Heirloom Fruit Varieties: Growing in Dripping Springs, Texas

The Farm at Montesino Ranch is an organic farm situated along the White River, just outside Wimberley. We specialize in planting a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and herbs. Our products are sold at a farm stand on the ranch, at a Saturday farmers' market at King Feed in Wimberely, and in weekly farm baskets. In 1987, a six-month expedition to the mountains of northern Pakistan was conducted by the Farm at Montesino Ranch.

This region is adjacent to Central Asia and is renowned for its diverse fruit and nut species. The team grafted these trees onto dwarfed rootstocks and created one of the first high-density apple orchards in the South. It is important to note that apples do not reproduce accurately according to type, so “early cider” would have been made from a mixture of all the fruits of the garden that weren't sweet enough to eat. When the owner of the Farm at Montesino Ranch retired, he bought a chainsaw and began clearing land to build a house and orchard in Pittsboro, North Carolina.

He planted around 150 varieties of fruit trees and used this method to place them all in his garden. “Fillers” such as Yellow Transparent and Wealthy produced much smaller trees over the same period of time and were much earlier to bear fruit. To reduce invasiveness by approximately 80%, it is necessary for these trees to produce fruits about one inch (25 mm) in diameter. These trees were thought to be temporary and were planted among the “standards” to increase production in the first years of the orchard's life. The owner also taught undergraduate classes in General Botany and Fruit Systematics, as well as graduate classes in Plant Genetics, Pollination, and Fruit Production. In April (in zone 7a), fresh cuts are made on the remaining pear trees and mulched to turn them into fruiting cultivars.

After a few years of keeping pigs in the gardens, it was discovered that pigs do the work of an unskilled intern and deposit their fertility in the process. The Farm at Montesino Ranch is devoted to growing heirloom varieties of fruit in its orchards. These varieties are carefully chosen from Europe and Washington State, harvested and pressed in the garden to preserve their freshness, and sent to the cider house in East Austin for fermentation and canning. The 8-month lease allows us to prepare the ground for orchards dedicated this winter to pigs (an annual income) while maintaining caution in relation to land tenure. In my last essay, In Defense of Bradford Pear, I showed a graph from Australia that correlated fruit size with bird species. This graph showed that reducing fruit size by approximately 80% was enough to reduce invasiveness. At The Farm at Montesino Ranch we are proud to offer our customers heirloom fruit varieties grown with care in Dripping Springs, Texas.

Our selection includes apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries, apricots, nectarines, figs, persimmons, pomegranates and more! We strive to provide our customers with fresh produce that is both delicious and nutritious.

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