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Messages - BajaJohn

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Baja California? Good for farming. Mangoes and citrus do well. there are some issues -,_Baja_California_Sur
This is a 2,500 square metre abandoned historic grove in the middle of Loreto. Mostly mangoes. Bought for a grocery chain store but locals campaigned to keep the grove. It is behind the Loreto mission and probably was originally part of the mission farmland. Not sure if it is for sale.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Mulching with grave rock?
« on: July 19, 2017, 11:01:25 AM »
I use gravel mulch under mango trees and around cactus with no problems. The few weeds that come up only take an occasional few minutes to remove by hand. My climate in Baja California has only a few rainy days (if any) per year so the surface soil stays very dry and inhospitable to weeds.
The mangoes have been great this year so the trees must be OK with it.
One minor problem is that the gravel tends to migrate if it isn't contained or constantly raked back into position.

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Cacti thread
« on: July 15, 2017, 04:02:01 PM »
Great garden spaugh. Are those white flowers Stenocereus thurberi - Organ Pipe Cactus? If so, the ripe fruits are edible and reasonably tasty. They are called pitaya dulce or sweet pitaya in Mexico where you can buy them in the stores.

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Cacti thread
« on: July 04, 2017, 12:19:10 PM »
Just following up on the pitaya post now the fruit is ripe. Sorry it's a bit fuzzy - and big. It took me two tries to figure out the new posting feature.

Still not very tasty and not much to eat. The fuzzy pea-sized bits around the fruit originally covered the fruit and contain nothing.
The pitaya dulces are just starting to form. This is a baby plant in my garden with a single flower bud.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Any info in these mango varieties
« on: July 03, 2017, 09:14:53 PM »
Thanks to both of you for responding. Sapote, you may be right to question the "ataulfos", although in past years they were completely yellow. This has been the first year they have had a red blush. That accompanied a spectacular taste this year. Two other strikes against them as ataulfos are that they seem to have more fibers than I would expect from their description and I am now told that the stone is not as flat as an ataulfo would have.
Just for information, the ataulfo is widely described as a Mexican mango developed by Ataulfo Morales Gordillo and registered with the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property. It seems very closely related to the Indonesian manilla. This is an enthusiastic description and pretty much describes the taste of the ones I have.
I suspect I won't get much further with pinning down the variety and they could be quite old since I live near one of the first New World Spanish missions in an area that doesn't have a recent history of mango cultivation other than the missions.

Thanks JF for the pointer to the mamey too. This seems to reinforce my suspicion that what I thought were ataulfo mangos may be an older variety too. Do you have any references to the mameys? I hunted on the web but barely found confirmation that such a variety exists. Your information helped me greatly and I found a 1915 paper from the American Pomological Society describing the mamey. Also discovered it, and other fruits of Caney de Oriente were worth singing about. My mameys are the least tasty and most fibrous of the varieties I have here. Even so, they are well worth eating.

Anyone planning to go, or have feedback from previous years?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Rain = Washed Out Mango Flavor?
« on: July 02, 2017, 09:56:34 AM »
I think I'm having the same problem here with a tree that was overwatered.
It has been a little hotter than normal with no rain here in Baja. My ataulfos taste spectacular this year and that seems to be the general consensus among folks here who grow mangoes. Other varieties seem about normal (mamay and manzana - sorry, I haven't managed to trace their provenance).
One of the ataulfos has been overwatered for the entire year - to the point where there was always a small amount of standing water around the trunk. It is a mature tree - about 30 feet high with a 14" diameter trunk. The first notable effect was a massive leaf flush after flowering which didn't occur in the other trees (including other ataulfos). The second effect is that the fruit on this tree is only just ripening - about a month later than the other ataulfos. The fruit doesn't taste quite as good as the other ataulfo. Washed out would be appropriate. However, it's early days yet for this particular tree and I'll update when/if the fruit improves over the season.

I got this from the USDA/APHIS website
USDA-APHIS-PPQ has 16 plant inspection stations in the U.S. located at or near major international airports and seaports. One station is the National Plant Germplasm Inspection Station (NPGIS) located in Beltsville, Maryland. The NPGIS is uniquely designed for the inspection of small amounts of plant germplasm imported or exported for plant breeding and research purposes.
They may only deal with prohibited/restricted plants with a CIS 588 permit but it may be worth talking to them. (301) 313-9327.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: co2 death chamber
« on: July 01, 2017, 12:27:34 AM »
co2 causes severe respiratory distress (In severe hypercapnia (generally PaCO2 greater than 10 kPa or 75 mmHg), symptomatology progresses to disorientation, panic, hyperventilation, convulsions, unconsciousness, and eventually death.).

Nitrogen or helium would be much kinder if you need to pursue this method (

This publication has a discussion of all kinds of euthanasia...'s/AVMA2007report.pdf. It notes the best method depends on the animal. And this one details the co2 method.....
A whack on the head is noted as a good method if you can execute it effectively. It is also listed as not recomended.... go figure!

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Any info in these mango varieties
« on: June 27, 2017, 12:57:58 PM »
The mango varieties I have here in Baja California Sur are known locally as Ataulfo, Mamey and Manzana. There is a Wiki page for Ataulfo so I know a little about them but I haven't found anything on the other 2 varieties although they seem very common around here. Does anyone know anything about these varieties or know where I may be able to get some information about them?
Here are photos of my current daily hauls....

The mangos in the box are the Ataulfos and have been producing for about a month now. The small squares on the tiles are about 3" across. I'm not even sure if they are true Ataulfos since they max out at around 6oz and seem a bit more fibrous than the Wikipedia article suggests.
The slightly elongated one on the left is a Mamey which are just now ripening. Not my favorite taste and somewhat fibrous. This one fell off the tree and is still a bit green.
The red, oval ones are the Manzanas. They just starting and are my favorite. The early ones are a bit small - around 10 oz but later ones are larger. Haven't weighed them in earlier years but I would guess 1 lb. They have barely any fiber. All the trees are quite large - probably 30' but quite slender - possibly due to the close planting.

Here are some household items you can check your meter with...

Lemon Juice 2.0
Vinegar 2.2
Apples 3.0
Wine and Beer 4.0
Tomatoes 4.5
Milk 6.6
Pure Water 7.0
Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) 8.3
Milk of Magnesia 10.5
Ammonia 11.0
Lime (Calcium Hydroxide) 12.4

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Ginger
« on: June 09, 2017, 04:52:10 PM »
Thanks for the feedback. I suspect the humidity may be the big issue - only 30% today. Maybe mist irrigation rather than drip would help. I can also try them in a very shady corner that gets no direct sun and seems to retain moisture more than the rest of the garden.
Would pure compost be a good growing medium for them? That would help my worm project too.
Yes, I use municipal water and no other plants seem to have an issue. The pH is neutral. Rain isn't really an option here since it only appears on one or two days per year at most. I could try purified (RO) water that I can get for about a dime a gallon.
Once again, thanks for the help. This is a new and very different environment from the English gardens I grew up in. I suspect shady spots here get more light than full sun locations in cloudy England.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: First mango fruit of 2017
« on: June 09, 2017, 12:09:27 AM »

The tarp is a good idea BajaJohn and the mangos, trees, and tarp all look very cool.

Wow, I just read Just an 18 hour drive from California..... That's quite a drive...Especially in a truck... I googled and came a little less so I guess with car 14 hour 32minutes to San Diego but still quite a drive.,+California/Loreto,+Baja+California+Sur,+Mexico/@29.3683877,-118.7515569,6z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m13!4m12!1m5!1m1!1s0x80d9530fad921e4b:0xd3a21fdfd15df79!2m2!1d-117.1610838!2d32.715738!1m5!1m1!1s0x86b43b89530f87b1:0x178b5e606baccafe!2m2!1d-111.3477531!2d26.0117564   
Maybe your just a little more south Sur than Loreto that I entered....
Thanks. You are right about the drive. It is 18 hours from LaPaz which is about 5 hours South of me (26.009718,-111.350158). Still a whole lot faster than getting them from India.
The material is shade cloth which comes in handy for shading plants later in the summer too. The fruit seems perfect for eating when it falls but I'm not sure about using them in a commercial venture. They overripen quite quickly, especially the ataulfos later in the season. My Manzanas which seem similar to Hadens seem to keep much better.

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Ginger
« on: June 08, 2017, 03:37:32 PM »
I've had success getting store-bought ginger to sprout and grow but I don't seem to have hit upon good growing conditions. The leaves seem to turn brown and dry up regardless of the amount of water I provide. Many rhizomes just dissolve in the dirt. The best I have done is in dappled shade where I got small new rhizomes that seem to be sprouting for the second year. The bigger plants in the photo are from bigger rhizomes that have produced bigger plants but the shoots still look sickly. The soil is sandy with lots of compost and irrigated from a drip system. Any suggestions to improve my plants?

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Bougainvillea
« on: June 08, 2017, 02:53:50 PM »
I'll have to try them.

They are super hardy too. These were bare twigs cut out of a wire mesh fence and transplanted two years ago.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: First mango fruit of 2017
« on: June 08, 2017, 02:37:43 PM »
Finally getting ataulfos here in Baja. M-hmmmm - goood!

Looks like a productive year too.

The ones in the center are a mango variety called Mamey here. They need more time to ripen. The cloths are my harvesting system to catch the fruit when it falls from the tree. Everyone seems to grow mangos here so there is no local market for them - just an 18-hour drive from California.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Insect ID?
« on: June 04, 2017, 04:20:03 PM »
Try this for IDs. There are other sites too.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Selecting mature fruit from the tree
« on: June 03, 2017, 04:04:34 PM »
There seems to be more interest in this topic now that mangos are ripening.
Quality of mangoes will be much better if they are not left on the tree until they naturally drop.  Even if letting color up, which many should do before picking, you still want to pick before it is at the stage where it drops off on its own.

Once picked, let it sit and ripen on a table on your porch or the like where they will be exposed to natural outdoor ambient temperatures.
I can't agree with such a generic statement, even for mangos. I suspect there are many variables including climate, variety, personal preference and possibly even the stage of the harvest and age of the trees.
My favorite crop variety is known here as manzana (apple) which is absolutely the best when left to fall from the tree. It is an old tree and I have no idea what modern variety it corresponds to. They look somewhat like Haden and there is a picture of some early in the season below. They are about twice the size later in the season and ripen a month or two later than my ataulfos (manillas).

My ataulphos are just beginning to ripen now. Even most of the ones falling from the tree still show green and need time to ripen. I note the turpentine taste is stronger in the one that fall from the tree still green. Later in the season the turpentine flavour lessens but the fruit seems a little overripe and more fibrous if left to fall naturally from the tree.

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.

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