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Messages - BajaJohn

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Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Best fruit tree fertilizer
« on: October 18, 2017, 06:45:01 PM »
Probably any generic NPK fertilizer will do in the short term. Osmocote and Nutricote have the NPK and some micronutrients also but the best approach is to get your soil tested by a soil lab. There are loads of them in Florida. When I had my soil tested the lab made specific recommendations for my garden based on agricultural fertilisers rather than mass market mixes. They also indicated amounts per 1000 square feet which varied for the different locations I took samples from.
The products were:
Calcium ammonium nitrate  27% N, 6% Ca
Triple superphosphate  20% P, 17% Ca
Agricultural Gypsum  23% Ca, 19% S
Potassium sulphate. 40% K, 18% S
Chelated iron

They are easily available but are not treated in any way for slow release. As Simon suggests, it also depends on the stage your plants are in and what you want to accomplish. Nitrogen promotes leaf growth at a cost to fruit production. Phosphorus is important for flowering and thus fruit production. There are other important minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, sulphur so it is a good idea to get your soil tested and even modify your applications to the season.
Ultimately, mulch or compost are an important addition for soil fertility.

Thank you very much for the suggestion Erica. Initial Google searches had turned up only spider mites but encouraged by your post, I hunted a little more and also found bagworms and webworms in addition to tent caterpillars. The webworms may be another candidate as they tend to form webs over leaves rather than a nest in the nodes of branches produced by tent caterpillars. I didn't find caterpillars or pupae on the leaves so it is still a mystery. I'll have to look closer and see what I can find.

My thriving sweet potatoes have an area of dying leaves with webs over the top of them. Does this look like a spider mite infestation?

Simon - You are undertaking a fascinating project which looks to be doing very well. Congratulations.
A mundane question that may be relevant to others too is whether your trees may become a violation of building ordinances. The 4' side yard is mandated as a fire break and a tree may be considered a fire hazard. It probably won't be a problem unless you have a grumpy neighbor who complains but it's just a heads-up in case you want to check. I had trees on the south side of my house and Santa Monica (an arbor day tree city) demanded that I cut them down after they changed city ordinances to limit "fences" in front of houses to 4'. Apparently an anonymous neighbor complained. I managed to save them by appealing directly to the city council but the whole process was time consuming and expensive.

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Tylosema esculentum
« on: October 08, 2017, 01:59:45 PM »
Thanks for the introduction. Looks like it would do well in Baja. Possibly good ground cover too. Unfortunately no information of its potential as an invasive species in new areas.

Citrus General Discussion / Re: ID of a citrus tree grown from seed
« on: October 08, 2017, 01:45:00 PM »
Thanks for the pictures  :)
How old is your tree ? is the new growth hairy ?

As I never saw pictures of the new growth of a grapefruit tree, could you or someone else put a picture, as I would like to see the hairiness of new leaves, to compare with my seedling.
It is probably 4-5 years old now. I didn't plant the seed so I can't be sure. I haven't noticed hairs on any leaves and also noted that the leaves on your seedling differed from my grapefruit (unfortunately, variability even in the same plant adds confusion). Your leaves are more elongate and the petioles on my grapefruit do not overlap the leaves. Heinrich's comments seem to keep minneola in the picture too.
> That does not look like grapefruit or pomelo. Looks like some sort of Citron???
Not at all. The leaves of citrons are not articulated!
That occurred to me also.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: How far apart should papaya be planted?
« on: October 08, 2017, 01:23:16 PM »
I have a similar problem with space. These are 4 seedlings from a store-bought maradol transplanted to 1 meter apart about a year ago. The idea was to cut down the least productive but so far I haven't had the heart. Recommended separation is about 2 meters between plants.

The tree at the left side of the row is doing way better than the others although it is only about 6 feet from a grapefruit tree. One other is producing a lot of fruit but is way behind in terms of maturity. Not sure if this is because of close planting or not. Another tree planted earlier and alone but with some hours of shade each day is doing the poorest of all.

Topping to induce branching is advised against in culture recommendations. It is reported to reduce fruit production and also requires that you support branches with heavy fruit load.

A local helper suggested that it is commonly thought that damage will induce a male tree to become female or mixed. He stuck a vertically oriented knife blade right through the trunk about 6" from the ground and made a second cut at right angles to it. He did this at maybe 6 months when the trees had started flowering. Sure enough, the trees with only male flowers started to produce both male and female flowers. Not a controlled experiment but possibly something to try if your plants produce only male flowers.

Citrus General Discussion / Re: ID of a citrus tree grown from seed
« on: October 04, 2017, 12:10:22 PM »
Here are a couple of pics of the leaves on my seedling - which is now about 2 m tall.
They don't quite look the same as yours and as I noted in my other post, the ID is hearsay from someone who has been grossly wrong in the past.

Citrus General Discussion / Re: ID of a citrus tree grown from seed
« on: October 01, 2017, 05:24:47 PM »
This site has some good information with hundreds of pictures you can filter by structures such as petioles It looks like quite a few pomelos may be candidates.  Banpeiyu, Java Pink, Pink Sensation....
This is an interesting one for me because my neighbor gave me a seedling with similar leaves. He claimed it was from a red grapefruit. He also gave me 3 avocado plants that morphed into 2 passifloras and one I still haven't identified!

I couldn't find an original research report to verify the article which seems to have originated from a Texas A&M press release. Maybe I missed it and someone else could point me to it.
As far as I could find, it seems to originate from work done by 2 research groups. One from the University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center described using Lumex 994 GC or Dalen Weed-X meshes to control root weevil. Lumen seemed to do a better job at reducing in-ground larvae and/or emergence of adults. They also noted increased grown with the mesh ground cover.

The other, from Texas A&M investigated the effect of bed height and mesh ground cover on productivity. They confirmed the improvements in growth with UltraWeb 3000 ground cover but found that fruit production in covered flat beds was twice that of trees in covered raised beds.

Another article from the same Texas A&M group reported that the best time to spray against citrus psillids and other insects is prior to flush because the psyllids time reproduction to coincide with a flush. I lost the reference to the article he stated this but this is a related article that explains the reasoning

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Edward mango: mono or poly embryonic seed?
« on: September 15, 2017, 05:24:04 PM »
A couple of informative articles here on polyembryony. If I understand them correctly:
1. Polyembryony isn't "all or none". You can expect up to a 10% incidence of monoembrionic seeds in a polyembrionic variety and vice versa.
2. Some embryos from a polyembrionic seed are fertilized (zygotic). The others are produced non-sexually (somatic) and are genetically identical to the mother plant so are effectively clones of the tree that produced the fruit. Unfortunately, without genetic testing, the only way to identify the clones is to wait until they bear fruit.
3. The "cloned" seedlings of a polyembryonic seed can become more vigorous plants than a parent plant produced by several generations of vegetative propagation.

I've just raised 8 seedlings from fruits of the same tree. One produced 4 plants whereas the seeds all of the others produced only a single seedling.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Best Hurricane App for your phone?
« on: September 14, 2017, 12:08:00 PM »
I lived on a boat in the Sea of Cortez for 10 years so hurricane tracking was an essential survival tool. I mostly rely on the web pages from Their severe weather pages seem very comprehensive with maps of storm history, model projections and commentaries by their weather staff. They display all available models. Warnings begin as soon as they see depressions forming and track likely interactions with tropical waves that kick depressions into hurricane mode. They also have local 10-day forecasts for all of the U.S. They are currently tracking 7 storms worldwide.
Another site that is more focussed on marine weather is They have some good animated maps of wind, waves and pressure predictions but that means they tend to focus on just one model and they are sometimes inaccurate.

Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: Pomegranate Propagation Questions
« on: September 13, 2017, 07:26:44 PM »
Another novice on both grafting and pomegranates. I bought a pomegranate which turned out to have inedible fruit but is very vigorous. It grew from 3 to 8 feet in 4 years so I'm trying to use it for rootstock for other pomegranates. A friend has one with good tasting fruit that I plan to use. I've also managed a bush from seed of a tasty store-bought pomegranate that I have used for possibly successful grafts (my first attempt!).
A challenge for me is living in Baja California Sur, Mexico which has a poor selection of nurseries and seems challenging to import trees from the U.S. Hence my struggle to find good trees.
The first question I have is if the large calluses at the graft site are a problem. They were a whip graft without a tongue. The scions were wrapped in cling wrap and I used electrical tape to secure the graft. The grafts are about 4 weeks old and the rootstock and scion donor were starting to flush at the time I did the grafts. Here are pictures of the grafts. The sections are 3-4mms diameter.

Leaves flushed a week or two after grafting.

A second question is if I even need to think about grafting pomegranates. The seedling I used for scions had a flower within a year of germinating suggesting that pomegranate seedlings may produce when very young. The seedling also appears to be very vigorous. Other posts suggest that pomegranates can be easily propagated by various methods of rooting more mature plants. Am I wasting my time - other than learning more about gardening?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Category 4 Hurricane Irma
« on: September 12, 2017, 08:50:53 AM »
So sorry to hear about all the damage but glad to hear people are OK. I hope we hear that everyone and their homes came through the storm OK and that gardens/groves are recoverable.
For what it's worth, Odile partially uprooted my 20' high coconut a few years back. I supported it with ropes and used a come-along to haul it upright again, then kept it supported for about a year. It is solid again now and just went through Lidia without a problem. Not sure if it is possible with a 50' mango tree TD, but maybe something to think about.

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Cacti thread
« on: September 09, 2017, 08:33:27 PM »
With the storms assaulting us at the moment I thought I would mention the challenge posed to water sensitive plants. My opuntias stood up well to flooding in storms but other cactus and succulents didn't do so well. After the last storm a year ago I used large fork pushed down near each plant as deep as it would go and slightly lifted up the plant with the idea of getting some air deep in the soil and helping it to dry out. It seemed to work as I didn't lose anything.
Good luck to all of you in Florida. I hope you have gardens to return to.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Pineapples--The Half Pot Experiment
« on: September 08, 2017, 06:46:11 PM »
I can't see how that would work since humid air is lighter than dry air. You will quickly lose any humidity. I wonder if your friend was thinking of the pots made of polythene sheet where you can fold the top of the pot around the stem of the plant to avoid losing moisture? I guess you could add a top to your pots to reduce loss of humidity and also shade the soil from the sun to prevent it drying. Another experiment I guess!

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Category 4 Hurricane Irma
« on: September 08, 2017, 06:20:34 PM »
European forecast model unfortunately starting to be agreed with by most other forecast models out there.. NOT good for us. Good luck everyone.
Better agreement between the different models is to be expected as the storm gets closer.
Also, as you note, the European forecast is changing too, so it isn't like the Euro model is predicting the correct path all the time. Most importantly, don't expect any one model to be the best predictor for every hurricane. Each performs differently and their accuracy ranking changes with the particular storm and may even change from day to day within a single storm.
Absolutely hope for the best - I'm with you there, but as your governor says, do all you can to prepare for the worst. I've only lived at risk of hurricanes for 10 years but it that has been long enough to recognize that the models can't be relied on to tell how close a storm will come or how strong the winds will be in any location.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Category 4 Hurricane Irma
« on: September 07, 2017, 05:53:41 PM »
This looks like a very informative guide to hurricane safety produced by Palm Beach. A bit late for some actions such as tree care but other timely information also.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Category 4 Hurricane Irma
« on: September 07, 2017, 04:06:08 PM »
Euro is one of four weather models favored by the weather services. They are all run by many agencies on a daily basis or even more frequently. This is one page that shows current model runs for all four models.
Each model is run multiple times with slightly different starting conditions to reflect the uncertainties in the available information. The results of these different runs are called ensembles and produce the dense mass of lines on the simulation maps. Each model performs better under certain conditions and those conditions can change very quickly. That means you can't rely on any one model to predict what is going to happen, even though one may have performed well so far.
There is little comfort in any of these models. Much of Florida is less than 100 miles across. Current hurricane force winds in Irma are up to 50 miles from the eye and storm force winds 160 miles from the eye. The storm is three times bigger than the width of Florida.

My preferred weather side is with information on Irma and Jose here. Their latest update is here. They express significant concern for flying glass from glass curtain hi-rises in some areas and also concern for storm surges as high as 10 feet in some areas. This page maps predicted storm surge for different strength hurricanes in southeast Florida.

It is hard to let go of things you have nurtured and cherished but as many have said here, you can replace or restore things but not lives. Please be safe and remember is is better to go back and repair damage than to not be there to return.

This is a really scary hurricane. I went through Odile and the recently departed Lidia. Tropical storm Lidia did more damage to me than Odile which devastated Cabo and LaPaz. I've been living with hurricanes in this area for more than a decade and noted that predicted tracks can be wrong by a hundred miles or more, so be wary even if it looks like you aren't in the path of the storm. Odile blew cars over and damaged buildings, even the airport. Irma may be stronger. You should be worried about your homes, not just your trees.
Read up on hurricane Andrew which hit Homestead in 1992. It levelled houses. Not trying to be scary, just providing a well-meant heads-up. Be safe and the very best to all of you at risk from Irma. Make sure you have a really safe backup plan.
EDIT: Senior moment - confused Harvey and Lidia. Too many storms to keep straight!

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Nitrogen fixing plants and fruit trees
« on: September 04, 2017, 01:27:39 PM »
If you ever burn wood you can cover it to encourage charcoal formation then powder the charcoal and add that to your soil (biochar) to form "terra preta". It absorbs and holds water and dissolved nutrients. You can add up to about 10% by volume. Its first action is to absorb moisture and nutrients so can produce a transient depletion of nitrogen. You can avoid this by pre-dosing the charcoal with fertilizer or compost tea.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Holy Hell Santa Annas
« on: September 04, 2017, 10:45:15 AM »
  And the best types of trees like eucalyptus are bad for wildfires.  This is wildfire area, was worried about fire breaking out yesterday.  Conditions were there for a major outbreak.
There are a few CA nurseries with drought tolerant windbreaker trees but I came across these in this article on dryland farming.
Tamarisk (Tamarix) Tamarix ramosissima is invasive in CA. Other varieties are OK. Inhibit understory growth by dropping salt extracted by deep roots. Tamarix aphylla hasn't naturalized in the US and is used as a wind/fire breaK. It is fire resistant.
Bermuda Juniper Almost wiped out in native Bermuda by imported scale insects but resistant varieties have been bred.
Casuarina (ironwood). Good timber, fixes nitrogen but potentially invasive.

This image is interesting, and theoretically it helps. But in practice I don't understand how the same size cut could have either the result in the second or the third drawings - seems to me it should be one or the other. That is to say, the cuts in the second two drawings appear to be almost the same width, but one has the cambium only on the edges, the other has it in the middle. I don't see how the same width cut could have two such different results.
The cut that Mr. Zill does for the second graft in the video looks to me like it should turn out like the second drawing, requiring lining up at least one side. But he centers the scion a la the third drawing. That's what has me confused.

I'm no expert on grafting either but I'm doing my best to learn. The two drawings to the right in my previous post illustrate cuts at slightly different depths with the second one cutting along the cambium. In both cases however, the rootstock bark layer is thicker than the scion bark layer - because the scion is a smaller limb and additionally the rootstock layers are cut at an angle which makes them appear even thicker in the plane of the cut.

Zill describes the cut between 5:15 and 6:15. His first cut appears to go through the bark and into a lighter color layer but he says it isn't deep enough and cuts more off, then points down the middle of the removed piece and the cut on the rootstock to a slightly darker area that he calls the cambium and describes as "juicy". I suspect that the confusion may come from assuming that the "bark" is just the dark layer on the outside whereas this isn't really the case. Cambium layer cells produce layers of phloem cells on the outside of the cambium that are alive and growing. They are the cells that form the transport system for materials up and down the stems and trunk and are usually whitish. This is the lighter brown ring in my diagrams. This page illustrates the 4 possible layers of bark outside of the cambium - phellem, cork cambium, phelloderm and phloem. The phellem is the only dark layer. This video has a good general explanation of plant growth, including the secondary growth accomplished by the cambium layer. This page has a photograph of the section of a trunk identifying the cambium and inner bark (phloem) layer. If you magnify the image you can see the outer bark is a darker color.

Does this help? The issue is how the position of the cut affects the geometry and thickness of the layers.

As others have mentioned, you only need to line up one side of the cambium layer (as in cleft grafts) for success.

It's a bit of geometry. With a veneer graft you are slicing a bigger rootstock along the perimeter of the circular layers of bark, phloem, cambium etc. so the cut is at an angle rather than straight through the layers which makes them appear thicker. A thinner scion is cut more along the centerline so the layers are thinner and all the layers won't line up exactly with the rootstock. The cambium layers are the important ones to line up. The bark and phloem layers on the outside of the cambium won't be as thick on the scion as they are on the rootstock so it is likely that some veneer grafts won't line up exactly.

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