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Messages - LivingParadise

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1
An update, my Livingstone potatoes have in fact come back for the first time. I actually didn't recognize them, because I saw this strange plant coming up in various places where I normally grow vegetables, and I didn't remember ever seeing something like it before. I wondered if it was a weed, but if it was it was a strange one. It was not one of the things I had planted recently. But I tasted the leaves to see if there were edible, and really liked it - kind of a peppery taste that would be great in a salad... As it turns out, I must have planted a tiny potato here and there around the yard and forgotten. I then found the mini leftover potato I had planted just a few months ago to be sprouting a ton of leaves, and realized the connection with the plant I found elsewhere. Went down to where I had planted the original patch, and sure enough, I had not even noticed but there were a ton of leaves and even a flower spike! Apparently they need heat and humidity, and plenty of water. It's still pretty dry here, but finally a little more rain.

So I still don't have enough to spare (will be eating all of this the second I can do so without killing the crop), but this seems like a decent bet for survival, that if anyone gets their hands on some and has the time to really grow a lot of them, it might make an easy plant to distribute elsewhere. Given my conditions here, this was so far an easier plant to get to return in its second year after planting than most others have been. So far, the Yacon which were right next to these, have not returned at all. Nor the torch gingers yet, which is really depressing, because they were my favorite. But if I have to have this pepper taste in everything, I guess I'll get used to it. I'd rather eat food from my yard, than have to go to a store, even though all my favorite things are harder to grow, particularly with the lack of steady rain here, and then the inundation of salt water periodically. Really wish the salad hibiscus would come back up too, because they were delicious!

I'm not a big potato person, but it would be great if I could get a really big crop of P. esculentus growing someday! It's pretty to look at, and could be a great stable food source where other crops may fail. Long periods of drought apparently do not kill it off either, although it appears to be dormant for a while until it gets more water.

2
Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Jackfruit - a second (or 3rd?) opinion
« on: August 06, 2017, 10:38:12 AM »
You will starve to death waiting for enough seeds to harvest anyway, even if it were worth a damn.
I knew you probably thought that but again, the same statement I made is correct and accurate. all parts of any fruit are incomplete protein.  No seed or nut for that matter is complete protein, this is just factual.

Wow, aren't you a genius? Too bad you don't have the reading comprehension skills to notice that I already said I wouldn't be growing them for the protein (so have no reason to give a damn whether they're a complete protein or not, as if partial proteins are somehow not worth eating anyway). I'm not sure the point of leaving a trail of negative comments that are tangential to the topic, just so you can talk to yourself. But I hope it makes you feel like the special person you clearly are. It takes skill to have that kind of charm with total strangers. All I did was post a pleasant comment about enjoying the taste of a fruit, and its many potential benefits. What you do with that pleasant comment is completely up to you.

3
Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Pineapple - Post Harvest
« on: August 05, 2017, 02:06:36 PM »
I have been doing the same thing as OP, and hope to have the same dilemma in a year or so when I start getting reliable fruiting! Not as many, but I think I have like 20-24 pineapples, from 6 different varieties. Can't wait to be able to harvest!
I'm amazed everybody on the forum doesn't seem to grow pineapples... they're easy, cool-looking, taste amazing, and are truly gorgeous when flowering.

4
Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Jackfruit - a second (or 3rd?) opinion
« on: August 05, 2017, 01:59:03 PM »
Jackfruit may be full of nutrients but as a protein source I would not count on it. Any protein in the fruit family is going to be inferior in many key amino acids, making it incomplete protein no matter how many grams of protein it contains. You have to look at NPU values, which means net protein Utilization and also PER values which means Protein efficiency ratio. If they score well on these two factors, then it would be a good source of protein. Unfortunately, someone hyped this fruit as being of protein value, and frankly, it is impossible to see it as such.

The protein comes from the seeds, not the fruit. Many plant proteins are complete proteins, making them every bit as high quality as an animal protein. I don't know about the specific protein profile of jack seeds. I would not be growing jackfruit purely as a protein source. But it certainly helps add to the value of the plant, and I can't imagine anyone denying that as a fact. Jackfruit is rated as one of the most useful plants in the world, with one of the productive, diverse, and most easily grown food sources. It's not hard to see why.

5
There is a ton of info on them if you do an archive search.

However, a short answer is no, they're not organic. It's very hard to find any major supplies of organic tropical plants, unfortunately. I have bought a lot of stuff from TT, and they are good at carrying stuff nobody else has. But I find their plants to be in poor health, often with bad root systems so that they do not fare well after planted, and sometimes mislabeled. I also thinking their costs are extremely high.

I have been far happier ordering things from Kensnursery.com. They don't have the varieties of the specific fruits you prefer though. Small plants at great prices (especially if you wait for the sales) and free shipping, all with excellent root systems and well packaged. I have no complaints really. The plants have done really well, and their inventory seems to be ever increasing into some more unusual plants, so I hope more people will shop with them and encourage them to get more rare stuff. I got 4 times the plants there that I did at Top Tropicals for the same total price, and although small, their root systems were better. But TT does have things I have found nowhere else in the US so far. I hope they will start to get a little more competition, because I did not find them to have good customer service or to value my frequent large purchases.

Plantogram is super expensive, but I must say I've had excellent experiences with them so far, the plants being healthy and well-developed, and doing well even in conditions that others did not. So if I had to ship, that would probably be the place I would go to for specific mango varieties beyond the most common ones if you want a decent size tree that is one or two seasons from flowering and bearing fruit.

I agree that for papayas, it's better if possible to acquire the organic non-GMO seeds (there are many places online, including Amazon and Etsy and Ebay if you find reputable sellers), and just plant directly. They tend to grow so fast that by the time they bear fruit, if transplanted they may not be able to hold themselves in ground well. And it's not too much of a wait between seed planting and harvest, plus kind of fun to watch it grow!

Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a great one-stop-shop for tropical purchases for the discriminating buyer yet. Far less so for organic and totally non-GMO.

Welcome to the forum!

6
Tropical Fruit Discussion / Jackfruit - a second (or 3rd?) opinion
« on: August 05, 2017, 01:34:39 PM »
Well, for those who have not had a chance to taste jackfruit yet, I thought I would post this.

I was confused by jackfruit, because I know a lot of people like it, and I was always excited to try it. But I never came across a good one. I tried some canned, and it was rubbery, had a smell that I found nauseating, and a taste that kind of hurt my stomach. Hard to describe, but kind of bland, and yet like chewing on a fruit that miraculously combined overripe cantaloupe with rubber tires and the faint smell of fish. I tried some fresh that was equally unpleasant and disappointing. I love the way it looks from the outside, and as a plant, and of course it produces huge quantities so I really wanted to like it.

I found some in an Asian grocery and since it was a fair price and I didn't have to buy the entire fruit, I decided to try again. I'm glad I did! I don't know what variety this is, nor what variety the others were, but this one has no noticeable latex, tastes sweet, is still a little rubbery but less so, smells more like cantaloupe than fish (lol), and tastes a remarkable amount like cake. What kind of cake? I don't know... some generic yellow or white cake with sweet white frosting. I'm not really a cake person, so I still wouldn't say this is my favorite fruit, but it's definitely pleasant tasting, and I would be really excited to have a tree that produced whole fruits of this. I can definitely see how lemon flavored ones, like the variety I am growing in my yard, would be really desired... a little acidity and complexity would improve this flavor a lot. So if I'm lucky enough for my current little sapling to reach maturity and fruit, that would be great.

As I understand it, jackfruit is hugely useful when underripe as a meat substitute, and the plentiful seeds are also edible and compared to lotus seed and chestnuts.

Another benefit was one slice of jackfruit the size of a slice of watermelon (maybe 3/4" thick x 4-5" wide at the base?) made me completely full! I tried to eat a little more, because I was still really curious about the flavor which is totally new to me for a fruit, but it just made me sick, lol. So easy to eat in moderation, contains a decent amount of fiber, and has a ton of health benefits to boot!: http://www.healthbeckon.com/jackfruit-fruit-benefits/

So happily, this wedge I bought contained a bunch of seeds... haven't eaten it all yet to get to them, but I would guess maybe 20? So hopefully one or more will sprout and I can grow jackfruit around my yard, and someday be able to give it away as gifts and have a major food source of fruit, vegetable, and protein all in one plant!

Plus, now my hands smell like cake...  :)

7
Named plant varieties you'll find in SFL include Miami, Homestead, and Sunrise, all of which were bred for their abilities to be supposed high producers. Unfortunately, I have yet to taste any of them yet though to give a report on sweetness, but I think they are supposed to be sweet varieties.

8
OMFG, so excited - one of the first plants I ever planted in my yard when I first moved here, because it was one of the most important to me to be able to grow, was a pomegranate capable of withstanding humid tropical weather. I put 2 Vietnam pomegranates in as 3g from Top Tropicals, more than 3 full years ago. They have done absolutely nothing, grown a bit, died down, grown, died down with spider mite again in dry season. As with most of my plants, I do nothing extra really for them, because the point is to  be able to live off of what can grow naturally in my yard, with as little interference as I can manage. A few months ago, I thought they were done for... they had been doing really well, and then suddenly declined with the yearly spider mite outbreak to 2 leaves left on one shrub and 4 on the other.

Well, they like the water and heat apparently. Because it's gotten way hotter and more humid, and we have gotten finally some rain in the past few weeks (although still nothing like the rest of the state), and I walked past for possibly the millionth time and was pleased to see tons of leaves... and then almost fell down with a heart attack that there were multiple scarlet flowers!!!!!!

YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2 were open so I immediately hand pollinated. A bunch more coming. My dwarf pomegranate nearby has been growing a fruit now for quite a few months, so if I'm lucky that will be ready in another two months or so. But, you know, it's a dwarf, they only get so big, and they are decent tasting if you wait forever for them to ripen but not spectacular. And it's just the one. So I really hope the Vietnams can hold a fruit or two. Screw waiting another year, as this might be my last chance!

If I get to taste, I will certainly update on the quality... although of course a single early fruit might not be much indicator of future quality when the plant is several seasons into production history.

On the complete other side of the yard, I looked over at my newly planted 4' Wonderful from Willis Orchards (mixed reviews of my experience there, but this certainly impressed me) and there were several flowers!!!!! Holy crap, I just got that this year, and no wait time!!!! Yay. :) Never tasted a Wonderful, so again, quite happy to describe it later if I get a chance.

I was getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, so didn't get a chance to really inspect the flowers much to see a difference, but at first glance they all looked pretty similar to the dwarf ones. Pretty though. Would be spectacular if one day I had a tree full of them - I've never seen that before, but the leaves are bright and dark green on such thick bushy plants, and with flaming red flowers, a mature pomegranate must be amazing.

In other spectacular news, I walked over to the other side of the yard and the Blackberry Jam fruit, which only started flowering profusely this year after maybe 3 years of waiting, has 2 fruits growing!!! This is awesome, because all the delicious smelling flowers were falling off their long stalks, and since there is no pollen to be seen I thought it might be impossible to pollinate them and the plant might not bear fruit this year. It is just the one plant by itself - the plant next to it has not flowered yet because it is about a year younger. So that clarifies that yes, Randia formosa can self-pollinate. Interestingly, the fruit look like little watermelons on the branches, light green and streaked with white. It's very cool to look at. I don't know how long it will take to ripen, but I can't wait to try them, and I hope there are dozens more coming. There are indeed plenty of flowers, so the plant is worth growing alone as an ornamental if you like plants like gardenia and jasmine - these have glossy leaves and similar but large fragrant flowers. I did post a story of the single fruit I found on the plant from last season, but I found it out of nowhere after never even seeing a flower, and by the time I got to it all that was left was flavorless dust inside. So I hope for better luck now that I actually get to see the process.


In other great news of waiting it out, several gingers which I had thought dead for good did indeed come back this rainy season, which I only just discovered today! These include Volcano Rim and I think it was Butterfly...  Galangal is still of course going strong because it is very drought resistant, and I see the red cone ginger (sadly, not edible) is also coming back. The Siam Tulip, which is related to turmeric, is also coming back with the rain, which is awesome because it has good leaves for cooking, what little I've tasted of it.

I am also blown away by my Native Plant section, which for the first time ever is finally taking off. Not much to report on the endangered fruit front yet, but I am amazed that the Simpsons and Spanish stoppers are both exploding in flowers, which they never did before. The Spanish grows fruit all up and down the branch and trunk like a jaboticaba! It is so loaded with blooms I almost can't see any bark. The Simpsons, which made only 1 fruit last year, makes reddish orange drupes that taste like candied orange peel, and I am so looking forward to what looks like it might be a crop of hundreds this year. It would be my first major fruit crop of anything I've ever grown, if so. I have had many Strawberry Tree fruits in the past, but they were never all at one time, I never got more than 5 in a day. Then the stupid saltwater flood came and killed both my trees. :(  I did get a bunch of 40 Namwah bananas a year ago, which was my best fruiting to date, until the same flood killed that plant with its 2nd crop of growing bananas right on it. (Fortunately, the flood did not kill the mat, and new plants are already almost as tall as the one that died.)

I am not at a point as a grower yet where I can rely on anything, to the level of having steady food throughout the year. But, I do have survival scraps all year now, and a few happy moments of treats interspersed. It took 4 long years of almost daily grueling digging and literal blood and sweat (ok, don't want to admit to the occasional tears) and a tremendous loss of money to dead plants from plague, but finally at long last I am seeing the literal fruits of my labor more and more all the time.

**So to those who are feeling hopeless and discouraged and impatient, take heart! It may happen for you yet, any random day that you are touring through the yard just trying to dodge the horde of mosquitoes, and there it is... the thing you started this dream for in the first place, one of the original plants you hoped you would one day be able to grow. And know that even for those of us who don't use any supplementary water or fertilizer or chemicals, even for those of us who might have some unfavorable conditions, it might still be possible, even if it does take a few years longer, and a few dead plants more of trying.

The next few plants I have my eye on for the coming year to hopefully bring future successes are the Pink Manila Tamarind, my first ever seed grown papaya, the dwarf date palms, maybe the Surinam cherries (both red and black, which are finally starting to reach respectable size), the Australian beach cherry, the sweet Tamarind, and a number of endangered native plants. Oh, and the Diamond River Longan, which is flowering for the first time ever after being planted earlier this year, but which I don't expect to hold fruit this time around. And if I'm really, really, really lucky, finally the Guanabana, the Peanut Butter fruits, some new varieties of bananas, a few of the pineapples, the natal plums (losing hope there though, because for the 2nd year in a row I am getting profuse flowers and not a single fruit), and my blessed Mamey Apple.

You never know what's around the corner. Good luck everybody! :)

9
Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Kratom tree cuttings
« on: July 31, 2017, 09:02:03 AM »
Wow, I'm so jealous! Sounds like a lot of great stuff! Unfortunately if you're in zone 9-10 you must be very far away from me. :( 
Good luck - I hope they all find somewhere good to go. Make sure to advertise them on craigslist also if you haven't yet. "Yard sale" signs help too.

10
Sure, and welcome!

In my experience, small fruit like that is a lack of water issue, but that could of course depend on a lot of variables so I couldn't say for sure in your case. Healthy leaves improve fruit, but only up to a point. Sometimes when a plant gets a lot of the nutrients it needs to grow leaves, like when people fertilize with nitrogen or the soil is naturally really rich in certain minerals but not others, the plant might focus all its energy on leaf production and make less, or smaller, fruit. Overall though, if the plant is healthy and getting its basic needs met and you're not adding anything supplementary, I wouldn't worry about that. The main issue is to be sure it gets enough sun to flower, that's it. After that it's often an issue of finding the sweet spot between too little water and too much, and being sure there is good drainage for the roots. For me, especially because I live in an area of terrible almost non-existent soil (and frequent saltwater flooding), container growing can make all that easier.

11
Lol, except that's not actually how a business works. The demand for beef and chicken in the US is astronomical, with probably 8 out of 10 citizens eating them for at least one meal a day. The number of people in the US who have even heard of sugar apple, much less be willing to pay $7/lb for them, is like... I don't know, 500 people?, lol. Moreover, very little land in the US is capable of supporting sugar apple growth, whereas you can keep chickens or cattle successfully in virtually every state.

So I will take exception with this title, even though I myself am vegetarian. But, that is one beautiful sugar apple nonetheless! :)

12
Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: NE Peninsular Malaysia
« on: July 29, 2017, 11:37:46 AM »
Sooooo jealous! :) Please post pics and some commentary on what you saw while there when you come back! Haven't had a chance to go to Malaysia yet, but would love to...

13
LivingParadise..., one more question. You said you tried growing in containers. I'm wondering how did it go? I'm running out of space but would still love to grow watermelons every year so I'm thinking if growing in containers would work? Probably like a 15 gallon container. Thanks!


Keep in mind, sometimes plants put too much energy into leaves to the detriment of fruit. But since you posted this in the vegetable section and not the fruit forum, I thought that meant you were planning to eat the leaves. Mind you, I have not found reliable sources that definitively state whether watermelon leaves are edible, or that they are poisonous, so try at your own risk (and if you do, please report back!). So whether you want bigger leaves or not might be subject to some debate, if it results in smaller fruit. Again, if the issue is water, more water might simply be the solution - not less sun. But that is not good if a region is drought-prone.

Container growing watermelons is from my experience doable but I guess a bit unusual - all the more so my decision to do so indoors since I got very strong tropical sun in my windows to do so, but could lower the humidity a bit by having them indoors. So it depends on what you're aiming for. The roots can get to about 2ft deep, but most of them are within the 1st foot of soil, so I don't think they really have to go that far down. Watermelons would prefer to spread wide than deep, a bit like strawberries. I did not try to grow them as a year-round crop, merely seasonal, so I wasn't looking for the plant to survive forever anyway. I put it in a shallow window box type plastic container. The fruit would grow on the vine, outside the box. A 15 gal container is only necessary if you really need the container to hold the watermelon itself, or want to try to provide for those few deeper roots. I have written a bunch on the fruit forum about my experiments in container growing, but it's worth noting here too that I like to grow in non-biodegradable styrofoam peanuts, with only 1/3 of the container actually being filled with (good organic) soil. For most plants, that is enough. They really like the air and drainage the styrofoam pieces provide, and it's a good way to recycle something that otherwise is destructive to the environment to grow plants. This cuts down on the need for expensive heavy soil or rocks, and makes the containers really easy to move around. If you grow one with a watermelon in it, the watermelon will weigh the container down against the wind if you grow it outdoors. Although I abandoned the watermelon project because of water consumption, which is expensive here, if I were to try it again in any serious manner I would grow in my 10 gal plastic grow bags, which are super cheap, and allow the roots to grow any which way they want.

Note that watermelon rind is fully edible, as are the seeds, for anyone looking to add to the food value of their crop. It's not easy to grow one's one food, so best not to waste any when it finally reaches maturity! :) Some people like to pickle the rind like a vegetable.

14
If they get the same amount of water and the soil is the same in both locations, the one in full sun probably is drier due to more evaporation/heat. It's also possible that one has more open wind, and if so that would further contribute to drying.

In my experience of growing watermelons, they didn't need full sun all day to fruit. Mine were happy enough growing in containers, even indoors (it was an experiment), with maybe 4 hours of intense direct sun a day, and lots of bright light the rest of the day. They need a lot of water. I ultimately realized they were not practical for my area, which gets too hot, and is the driest county in FL. Since you live in CA, you might find that heavy mulching and growing in partial shade will give the results you want, without the extra water needed by growing in full sun.

It's just a guess - maybe there's another cause. But it's a guess that makes perfect sense to me as a possibility. They don't have enough time to grow deep roots like trees do to keep their water intake more even.

15
Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Planting near a canal
« on: July 25, 2017, 08:43:03 AM »
It matters if it is salt or fresh. Mine was salt, killed my few attempts due to flooding with a storm... was predictable of course, but I wanted to give it a shot anyway because I had an overabundance of annonas at that time due to a bulk purchase. Ah well...

If it is fresh water, depending on what species even in brief flooding it might do just fine and be very happy.

16
LivingParadise:   Wow!!!
Thanks for taking the time to post such a long, helpful response to my inquiry.  It's going to take me a while to absorb all the helpful tips and suggestions you have made;  For sure I will have to read it more than once to do that.  I know eventually I will have to provide some kind of heating system for the greenhouse I am working on, but in the mean time I am happily tending to my figs, guavas, pomegranates that are growing nicely, while anxiously waiting for the papaya plants I ordered.  Will follow up with progress and more questions as my journey continues.  Thanks again.   

No problem - I know it's rather dense, but it's full of info that actually worked for me. Good luck, and please keep us posted on your progress! My forays into growing these plants up North in many ways eventually led to my move to the tropical lifestyle, which eventually will probably lead me to move to Singapore or maybe somewhere in the Caribbean, so it's amazing how some simple hobby gardening can change your life. Enjoy the experiment!

17
Mine also began flowering, but in early July. It is it's first year in-ground. It has barely grown at all, but I'm pleased since none of the other longans I've tried to grow here have fared well. All the others succumbed to the spider mite plague fairly quickly, despite spraying with Neem, while this one for some reason has never been touched at all. So if it's sturdier for this hot, humid, dry climate with terrible soil and very aggressive pests, that's perfect for me! I was about to give up on longans...

I'm not expecting to be able to try the fruit until at least next year, but I'm happy to see it flower!

18
I grew a bunch of subtropicals (not ultratropicals, mind you) when I lived in apartments in NY. It was fairly easy. I did not grow much in the way of fruit trees, other than my lemon tree, but a number of different kinds of flowering plants, and vegetables, etc. If you want to put effort into it, and don't mind some loss through trial and error, it's very doable, and the experimenting is fun. Obviously, as the size of the collection increases and the need for output gets more strict, so proportionally will your fun decrease. But, assuming you're just doing this as a hobby and not to live off the food production or for commercial gain, you'll be fine. I've written quite a few posts in the past on some of my tricks to be successful.

I never had money for a greenhouse. I found simply changing out indoor light bulbs with full spectrum bulbs, and keeping the air around the plants somewhat humid, was just fine. You need to be patient with Northern tropical plants, don't expect a lot of growth, or for it to be easy to make them flower outside of summertime... but you can certainly keep them alive and watch them grow slowly, and for not that much money. Invest in good organic soil - they're going to be suffering in so many other ways, this will tend to help them through the rough times. The greatest thing I ever found with container gardening is to recycle old non-biodegradable styrofoam peanuts. Simply buy a pack of cheap plastic grow bags with holes, which yes will eventually degrade but especially if not outdoors will last a few years just fine. They cost pennies, and can be shoved against each other and against walls to form basically any shape you need. They can also be easily stacked on top of each other if you have plants of different sizes, so you can water them all at the same time and save space. Fill with the styrofoam pieces about 2/3 of the way full. Top off with 1/3 full of soil. So there's not actually much soil, but it's enough for nutrition, and the plants' roots LOVE the peanuts... they shove right through the styrofoam. Sooo easy and cheap to put together, excellent oxygen and drainage, and extremely light to carry around from one room to the next, or outdoors in the summer. Sit the bags in a pan or tray of some sort to catch the water, so they can stay humid, and sometimes self-water with the extra when the roots get long enough. Put aluminum foil around the inside of the top, and facing in toward the plants - it will help light reflect from windows and from lamps to give the plant more than it would ordinarily get from just one side of one limited window, keeping the exposure around the plant a bit more even.

There is some disagreement about optimal light hours for tropical plants, but it will depend on which species and how old it is. Think about their natural conditions when they grow wild, if they are likely to be beneath a canopy of tall mature trees, or growing out alone in the sun in a field. Generally speaking, most people seem to say optimal growth can occur if you provide between 12-16 hours of light a day. Not more - the plant needs time to rest. You can do far fewer hours of light, but don't expect the plant to grow much. Another option is to use a box light like people use for Seasonal Affective Disorder. You can sit with one surrounded by your plants, and when you're done leave it on for the plants to enjoy. Most are not expensive to keep running for many hours. Sometimes you can buy used ones fairly cheap. On the subject of used, you can also call around for places getting rid of styrofoam peanuts, or put up a craigslist ad, if you don't happen to have a bunch. Recycling is best - no need to buy them new! Make sure they aren't biodegradable (usually greenish), or they'll melt in water.

At a certain low temp they will drop leaves and go dormant. Do not water almost at all when in this state - mold and root rot are your biggest risks for indoor plants like this. You can scratch the surface lightly to be sure it's not dead - if there's still green, you're fine. Don't disturb the roots much - be careful any time you move the bag. Indoor plants will tend to be very susceptible to aphids and spider mites, and sometimes scale. Keep a bottle of pure neem oil mixed with water on hand, and spray regularly. It doesn't make the house smell great, but Neem has a lot of amazing medicinal qualities so won't hurt you.
Consider also dusting the plants with Diatomceous Earth.

If you then take them outside, never do so until the weather is consistently always 60F or above, even at night. Don't rush it. 
Harden them off slowly, being cautious to only give them a few hours of direct sunlight at a time. PATIENCE is key when dealing with indoor tropical plants! It should take you a week to 2 weeks to get them to their final destination, depending on whether or not they will eventually end up in full sun. Again, the styrofoam bag works wonders at this time. But, make sure it is tied around the top or leaned against something sturdy, so strong winds won't blow all the soil off and the peanuts everywhere, or knock the plant over. If possible, do the same process in early Fall before bringing them back in again, so they get used to less direct sunlight. Never leave them out if the temps with go below 60F... they will get sad. Of course, that depends on which species, but as a general rule if you're trying to grow tropics it's better to be safe than sorry with your investment. I used to think light was the most important thing - it's not. It's warmth, and humidity, and good drainage. Light is like 4th on the list. Plants in the tropics have to deal with deep shade all the time, and they simply grow around it to try to find a light source. They can withstand low light for months (but don't stick them in a closet). What will kill them faster is being too wet or too dry, and then too cold or too hot.

Don't burn them by placing against the radiator. Don't freeze them by putting too close to the window. If warmth is a problem, you can save a lot of money by using string holiday lights. The temp of the air doesn't actually matter, it's the temp of the PLANT. String lights are cheap to buy and to run, can be arranged to look pretty, and usually keep the plant relatively warm in sub-par temps. Spray the plants' leaves and top soil regularly with a water bottle when you walk by. Do this enough to keep dust from accumulating on the leaves, which will suffocate the plant. Keep them close together so they can develop a microclimate of humidity in the house. Consider tenting them with clear plastic to keep the humidity in - heating systems are extremely drying (as are air conditioners). There are even mini greenhouses for sale that are essentially a green shelving unit with a clear plastic sheet over it - you can stack the plants vertically, turn a single strong lamp toward the whole thing, and find a way to regulate humidity and temp just right for all the plants inside, without making your house look like a total mess, or taking all your floor space. But if one plant develops pests, expect them to spread like wildfire in such an environment - spray with Neem weekly!

The whole setup can easily cost under $100, including a few seeds to get you started. My highest cost was actually the soil, which I had to ship to my apartment. But I found one 2 cu.ft. bag could cover about 3 10 gal plastic bags of styrofoam peanuts, and more if I really wanted it to stretch to start off a small plant. I could always add soil later - which I usually do in the form of shoving my composting down into the bags throughout the year... fruit peels and vegetable scraps and paper towels, kleenex, etc. It seemed to work just fine, and kept my use of the city garbage really low.

I moved many times, and found plants in this type of setup are fairly easy to move. Usually I have to slip on a new bag under the old one first, because by then likely the plastic has kind of weakened and I don't want a spill. But, overall, it's pretty cheap and easy. Sturdy plants will survive, if not thrive, for multiple years this way, and as long as they get enough light, warmth, and water, can even flower and fruit. Then you just need to learn hand-pollination, which is easy with a manageable number of plants.

Good luck!

There are many great plants to grow for container gardening... do a search here to see lists of plants that fruit at small sizes. But I also urge you to grow tropical vegetables (and visit our sister forum for ideas!) and edible flowers, which take up little space while being highly useful, easy to grow, and often very attractive. Plus, usually they come with a ton of seeds so if they die before reseeding themselves, it's no huge loss, just start again!

P.S. I've made this point before, but if you're looking for more tips, there are a ton of marijuana forums that are actually extremely helpful, and often rather professionally written. People on this forum tend to naysay growing tropicals indoors, but a huge market grew (literally) out of growing semi-tropical plants in people's closets and basements in cold climates. I'm not one for illegal drugs, but those people had a high stake in having a successful and often organic product, and they are some incredibly informed farmers. They are some of the best plant experts in the world when it comes to growing organic warm-weather plants indoors, which are the most challenging conditions to grow in. Anyone can grow tropical plants outdoors in a warm sunny climate with chemicals. What's really hard is to grow such plants in the opposite environment of pretty much everything they want, and not have any artificial chemicals to lean on, and still be successful. I've learned a lot from searching the internet and accidentally falling into those forums repeatedly.

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My personal opinion is if a person is open to buying land anywhere in the entire world to grow tropical fruit trees, and is from Bali, anywhere in the contiguous US would be a terrible idea. Nothing at all about FL or CA screams "tropical." There are a million properties to choose from in SE Asia, in Central Africa, in the Caribbean and Central America, that already have a bunch of fruit trees on them - and would tend to be cheaper than the US to boot. Why in the world would anybody choose a place that has lower than rainforest level rainfall, and freezes? That just seems obvious... If I could go anywhere to make fruit a priority, I sure as hell wouldn't choose to be here. I mean, Thailand, Borneo, Malaysia, parts of India, Brazil, Costa Rica... all would obviously be a million times better for growing fruit.

I have seen a number of properties on Puerto Rican real estate sites that fit what you're looking for, Dominica, etc. But it depends in each place what culture you will feel comfortable with, what the laws are for foreign land purchase (for instance Haiti doesn't really allow it, Dominican Republic does, Jamaica does but it can get complicated), what the local crime/political situation is and whether or not you will be subject to constant stealing of fruit from other locals if property rights are considered more communal than really private. In many places, theft from monkeys will also be a constant issue!

I would suggest you come up with a list of top 5 or top 10 countries you'd like to move to (top 3 would be way better, if you can be decisive) and then start looking into the process for property purchase in each. Don't go where the fruit is necessarily, because there is fruit everywhere.  Go where you can get the right kind of lifestyle for you, where you don't have to worry about constant natural disaster wiping out your work, where there is ample rainfall and good soil (but hopefully not mudslides!). Pick a place where you will be allowed to ship seeds and plants in from other countries. If you can afford it, pick a place that already has a road and adequate access built, and working electricity and running water if you will require those things. Make sure if you have any construction to do that it is somewhere you can hire local people easily and affordably who will actually show up with the proper equipment inside a few months and not leave you waiting for a year or more on their backlog. Some of the best places in the world for growing fruit are also places with unstable political climates, high violent crime, and very poor infrastructure so it's hard to get anything done or be sure that you will still own that land when it finally bears fruit. It can be hard to find a place with a good balance of the necessities.

Write out your priorities in choosing land, so it will be easier to narrow it down. If all you want is land that is already growing tropical fruit on it, that is in plentiful supply in any one of probably 50 countries. But prices, and your enjoyment in each, will vary. Please keep us updated on your search - it sounds fun!

[If it were me, I'd probably pick Brazil, or Thailand (or maybe Vietnam?), because they both have access to a wide variety of rare fruit, seem to be relatively good about shipping things in if you need and have active markets with great fruit trade if you don't, but also have some infrastructure and major cities accessible should you need to be closer to human culture at times. I also happen to really like those cultures. But that's me...]

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Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: My little slice of paradise
« on: July 22, 2017, 09:50:28 AM »
Gorgeous, and really great back story to go with it! I'm jealous of the significantly better soil and rainfall you have than here in the Keys! I have considered buying a parcel of land just like this somewhere in the Caribbean, and this certainly makes me think it would be a decent idea to try. I don't regret moving here, but it is far less hospitable to growing than I would ever have imagined, and I could get much more fertile land for 1/4 of the price I paid to be here. So maybe someday I'll give it a shot! I hope you'll post more videos and photos of your project.

Incidentally, there are several kinds of ironwoods, if you post close up photos of leaves, bark, and certainly flowers or fruits if it makes any, maybe we could figure it out for you. There is White, Red, Black...

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Provided there is enough water, you can add strawberry tree and sapodilla to those listed so far...

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Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: coconut to sweet?
« on: July 19, 2017, 08:42:43 PM »
It seems to be a function of individual trees. 3 of the trees in my yard produce what tastes like sugar water, 1 the sweetest of the 3. As the nuts get older, the water tastes like sweet alcohol. The others not as much, and neighbors' coconuts not at all. Over one street, another tree that tastes like sugar water, others that don't. So just depends. I'm not much for sugar, and I don't drink alcohol, so I'm not turned off by my trees but am not very excited by it either. I was really hoping for one that has a strong nutty flavor - I used to buy some very expensive coconut water in NYC that had a delicious flavor of very fresh nut, which was less like coconut and more like... I don't know, but I really liked it. Very light, refreshing taste. I thought when I had my own tree it would be like that - I thought the difference in flavor was just about freshness, and that the high cost was because of a fresher product or something. But as it turns out, all trees seem to make slightly different flavored water, depending on nutrients, and various other factors, even when they are the same variety of coconut.

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I have a curry leaf tree in pot to give away free...about 4 feet tall...I am in West Palm Beach. PM me if anyone is interested.

PMed.

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Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Momordica dioica
« on: July 17, 2017, 08:38:36 AM »
Sounds so good... I love bitter gourd! I haven't been successful growing them yet though, but there is an Asian grocery about 100miles away from me where I pick them up sometimes. Actually, I don't find bitter gourd all that bitter either. Maybe it's just the ones I'm eating. They have a nice texture that is not slimy when cooked, a bright mild flavor, and take on the flavor of whatever sauce/seasoning you add so well!

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Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Bougainvillea
« on: July 17, 2017, 08:34:46 AM »
Seems like they do better with absolute neglect and zero watering. 

Yes - they flower better when lacking water. A great drought-friendly edible landscape plant, and they also can make a great living fence if there are people or pests you want to keep out of an area! (BUT, don't expect them to keep out iguanas... iguanas LOVE them... argh)

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