January 2011 Archives

Want fruit? Plant a tree!

Sharon Siehl
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Here in Houston, we're lucky to be able to grow vegetables in the garden 12 months out of the year.  But for those folks who consider themselves "lazy" gardeners, or just like the idea of plucking off a ripe grapefruit, avocado, peach, or kumquat, fruit trees are the way to go!  Even if you just have a cement patio, many fruit trees can be successful when planted in large pots--and can bear a healthy amount of fruit as a tree planted directly in the ground.  There is no better way to get an annual harvest from one plant, planted one time, with the most bang for your buck, than a fruit tree.

Urban Harvest will host their annual fruit tree sale on Saturday, Jan. 15th, from 9:00am-1:00pm or until sold out, at the University of Houston Roberts Stadium. 
Urban Harvest Fruit Tree Sale
Get there early, it's a popular event!   And check out their website for a list of available fruit trees--it helps to know what you want before going.  They have an incredibly wide variety. 

This is just the beginning, though--multiple fruit tree sales are hosted throughout January and February by different Extension Agencies in Harris and surrounding counties.  Check out the Houston Chronicle for more sales, gathered by Kathy Huber, the Garden Editor.
Houston Chronicle Gardening Section

And remember, in these chilly days, if there is a freeze expected, water your garden deeply, surround plants with a thick layer of mulch, and lay freeze cloth over tender plants (newspapers, old sheets, or burlap work well, but never use plastic as this can "burn" the plants.) 

Happy gardening and stay warm!

Celebrating the Traditions of the Table

Gracie Cavnar
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Happy New Year!  I hope you enjoyed a scrumptious holiday with your family and friends . . .nothing like the traditions of the table to bring people together.  It's year-round activity we promote at Recipe for Success.

Just before the holiday, we announced the grand prize winner of our  fifth annual "My Favorite Holiday Food" Story Writing Contest. Teachers and principals selected eight school winners from hundreds of fourth grade participants on each campus. Making her selection from the six semi-finalists the contest's final judge was author, Gwendolyn Zepeda, ("I Kick the Ball," her next children's book, will be published by Arte Publico in the spring of 2011.)

Over 1,000 Houston area students wrote about their favorite holiday food and the family traditions surrounding it.  Most entries also included recipes and many featured creative multi media illustrations.  Despite tough competition, Zepeda selected Vanesa because "she gave personal context to her story, described an enticing recipe without spelling it out and finished with a strong conclusion.  She is a natural storyteller." 

As her prize, Vanesa will spend the day with Chef Jeffrey Everts to experience behind the scenes of The Houstonian's professional kitchen.  She will work side by side with Chef Everts preparing lunch for her family and teachers to enjoy at Olivette.  She will become also  published author, with her essay featured on both the Recipe for Success and Arte Publico websites.  Hats, stickers and other prizes were awarded to six fourth grade semi-finalists.  You can read all the school winners' essays here.

We created the contest to help focus our kids on the importance of building family food traditions while at the same time giving them practice in the very writing skills that will be measured by state tests in January.

"Both teachers and students loved the contest," according to Chef  Christine Mansfield, our Team Leader at Lyons.  "The teachers used it as a classroom tool and many students used it as an excuse to spend more time with their families."

Now that's a real Recipe for Success!