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Messages - Caesar

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Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Jatropa
« on: Today at 04:10:26 PM »
Iíll err on the side of caution then, and stick to the cuttings. Iíll still keep the seedlings in pots though... maybe if I can find an able laboratory, I can test their seeds later.

I planted the most vigorous cutting, and kept the other two in pots, to be planted later. Hereís the planted one:

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Jarilla chocola
« on: Today at 04:03:07 PM »
I actually found the swollen root of one of the dead ones. I think itíll rot, but just in case it has any regenerative power left, I re-planted it. I forgot to take a picture of it though.

I planted the survivor and saw itís swollen root as well (again, failed to take a pic). I put it into a tub where itís sharing space with 4 germinated Hodgsonia vines (and two seeds), but the vines are kinda buried, so you canít really see them in the pic.

I have 5 seedlings growing nicely, and this time, I wonít make the mistake of waiting too long (the last three had gone past the seedling stage weeks ago). As soon as they get a nice number of leaves, theyíre going into the tub as well. I actually found them to be kinda strong, initially. Both these 5 and the last three handled transplantation fairly well at an extremely early age. Pricked them out of the soil, teased them apart, even broke a root or two, and theyíre doing just fine. That was my frustration... why would a seemingly strong plant die spontaneously? As of now, I just think they donít like drought early on, nor being pot-bound.

Pics of the planted survivor and the seedlings:

Okay then, weíll keep each other posted.  :)

How old were your seedlings? Mine are at a couple of months, and Iím half convinced most of their moisture-resistance comes from the free-draining-yet-moisture-retentive soil theyíre in. It stays moist to the touch for a long time, but itís light, airy, and never pools water (thatís the added sand, Ďcause the original soil does pool slightly at times).

Please see my Air Potato post here for an important announcement. This concerns you too, 00christian00

As you all know, I'm going to be distributing the edible air potatoes in the hopes of making them more common and readily available to the public. I'm hoping that those who receive them will help out and pay it forward by spreading them to other interested parties ⁂. But it occurred to me that both cultivars in my possession are currently nameless; they're just referred to as edible air potatoes. In their native range, dozens of edible cultivars abound, but here in the west, they're exceedingly rare and hard to come by. It would be a shame for other people looking to grow multiple cultivars to find people offering "different" air potatoes, only to find them all growing the same ones from the same source (traced back to me)... Making space for new vines, and finding out that they're the same types they were already growing.

Even within each subspecies, not every cultivar is the same. There are many African types, many sativas, many suaviors, and each varietal clone differs in bulbil size, tuber size, productivity, cooking traits, growth traits and other factors. From Grower Jim's site (link here), we know that there are already at least two named clones in the west: "Hawaii" and the generically-named "Africa", both of which seem like African types, judging by their angles. I know of one named clone from India (Konkan Kalika) that I've had my eye on, but have been unable to get. To distinguish my vines, I have decided to give them cultivar names as well (unless someone can confirm an official name for them). I'd like for everyone growing them to refer to them by these names, especially when passing them forward, to help track and distinguish them from other varieties. I myself will refer to them by these names when sharing material with the local Agricultural Research Station, where the names should solidify as permanent.

Right now, I've already selected names for them, after their original sources. The one from India would be named CV-Sativa, for Chandramohan, who sent me my first bulbils (and confirmed it as nameless). The African variety might be named SENA, for Stephward Estate Nursery, Africa (they shipped it labeled as "Edible Air Potato", no varietal name or anything). Does that sound ok to you 00christian00? I know you got the same bulbils as well, so you oughtta take part.

I intend to do this for every nameless variety that I obtain, though I will rectify and mark my names as redundant if any true original names come to light. If I manage to obtain the one from "Las CaŮadas", that's exactly what I'll call it, to give one example.

So... Feedback? Does anyone have any objections, alternatives, inputs or ideas? I won't mark anything as official until I get some sort of majority consensus.

⁂ Note: While the domestic types are not as vigorous or weedy, please note the potential for invasiveness to other growers, so that they'll be diligent in their upkeep. I've read that these domestic types rarely last long in a feral environment, but it always pays to grow responsibly, and weed the volunteers.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Jarilla chocola
« on: September 18, 2018, 08:29:40 PM »
A papaya relative with a fruit that vaguely resembles a dragonfruit, I was interested in this one Ďcause it supposedly grows a root crop as well (though I donít know if harvesting it kills the plant). So far, Iíve repeatedly been given hope only to have it dashed, and Iím rather frustrated. For one thing, the seeds are expensive (4 seeds a pack for $5.50 at Tradewinds). I initially bought 2 packs (8 seeds) only to have 4 pop up, of which 1 died off quickly (I suspect bitten by a roach). The remaining three were growing fine, but I was concerned that I might lack males or females (theyíre dioecious), so I splurged on 2 more packs, only to have 2 of the original plants die off spontaneously. Maybe they lacked water? I thought they were fairly hydrated, the frustration is potent! Now I have 4 more seedlings coming up (hoping for more), and Iím working to get the big survivor up-potted to give it a fighting chance (it sure looks stronger). If I end up lacking either gender when flowering comes, Iíve half a mind to give up altogether. Iím used to having exotic seeds fail to sprout, but to watch them grow healthy and keel over for nothing is another layer of frustration altogether.

Hereís the survivor, its two dead siblings, and the new crop of seedlings:

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Cerrado Cashew (Anacardium humile)
« on: September 18, 2018, 08:12:21 PM »
To recap, all 7 had sprouted and were transplanted in a mix of miracle-gro moisture control and sand. They were all growing fine and dandy in the shade, but over time, I ended up losing two of them... to DROUGHT!!! Perhaps it was the sandy soil mix I gave them, but moisture doesnít seem to bother them much, and they seem sensitive to a lack of water... they do give off subtle hints early on, but by the time the drought stress is obvious, youíve already lost the plant. Itís been raining a lot lately (which is why theyíre under the roof), but I decided to test two of them directly exposed. They look terrible from leaf burn, but the constant rain doesnít seem to be bothering them, and the new incoming leaves seem fine and dandy. Iím tempted to put the other three in the same place, but I donít wanna put all my eggs in one basket. Iím hoping these will ultimately be easier than I had first expected.

The burned-up two and the shaded three:

I got a crop of true potatoes on its way, ready to harvest this coming weekend. Beating the odds, growing potatoes in the tropics. But thatís not why yíall are here, Iím sure, so on to the main event: letís take a peek at how the Air Potato crop is doing:

The last three pics are the same one, which I found particularly photogenic; the rest are all different, and theyíre all in the ďlargerĒ size range.

With the Air Potato, every bulbil starts out small, some of them grow, some of them stay small. Once it reaches a certain threshold, you can tell itís gonna keep growing into a big bulbil. So Iíve counted my crop so far in two categories: small (which may or may not grow) and big (which are already big, or on their way there). So far, Iíve counted 5 small bulbils and 9 big-or-growing bulbils. Looks like the legends are true, you wonít get a good crop of Air Potatoes until their second year. And the season is young (they started in September last year, and didnít reach a second bulbil Ďtil late October). With all the time left before the vines die back, I may end up seeing a fairly big harvest of the larger-sized bulbils. Iím quite excited, this may be my best project yet!

For reference, I added some 20-20-20 liquid solution (a small amount) recently, and a generous sprinkling of osmocote earlier in the year. Theyíre growing in the same pot, same soil as last season (though I had dug up the tubers) and theyíre sharing space with two Guinea Yams and a trifida. Theyíve outgrown all other yams, though, and are the only ones that have made it past the trellis, with extensive growth in the surrounding trees.

We might be able to identify the mountain yam from pictures, but that common name is very generic, so if it turns out to have an alternative, we should use it.


Iím going to have to try again with a few of them next year. My pentaphylla and pseudo-tomentosa died off, the hamiltonii failed to sprout, and I didnít reach the business in time to acquire the japonica bulbils. On the bright side, the Ube, the yellow cayennensis and the polystachya are doing just fine. Whatís more, the crop on the Indian bulbifera is just starting to take off; more on that in its own thread.

My African bulbiferaís arrived sprouted and in excellent condition. I buried them in a small pot for the moment; tomorrow Iíll get another tub ready and place it by the new trellis.

Hereís mine:


Edit: I forgot to mention: the trifida doesnít play well with others. All the other species are competing for space and growing vigorously (though Iím sure yields will suffer). Meanwhile, the trifidas are failing to put on extensive vine growth, and I donít expect a good harvest. For anyone growing trifidas out there, give them their space, donít crowd them.

I donít know of any sources for it (I was interested myself some time back), but I do have info.

I also found this document in spanish, detailing its prospects as a crop in its native area:

Apparently fresh consumption of R. nubigenus (a hexaploid species) is limited by its large seeds, but itís good for processing, with a similar flavor to R. glaucus (the major commercialized species of Lampobatus in South America). I donít remember where I read this, but Iíve read that R. glaucus is considered on par with the better blackberry hybrids, with a loganberry-like mix of raspberry and blackberry flavor.

I basically quoted my own post from another forum, but itís all I could find, so I hope itís useful.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Jatropha
« on: September 18, 2018, 06:32:17 PM »
Well, 3 of the 4 cuttings sent to me by achetadomestica struck, and all 5 seeds sprouted as well, growing nice and strong.

The cuttings:

The seedlings:

As for the seedlings, Iím at a bit of a loss as to how to manage them (crop-wise). I know they come from a line of seed-grown Jatropha that have all turned out edible, but Iím still a little wary of eating their nuts when they start bearing. Logic tells me to just taste Ďem and stop eating if I get gastric trouble, but that only accounts for the phorbol esters. Curcin is the more dangerous toxin by far, but I couldnít find much information on it out there. What are the symptoms of curcin poisoning? And what is the treatment? Can I just do the whole ďeat 1 the first day, 2 the second, etc.Ē that I would usually do, or is that still capable of poisoning me if the nuts have curcin? Should I just trust that the seedling nuts will be okay and go hogwild eating them?

The edible ones should be edible in their raw state (and I think the parent tree is such), but some toxic types can be eaten roasted... does that take care of the curcin or just the phorbol esters?

I already have the cuttings of the confirmed-edible parent, and I can easily get more cuttings once those trees mature (so... perhaps I donít need the seedlings?), but I kinda still wanna take care of the seedlings and use them as crops.

Anyone here got any advice?

Papa Voladora, that's the one! An African bulbifera, and different than the one I'm getting from South Africa (which is rounder; the one in Las CaŮadas seems flatter, maybe more angular). I'm looking to get every edible strain of this species that I can find. Keep me posted on yours, I'm looking forward to seeing how they grow.

As for invasiveness, I don't think there's much cause for concern. The edible types aren't supposed to be as weedy or as vigorous as the toxic types. While I can confirm that all the little bulbils that fell off my vine sprouted where they landed, they were easy to find and pluck or mow down, and none re-sprouted; no survivors.

I'm hoping to capitalize on the ground-covering skills of the sweet potatoes myself, to keep the weeds down. I gotta finish getting rid of the Guinea grass, but after that I'm getting my slips started. I actually found a YouTube video where the guy gets them growing from small pieces of peel! Kitchen scraps! I knew you could grow some Dioscoreas that way, but I never figured it'd work for sweet potatoes. Link here.

Papa Criolla sound like a Phureja type, they should be able to take the heat better. Store-bought potatoes don't tuberize well above 85 F, if I remember correctly. Mine already started tuberizing (I had to pile on more soil), but I don't expect much, the summer heat's not quite gone. I haven't sown the Cimatli seeds yet, and the in-vitro clones were a disaster. A few survivors from two varieties, and I don't expect them to last much longer. Like potato seedlings, they all succumbed to damping off. I'm not sure when I'll try again, but I already have ideas to offset the effects of humidity (if the rain lets me; the air was humid even under the roof).

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Passionberry - Solanum cleistogamum
« on: September 05, 2018, 11:52:10 PM »
Hi all. I've been looking for this one for a long time. There's little to no horticultural information about it online. I read about it through Outback Pride (Links one, two and three).

The only other major link I found that describes it in similar terms is The Bush Tomato Handbook (link here).

Apparently, it's the best of the bush tomatoes, and one of the best fruity solanums in general, highly aromatic, with a smokey caramel/vanilla/banana-like flavor.

Wikipedia treats it as a synonym of Solanum ellipticum, but that doesn't seem right. Most other places treat them separately, and the Handbook makes it clear that their fruits are very different, with S. ellipticum's fruit being considered very bitter. Even if they're the same species, they should probably be considered separate subspecies at least... It would be a very nasty surprise for someone to spend a couple of years growing S. ellipticum, hoping for sweet tasty fruits only to get some highly bitter ones at maturity. They're not interchangeable.

Does anyone have any experience with this species? They seem obscenely difficult to find, and I've failed to find even one source for them online. If anyone knows where to get seeds, please let me know, this one's high on the wish list.

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Solanaceae: A Very Basic Overview
« on: September 05, 2018, 11:47:16 PM »
Hi all. As you've seen with some of my other posts, I like to review and condense information on entire plant families at a time whenever one catches my attention. In this case, yams led me to potatoes, which led me to Solanums in general. So here I am, on the heels of another inspirational reverie, taking a look at all the info I can find on the Solanum family. Keep in mind I haven't grown or eaten most of the species in this family, so flavor descriptions are usually second-hand and may be off from what you've tasted: correct me whenever necessary.

This list is no-doubt incomplete, as there are many lesser-known and sometimes downright obscure species that are considered apt for human consumption, and sometimes several minor species are glossed over and/or condensed under a single banner. All contributions to the post are appreciated, from species names to culinary qualities.

To start, the genus Solanum proper, and what better species than the quintessential Solanum: the Eggplant (S. melongena). Eaten cooked, it has a thick (some describe it as "spongey" or "meaty") texture, and is good in savory dishes. I'm not sure how to describe the flavor, but I guess I would consider it somewhat starchy... It's been a while since I've had fried eggplant. There are bitter components in the fruit (mainly saponins), and their concentration is highly variable, with some varieties being quite bitter (and benefitting from a rinsing process prior to cooking), and some having no discernible bitterness. Said bitterness is not a toxicity concern unless you eat it raw. Additional species include the Ethiopian Eggplant (S. aethiopicum), which includes types grown for their edible leaves and types grown for their edible fruits (Scarlet Eggplant - synonym S. gilo), as well as the Turkeyberry (S. torvum), an edible yet bitter-fruited species that can be toxic under some circumstances, and is better used as a perennializing disease-resistant eggplant rootstock.

Like the eggplant, the Tomato needs no introduction. A species cluster previously classified in the genus Lycopersicon (now Solanum section Lycopersicon), the main species is S. lycopersicum. Thick, juicy, acidic, of variable sweetness and with umami flavor due to glutamates. Definitely used in savory dishes and sauces. There are several additional wild species that are closely related to the domestic stock, have similar culinary traits and can be crossbred without too much difficulty. If looking into wild tomatoes for consumption or crossbreeding, pay close attention to species and look for reputable sources, as some species can be toxic, and some dangerous Solanums bear the "Wild Tomato" moniker without being closely related. A few short paragraphs on one man's Wild Tomato crossbreeding program (along with his other projects) can be found here.

The Potato, that most wondrous of root crops, and the one that got me into this line of inquiry. Currently one major domestic species (Solanum tuberosum), and a very large cluster of associated wild species; I'll be using older taxonomic names to refer to the different types. I got most of my information from the Cultivariable blog (relevant links here), they've really dug deep into the literature. Now... Onwards:

The modern domestic potatoes are descended from day-neutral Chilean Potatoes (S. t. chilotanum), which in turn are descended from tetraploid Andean types (S. t. andigena), possibly crossed with one or more wild species (S. maglia?). Other wild and domestic species have contributed heavily to the modern potato. Tetraploid Andean types are descended from High-dormancy Diploids (S. t. stenotomum), possibly crossed to a wild species. Said High-dormancy Diploids also gave rise to Low-dormancy Diploids (S. t. phureja), and to several Frost-resistant Hybrids (S. ajanhuiri, S. juzepczukii and S. curtilobum). The Frost-resistant Hybrids tend to have unsafe levels of glycoalkaloids, and usually require processing prior to consumption. The probable web of inter-species relationships is summarized neatly in this flow-chart, sourced from the aforementioned website: link here.

There are several dozen species of Wild Potatoes (link here), almost all of which are toxic and unsuited to human consumption. Among the readily edible species are the Mexican Cimatli types (S. cardiophyllum and S. ehrenbergii), but even these have toxic variants, so care should be taken to source better germplasm. As for the remaining species, they can be bred to reduce the glycoalkaloid content and produce edible varieties (as seen here), but it should be considered a longer-term project; that said, even a casual breeder can do it, if they give the project time and attention.

Of peculiar interest to me is the idea of breeding potatoes for edible fruit. It's an idea that has received little to no attention, yet I think it holds potential. The fruits resemble tomatoes and eggplants to some degree, but they tend to accumulate the most toxins in the potato plant (they can be dangerous, even deadly if consumed). Nevertheless, it shouldn't be any more difficult to reduce fruit toxicity than it is to reduce tuber toxicity, as it's all the same toxins. Breeding for higher foliage toxicity (which helps to curb pests) would probably be an obstacle to fruit-breeding, as the toxins probably move more freely from foliage to fruit than they do to the tubers. Breeding for reduced foliage toxicity, on the other hand, would probably make the plant more susceptible to pests.

Luther Burbank managed to produce an edible-fruited potato by crossing to S. maglia (supposedly, but this is disputed here). It didn't breed true (probably because it was tetraploid), and he didn't take the time to fix the trait, so the variety was lost. Link here.

Less well-explored yet still decently popular in the garden are the fruity-flavored Solanums. The Tamarillo or Tree Tomato (Solanum betaceum) has a complex tropical fruit taste, with some lesser, savory tomato-like notes in most varieties (the red ones, particularly); the skin is distastefully bitter. The Dwarf Tamarillo (S. abutiloides) is undomesticated and more variable in quality; the best examples have tropical fruit flavor like its bigger relative (minus the savory notes), and the bitterness in the skin can be more tolerable (though peeling is often recommended anyway); seemingly good breeding potential.

The Melon Pears (Pepino, S. muricatum, and Tzimbalo, S. caripense) are not very flavorful: Pepino generally resembles melon, though some have reported good potent flavors at a certain stage of ripeness; Tzimbalo is variable, from resembling Pepino to poor, bland or bitter flavors.

Cocona (S. sessiliflorum) has been described as sour, fruity and tomatoey, good in juices, desserts and sauces; other than that vague description, it's hard to find a detailed breakdown of its flavor, or any other consistent description (ŅLemony Tomato?). Naranjilla/Lulo (S. quitoense) is said to have a citrusy sour taste, great in juice. Pseudolulo (S. pseudolulo) is variable in quality, with the best being sweet and similar to Naranjilla. Solanum candidum (South America), S. repandum (South Pacific) and S. lasiocarpum (Asia) are all members of this same clade, usually compared to Naranjilla in culinary qualities.

The Litchi Tomato (S. sisymbriifolium) has somewhat sweet fruit vaguely reminiscent of a seedy less-flavorful raspberry; decent, but some might find the seeds objectionable (and the plant is extremely thorny). I've grown it myself, and though not an all-time favorite, I'd grow it again.

Rarer than the fruity Solanums are the Australian Bush Tomatoes, of which nine species are considered edible (link here). Kutjera (S. centrale) is also known as the Desert Raisin, is said to taste of caramel, with a spicy aftertaste; I couldn't tell if it was fruity or not from the descriptions, but it seems to be used mostly as a spice or in sauces for savory recipes. S. chippendalei and S. diversiflorum both have fruits with a bland, melon-flavored edible rind and a bitter inedible pulp. S. cleistogamum is sometimes seen as synonymous with S. ellipticum in the literature, but the fruits of each type are very different: the former is a contender for the sweetest, fruitiest Solanum (banana-like flavor), the latter is very bitter, though still edible. S. coactiliferum is pounded, squeezed and washed to remove bitter juices, then cooked. Other reportedly edible species are S. esuriale (which has a rubbery texture), S. orbiculatum (which is bitter), and S. gilesii.

Finally, the black sheep of the Solanum genus: Black Nightshade / Garden Huckleberries. Let me preface this section by stating the obvious: though not undisputed, there are many members in this group that are considered poisonous in some circles, even fatally so. As such, I advise that you play it safe: don't forage for these species. If you're interested in eating them, look for reputable seed sources and grow them yourself. Follow instructions, cook them into jam if required by the variety, and don't eat them underripe. Now, on to the fun bits...

There are many edible types in this species cluster, some known by species name, some without botanical ID. S. melanocerasum is generally regarded as the basic Garden Huckleberry; it's larger-fruited, should be picked dead ripe, and should be cooked. Chichiquelite may or may not be another breed in this species, but they can be eaten raw. S. scabrum is grown as a leaf crop in Africa. S. nigrum is black, S. villosum (Otricoli) is orange, and both can be eaten raw or cooked. Sunberry/Wonderberry is a strange little case... Bred by Luther Burbank, he alleged it to be a cross between S. villosum and S. guineense (ultimately named S. x burbankii); other sources dispute this, insisting it to be a type of S. nigrum or S. retroflexum... I'm inclined to believe Mr. Burbank, and so consider it a hybrid. S. x burbankii is fully edible raw (considered superior when dull-ripe instead of shiny-ripe), but it's rather insipid, like the rest of the group; it shines best when cooked into jams and pies, and is said to be exceptional when prepared thusly. Solanum opacum is said to be the sweetest member of the group, and the tastiest when raw; it is green-fruited, and sometimes said to have a slight spicy note.

Having handled the Solanum genus, now we move to the other edible Solanaceous genera...

Capsicum: the Peppers! One of the major solanaceous crops (together with tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant). Five domestic species (C. annuum, C. baccatum, C. chinense, C. frutescens, C. pubescens), many wild species, most if not all are edible and of broadly similar flavor, though the nuances of each cultivar vary, some being sweeter or fruitier (but always used in savory dishes). Piquancy varies from totally heat-free to dangerously spicy and everything in between.

Physalis: the Husk Tomatoes & Ground Cherries. The Tomatillo (P. ixocarpa) is the largest-fruited member of its genus, and has green, yellow and purple varieties; sour and mild when immature (used in Salsa Verde at this stage), and sweeter and more tomato-like as it matures. Cape Gooseberry (P. peruviana) sets the standard for the rest of the genus, juicy with a flavor vaguely reminiscent of Sweet Pineapple (some detect tomato-like flavor, but I've never felt it). Several other Ground Cherries are known from other species and without species ID, but they're broadly similar, not unlike the Cape Gooseberry; that said, they should be grown from reputable seeds, not foraged, as there are toxic species in this genus.

Physaliastrum chamaesarachoides is a Japanese species that resembles a ground cherry, and allegedly has sugary tomato-like flavor. That's all I could find on it, but I'll be growing it later this year, so I'll see firsthand what it's like.

Jaltomata contains several fruity berry-like species, and is considered a sister genus to Solanum. J. procumbens is purple-fruited and mild, not unlike the garden huckleberries. J. tlaxcala is considered one of the best in its genus, green-fruited, sweet and aromatic. Many other species have edible fruits, but the genus as a whole seems poorly-known. I'll be trialling J. tlaxcala, J. herrerae and J. bernardelloana this year.

Wolfberries fall under the genus Lycium, and are also known as Goji Berries. L. barbarum (Crimson Star) is the sweet berry, L. chinense (Sweet Lifeberry) is the leaf vegetable with the pepper-like berry. L. ruthenicum is the Black Goji, with the medicinal-tasting fruit. Some other species in the genus (such as L. pallidum) are considered edible, but the first three are the major players in horticulture.

And for now, that is all I could find on edible Solanaceous crops.

Today I saw the first bulbil of the season, and I have a feeling it'll be a big one. The vines themselves have grown far past the trellis, into the Pigeon Pea bush and up the AÁaŪ Palm, past roof level.

This year's crop should be better, as these are second-year vines. I'll probably be reserving the mid-sized bulbils for distribution, from my first-year vines. I'm still waiting on the African bulbils, currently in the mail. It'll be interesting to compare the growth and the crop from both vines, but the African ones will be at a disadvantage as first-year vines. Still, I learned my lesson from last year... If the African vines bear a profusion of small bulbils, I'll be distributing them right off the bat. It depends on how much they churn out.

Harvest time should be around December to February, March at the latest.

Here's today's bulbil:

Interesting. I had thought that they required moist soil, but they seem to do fine under mesic conditions, maybe irrigation under drier conditions. I wonder if they'd be marketable here in Puerto Rico. We're big on yams, but new stuff can be a challenge to introduce to a reluctant populace, even if it seemingly is good.

Thanks for the vids! I look forward to tasting mine 9 months down the road. I certainly hope mine are decent, they were marketed as edible by the eBay seller (from Florida).

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Tree ID... ŅBlepharocalyx salicifolius?
« on: September 03, 2018, 06:22:25 PM »
As it turns out, it was a weed. I saw an identical plant on the roadside the other day. I'm quite disappointed, I was really looking forward to making tea and tasting the fruit. Oh well. What's the aroma like on your plants?

Here's the weed:

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Tree ID... ŅBlepharocalyx salicifolius?
« on: August 27, 2018, 11:28:15 AM »
I was afraid of that. Guess I'll have to get more when I get the chance. Vitor actually has a lot of great stuff, but I don't have enough cash at the moment to account for the new shipping rates. Seems like Brazil's legal system has gone a little crazy with the matter of plant shipping.

My plant actually had tiny leaves when it was small, but a few months ago it had a growth spurt and sprouted some huge pairs of leaves that wouldn't be out of place on a mango. Then, a few weeks ago, it sprouted these triple leaves. I haven't crushed any in-hand, but they certainly don't seem aromatic. It vaguely reminded me of a random weed I had seen recently, so if it's not Blepharocalyx, then it's probably a local weed that took their place in the empty pot. Not likely from Vitor's end.

Did your seedlings have notched cotyledons and a notched seed? Mine had notched seeds in-bag, which is why I thought I had the right one: notched cotyledons to match. Here's some pics of the early seedling:

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Tree ID... ŅBlepharocalyx salicifolius?
« on: August 26, 2018, 12:11:59 PM »
Hi all. I had placed an order with Vitor in Brazil last year to get, among other things, Blepharocalyx salicifolius. Most arrived sprouted but quite weak (due to the long journey), but it hadn't occurred to me to bag them back then, and I lost them. Eventually, though, a proper little seedling sprouted in their pot, and I was confident that it was the same species... The cotyledons had a similar shape to the seeds I had seen in their bag. Now, however, I'm not so sure. I don't have any experience with this species, can anyone tell me if this sapling really is Blepharocalyx salicifolius?

While I'm at it, does anyone have any experience with this species? I was told the leaves were great as a tea, and that the little cherries were good, but not much detail.

The Elephant yam is called Suran in india and is available seasonally here in the USA from larger Indian grocery stores. My local grocer said he could order it for me but I would have to pay in advance.

Really? I thought they weren't really sold commercially in the west.

They may be called yams, but given their family I suspect they're probably closer to Cocoyams in culinary qualities.

How long does it take from small size to a reasonable harvest?

You ought to dedicate a whole thread to your land, it really looks great! You've been able to do so much in the sandy Florida soil.

I'm surprised you were able to combine sweet potatoes with peanuts. Since both are groundcovers, I expected them to compete for space, which is why I didn't combine them in any of my plans. Trial and error indeed, even the successes are surprising.

And of trial and error, I think that's all we can do here. We're breaking new ground every time we try a polyculture in a new place, so instead of reading books to learn about what works (of which there are few), we'll have to contribute to them instead for others to learn. I want to record everything I try, from successes to failures and half-successes. That was a major draw to me, of Permaculture: so few trials available, so I'd like to fill in some of those blanks myself.

Is manual labor (personal or otherwise) a viable alternative to machines for digging up the sweet potatoes in a smaller commercial operation? I wouldn't want to sacrifice crop diversity for my comfort, though I like to reduce workload wherever possible.

Mine was from goodmice, but they arrived in fair condition. Sprouted, but alive (though pale white). The tubers fell off from two of the three, but only one of the tubers was bad. Both tubers rotted away. The good tuber on the plant that kept it rotted away recently. I mishandled them: I thought they required acclimation to local humidity levels, so I buried them deeply. All that did was cut off their sunlight and prevent their growth past soil level. When I realized they wouldn't come up, only the one with the tuber remained, and i dug it up and buried it near the surface, with an exposed new sprout. The sprout ultimately failed to green up and grow. It's dead now.

Of the three D. pseudo-tomentosa, only one bore roots, the other two rotted. And this rooted one has failed to sprout past soil level, so I'm concerned as well. Last time I dug down to it about a week ago, it seemed to have living roots, so I left it alone again. Time will tell.

I've already determined everything I'm going to grow and sell, down to the letter. I had a very expansive list as a starting point, and eventually whittled down the candidates to four tiers (each, on two separate lists: small & annuals, and trees): Tier 1 has the bread and butter, that I know will sell well because they have a strong market here and are always in demand. Tier 2 has crops with a strong enough local market, but not as strong as tier 1, so I'll be planting less of them. Tier 3 has crops with a weak local market: strong enough to confidently grow them in the knowledge they will be bought, but not so in demand to warrant anything over a small planting. Tier 3 with the trees means most exotics: trees that I'll grow singly (or in very small groups) for my own personal consumption, and to test the waters in the local market (there are exotic trees in the upper tiers, but they're mainly well-known species that I'm reasonably confident will sell well, from what I've seen). Tier 4 with the trees are extra species and poorly-known exotics, that will only get a spot in my land if I can afford to give them space (they're all optional). Tier 4 with the small crops are also exotic and poorly-known crops, that I'll be growing in small quantities for myself (and to test the waters at market) in my own personal plot.

I found the plans I was working on prior to the hurricane, hashing out companion planting guilds and crop rotation schemes for the small and annual crops. I was already far along back then, having collected and processed most of the information. I've been working on it again for the past few days, and have finally decided on the Plant Guilds I will be trialling on the farm (now all I need is the farm...   ::)). I've also been drawing up some of the planting schemes themselves, but I won't be posting those pictures, my drawings are terrible.

The next step (after I finish drawing the schemes) would be to figure out the proper spacing for all the plants involved, but I'm not sure how to hash that out when each species has a different distance. After that comes the final step: figuring out the monthly and yearly planting calendar... It's all well and good to have a pretty picture in your head of all the mature plants growing together, but the practical reality will probably be a bit different, especially when taking the seasons into account.

This is all highly experimental, based on information I've found online and other people's experiences. I've evaluated all of it to the best of my abilities, and have given special attention to well-sourced information, but there's no guarantee it'll work. This is merely what I intend to trial when I start planting on the farm. Naturally, whatever works shall remain in use and be improved upon over time with further trials; whatever fails shall be dropped from my methods. Trial and error is pretty much the only way to go with these topics.

As previously stated, I divided everything up into tiers when doing my research. So here are the small crop tiers of economic importance in my neck of the woods:

Tier 1:
Yams (Dioscorea)
Pigeon Peas
Calabaza (the local Squash, C. moschata)
Sweet Peppers (local AjŪ types and others, like Banana and Bell Peppers)
Lettuce (the local favorite is Black-seeded Simpson)
Culantro (Eryngium foetidum)

Tier 2:
Sweet Potatoes
Cocoyams [YautŪa (Xanthosoma spp.) and Malanga (Taro, Colocasia esculenta)]
Chayote (Sechium edule)
Sweet Corn
Alliums (Onion, Garlic, etc.)
Potato (admittedly this one's experimental... It depends if my tropical breeding program works out)

Tier 3:
Apio Criollo (Arracacha)
Beans (White Beans and Bush Green Beans, mostly)
Other Legumes (other Phaseolus, Vigna, Vicia)
Other Brassicas (mostly Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts and Kale)
Other Cucurbits (Cucumber, Melon, Watermelon, other Squash types)

Also herbs and flowers, mostly grown in belts near the main crop lines.

I'll also be trialling some other species in my personal patch, like the Hodgsonia, Telfairia, Groundnuts (Apios Americana), Tuberous Vetch, Potato Mint, etc.

That being my selection, I sought out as much information on companion planting as I could. I made extensive use of Wikipedia's table, but focused more on the combinations that had reference links to them, which I could review for credibility; I ran separate searches for them as well, and also for the source-less combinations. I took special note of what NOT to plant together, and underlined those combinations that were especially promising. When my own table was finished... I paused the project until last week. Now I reviewed the information again and started building the guilds, mostly focusing on the underlined combos, but also reviewing the rest for good measure. I built the guilds around the most important crops, but the less important ones also had a part to play, often being good companions. When the guilds had few components, I tried to think up a good pattern for the planting scheme, mostly giving them equal space. If a guild had more components, I first arranged the core components as previously described, and then left the remainder to the periphery of the growing bed (if I thought it appropriate for a given species).

These are the guilds I intend to trial, which I've tiered according to their dominant crops, which aren't always the most important ones in the guild; they'll be rotated according to standard crop rotation practices. The further down you go, the more likely you'll see an uncommon crop being used in the guild:

Tier 1:

1 - Plantain + Cocoyams + Sweet Potatoes + Periphery: Okra

2 - Yams + Papaya + Bush Beans

3 - Lettuce + Cilantro + Broccoli + Periphery: Culantro + Onions + Beets + Radishes

4 - Tomato + Peppers + Garlic + Carrots + Basil

4.5 - Other companions to trial in guild 4: Marigold, Borage and Nettles

5 - Squash + Corn + Beans + Periphery: Turnips + Nasturtium

Tier 2:

6 - Chayote + Arracacha + Peppers + Peanuts

7 - Potato + Brassicas + Peas + Alliums + Periphery: Chamomile + Marigolds

Tier 3:

8 - Asparagus + Tomato + Parsley + Basil

9 - Eggplant + Garbanzo + Radishes + Tarragon + Marigold + Lemongrass (repels cutworms)

10 - Spinach + Cauliflower + Peas

11 - Cucumber + Garlic + Kohlrabi + Celery + Bush Beans + Radishes + Amaranth

The guild at the periphery of the major plots (as opposed to the periphery of each growing bed) is the following: Pigeon Peas + Cassava in the inner circle, Lemongrass in the middle circle, and Peppermint (a low-level rodent deterrent) in the outer circle.

Some plants to use everywhere due to different traits that make them excellent companions for a broad range of crops: Lovage, Borage, Tarragon, Oregano, Yarrow, Marigold

The companion belts are the following:

Herb Belt (good for tomatoes and other crops; a broad choice of herbs that all play well together and which you can choose from according to the needs of the area)): Oregano, Marjoram, Thyme, Rosemary, Sage, Lavander, Chamomile, Yarrow, Nettle

Flower Belt: Sunflower, Marigold, California Poppy, Lupines, Dianthus, Alyssum, Lacy Phacelia

Good companions to fruiting trees: Southernwood, Borage, Comfrey, Nasturtium

That's as far as I got with the annual crops so far. Still a lot to do, to trial, to consider and evaluate. My only problem is, I don't have the land to shift this into a practical evaluation immediately. It's gonna stay theoretical until I can get some space.

Well, I've got an important update, so listen up! The Dioscorea from RarePalmSeeds is mislabeled. From the looks of things, they just don't know any better. As a distributor, they count on their providers to give them the proper identification on the product listed (and let's face it: D. bulbifera is one of the most misidentified Dioscorea in commerce). Having grown them out for 15 days, it's clear that the yam they're selling is NOT D. bulbifera by any means. The anatomy most closely corresponds with D. alata... And I'm almost getting sick of that species. I've received it three times by mistake from different sources, not to mention the two domestic (and one feral) varieties I was already growing deliberately. I don't need any more of these! Please label your yams properly! I have asked for a refund... Time will tell if they'll acquiesce.

Pictures of the yam in question:

The last surviving Pentaphylla yam (and seemingly accurate in its ID) has died. As the tuber was rotting away before the vine died, I don't expect it to resprout. I could order more from eBay, but I get the feeling they're all in a precarious sprouted state, so I will wait for next year, in the hopes of getting them earlier, prior to sprouting. I'll be trying the same vendor again, as they packaged it properly.

And finally, the Elephant-foot Yam (Amorphophallus paeoniifolius) has sprouted! Not really a Dioscorea, but I'm keen on trying it out anyway. I got three pieces, and I had split one into two (and those are the ones sprouting). Photo here:

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