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Messages - RollingInTheWeeds

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WikiFruit / Re: Who's follow WikiFruit discussions
« on: August 26, 2020, 12:12:27 PM »
I take it that the WikiFruit project is dead?  I was curious what it might contain, so I searched it for updates ... none there.

Thanks for the input Peter. The potting mix is more or less this:

40% - Pine Bark
20% - Coco Coir
15% - Bio Char
10% - Pool Filter Sand
5% - Perlite
5% - Vermiculite
5% - Earthworm castings

When you say "pine bark", do you mean uncomposted bark from pine trees?  Personally I would advise against putting that in any potting mix (except maybe orchids).  Pine bark is only intended to be used as a mulch (i.e., put it on TOP of the ground to help prevent weeds, and to help the soil retain moisture).  But IN the soil, it will begin composting.  Essentially, as microorganisms feed on it, they will suck nitrogen from the soil in the process and will in various ways make the soil inhospitable to living roots.  It's kind of like putting uncomposted wood chips in the soil.  They start rotting.  In Nature, soil (where the roots grow) doesn't rot.  Mulch on *top* of the soil rots.

Even those bags of "potting soil" people buy in stores aren't soil that will be good for plants longterm.  Look closely at the stuff, and you'll see pieces of wood that are *mostly* composted.  The manufacturer adds nitrogen to the mix to keep the wood chips from killing the plants immediately.  After a while, the nitrogen gets used up and the wood starts composting again and the plant begins to suffer.  But by then (months or a year later), you don't realize that the stuff you were told to put your plant in is causing the problem.  The potting soil manufacturers still sell plenty of product.  Most people grow annuals in it, so it doesn't matter.  It's normal for the plants to die in a few months anyway.

Also, I wonder whether the bark has pine sap in it.  Pine sap is what turpentine comes from -- again, something that doesn't belong in the soil.

I don't use Facebook.  Why feed monsters?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Cherimoya Season 2019 (So Cal)
« on: December 03, 2019, 02:15:41 PM »

I got 2 of the bunk bumpos.  They are dr whites.  I agree it sucks and bad biz.  Im going to top work one of mine to a real bumpo.  Bow you got a big tree, start grafting it up.

Thanks for that info, spaugh.  Now I at least have a possible alias for the suspect in custody.  This will be my only cherimoya tree, and I plan to make it into a multi-graft tree anyway; but to do that I still need to identify each branch's variety.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Cherimoya Season 2019 (So Cal)
« on: December 02, 2019, 06:09:40 PM »
Although now I am questioning the knight variety.  It looks the same as honeyhart and is earlier than the other trees. 
...I had some other lavern trees mislabeled so Im thinking the knight is maybe actually a honeyhart.

[Begin rant]
La Verne is bad news.  I got my "El Bumpo" tree from Lowes 3 years ago.  A friend in the CRFG told me recently that La Verne is their supplier.  After 3 years in the ground I got the first fruit and it's definitely not El Bumpo.   >:(
Bad business.  Now I don't know what I have, so I also don't know what to graft onto it (except El Bumpo), because [again] I don't know what I have!

The least they could do is be honest and say "We put labels on our plants, but they don't really mean anything."  I shouldn't be paying $36 and investing 3 years on some mystery tree.
[End rant]

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Banana uneven ripening
« on: July 18, 2019, 05:16:57 PM »
My Monthan bananas are ripening unevenly this year.  Never had this problem before, but one or two at a time are developing a yellow spot on an otherwise green banana.  If left on the stalk, this spot splits open while the rest of the banana stays green.  Anyone know what's happening?  My only suspicion is that I watered too heavily recently (after the bananas have swollen to nearly their full size).  Here's a pic of one with the problem next to a green one (had to remove it to get to the problem one).  I live in the Los Angeles area near the coast.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Banana tree fruiting
« on: July 27, 2018, 11:45:05 AM »
I’ve been advised to cut the stalk at about 3 feet above ground.  Supposedly the sap in that 3 feet will help the plant stay healthier than if you cut it all the way to the ground.  Eventually that dying stalk withers from top down.  When it’s weak and mostly withered (months later), just knock it over and it’ll become part of the mulch pile at the base of your plant.

Banana sap causes permanent dark stains on everything it touches, so I suggest you prepare for the sacrifice by donning your traditional banana clothing and drawing your traditional banana cutlass (machete) from its scabbard.  Say a chant thanking the stalk for giving its life and its fruit into the world, and perform the sacred decapitation, piling the cuttings onto the base as mulch.

This is the tradition as I’ve inherited it.  If others in the community have better ways, please share.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: capers won't set fruit
« on: July 26, 2018, 05:07:47 PM »
Also they don't like to be watered. I don't have irrigation on any.

Shane, I’d modify that just a bit.  I have one in sandy soil in the LA area that’s over 20 years old & I water mine every couple of weeks in the summer.  I could get away without, but if memory serves rightly, the leaves are more tender and a bit deeper green now than when I left it completely up to Nature.  I also suspect that it’s growing more & growing faster (that’s a suspicion more than a true memory).

I have only the one plant in the ground & it produces far more buds & berries than I need.  You must be producing enough for a farmers’ market stall with the output from 4!

As far as *needing* water, you must be right.  There’s a picture in the Wikipedia article on “caper” of a big ol’ plant sprawling down the face of the Wailing Wall without any gardeners’ help.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Persimmon seedlings dying
« on: July 25, 2018, 12:04:07 PM »
Update: both plants lost some or all of their leaves, then began putting out new ones.  I think it was too much sun, then a quick up-tick in temperature.  So far it looks like both plants will bounce back!

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: capers won't set fruit
« on: July 25, 2018, 12:00:18 PM »
Thanks Karen! I think the ones I have been seeing are bisexual, since they have what looks like a very long pistil in the center of the flower. Unless looks are deceiving...


Yep, mine has flowers that look exactly like your picture, and it sets fruit abundantly without me doing a thing. The green part of the pistil is what grows to be the “berry”.  The flowers attract bees, wasps, flies, etc.  It’s a pretty busy location in my garden!

Sorry, but I’ve no suggestions for coaxing your plant into setting fruit.

I usually preserve (brine) some of both the buds & the berries.  Until you begin getting fruit, are you interested in cooking with other parts of the plant.  Brining the buds is the most common practice that I’m aware of.  But there are also other things you can try.  I recently boiled some caper leaves and laid them on cooked chicken breast (which was otherwise pretty plain; more tomato would’ve helped also).  They’re bitter, even after boiling and rinsing, so I wouldn’t over-do it, but they add a complexity of flavor that at least *some* adults can appreciate.

I haven’t yet found a good source of info on how to cook with the leaves & stems, but I came across one reference to young, tender stems that compared them favorably to asparagus spears. 

The main thing to overcome in preparing caper tissues for eating seems to be their abundance of tannins.  That’s why all the boiling, brining, etc. is called for.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Persimmon seedlings dying
« on: June 13, 2018, 04:06:05 PM »
These persimmon seedlings are a few months old now.  They're beginning to die off, with leaves turning brown and it looks like the stems are turning black, beginning at ground level and traveling upward.  Is this a simple case of damping off from over-watering?  The soil in these pots is sandy, so that doesn't seem likely.

Many thanks!

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Help with brown "bark" on bananas
« on: June 13, 2018, 03:52:57 PM »
Please take a look at the pictures below.  I don't get bananas every year, and when I do some of them develop dry ends and this brown scaly skin.  The variety is Monthan.
Does anyone know what this is, what causes it, and how to eliminate it?  Many thanks.

Thank you!

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Tipping figs
« on: May 06, 2018, 10:31:34 PM »
Hey Osito, I’m curious: what has your experience on tipping figs been since you posted this?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Indian Mango season 2018
« on: April 26, 2018, 10:57:36 PM »
I get my online Mangos from I get the rest of my Mangos by growing them myself or from my friends orchards around San Diego.


you may be better off driving to Cerritos and buying from Indian stores. They always have Alphonso, Kesar, Bengalpali, and few others. However, Paki mangoes suck, for whatever reason they turn out over 50% fermented whether you buy from online or in store.

Little India is technically in Artesia, which neighbors Cerritos.  Pioneer Cash & Carry is a good place to pick them up when available

Ooh, thanks for sharing this info.  I've always relied on my local Indian grocery store; but this is the first I've ever hears of Kesar.  I'll definitely try it!

You have a wonderful idea here, Simon.  Thank you so much for sharing it -- the ideas, the pictures, the lessons learned ... all of it.  It's a wealth of information that many of us can benefit from and then share our own evidence and lessons learned.  20 years from now there'll be backyard growers thanking you and others who contribute to the project.  (Of course a lot of us will be dead by then, but that's kind of the way it works, isn't it?)

Hey Simon, I was referring to the horizontal gene transfer which the plants seem to be undergoing when they are inarched together as with your double rootstock experiments. One of the articles I was reading made it sound like the horizontal gene transfer ( or mixing of genes to produce a new species) was possible when grafting the two rootstocks together. But I was trying to make sure I was understanding the article correctly in my interpretation. It seems they were saying that gene mixing, asexually, is possible from the graft site of two species inarched together. So, on your DSG mango with one rootstock cut off, would the resulting material above the graft site have chromosomes from both rootstocks or just one? That goes back to my question about whether shoots coming from only the graft site are genetically mixed ( horizontal gene transfer) or if anything above the graft is then genetically manipulated. Again, I am very novice and my interpretation may be totally wrong. Just wondering as this may have implications in the future for mango hybridization, like your experiments...:) Thanks!

Hi Brev Grower,
I got confused at the same point.  Without reading the complete original study to see exactly what the scientists did, it's a little unclear; I suspect that what's being hinted at in the summary Simon provided a link to is this: they took small samples of the tissue where the two plants were joined to one another, and (in a lab) cultivated that tissue into new "plantlets."  And those little lab babies had all the genes from both parents.  If that's the case, (and looking at the oak+beech picture at the top of the article as another hint), then the two stems/trunks stay genetically independent.

Simon, in your pictures it looks like where you join two stems one of those two ends up taking over from that point upward, and you snip off the weaker one after a while.  Is that correct?

Tropical Fruit Buy, Sell & Trade / Re: Bananas for sale in SoCal
« on: April 25, 2018, 10:47:35 AM »
Post price please.

•And finally, there's the little Nitidulid beetle, which is pollinating anonnas in Florida: .  Maybe I can get these little guys to help me out!

not very responsible government spends billions to prevent invasive species and here you want to potentially introduce one just because you are too lazy to hand pollinate

  • I was merely pointing out what I found: there *are* beetles in the USA that pollinate anonnas.  The abstract doesn't mention their status as being invasive or noninvasive.  If they're here, why not let the bugs do the work?
  • Now that you've added "invasiveness" to the conversation, here's a bit of info: apparently the beetle is now classified as "Aethina tumida."  (And by the way, boxturtle, it's already in California; so your accusation is not only unwarranted, it's also inaccurate.  You can't "introduce" a bug that's already here.) 
  • For anyone who's interested, here's a place to look up California's invasive species.  The list is for beetles, but you can filter for other categories using the drop-down arrow at the top:

Some varieties of Cherimoyas have been mentioned to be somewhat self fertile. Booth is one of these varieties. I’ve had some fruit, about three without hand pollination but the fruit were small and misshaped.

As I mentioned in another thread, large Cherimoya trees like the one at Exotica Nursery have tons of fruit without hand pollination but there are plenty of insects and other Cherimoya varieties around their huge tree. The fruit are mostly small and misshaped.

Another alternative is to plant a Cherimoya hybrid. Some Cherimoya hybrids produce good size fruit of excellent quality without hand pollination. Leo Manuel has a couple Cherimoya x Atemoya hybrids that are excellent tasting and self pollinating.

Thanks for the info and the links, Simon!

If you grow cherimoyas in some part of the world where the natural pollination rate is low, you may have been advised that the only way to get good-sized, full-fleshed cherimoyas on your tree is to pollinate by hand.  This isn't the whole truth.  Especially if you're growing them in your back yard, why not (A) look at some of the research that has been done on the topic, and (B) experiment yourself and find out what really works?!

I live in Southern California (USA).  In their native habitat, the cherimoyas' ecosystem includes insects that help the flowers pollinate naturally.  We don't have those insects here.  Instead, we have fruit fanatics who buzz around their trees with paint brushes or pollen guns.  I love cherimoyas, but I'm not willing to do all that work; there have to be other ways to get great fruit without all that bother.  So I'm starting this thread as a place to share information on getting cherimoyas to fruit without pollinating by hand.

I've posted a couple of these points already in another thread.  I'll summarize those here, and add some:

  • Here's a short Youtube video showing a man in San Diego, California (USA) who has a Honeyheart cherimoya tree that has a good-sized crop of fruit on it.  He doesn't pollinate by hand, and he attributes his success to how he shapes the tree's canopy.  He describes his as "umbrella-shaped."  Perhaps a "dome" is a better image?  The idea here is to create a calm, humid area inside the canopy, which improves the natural pollinating conditions.  This echoes what I've seen in the cherimoya grove at the Agricultural Research Station in Irvine, California.  The big old trees there have canopies that drape down close to the ground, and I've seen some very large fruit that came from those trees.  They may not be maximizing fruit production, but they're still getting good results with zero hand pollination.
  • Another source that adds to this idea is an article titled "Flowering and fruit set in cherimoya (Annona cherimola Mill.) as affected by the tree-training system”  at .  A big point made here is that you can increase natural pollination by prolonging the flowers' female stage.  How?  Increase humidity and decrease drafts that flow through the tree.
  • Third, there's another article titled “Reproductive barriers in Annona cherimola (Mill.) outside of its native area” at that summarizes a number of factors.  One point that's interesting here is each (geno-)type has its own specific timing for its flowers' sexual phases.  Multiple types of cherimoya means you're more likely to have one type in its female stage while another type is in its male stage.  I don't know for certain, but I hope that by grafting multiple varieties on one tree (i.e., all within one tree's canopy) I'll be creating an ideal environment for natural pollination.
  • And finally, there's the little Nitidulid beetle, which is pollinating anonnas in Florida: .  Maybe I can get these little guys to help me out!

Anyone else have specific information that's based on evidence?  Or experiments you've tried that failed?

Because the subject line for this thread only mentions pruning, I'm beginning a new thread today on "Getting cherimoyas to fruit without pollinating by hand".

Since you began your post by pointing out that your cherimoya hasn't been setting much fruit, it sounds like you're hoping to not only give the tree a good structure, but improve its yield in the process.  My tree is younger than yours and hasn't set fruit yet, so I can only share some of the info I've gathered on maximizing cherimoya fruit yield *without* pollinating by hand.

1.  Here's a video of someone who has a Honeyheart cherimoya tree who gets plenty of fruit without hand pollinating, and the tree structure (shape of the canopy really) he says it's due to:  He calls his video "Never hand pollinate cherimoya again."
2.  And here's a study that talks about another cherimoya tree structure that improves self-pollination (but I can't quite tell from the abstract what the structure is!?!)  It's title is “Flowering and fruit set in cherimoya (Annona cherimola Mill.) as affected by the tree-training system.”

I'm sure I'll know a lot more about what I *should* have done ten years from now.   :(

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