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Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247

Open 9 to 6 Mon. through Sat.
and 10 to 5 on Sun.

Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
Please click map for more detailed map and driving directions.

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Q&A Weekly Article and Archives

Express-News Weekly Column Saturday, January 6, 2001 Submitted by Calvin Finch, Ph.D., Director of Conservation, SAWS, and Horticulturist


Eating fresh fruit that you have grown yourself is magical. You can plant any fruit as part of a xeriscape if you choose, but there are some fruits that are especially well suited for selection because they minimize the need for supplemental watering or pesticides.

Blackberries lead the list. Select a sunny location with at least six inches of soil. Raised beds work well but are not necessary. Plants are available as roots or in containers. Plant them in a row about three feet apart and mulch the row three inches deep.

Water blackberries when first planted and when the soil dries to one inch. After they become established, one deep watering per month in the summer will be adequate. A cup of slow release lawn fertilizer per six feet of row in February will provide sufficient nutrition. If your soil is alkaline an application of one cup of iron sulfate mixed in a bucket of compost every spring will help prevent chlorosis.

The hardest part about growing blackberries is pruning out the old fruiting wood each year after the crop is harvested. The plants do best if the old wood (floricanes) is cut to the ground to make room for the new growth (primocanes). This job is especially challenging for the thorny selections like Rosborough and Brazos. Thornless selections like Navaho and Arapaho are not as productive as the thorny varieties but are easy to prune.

Oriental persimmon is another productive fruit that is well suited for a xeriscape landscape. The trees are disciplined growers with well-shaped crowns that reach 15 to 20 feet tall. When loaded with the red or orange fruit they are very showy.

Insects and diseases are not a problem for Oriental persimmon. Mockingbirds will sometimes peck at the fruit, but production is so large you will not mind sharing a few with the birds.

Persimmon is an astringent fruit; it tastes best when harvested when it is soft ripe. One variety, Fuyu, is less astringent than the rest. Tamopan and Hachiya are other good selections.

The late Dr. John Lipe, a fruit specialist for the Texas Agricultural Extension Service at Fredericksburg, described Oriental persimmon as his favorite fruit. He froze the fruit to eat one like a popsicle with his breakfast every morning.

If you select the right varieties, pears can also fit in a xeriscape landscape. Bartlett pears and other dessert-quality selections do not survive because of fireblight but two varieties, Kieffer and Orient, grow very well with minimal care. They make wonderful cooking pears and are heavy producers. A blooming pear tree in early spring is a showy addition to any landscape.

Loquats are blooming in South Texas now. If the temperatures stay mild the fruit will mature in February. Birds, raccoons and opossums will seek a share of the fruit. They are tasty and sweet when eaten fresh and can be used in preserves.

Even if cold weather eliminates the fruit as it does most winters, the loquat tree is a valuable addition to the landscape. It reaches 20 feet tall on good soil. Loquat is evergreen and has an exotic appearance with heavy, long leaves. They lend themselves to being used as specimen trees or in formal lines. Loquat even has shade tolerance, which is very unusual for a fruit-producing tree.