them for several days, watering  every so often. For larger shrubs and trees, I will wait till they go dormant (when the leaves fall off).

   The heat of summer is not the always best for a vegetable garden; however, an advantage of a Houston garden is being able to harvest vegetables year round. My seeds have sprouted. I am hoping that they will be large enough to survive the first frost. Most likely, I will have to be protecting them, if I want them to last. We will see. What did you do in your garden this week?

And a Journey Begins…Again

I actually have written about gardening in Houston on a few websites, but now I decided to take it up again on a dedicated site.

I love to garden. From the moment I saw sun flowers towering overhead in my grandmother’s garden in Chicago, I drifted towards the garden and gardening. When I have been asked to write about home inspections or real estate, I find my way back to writing about the garden. This site should be appropriate outlet for my desires. I felt that some of the posts that I plan to post here may have worked well on the main site; however, I wanted to focus my writing on the site, and my beloved plants found themselves out of my thoughts for posts.

    Part of the problem is that I wanted to include the process from growing to harvesting to table. I am a decent cook. I worked in food service for some time. Some of my insights from cooking and food service were apt for home inspections, but they do take the direction of that site away from my goal. I am glad that there are so many edible plants in my garden, and that I can go harvest them for a meal. I want people in Houston to realize that there are options to create an attractive garden with edible plants.
    I hope that the posts will not be too sporadic. Work and family took me away from my blogs. I feel like I am getting back into a groove again, so taking on a new site seemed reasonable. You will find that I am an organic gardener in theory. I began gardening as a child picking up habits from my German grandmother. The I started reading books from Rodale press in the seventies. I did not see my style as organic though. I thought of it as practical. I took every bit of information with a grain of salt, so I looked at inorganic techniques to evaluate them. I did use some. For that, you cannot call me die hard organic.
    Enjoy the journey; I know that I will.


This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank


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