Yes, you can grow citrus trees in Texas. The problem is keeping them alive until they are well established. It just doesn't get cold in Texas. I have lived in Texas since November of 1975, with the exception of three and a half years in Colorado Springs, eight months in Marquette Michigan, and six months in Danville, Arkansas. In all of the years I lived in various places in Texas, we have probably had less than ten incidents of ice, snow, or freezing weather that was more than just an occasional light freeze. Most of those incidents have occurred in the last five years where we have experienced snow, ice, and deep freezes that have lasted for days.
Texas is just not prepared for this type of inconvenient cold nonsense. Most of us do not have winter gear. We do not know how to drive in it. We do not have snow tires or chains. Our plants do not know how to deal with the cold.
This morning, much to our surprise, it was 26°! No! It is so very cold. If you have citrus trees in Texas, you may want to check on them because I imagine it got pretty cold where you are as well.
Norma and I went to Walmart to shop for some food, thinking that she would stay for another week. Then we came home and I have been altering some new clothes I bought for my sister. We are taking her back home in the morning. My mother keeps on nagging for her to go home. David decided to get it over with.
I altered everything for Norma and she packed everything up. I gave her some of my new shoes that don't quite fit me. I have very fat feet like my father. He had size triple E feet and always had to special order shoes.
While Norma packed up, I packed a small overnight bag for David and me just in case we cannot make the trip to El Paso in one day. David wants to but I do not know if we can so I have some extra clothes and meds just in case we need to spend the night somewhere. Matt will be here watching everything tomorrow and possibly through Wednesday if we are not back by then. He is a very good son and we appreciate everything he does for us.
Tonight, he is grilling steaks for Norma and we will watch Gordon Ramsey on TV. We will be leaving the farm at 5am tomorrow which is way too early.
When we first moved to the farm in August of 2019, I really wanted to have an orchard. So we went to Fanick's Nursery in San Antonio and bought about 100 trees and bushes and planted them. It got really cold and we lost a lot of trees. It had snowed a bit in San Antonio in 2017 for the first time since we had lived there which was a fluke so what were the odds we would get cold weather again? We did not think we would but we did.
All of the citrus trees died--all sorts of orange, satsuma, kumquat, grapefruit, mandarin, meyer lemon, lime, blood orange, and tangerine trees bit it as well as cherry trees, avocado trees, fig trees, and several other varieties. It was sad and we lost a lot of money. They were baby trees without good, established root systems so they did not have the ability to deal with 12° weather. It was horrible.
In the fall of 2020, we went back and bought replacements and then in February of 2021, we had Snowpocalypse, a week of snow and ice. Even more trees died. Only one orange tree survived and it is still alive in the orchard, but it has never developed one fruit. After that, we were careful to replace the dead trees with pecan and peach trees, two kinds of trees that do well in Texas. I was so sad.
In the spring of 2022, I decided to get some lemon, orange, and lime trees to grow in pots in my greenhouse. I take them out for the summer and then put them away in the fall and so far they are all alive except for one orange tree that did not get watered. How our people did not see that is beyond me. I have since taken over the watering.
This morning, Monday, December 11, 2023, the temperature dropped down to 26° Fahrenheit! It should be around 60° this afternoon, but I imagine we lost a lot of our garden. This was our first frost and the weatherman said the low would be 33°. Boy, did they miss it. I think our asparagus ferns can finally be cut back and I think the corn and many other things are now dead.
We got up super early this morning and hit the road at 5:12am. We arrived in El Paso at my sister's home at 1:30pm our time so it took us a little over eight hours to get there. I unloaded about ten bags for her in the driveway. My mother would not see me again, just like when we picked my sister up. If that is how she feels, I guess that is that. Of course, it hurt my feelings but she has been doing that for many, many years because I got married and moved away. I was a bit sad that my sister left. I did enjoy having her around.
Matthew will be watching the animals and running David's Garden Seeds® for us.
David and I tried to get out of El Paso as quickly as possible but the freeway was a complete mess at 2pm. We finally hit Fort Stockton around 6pm and this time, we tried the Sleep Inn. It was nice. The shower and TV worked and the beds were comfy. We ordered dinner in, turned the heater on and had a quiet evening.
Matt said everything was fine with the business and with the farm and animals.
One thing that we should have done was some research. Some citrus trees are cold hardy, while other varieties do better in warm weather. We trusted the nursery to give us the right thing and they probably did. How would they know that we would get such bizarre winter weather all of a sudden for four or five years in a row? I sure hope this year is different.
Apparently the root stock plays a big part in whether or not your citrus trees in Texas will live or die in the cold. I was not aware of this when we bought our citrus trees in Texas.
The most cold hardy citrus rootstock is Citrus Trifoliata. It grows well in loamy or sandy soil which we have. However, it does not do well in extreme heat or drought which we get most of the year. It grows very slowly, which is another disadvantage.
The Sour Orange rootstock is good in extreme drought. This is the only rootstock that is actually an orange tree. Sour Orange is the most common citrus rootstock in Texas.
Swingle citrumelo is a good rootstock for Texas citrus. It yields lots of fruits but it is limited to sandy soils that drain well.
This morning, we woke up in Fort Stockton. I had a decent night's sleep in a nice room. We ate the complimentary breakfast and got on the road at 7:30am. It was raining and rained the entire way back to the farm. We arrived right around 12:30pm. We are grateful to be home safely. I unpacked a few things and then got to work fixing some orders.
We had no mail today but the mailman was kind enough to take our outgoing mail just a few minutes ago, around 2pm. It is still raining.
David has some new ideas for an educational center here on the farm. Also, a customer called while we were driving home and gave us a new idea for a seed set. She called asking if we sell Fried Green Tomato Seeds. We do sell three green tomatoes so we are going to put them together and that is what we will call them.
37 years ago today, David asked me to marry him. It had snowed the day before and he picked me up from work in El Paso on a Saturday. He drove up over Transmountain to get me back home and he stopped at an overlook to check out the snow. Then he proposed and gave me a ring. I wish we had cell phones back then so I could have photos of it.
If you do decide to grow citrus trees in Texas, make sure that you grow them in pots for the first few years. Eventually, you can plant them. If you do, it is good to put them in a place where the trees are sheltered from north winds. Our orchard is out in the open but we do have a wooden fence now to protect them from northern winds. We did not have that for the first two years of our orchard. The only surviving citrus tree in our orchard is really doing well. It just hasn't produced any fruit yet, as I mentioned earlier.
As freezing weather approaches, cover the trunk with burlap. Then wrap it with gardening row cover material and secure it with clips. Your tree should come through okay but if you have something else that you can put on top of it during the ice, snow, and/or freezing weather, it would be good. When the cold is over, the citrus trees in Texas may have suffered some frost damage on their branches. Those parts can be clipped off. The tree should be fine after that.
Usually, here in Texas, this kind of weather does not last long. Of course, there was the week of Snowpocalypse in February of 2021. The snow began on Monday and finally started melting on Wednesday. It finished melting on Friday. There is always an exception, right?
Good morning. The low today was 50° and everything is wet again. I have spent the morning printing out Amazon receipts for the accountant.
I still have a lot of things to put away from our trips and I am hoping to do that today.
I got all of the Shopify and Etsy orders shipped out.
We have an over abundance of eggs. The new girls must be working overtime so if you need fresh farm eggs, come on over and pick them up. I have at least 12 dozen in the fridge and I need to box up a big bowl full of them from today. $4 a dozen right now and most places around here are selling them for $6 and $7 a dozen.
I made a delicious roast beef with potatoes, carrots, onions, and mushrooms in my Instant Pot tonight. It came out really good, one of the best I have ever made in the Instant Pot. I cooked it for five minutes less than what the recipe calls for. It was not dry at all.
There are some cold-hardy citrus tree varieties that will do well in Texas down to about 15° Fahrenheit. We had some of those planted in 2021 when Snowpocalypse hit us. The problem is that it got down to 12°. It stayed below freezing for more than 48 hours straight so there was a lot of damage.
Now, I have lived in the state of Texas from 1975 to current day, with the exception of living in Colorado Springs for three and a half years, Marquette, Michigan for eight months, and Danville, Arkansas for seven months. Never before has it gotten this cold in all those years in the places I have lived at the times I was there in Texas. I have lived in El Paso, Canutillo, Coleman, Leakey, San Antonio, and Rossville, which is outside of Poteet, Texas.
You cannot predict the weather. You can guess but if God sends cold weather one year, that is His choice, even when it has not happened in 50 or 100 years.
Good Friday morning. Sometime in the night, it warmed up to 60° and I could not use the blanket. It is now 62° and time to go over and fill more orders. I made some delicious farm fresh eggs this morning with cheese and salsa. So good! Come get some eggs for your holiday baking.
I now have all of the orders filled and shipped out. We haven't had any foot traffic today. One of our team members took the day off today so we are operating on a skeleton crew. This is our slow time of the year.
Brendon has been planting seeds for the past few weeks that we will start growing at the end of this month. These plants will be the spring vegetable plants, mostly tomato plants, that we will sell to our customers in March and April. We sell tomato plants, pepper plants, and more in the spring because some folks would rather have plants for spring planting instead of seeds.
This afternoon, each time I went in the house to do something, a customer would come. I guess I need to spend more time in the house! One couple bought seven dozen eggs! That was awesome!
This past summer, David set up a watering system where my citrus trees were located and he assigned an employee to monitor the trees. I lost an orange tree this way. Why? Because the water was not coming out of the drip system onto this one tree. As it turned more and more brown, it never occurred to the employee. I discovered it one fine day and tried to save it but by then, it was too far gone.
Trees need water. Lots of water when we are in the middle of a drought in a summer of 100° plus temperatures that just don't let up. In past years, other employees have failed to make sure trees planted in the orchard got enough (if any) water. We have lost a lot of trees out in the orchard in this same way. The only difference is that they were not citrus trees.
Always check on your trees and make sure they are getting all of the water they need. Do not trust your employees to do the job. They are there to collect a paycheck. They do not care whether your trees survive. I don't mean for this to sound harsh, but this has been our reality since we have moved out here to the property. Running a business does not always leave time to do things ourselves so we have to depend on others to help us. However, it does not always work out.
Good Saturday morning. I have six and a half dozen eggs this morning if you would like to pick up some delicious, chicken eggs in white and blue. None of my brown layers are laying right now. They are still going through molting.
Well, I fed the animals and got ready for the day. I went out to open the Farm Store at 9:55am and there was already a vehicle in the parking lot. They came to pick up an order they had placed online for pickup plus they bought a lot more items. After that, we had four more sets of customers, pretty much all at once. They all bought a good amount of things which is great! At noon, I heated up lunch and we ate it.
Now I am waiting for customers again. Of course, there is plenty to do while I wait. I am pulling online orders. The day is just beautiful outside.
So the rule for citrus trees in Texas is that if you live south of I-10 (Interstate Ten), you can grow citrus. We do live south of I-10. Normally, we would not have had a problem but the year before we moved, Texas had cold weather, not much but we did have snow one time. Unfortunately, we have been having one or two cold spells ever since.
I-10 runs through El Paso to San Antonio and then over to Houston. We are about an hour south of San Antonio so we did not plant anything that should not have been planted.
Most of the trees we planted the first and second years should have been fine down to 15° Fahrenheit. However, as mentioned above, it got down to 12° Fahrenheit so that was that. Limes and meyer lemons should have been fine as well because the temperature normally stayed above 32°. Limes and Meyer lemons can get damaged in cold weather that is 23° to 28° Fahrenheit but they will still survive. For some reason, a meyer lemon is not considered a true lemon.
I read that all limes should be grown in containers because they will die in freezes. A meyer lemon tree can be well established in an orchard for years and just one cold event can kill or severely damage it. Knowing what I know now, I recommend that you grow your citrus trees in Texas in the greenhouse in winter and pull them out for spring, summer, and fall. Make sure you put them safely away for the next winter.
It got down to 35° Fahrenheit this morning. It was pretty cold when I went out to feed the animals. That was uneventful.
I tried making a German pancake with pecan flour to make it have less carbs. It did not work out well. It puffed up a little but the texture was not very good. Maybe I should have added some baking powder.
I lit the Advent candles in the Advent wreath for the third Sunday of Advent this morning at church. They gave me a two page devotional to read. I was more nervous than I thought I would be but it has been quite a while since I have gotten up in front of a group.
Matt played the piano for a few numbers. The pianist was not there today as her husband had a medical procedure.
After service, we had a Christmas potluck. There were tamales, taquitos, enchiladas, ham, and more good things. We talked with some newer folks and got to know them better. In fact, one just hired on where we take our animals. She is a vet so that is good. The one vet retired and the young man we met back in October just moved a few hours away.
David and I came home. I did some more organizing of my clothes, some of which I started earlier in the week. I am trying to get more organized. I watched Ruby Franke videos. Apparently, she will be getting a plea deal tomorrow and everyone on YouTube has something to say about it. I used to watch her family video channel. At first, it was good. Then she really started getting mean to her children. I believe she should be in jail for at least the next 20 years based on her videos and the way she treated her precious children. One cop I listened to thinks she will walk tomorrow with five years of probation. I sure hope not.
At 5pm, I went out to collect eggs. Then I opened the door from the run so the chickens could go inside for the night and Foghorn Leghorn, the rooster, physically attacked me on the leg. Apparently, he was quite upset. The only thing I did was open the door. He tried to attack me a few months ago so I bring the net with me now everytime I go in there. I did not have it in my hand at the time he attacked me.
I grabbed the net and he came at me three more times. The net stopped him. He will be going to freezer camp when Matt sends the other roosters there soon. I cannot be attacked in my chicken coop by any rooster. I have chickens because I always wanted them, not so they could attack me. I was going to send him to freezer camp the first time he tried to get me. Then I decided he would be okay. But he decided today that he will go to freezer camp.
Nacho brought some venison chili by this afternoon and it tastes pretty good. I made cornbread to go with it for tonight.
Florida and southern California have lots of citrus trees because it very seldom gets below freezing there. I can remember years ago that Florida had a terrible freeze, almost wiping out the citrus crop. The price of citrus fruit and orange juice went sky high in the grocery stores. In fact, it happened in 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, and two times in 1989! South Central Texas used to be the fairly warm in winter and, honestly, most of the winter, it still is. But all it takes is one time of freezing to destroy crops and citrus trees in Texas. Weather patterns are cyclical so, hopefully, this cold winter weather will stop soon in Texas.
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