Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tropical Fruit Tree & Plant Sale July 21st at the South Florida Fairgrounds

Join us July 21st from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m
for the Rare Fruit Council's bi-annual Tropical Fruit Tree & Plant Sale The popular event will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Agriplex Arena on the South Florida Fairgrounds in West Palm Beach.
This year’s Tropical Fruit Tree & Plant Sale will offer numerous delightful and delicious fruit trees from which to choose, including Avocado, Bananas, Barbados Cherry, Black Sapote, Canistel, Carambola, Citrus, Dragon Fruit, Figs, Guava, Grumichama, Jackfruit, Jaboticaba, Longan, Lychee, Macadamia, Mamey Sapote, Mango, Mulberry, Papaya, Peach, Persimmon, Sugar Apple, Star Apple, Tamarind, herbs & spices, specially formulated Fruitilizer, various seasonal fruit and more.
Enter the South Florida Fairgrounds through Gate 5 on Southern Blvd. While both admission and parking are FREE, purchases may be made by cash or check only – credit cards cannot be accepted (there is an ATM onsite for cash access).
Both Admission & Parking are FREE
Become a member of the Rare Fruit Council now, only $20.00 annually. Download Membership Form at

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Tropical Storm Debby

Even though she made landfall in Northern Florida, we felt her wrath down here in West Palm Beach.

Some places had a foot of rain, tornadoes, strong winds. This horse radish tree grew just too tall and the strong wind blew it right over. So much for my plan to create shade over the air conditioning units.

My Barbados cherry also suffered badly and lost half its main limb, just so happened it was full of almost ripe cherries.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fruit festival was great

The fruit festival at Mounts was a blast. It was completely overcast, so we were spared from the furnace, the temperatures made it into the upper 80's, even so, the humidity was off the charts.

There was great food for everyone, even craft beer from a local brewery,  Due South, I brew my own so I appreciate craft beer.

The gardens are in the best shape I have seen it. I could spend hours wondering through the rain forest, the little island with waterfalls....

We were late, by then there were just 3 different fruits to taste, but at least I can say I've tasted mamey sapote, white and Magenta dragon fruit. Of the three, Magenta dragon fruit tastes the best. Mamey sapote tastes like a baked sweet potato, not much to my liking.

There were various vendors selling fruit trees for insanely reasonable prices. I snatched this strawberry tree, Muntingia calabura for $15

Catura coffee, great for South Florida

People ask me, why do you grow coffee plants, are you going to make your own coffee?

Well, I grow them because I can. When you see the pictures below, I am sure you will agree that its one exceptionally beautiful plant.

If you like gardenias, you will love this plant. The leaves are glossy almost looks unreal. It bears hundreds of small white Jasmine like flowers, that also smell like Jasmine.

Unlike other coffees, this one grows well in full sun. Even the South Florida sun. During the dry months I have to water it now and then when the leaves start drooping. I have only given it a very small amount of rare fruit fertilizer.

This year, we had no frost, regardless they started blooming well after any possibility of frost. I bought the seeds on, they have very thick seed coats and off all the seeds only 2 managed to break through the seed coat and grow.

Both are covered in berries, when ripe they'll turn red, they are edible and have a slightly sweet taste. They are apparently very high in anti oxidants.

If you are looking for an exceptionally ornamental but also functional plant, give Catura coffee a try.

Roses in South Florida, yes you can!

I read that roses just don't do well here, still I bought this knock down rootstock from Costco, planted one in a container, stuck the other into the ground in the garden.

The container grown plant succumbed from mites and died, but the one in the garden, just kept growing and blooming almost year round.

Its right by the back window, so every morning when we open the blinds, we're met with one or more beautiful Pink Roses.

I pruned it like you are supposed to in the north, but soon realized it works different here, so now I leave it, when there is dead or crossing canes, I prune it.

It rewards me with stunning blooms year round.

Longans, no lithchis

This has been a disappointing year for lithchis. It just didn't cool down for long enough this year, so all over South Florida, everybody is complaining about the same thing, our most favorite fruit trees failed to bloom and set fruit this year.

If there is one fruit that I long for every year, it's the litchi.

To make up for it, the Longans seem to be having a great year. My tree is fruiting the 2nd time and is laden with fruit. I hate waiting for them to ripen, it's like it takes forever.

No, they can't replace the lithchis, but they are fantastic in their own right.

The little mango that could

The first year after planting, the Fairchild flowered but didn't set any fruit.

This year, the 2nd,the little 5 foot tree set 12 mango's!

The tree is so short, the fruit is hanging so low and is resting in the grass, where some critters were eating into it, so I picked one of the fruit, let it ripen.

The color outside is dull and Green, but inside its a beautiful dark orange- yellow.

The fruit has some hints of the lancetilla's aromatic spiciness. Unlike the overpowering spiciness of the lancetilla, I find the Fairchild excellent to eat.

So come on, if you can spare a small space in your backyard, you can grow a Fairchild and still be rewarded with lots of fruit.

Pineapples everywhere

I say it about a lot of fruit, but pineapples are really one of my favorite fruit.

When I started out with a few pineapple tops, I could never imagine how my pineapple crop would snowball. Once it starts fruiting, most plants produce two or more little offsets on the fruit stem, these can be wrenched off, left to dry a day or so, then planted. I leave the parent plant and it generally produces suckers that fruit faster than any other means of propagation. Within a few years, I have more than 50 plants scattered throughout my garden, anywhere there's a little spot, I stick it in.

No one living in a subtropical climate has any excuse not to grow pineapples.

Pineapples are undemanding, beautiful and offer up a feast in 2-3 years. No store bought pineapple can taste like a ripened pineapple right from your garden.

For the last few weeks , we've been eating one or two pineapples from my garden every day . Most were sweet like candy, with a hint of coconut. Some were less sweet, but for the treasure trove of minerals, vitamins and fibre, who cares. Some are fist sized, some are large like their store bought parents. It likely depends on how much water and nutrient it received.

Nothing is easier to grow, just twist off the top, let it dry a day or two, then make a small hole, stick it in and tamp the soil around it. I don't do anything special, no watering, fertilizing, nothing. They just grow, take their time. Once I plant them, I leave and forget about them, until one day, they suddenly start flowering and within a few months offer up their prize.

The picture below is my new pineapple patch where I removed the dead banana plants, most of these are tops from the fruit we've been eating, some from offsets and a few store bought tops.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Tropical Fruit Festival at Mounts Botanical Garden

Tomorrow, June 23, is the Tropical Fruit Festival at Mounts Botanical Garden from 10 AM to 3 PM.
   This is a chance to enjoy delicious tropical fruit, some of which you may have never tasted. There will be exciting activities in the Garden including cooking demonstrations by Chef Allen Susser  (an additional $5 per person), a tropical fruit display featuring over 100 tropical fruits, tropical fruit samples (limited supply), Whole Foods Market sampling table plus fruit and fruit trees will be available for purchase, Palm Beach County Extension Master Gardener Booth, food trucks and music.  
$5 entrance donation to Mounts Botanical Garden.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ahh, jaboticabas, finally!

Thee years ago, I bought a 5 year old jaboticaba at the Fruit and Spice Park in Miami. (

If you haven't been there, you have to go, each January they have the Redland festival, with arts and crafts, nurseries selling rare fruit trees, food, vendors selling all kinds of ware.

Jaboticaba's are very slow growing trees in the myrtle family. They are closely related to grumichama, guava etc. Seedlings take 8 - 15 years to bear fruit. Mine has taken 8 years.

It was towards the end of the day and I struck luck, I paid a mere $15 for a plant bigger than local plants going for $65 or more!
I have watered it, mulched it with pine bark (acidic) and fertilized it often with a very good quality fertilizer for rare fruit.
While doing my daily walk through the garden, I noticed one green fruit on the tree, closer inspection revealed an almost ripe fruit and several others.
Almost daily, I notice a cluster of 4 little blooms appearing on some branches, right on the trunk, in random places.
This must be the fruit that I have waiting for and hoped to fruit the most. I just can't wait for the first one to ripen. I really hope I like it and it doesn't turn out like the Suriname Cherry, Marlierea or other failed fruits.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Glorious South Florida Sunshine

Our "winter" has been unseasonably hot and dry. Yeah, I know, I seem to be saying it every year, maybe we'll need to adopt a new "normal".

We took advantage of a "cold front" passing through and temperatures dropping to a very comfortable lower 70's with no humidity and went to Okeeheelee Park. Rented a paddle boat and canoe for the kids. There are bikes for rent and segways tours also.

It was just plain gorgeous, we sat on the boat and just drank in the sunshine and got sunburnt !

Here's a few pictures of the lake and park.

Beautiful clouds

Pond on the Pine flats hiking trail


Island in the lake

Monday, February 20, 2012

RFC Plant Sale Saturday March 24, 2012 at the South Florida Fairgrounds. 9 AM to 2 PM.

Mark your calendar, its the Palm Beach Rare Fruit Chapter's Plant Sale Saturday March 24, 2012 at the South Florida Fairgrounds.   9 AM to 2 PM.

I'll be volunteering.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Aloe barberae turns out to be Aloe tongaensis

I bought 3 bare rooted Aloe "barberae" on ebay in 2006.
I immediately planted one at the front of our home, the other, I grew in a container for another year or more, until I had time to prepare the rock garden I had planned.
5 years layer, the one in front hasn't bloomed yet, but the one in the backyard is much bigger and bloomed late October 2011. It was a pretty sight.
One word of advice, these Aloes like drainage, the 3rd one was planted flush with the ground in our sandy soil, yet when the rainy season came, it rotted away.
It's a magnificent plant. Maybe it was a blessing its not a real barberae, as they can get very big.

Aloe tongaensis 1

Aloe tongaensis 2

Aloe tongaensis blooms

Marlierea - not fit for eating

I bought the seeds on, germinated and grew the plant in a container, then planted it in the garden 3 years ago, well it's fruiting profusely now.
The shrub/tree is really pretty, with the typically peeling bark of the Myrtacious family, fragrant leaves etc. I was really looking forward to trying the fruit, well, it's a total disappointment.

The fruit looks much like a purple strawberry guava. Like the strawberry guava, 90% of the fruit is infested with fruit fly larvae. The plant itself also strongly resembles the strawberry guava, strikingly beautiful, tough, drought tolerant.

Take a very ripe fruit, if you can find one without worms, bite it halfway, check for any squirming, then place it in your mouth, chew. The first impression is this could be quite good, a nice tart guava like taste, but it quickly gives way to the most bitter after taste, if you have taken quinine before, thats how bitter it is.

Since my gardening space is limited, like the strawberry guava, the Marlierea has to go.
I plan on planting a seed grown Atemoya in its place after all possibility of frost is gone.

I hope this helps anyone else interested in growing Marlierea, for landscaping, fantastic, for edibility, not very good. Other not so good edible plants that will soon be gone from my yard, Suriname cherry.



Rotting fruit

Peeling Bark

Fruit with seeds