Edible Landscaping - October Q and A

By Charlie Nardozzi

Question: I'm a school teacher in Houston, Texas. We have raised beds right near our school that I want to plant into edibles. What can I plant now with the kids?

Answer: That's great you're growing edibles with the kids. Being in USDA hardiness zone 8, you still can plant lots of edibles that will grow throughout the winter in Texas. Some of the cool season vegetables to plant in October from seed include beets, carrots, Swiss chard, lettuce, kale, peas, radishes, and spinach. Some vegetables to plant from seedlings or transplants include broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Don't forget edible flowers and herbs, too. Pansies and violas are cool season flowers, and the kids can eat the blossoms. Parsley is a great cool season herb that will survive until early spring.

Question: I have a 2-year-old lemon tree in a container. The first two years I got several lemons. This spring my tree had some tiny lemons, but they all fell off. What happened?

Answer: It sounds like your lemon tree needs some fertilizer. Citrus likes a high-nitrogen fertilizer such as 30-10-10. Look for a fertilizer that will acidify the soil and that also contains micronutrients such as iron, manganese, and zinc. Check your local garden center for citrus fertilizer products. In general, container citrus prefer a moist but well-drained soil. When the top 2 to 3 inches of soil are dry, soak the rootball thoroughly until water drains out the bottom. Also, if you're using treated municipal water, let it stand for a few hours so the chlorine will evaporate. Then use that water for your tree.

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