Monday, January 12, 2009

A Visit to the Fruit and Spice Park in Homestead Fl

Yesterday we drove to Homestead, about 92 miles and visited the Fruit and Spice Park. We went because of the Redland festival.

We were pleasantly surprised. There were so many different exhibitors showing off a varied range of arts and crafts, even my wife who doesn't share my plant obsession had a great time. The kids got their fare share of fun, with all kinds of entertainment, music, puppet show, pony rides, a reptile show and more.

We all loved the food, Greek, American, corn on the cob, Italian, Thai .... enough to make you part with your hard earned money. The kids persuaded me to part with a substantial amount on icee's, ice cream, lemonade ....

There were also various local nurseries selling their plants - I was able to buy a 5 year old jaboticaba for a mere $25 - similar plants can easily fetch over $100 locally (if you are lucky to find them). Jaboticaba's take up to 15 years to fruit from seed, they can fruit at about 8 years if vegetatively propagated. Nonetheless it is a beautiful plant, part of the huge Myrtaceae family - a very big favorite of mine. This includes the guavas (Psidium), feijoa's, the Eugenia's (cherry of the Rio Grande, grumichama, pitomba, surinam cherry, various stoppers ...) and various other sub/tropical fruiting plants. The reason I love this family is for their smaller size, their peeling bark, revealing all kinds of colors, their shiny glossy foliage, apart from their huge landscape appeal, edible fruits are a bonus.

I enjoyed walking around the park, looking at all the trees, they are all clearly labeled. I was amazed to see some of the "small shrubs in my imagination" growing far bigger than I thought ! The "small" star fruit tree (Averrhoa carambola) grew into a fairly large tree - covered in delicious looking star fruit. My own star fruit tree is (luckily still) a dwarf in comparison.

I even realized that I completely underestimated the mature sizes of a lot of the trees I planted - the Longan is a case in point, the park has several stately huge ones. Oh well, too late now. It means I'll probably have to prune a lot of them to keep their sizes in check.

We'll definitely be back for the summer fruit festival. As luck would have it, my camera's batteries ran out and the spares were also not charged ! I did manage to capture a few images and will post them soon.

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