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Topics - joehewitt

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Tropical Fruit Discussion / Ilama dormancy
« on: January 03, 2018, 05:50:38 PM »
I planted a bunch of Ilama seedlings this year here in northern California (zone 9b). They grew well in the summer but since it got cold they have been dropping leaves, much in the way a Cherimoya would do in spring. I thought they were cold damaged but then I noticed the fuzzy new leaves starting to bulge out (see picture below), again just like Cherimoyas. It seems that they have the same rhythm as Cherimoyas, just 3 months earlier. Given that we're still at least 6 weeks from the end of frost season, this seems less than ideal.

Has anyone else in a similar climate experienced this behavior in their Ilamas?

Is there a faster option for shipping seeds from Brazil or Asia to the US than the ridiculously slow post office routes?

I'm getting tired of waiting months, combined with the delay from USDA inspection, which results in a lot of dead seeds, of germinated seeds getting rejected. If there was a way to get them on a plane and in my hands in less than a week, that would result in a very high percentage of successful imports!

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Annonas for rainy east Hawaii
« on: July 06, 2017, 12:07:16 AM »
I'm looking for Annonas I can grow on the wet side of the Big Island (Hilo at 350'). My property gets about 150" of rain and has clay soil that holds a lot of moisture. Seems that Soursop and Rollinia are easy there, but what about the other species?

Cherimoyas - They say it needs too much chill, but maybe there are some varieties that able to fruit there anyway?

Sugar Apples - They say it's too wet, but what if they are grafted to Pond Apple?

Atemoya - They say this grows well there, but are there any varieties that perform better than others?

Custard Apple - My gut says this will do well but I have no information to back this up.

Ilama, Poshte, Soncoya - I know little about their climate preferences.

Marolo - Has anyone even tried growing these in Hawaii?

My head is spinning and I don't know how to get started. I just purchased land in Hawaii for the purpose of growing a fruit tree collection. Not a farm (no plans for market), just a place to indulge my addiction to collecting tropical fruits from around the world.

It's 42 acres in Hilo at 350 feet elevation with deep soil - old sugarcane land that is now cow pasture. Some flat and some east facing slope. Around 150" of rain per year.

How would you design a property like this? It's unreasonable to plan the whole 42 acres at once, but I don't want it to evolve to become messy and inefficient over time. The plants will trickle in slowly over many years and I want a good strategy for keeping them organized and maintainable in the long term.

I am leaning towards pig fencing just one or two acres and filling it up randomly as a learning experience. Part of me wants a neat grid with orchard spacing, but part of me wants meandering permaculture. Some land will be reserved for nursery propagation and some for selection and hybridizing.

I could use some ideas from all the experienced collectors in this community. What would you do?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / cold tolerance in FL vs. CA
« on: April 12, 2017, 07:18:01 PM »
I am reflecting on the nature of cold tolerance and hardiness zones as I survey the winter damage to my plants, both outdoors and in my unheated greenhouse. I gambled heavily last year and collected tons of stuff that I thought MIGHT survive here based on accounts read on this and other forums. As I was mourning the loss of my Seashore Mangosteens and Achachairu that were in the greenhouse, it really hit home just how worthless hardiness zones are.

If I read on this forum that someone in Florida zone 9b had success with a plant, I felt it was worth trying, because I am in zone 9b in California. That has turned out to be TOTALLY WRONG. My message to future California zone pushers reading this: ignore every bit advice you get from Florida growers.

It really doesn't matter how cold it gets - it matters how cold it stays. Correct me if I'm wrong, but my perception is that if it gets down to 28F in Florida it might stay that low for 30 minutes, while in California it could hold for hours. The Florida humidity makes the effective temperature much higher, and that afternoon you're back into shorts and a t-shirt. In California after a frost when it "warms up" you are still going to want a sweater. So, injured plants in Florida get the warm conditions to promote healing almost immediately, but in California the ambulance won't arrive for months.

Someone should really develop a model for plant hardiness that accounts for humidity and total chill hours in addition to absolute lows.

I'm in the process of relocating to Hilo, Hawaii. Though it seems like you can grow anything tropical there, I am learning that some fruit trees will be unhappy with the amount of rain and the timing of it.

I'll be at 350 feet elevation in an area that receives about 150 inches of rain spread evenly throughout the year. I've heard that some trees may never flower due to the lack of a well defined dry season (examples being Pulasan and certain species of Durio and Artocarpus). Other fruits, like Mango, may not set any fruit unless I spray for anthracnose.

As I am planning my orchard, what are some other fruit trees that I should avoid for these reasons?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Flowers on 5 month old Eugenia pitanga
« on: January 28, 2017, 08:47:13 PM »
Quite surprised to find two flower buds on a 5 month old Eugenia pitanga. This is the "Round Red" variety courtesy of I have a dozen or so seedlings including Black Ribbed and Red Ribbed, most of them are half the size of this one (except one Black Ribbed that is even taller).

Did I win the genetic lottery, is this normal for Eugenia pitanga, or could the plant just be stressed? I have them under old fluorescent lights that need replacing, have missed a few waterings, and it's pretty cold in my grow shed.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Help with Pouteria id
« on: September 01, 2016, 10:33:41 PM »
My friend has Pouteria that he's lost the tags for and can't recall what it is. He has all the common Pouterias and is sure this is not one of them. Anyone recognize it?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Tasting Pitomba
« on: August 10, 2016, 03:12:45 AM »
Today I got a chance to taste Pitomba (Eugenia luschnathiana, not that other Pitomba that resembles a Longan) from my own tree and I was very impressed. I expected it to be sour and resinous, but it was only slightly acidic and mostly just sweet. Extremely aromatic in a way that reminded me of no other fruit (but I haven't tasted many Eugenias yet). I didn't find it to taste like apricots like some on this forum have said, but it definitely looked like an apricot when cut open and had a similar texture.

I made a short YouTube video about my tasting experience complete with lots of "fruit porn" close ups that show the fruit in all its glory. If only there was more than one on my tree!

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Subtropicals for California Zone 9
« on: August 06, 2016, 02:49:44 AM »
I've posted before about my attempts to grow marginal subtropicals here in zone 9b in the San Francisco Bay Area. With all the plants I've accumulated and all the time I've spent researching, I've started to have a hunch of which trees have the best odds of surviving and/or fruiting here. I've broken that down into a ranking, informed partially by seeing how my plants have done this summer, but mostly by talking to people and reading old forum threads. At this early stage in my experiment, I am full of na´vetÚ, but soon Mother Nature will set me straight. I thought I'd post my list here as well so that the kind folks of this forum can set me straight as well. Opinions appreciated!

This is not a comprehensive list of every fruit, just the trees that I have in my collection and have either planted in the ground outdoors or intend to do so one day.


Avocado (Mexican strains)
Frederick Passionfruit
Cattley Guava

Easy with little to no protection

Avocado (Guatemalan strains)
Banana (cold tolerant varieties)
White Sapote
Cherry of the Rio Grande
Suriname Cherry

Needs protection only in very cold years

Green Sapote
Tropical Guavas
Cedar Bay Cherry
Luc's Mexican Garcinia
Kwai Muk
Cinnamon Apple (Pouteria hypoglauca)
Guabiroba (various Campomanesias)

Possible with serious protection and lots of luck
Black Sapote
Wax Jambu
Ceylon Cinnamon
Ice Cream Bean
Strawberry Tree (Muntingia calabura)
Peanut Butter Fruit
Rainforest Plum

Very difficult but worth trying

Sugar Apple
Lemondrop Mangosteen
Seashore Mangosteen

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Deformed leaves on Yellow Jaboticaba
« on: July 21, 2016, 06:09:44 PM »
Since my Yellow Jaboticaba came out of dormancy and begain growing again, many of the lew leaves have had come out looking kind of burnt, and as they grow to full size they turn brown and shrivel up.

This plant is about 4 feet tall, came to me from Plantogram in March. I just planted it in the ground 6 weeks ago in a blend of native soil, peat, and compost. I gave it chelated iron yesterday, and maybe that will be all it needs, but maybe not.

Anyone have any thoughts on what might be going wrong here?

For years I've been wondering what, if any, subtropical fruit trees could make it in my backyard. This year I decided to stop wondering. I'm going to plant several dozen trees, from mango to jaboticaba, black sapote to green sapote, and I will find out once and for all.

Yes, this is a stupid thing to do and I know I'm going to kill a lot of trees. My home in Los Gatos, CA is zone 9b (Sunset 15/16), and while it's relatively warm for the Bay Area, nights are still cool and winters are still cold. Still, the more I hear about NorCal zone pushers succeeding, the more I wonder what my little microclimate could accomplish. Only one way to find out!

So, here is the list of trees I have collected and begun to plant:

* Mango (Antonio, Tequila Sunrise, 4 others)
* Cherry of the Rio Grande
* Cedar Bay Cherry
* Surinam Cherry
* Jaboticaba (Red, Sabara, Yellow, Trunciflora, Grimal, Coronata)
* Pitomba
* Grumichama
* Peanut Butter Fruit (Argentea)
* Black Sapote
* Green Sapote
* Lucuma (highland)
* Cinnamon Apple
* Sunsapote
* Lychee (Mauritius)
* Longan (Kohala, Biew Kiew)
* Genip (Yellow)
* Achacha
* Imbe
* Luc's Mexican Garcinia
* Sugar Apple
* Wax Jambu
* Starfruit (Dwarf Hart)
* Cinnamon (True)
* Allspice

As I said, they're going in the ground, not in pots, because my goal is not just to keep them alive, but to observe how they respond to my climate. I do plant to cover and heat the smallest of the trees during winter, but not the larger ones.

If every single tree dies except for one, I will consider it a success to have discovered one new fruit that grows in my backyard. If not a single tree makes it, that's ok too, then I will be relieved of my tropical lust and can focus again on fruit trees of temperate climates.

In the coming days and weeks I will follow up with photos of each of the plants and begin tracking their progress in this thread.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Help identifying Garcinias
« on: May 13, 2016, 01:13:28 PM »
I recently got a bunch of small Garcinias in pots which were ambiguously labeled only as "Yellow Mangosteen" or just "Garcinia". I would sure appreciate any help in identifying these more specifically.

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