Frequently Asked Questions

 
Q. What will you be selling?
A. We sell as many fruits, berries, and nuts that will grow well here and are available to us from local and regional growers. There are thousands of plants. Each year we offer some that are hard to come by and in short supply, and others that are easy for us to supply in quantity. What we strive for is delicious, productive, easy-to-care-for fruit varieties that grow well in the Greater Houston Area. 
 
Q. What do they cost?
A. You'll find a list of fruit to be sold at the sale, the varieties, sizes and costs on the Urban Harvest website, UrbanHarvest.org. Look under "Support" on the tool bar and you'll find "Fruit Tree Sale". Fruits are listed under the categories temperate, tropical and citrus.
 
Q. If go, will I get what I want? Do you sell out?
A. If you are interested in something that is in short supply, you need arrive at the sale very early. The line starts forming at sunrise for a 9 a.m. gate opening. By opening time. the line is easily 100 yards long. 
Trees for which there are only a few, sell out in minutes. But most trees are in much larger supply, and the line to get in moves very quickly. If you are in line by 8:30, you will likely get most of what you want because the area is large and there are a lot of trees. Talk to someone next to you in line and ask them what they are growing or shopping for. Make a friend.
 
Q. If the weather is bad, will you postpone the sale?
A. We have never postponed a sale, even when it rained kittens and puppies or when the temperature was so cold we had to overnight the tropicals in the girls' bathroom. Sorry ladies.
It is not really possible to reschedule this event, so the sale will go on. If the weather is bad, you will likely get a better choice of trees and shorter lines, so find your raincoat or dig out your long johns if necessary. If it is very cold, we will sell tropicals directly from warm trucks to your warm car.
 
Q. I want to buy several trees, how can I carry them?
A. We have a very limited number of wagons available at the sale, so we highly recommend that you bring your own wagon, wheelbarrows or garden cart. For those who would prefer to borrow a wagon at the sale, you will need to leave your driver's license until you return it. If the wagons are all rented out, you will have to wait for one to become available.
Inside the sale there is a pre-sale holding area where you can put trees you want to buy in safe keeping while you shop for more. We also have a lot of high school volunteers who are happy to help you with a large purchase. Ask any volunteer wearing a yellow felt cloth where you can find assistance
 
Q. How do I pay for my plants?
A. You can pay for your plants by cash, credit or check. Note that check-out lines are often lengthy, too. Therefore, we have a added a new membership check-out line: an expedited line just for members. Interested in joining? Learn more about Urban Harvest membership.
 
Q. I am new to all this. How do I choose a tree to plant?
A. The Urban Harvest website has descriptions of many of the varieties we sell under Gardening Advice 
and on the Fruit Tree Sale page, under Varieties
There are two Prepare for the Fruit Tree Sale presentations sponsored by Urban Harvest that talk specifically about what will be offered at the sale. There are also regular classes on fruit tree care and related topics. Find dates and times on the website.
At the sale, there will be volunteers who can answer most questions and Urban Harvest will be selling Bob Randall's book, Year Round Vegetable, Fruits and Flowers for Metro Houston.
 
Q. When do I plant my tree?
A. If it is in a pot with lots of leaves on it, it is probably tropical and somewhat cold sensitive, and recently out of a greenhouse where it didn't get adjusted to cold. Keep these outside in the pot until you are sure there will be no more freezes—Feb 15 to March 15 depending on where you live. Protect these plants from freezing temperatures until it is safe to plant.
Everything else should go in the ground as soon as possible. If the plant is bare root (not in a pot), you must keep the roots damp but not soggy, and, on the same day you buy it, quickly get the roots buried in mulch, potting soil or a temporary hole in the garden until you have the permanent place prepared. Ideally plant it quickly where you will want it permanently.
 
Q. Where do I plant it?
A. This is a complicated question best answered by you after taking classes. Generally most fruit trees need as close to full sun as possible, at least 8 hours in summer, and cannot be in soggy soil for even an hour or two. The easiest way to get drainage in tight clay soils is to dig an area lower so water will go there, and take what was dug out and raise the surroundings. Then plant the trees on the high ground. 
Some trees are big at maturity and some small. The range is 30 feet across for a pecan and 6 inches for a strawberry.
 
Q. Do these trees live a long life?
A. This varies a lot depending on what you grow and how you care for them. After drainage, the most important thing is to make sure the plant is mulched with good material and the soil stays damp under the mulch for the first summer. Remove any fruit at grape size on trees during its first year and possibly the second year if the tree is shorter than 5 feet (for large fruit varieties) and 3 feet (for small fruit varieties). During this time, you want small plants to concentrate on growing and establishing a healthy root system, not fruiting.
The Urban Harvest website has descriptions about caring for and planting particular fruits. Grafted ones for example should have the graft line scar on the trunk a few inches above the soil.
 
Q. What determines the price of these trees?
A. These trees are grown in the field or pots for two years or more.  During that time, the grower puts in a lot of labor and may lose the plant or not be able to sell it. So there is risk to them. 
Selling them at a sale creates further risk since Urban Harvest must return what doesn't sell, and then the grower needs to sell them elsewhere. Urban Harvest as well has lots of costs, and as a 501(c)3 non-profit needs to pay for the sale and make enough to support its charitable programs.
Large national stores sometimes sell fruits at lower prices and sometimes even sell a good variety, but often as well they sell varieties we don't recommend. Urban Harvest plants are chosen by us because we know they work, not because we can buy a boxcar load.