Thursday, April 22, 2010

more magic 3's

I realized that most of the fruit trees in my yard, also took 3 years to bear after planting.

They include:

Persian lime
Valencia Pride Mango


Starfruit, planted in summer, had its first fruits the next fall.
Guava, planted in fall, had fruits next fall.
Strawberry guava, planted last summer, they are now blooming and I expect fruit soon.
Grumichama, took 1 year to fruit.
Avocado, planted January last year, its blooming now, tree is still small so will see if I get any fruit.

I also realized that a lot depends on the state of the tree when bought. That's why its so important to buy from a respectable nursery and not to buy root-bound trees.

So, there you have it, if its not fruiting, wait at least three years for grafted trees. If you are growing it from seed, good luck, you might be growing it for your kids, or theirs.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

3 - the magic number

My catura coffee plants are blooming for the first time. From seed to blooming, this is the 3rd spring. These are no ordinary coffee plants, they are some of the only ones that will take full sun.

This seems to confirm my suspicion/experience. Other seeds that have taken 3 years for me are:

surinam cherries

There are off course many other fruiting plants that might bear sooner or some that will take much longer to bear, for example jaboticaba, mango.

I've read about people whose mango's bear in their 3rd year, but that must be the exception, they most probably take at least 5 years and

Jaboticaba's grown from seed can take 12 years to fruit !

So, the sooner you start the better.

Of the many seeds I planted only these two grew to maturity.

They were quite hard to germinate and took a very long time before the first cotyledons emerged, then they were attached to the seed capsule and many of the seeds rotted before they could get rid of the tough seed capsule.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gold and purple together

Last Sunday was a very cloudy day. On days like these, it seems to bring out the colours more than usual.

My center island with the cuban gold duranta border (all self-grown from rooted cuttings) looked extremely pleasing.
All in all it has really lived up to what I envisioned. The pentas (pink, crimson red and white are now in their 3rd year and will probably have to be replaced next year).

The large shrub/small tree in the center, starburst clerodendrum (Clerodendrum quadriloculare)is in full bloom too. Although its invasive and new plants are appearing everywhere from shoots, (I got it from one of those shoots), its strikingly pretty, the leaves have dark purple undersides and when in bloom is really striking, it grows really fast and its pretty drought tolerant.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Natal plum - from seed to shrub

This natal plum (Carissa macrocarpa) which comes from my native country South Africa, grows in very similar conditions back home. Its native to the Kwazulu-Natal province that flanks the Indian Ocean and has similar sandy soil and a sub-tropical climate as here.

As mentioned in a previous post, I'm also waiting impatiently for it to fruit for the first time. It had a couple of blooms last spring, but this spring it is flowering much more, to the extent that you can smell the sweet perfume when you walk past it, almost like a gardenia, but not quite. Apparently the flowers are pollinated by a moth back home, so I don't know what will be pollinating them here - although I did see a prime specimen at Mounts Botanical garden with fruit. Unfortunately the fruit was past prime and tasted horrible, so I can't say for sure what they taste like.

It's taken about 3 years to reach this size, and its probably about 5 feet tall and about 8 feet wide and beautiful, but beware its has some nasty thorns !

Monday, April 12, 2010

Farichild mango update

The fairchild mango not only survived being almost girdled, its got a couple of small mangos forming already.

Typically only one fruit survives per panicle, so it might only bear one fruit this year. But hey, at only 4 feet tall, I'm not complaining.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Waiting - the hardest part

Longan flower panicleLitchi flower panicle

For me the hardest thing, is waiting. When I planted my litchi and longan trees, I knew I was in for a long wait. These two trees are closely related and belong to the Sapindaceae family.

It was almost as if I didn't want to look at the trees because I knew they would take at least 3 - 5 years to bear. The wait was unbearable.

Last spring, the litchi tree produced what looked like a single flower panicle. I suspect that this years flowering has all to do with our record-breaking cold winter. Very often litchi (and longan) trees will bear profusely after a pro-longed cold and dry period. Lithci (and longan) farmers sometimes girdle entire limbs in order to induce flowering. Longan trees are slightly better and more consistent producers than litchis. Litchi's are well known for their unreliably fruiting.

The lithchi tree has numerous panicles all opening up now. During bright sunshine days, I see a hive of activity with bees pollinating them.

The longan however, produced a single panicle this year. I suspect the tree is still too small to do much more. I'm still excited to see it though. Last year I bought some longans from our local fruit market and they were not very good. I certainly hope this is not a foretaste of what my tree will deliver. The longan tree is beautiful. Left to its own devices, it could probably grow 40 feet tall and wide and cover most of the backyard, so I'm going to have to keep a close watch on it and do some judicious pruning to keep its size in check - same as the Valencia Pride Mango tree and litchi tree for that matter.

Nevertheless, I am so thrilled to see my hard work come to fruition, literally.

Apart from the litchi and longa, I have a couple more exotic fruits that I am waiting for. If I had to put them in order it would have to be:

1. Jaboticaba - I suspect I might have to wait another 3 - 5 years. The plant i bought at the fruit and spice park last year, was supposedly 5 years old. If you are lucky they might bear in the 8Th year, but typically it takes 10-12 years !

2. Pitomba (Eugenia luschnathiana)- last spring it produced a single flower and no fruit. In addition the main stem and several others died back with no apparent reason. This year, its sporting tonnes of new growth and looks very healthy overall. I'm hopeful for a couple of fruit this year. No flowers or sings thereof yet.

Tell me what you're growing and waiting impatiently for to fruit or flower.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A visit to Bok Tower Gardens

We recently took a family trip to Orlando. We celebrated both mine and my eldest daughters birthdays.
During our stay, I was browsing through a catalog of things to do in and around Orlando, when I stumbled on Bok Tower Gardens and remembered reading about it in one of the Florida Gardener Issues.

I was intrigued as I was under the impression the garden was very far away, so I looked it up on the cell phone's navigation system and realized it was sort of on our way back home !

So, on our last day, we packed up and started the trek home, instead of taking the Florida Turnpike, we took an alternate route taking us past Lake Wales and ultimately Bok Tower Gardens.

All I can say is wow, it truly is a wonderful magnificent almost magical garden.
Its located on Iron "Mountain" - ok mountain is an overstatement, but seriously, its the highest post in peninsular Florida and the tower itself is 205 feet tall.

There is a cafe that serves light meals, a nice tourist shop where you can buy all kinds of souvenirs, books and a plant store that sells many of the great plants they grow in the garden.

There is also an exhibit with a model of the tower showing exactly whats in each level. You can also view a video about the history of the tower/gardens.

There is a working carillion in the tower and they play music twice a day.

You can pay extra to view the old estate where Bok lived. There is also a short hiking trail that we took, luckily it was quite short as the youngest started complaining very soon. The gardens are flanked by large orange orchards and all the trees were in full bloom, with the fragrance filling the air.

So, if you ever make it to Orlando and have a few hours to spare, take the time to make a side trip to Bok Tower Gardens.

Be sure to bring a picnic basket full of goodies and sit in the shade on the provided picnic tables and have a feast.