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Messages - BajaJohn

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Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Papaya problem
« on: May 24, 2017, 11:22:43 AM »
Those same papayas are looking much healthier now. Treatment was soap spray.

I also found this review of papaya growing conditions. A bit technical and sometimes hard to follow but it seems very comprehensive. One section suggests that papayas are extremely sensitive to overwatering because their roots need oxygen to survive. Hana, be sure you have well draining soil.

Thank-you Greenman. The soil is 50/50 compost and alluvial soil which is sandy with natural gravel. It is drip irrigated twice daily. Two of the 4 plants in the row showed no symptoms of problems and one seems to be producing nicely although nothing is ready yet.

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Cacti thread
« on: May 16, 2017, 06:25:07 PM »
I'll try again when they are ripe. They may look different then. This is a learning experience for me too!
Here is a wider view of the landscape. The Sea of Cortez and islands are in the background. The "development" is the start of a community garden and classroom I'm helping to set up for the local community. Most of the cactus are Cardon (pachycereus pringlei) but the one front left is a sweet pitahaya known as pitaya/pitayo dulce locally. The flowers are just appearing on them now. It is, or is related to the organ pipe cactus of National Monument fame. There are 2 subspecies - stenocereus thurberi - the true organ pipe and stenocereus littoralis or dwarf organ pipe which, not surprisingly, is a little smaller and is a bit more common in Baja Sur.

Here is a really cool picture of a "deformed" stenocereus thurberi which is copyrighed so I didn't display the picture here.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Papaya problem
« on: May 16, 2017, 05:10:09 PM »
Thanks Adam. The general opinion is that ants replace the function of earthworms in this hot, dry climate where worms don't seem to thrive. There seems to be some academic support for that idea here. I'm working on attracting worms but this climate is a new learning experience for me.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Papaya problem
« on: May 15, 2017, 05:26:54 PM »
Thanks (William?). Sprayed a few times with soapy water and the emerging new leaves are looking healthy.

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Cacti thread
« on: May 14, 2017, 01:11:23 AM »
It's cactus flowering season here in Baja. The Cardon (pachycereus pringlei) seem to be the first to flower and fruit. Thought you might like to see. They're big!....

Tried a fruit but it needs to ripen up. They are one of many varieties of pitahayas.

The flesh at this stage is almost tasteless but was an important food source for the Seri Indians. They also ground the mature seeds to make a flour. The seeds contain bacteria which fix nitrogen and break down rock.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Papaya problem
« on: May 03, 2017, 03:23:32 AM »
Thank-you for the response Tropicdude. I hope you are right with the bugs though I haven't seen too many. The Guia Cultivo has a picture of a mite infested papaya that looks exactly like my plants so maybe need to get the magnifying glass out. Anyway I gave them a spray with soap solution tonight. I'll give them some fertilizer which may help them fight whatever is ailing them. My soil tests found moderate levels for most minerals. Boron was on the higher end of normal. Phosphorus and iron were low everywhere except where I planted the papaya. There were a few high values - zinc and magnesium were super high and potassium was about 4 times normal. Manganese, copper and calcium were also slightly above normal.
I pushed and pulled at the tree trunks which seemed fairly solid. I'll dig in the soil around the trunks tomorrow to see how wet it is.
Thanks very much for the cultivation guide. It looks very informative. My Spanish isn't great but I only had to look up 2 words before I had another vote for mites.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: A Fascination with Fatty Fruits
« on: May 03, 2017, 02:06:25 AM »
Another reference. Brazilian fruit nutritional content -
Umari poraqueiba sericea - 12 - 15% , 20% lipids. Mostly seed but has a thin, reportedly pleasant tasting mesocarp that is used like butter on cassava bread.
Uxi endopleura uchi - 19% fats, 20% lipids.
Piquia Caryocar brasiliense - 13% fat, 15% lipids. Normally pollinated by bats.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: A Fascination with Fatty Fruits
« on: May 02, 2017, 03:51:00 PM »
Another consideration that the OP hinted at was the nutritional content which for fats would be essential fatty acids - Omega 3 and 6. Avocados are low in these. Olives seem to have a similar fat content with higher omega 3 and 6 content. Arguably, the omega 3 content is somewhat low but there doesn't seem to be enough academic data to understand dietary needs of either in sufficient detail.
This publication ( reports nutritional content of some Malaysian fruits.
Dubai (canarium odontophyllum -26 %), kembayau (dacryodes rostrata f. 16%), have fat content higher than avocado. Other sources claim they are high in lipids. Other fruits contain as much fat as durian - around 4%.
Another issue to consider is dry weight versus wet weight. Bananas seem high using dry weight. Very juicy fruits will show a low content when wet but a much higher content when dried. Since your body can extract the water, the dry weight may be a more useful comparison.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Papaya problem
« on: May 02, 2017, 11:49:13 AM »
The papayas I planted from the seeds of a store-bought Maradol are looking sick although one has growing fruit on it. Can anyone identify the problem and offer a solution.
The trees were planted as 30cm high seedlings about a year ago in a 50/50 soil/compost mix. There are a few tiny (2cm long) ants running around the trees and there are a few other black, oval shaped creatures about 1 * 1.5 mms on the underside of leaves.

Newly sprouting leaves on two of them emerge malformed and shrivel back to the major leaf veins.

The other two seem to be producing new leaves but the mature leaves are badly mottled.


Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: What's wrong with my Papaya?
« on: May 02, 2017, 11:37:48 AM »
Some do really well, their trunks get quite fat and produce lots of large papaya fruit.

While others are less prolific and some, the ones that are never fertile and never produce fruit, I just use as compost.
This is probably because of the gender of the trees. They come in male, female and dual gender. The flowers are distinct and you need both types for fruit. As the flowers emerge the male stalks are much thinner than the flower buds whereas the female flowers are as thick as the flower buds. The trees can change gender from male to female and I'm told that trauma can trigger the change. One of the locals pushed a knife right through the trunk of my saplings when they were about 25mms diameter. There are pictures and better descriptions on the web if you search.

I guess it's there problem when its roots damage the road.
Probably not. The manual requires root barriers etc. if there is a potential problem. They will argue your tree created the problem so it is your responsibility.

You can find the list of approved trees and other information at

The manual also discusses permissible alternatives as well as "mandated care" so you can pre-empt any further citations.

Similar experiences in Santa Monica really turned me off the Orwellian inclined tree hugger buggers. I planted a few Italian Cypress across the front of my house to shade from the sun and provide some street noise mitigation in that "Arbor Day Foundation" registered City. I chose several of these narrow trees because of limited space along the front of the house. Ten years later these 30' trees were cited for violating a newly passed ordinance limiting "fence" height to 42". Just one anonymous resident in my street had complained, even suggesting that it would be cheaper to remove the trees than fight the citation. Several neighbors signed a letter in favor of the trees but the City Manager insisted they go. I then sent a letter to the City Council, explaining that the trees had existed long before the new ordinance was introduced and suggested they rethink the ordinance anyway because the trees shaded the house, lessening cooling costs in the summer and also mitigated street noise. The citation was dropped.

I guess the point really is that, regardless of the Constitution, there will always a pressure to infringe unless something pushes back.

Florida may reimburse citrus growers millions for lost citrus trees

Florida may drop a long-running legal battle and instead agree to pay millions to homeowners across the state whose healthy citrus trees were torn down in a failed attempt to eradicate citrus canker.
It's a tough call, but the biggest loss may well have been the destruction of healthy trees that had natural resistance to the disease. As is often the case, death and destruction didn't work anyway and now the industry is looking towards genetics to lessen the problem - after throwing away millions of opportunities to find the genes that they now look to for a solution.

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Agave tequiliana
« on: April 16, 2017, 01:59:43 AM »
Hi Future.

There are quite a few references to cutting the flower heads on blue agaves. Here is another - and this one in Spanish if you wish to translate -
Most suggest that the farmers raising agaves for fermentation (tequila and mezcal) remove the flower stalks (desquiote) to avoid depletion of the stored sugars which are the energy source for the growing quiote (and also the source of sugar for fermentation). There is no mention of prolonging the life of the agave. They also note that propagation is done by collecting the young shoots (hijuelos) that grow around the mother plant.
The first link also refers to cutting the sharp tips off the leaves to avoid injuries.

These are blue agaves in a friend's garden.

And a few quiotes from other types of agaves.

This one had young plants sprouting from the roots of the dying mother plant.

And this one was about 15 feet high, with the tallest part of the flower showing above the bougainvillea flowers.

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Agave tequiliana
« on: April 13, 2017, 01:53:38 AM »
I don't have blue agaves but have other varieties. None have flowered yet but they are native here and I see flowers regularly in the wild.  There seems to be a general consensus that cutting off the bloom stalk will not save the agave. The changes that trigger blooming also lead to death of the plant. The flowers are usually spectacular too, so you're depriving yourself of a treat - plus you can eat the flowers. I haven't seen any mention of edible agave fruit.
If you've taken good care of your agave it should be surrounded by baby agave that have grown up from the roots of the mother plant. Just dig these up and plant them wherever you want a new agave. They grow very quickly in rich soil with regular watering. The baby americanas and angustifolias I weaned off their mum 2 years ago are now about 40 cm across and producing babies of their own.
You can cut off the needle-sharp dried leaf tips to avoid getting speared by them. The leaves do quite well without them.
You can eat much of the agave too (

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Cacti thread
« on: April 11, 2017, 01:14:47 PM »
In addition to their potential for food, many of the same cactus (e.g., opuntia, pachycereus) improve soil with poorly understood nitrogen fixing mechanisms and mechanisms to break down rock particles. Google "nitrogen fixing cactus" for a wealth of information. Not sure how long it would take to. Convert your rocks into soil but here is one article There are others that suggest an enhanced effect with a mix of cactus and trees. Mesquite is one tree mentioned but I believe Mesquite is considered a problematic invasive species in many parts of the world so be careful with it. Mesquite is also leguminous. It is native to arid climates so not sure how it would fare in Florida.

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Cacti thread
« on: April 11, 2017, 12:44:12 PM »
Can't I'm much of an expert on them but prickly pear/opuntia/nopal seems to be quite a large family of cactus. Many grow wild around here but edibility varies. I think usually "prickly pear" refers to the ones that provide the edible fruits but may not have palatable "pads". There are several different varieties and colors that you can even buy in bags, pealed and prepared to eat right out of the bag. Nopal is used for the ones with edible pads which may not have good fruit.
Nopales are abundant in grocery stores here and our journeys sometimes take us past sizeable fields of cultivated nopal. The stores bulk buy the nopal pads and have someone use a sharp knife to shave off the glochid-loaded areoles. You can dice them, blanch them and use them in salads, use them as a vegetable, juice them or grill them in the barbecue. They taste a little bland to me but the barbecue really seems to bring out a delicious flavour although it also turns the juice into a clear slimy goo that doesn't look too appetizing. Just oil and salt them then sear. The best nopal for eating seem to be the younger, thinner pads and cultivating the store bought pads (grabbed before the areoles were removed) produces plants with thinner pads than other varieties. The few types of nopal I have tried grow really fast if they are watered. A single rootless pad poked in the ground will multiply to 10 pads within a year in my sunny, hot climate with winters that rival summers in more northern climes.
I've never tried dragon fruit (hylocereus) but there are several varieties and colors ( Pitayas (stenocereus) grow wild here too. The ones I've tasted were quite juicy with a texture and flavor like cucumber. They weren't overly sweet and also had a hint of lemon. They contain a lot of rock-hard seeds. I always felt the name was inspired by the sound of spitting out the pits. Native Indians dried these pits and ground them into a flour. There are different wild varieties. One sweet one (pitaya dulce) is s. thurberi, commonly known as the organ pipe cactus. The fruit is red. A sour edible one (pitaya agria) is s. gummosus. I haven't tried it but it was a staple to natives in the region and is said to taste quite pleasant.
Pachycereus, such as the giant cardon (p. Pringles) also have edible "pitayas" which are reputed to be sour and perhaps more of a "survival" food although the pits were used to make flour.

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Worm management
« on: April 11, 2017, 11:35:53 AM »
Thanks for the suggestions. It is fascinating to how cultivation can change the soil and it's inhabitants. There are some areas that I can mulch heavily and keep moist throughout the summer. At least this could be a worm nursery to jump-start other parts of my garden at the end of summer. I'm also getting a lot of small snails which do a little damage to my crops but currently not enough to raise alarm. The garden is evolving quite rapidly and I'm a bit wary of straying too far from conventional local wisdom in case I'll be repeating long-forgotten mistakes. That said, I'm open to experimenting and am also trying to push productive crops into the summer months when conventional wisdom is to leave the ground fallow.
The biggest challenge is my 30' x 30' veggie plot where I imagine deep mulching would present a challenge to cultivating some crops. Besides protecting worms, I suspect it would protect less desirable creatures that predators can find easily in the turned, fallow soil of summer. I've been rotivating mid-July and then again in September with 3-4 cubic yards of compost. It may be an idea to hold back some of the compost and concentrate it in trenches under some of the crop rows to encourage worms.
Another alternative is to encourage other creatures that may replace worms. Several varieties of ants seem to be quiet abundant and accepted here. In contrast to other areas where the popular strategy seems to be to get rid of them. What other bugs should I be encouraging and is there anything I should be doing to encourage them?

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Worm management
« on: April 09, 2017, 12:11:50 PM »
Basically looking for tips on how to improve the soil in my dry, semi-tropical climate. Worms always come up as a beneficial soil organisms so I wanted to tap any experience people have with worms in hot, dry climates. Temperatures in the summer remain in the upper 20s and 30s (C) even throughout the night.
I've put a lot of effort into composting and after 4 years found a population of what appears to be pot worms as I dug up potatoes from a compost filled trench. They seem to have populated only the compost as I haven't found them in any soil. The natural soil here is so dry that it is accepted that worms are uncommon here. The challenge now will be to keep them going through the hot summer when local advice is to clear the garden, dig it over to turn the soil and leave it to dry as the wildlife extracts pests from the loosened soil. I'll be attempting some vermiculture but suspect it will be a challenge in the 3-month long spell of 90F+ that barely moderates at night.
I don't find worms in my compost bins, most likely because they get quite hot.

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Edible "weeds"
« on: April 08, 2017, 12:30:01 PM »
Stinging Nettle - Urtica dioica

Dandelion - Taraxacum

A mouthwatering recipe for nettle pudding from the constantly changing pages of Medieval Cookery (
1 bunch of sorrel
1 bunch of watercress
1 bunch of dandelion leaves
2 bunches of young nettle leaves
Some chives
1 cup of barley flour
1 tsp salt
Chop the herbs finely and mix in the barley flour and salt. Add enough water to bind it together and place in the centre of a linen or muslin cloth. Tie the cloth securely and add to a pot of simmering venison or wild boar. Leave in the pot until the meat is cooked and serve with chunks of bread."

Citrus General Discussion / Re: Last year for my xie shan
« on: April 06, 2017, 11:30:54 AM »
This is a relatively common problem that has been mentioned in a couple of other threads here. My mandarins are the only citrus that have had the problem. I have a couple of mature mandarins that some years produce good fruit and in other years the dry fruit you describe. The research on the web that I've done hasn't revealed any specific cause. Both under- and overstating have been suggested. Young trees and poor rootstock seem to be two common causes. Maybe try a transplant to another rootstock rather than toss the tree out if you have the room for another tree. Some mandarins can be at their best when still green.
This is a link that Millet provided in another thread and this is another I found with similar comments

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Are your lychees blooming?
« on: April 03, 2017, 06:16:35 PM »
Moving along slowly but it's a first for me. One fairly large bloom and 2 other tiny ones. Looks like boys and girls are hanging out together but not sure if I can anticipate fruit yet.

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Landrace Gardening
« on: March 28, 2017, 09:16:23 PM »
Thanks for this interesting topic and the links. This has been a strategy to breed optimum crops for their localities for many farmers over generations and is really the way that our food crops have evolved to be so desirable and productive.
It may be a challenge for large producers who need reliable, predictable crops but is probably something that smaller concerns and hobbyists like many here should be encouraged to be aware of with an eye to crop improvements, New varieties and even new crops.
Successful "zone pushing" is no doubt contributing as is the interest in rare and even newly discovered/hybridized crops.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Absorbing the Vegetable Subforum
« on: March 23, 2017, 10:04:31 PM »
My translation is that you cleaned it up. My take is this forum originators, murahlain and Patrick are bored and done with it. When was Patrick's last post? That this tropical fruit forum would do better with you running it. Or someone like you.
No - Sheenan (murahilin?) cleaned it up (a BIG thank-you). The only contribution I've made so far is to volunteer to help keep it clean. And I'll be willing to help wherever it finds a home.
I m so thankful of the originators of this forum.
Me too

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