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Messages - BajaJohn

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The Papas Voldoras from Las Canada's seem to have taken off. Some of the shoots are already about 6 feet long. The Beauregard didn't make it.

Wow - very informative posts and a lot of hard work you are doing - thanks.
I'm in Mexico and have bought from Las Caņadas. Unfortunately, it takes about 2 weeks for a purchase to reach me because I'm in a somewhat isolated region. Forwarding to you after that would be hard on any product. You could try to contact raulglezruiz who is in Puerto Vallarta and may get things a little faster. I wasn't too impressed with the Las Caņadas packaging either. Everything just wrapped in newspaper so all the plants had dried leaves and stems. I bought the only varieties they were selling - Camote Beauregard which they only sold as a plant and bulbils of what they call 'Papas Voladora' which came as dried up bulbils. Not sure if this is the one you want. If mine survives and you don't find it elsewhere, I can send you some when they are ready.
I've only just begun growing sweet potatoes/yams - until now all from store-bought produce. Some seem much more productive than other but that may be due to the different parts of the garden I planted them in. I'll be comparing them growing in the same area this year. I've also been impressed with the way the plants make good ground cover and spread if you don't put them on a trellis.
I'm a little nervous about those Papas Voladoras as they are considered an invasive plant in many regions. They sound like hard work to control.
Potatoes have been a challenge for me too. Again using store-bought potatoes for seed. This year I bought some of the Las Caņadas Papas Criollo to try. Previously my plants have been fairly large but produced few potatoes and didn't flower very much. Last year I got a reasonable crop but I'm not sure why. I planted them later than usual, in November/December when it is a bit cooler but my soil is also improving each year from the original wasteland it was. Then of course there is the question of variety. I haven't yet figured out how to preserve the potential seed for the next year so don't have any to plant this year.
Here is a 'groundcover' sweet potato I just cleaned up to prepare for this year's planting.

Normally 1 cu yard is a yard cube = 27 cu ft. A little smaller than 1 cu meter and, depending on material weighs around 1 ton, although lighter materials will be much less.

There is some information on composting manures here..
This is a very informative article...
I have an endless supply of goat manure but use it sparingly. There is no vegetable matter in it but loads of goat hair. I keep it in a 1.5 cu m bin, regularly moistened but not turned. It barely breaks down in a year. Turning every few days will speed that up but is very labor intensive. It might help if you can get hold of old manure that has been left around in a pile for a few years. A 3 - 5 mm layer of old (composted) manure dug into the soil seems to work. Mostly I add my fresh manure supply at a rate of about 10% by volume to my compost of dried leaves, chipped branches and kitchen waste. That again is in 1.5 cu m bins and gets turned into another bin about once a month. Three turns in my climate and it is ready for the garden although I use older compost for seed beds.
I also add incompletely composted (direct from the farm) manure at a rate of about 2 cups per square meter to the soil I'm preparing for transplantings. Dig it in, water the bed and leave it to rest for about a week before planting anything. Water if it gets dry.
Some people suggest adding lime to speed up composting manure but I haven't found it helps in my case.
It's taken me 4 years of adding 10 - 15 cm of compost per year to soil that I suspect was a cleaned-up old building site and I still get deficiency symptoms in some plants so compost isn't a quick remedy. Micronutrients supplements in response to soil test recommendations and intensive use of vermiculture drainage (gallons per week) seems to be improving things in areas where I've used them.
So far I've cultivated about 10 - 15 cm of compost per year into the soil before planting or sowing seed. I've then mulched around growing plants another 10 - 15 cm when they were big enough. I've also mulched about the same in areas I haven't tilled. I've thrown compost over ground cover and it falls or washes through fairly easily. The ground cover seems to thrive too.
Another plus for compost (even when used as mulch) is the appearance of worms in the soil - endemic to the area, not the red wrigglers I use for vermiculture.
There can be downsides to compost - such as runoff and an inappropriate nutrient mix that can create imbalances with continual heavy use. Soil tests can help identify some of these issues.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Chipper recommendations
« on: May 24, 2018, 02:58:19 PM »
I have an MTD 8hp that cost me the price of picking it up 1000 miles away. Old but does the job.
Started out saving up a pile of bush and attacking it with a machete to break off smaller pieces for mulch/compost. Very happy to find a local with a chipper willing to rent himself out. $1000 would have covered a whole lot of chipping. Unfortunately his chipper had a PLASTIC housing for the shredder wheel and a wayward stone punched a hole in the housing.
Make sure you don't buy one with a plastic housing.
I then just put the word out that I was looking for a chipper and a friend-of-a-friend came up gold. They were getting rid because it didn't have the capacity they needed.
Don't underestimate the capacity of the machine you will need.
The smaller machines aren't the easy-to-use machine you see in loads of videos. Limbs generally need to be straight and stripped of twigs before they go through the chipper. 3" branches take a while to get through the chipper and each branch has to be hand-fed. I don't bother with anything bigger than 1" in the 3" chipper. Twigs need to be cut into straight pieces too, or very small otherwise a handful will jam the shredder hopper. It is a lot more time consuming than it looks.
Fibrous materials (such as palm and even green branches) don't break up well and quickly clog the shredder with fibers.
All said, I use my chipper/shredder every week and would certainly spend money on a a replacement if I needed to. I make about 1 cu meter of compost every 1-2 months depending on the season.
If you have the space, you can just pile up the brush until you can afford/find a decent chipper. Leaves will fall off as they dry and you can gather them to mulch with before you chip the branches.

Ah, interesting.  What beans do you plant?
I'm still trying to ID them. They were a gift from an aging neighbor who unfortunately died. The closest I've come is 'friholes cuernos' or 'horn bean' which is probably a generic name.
Here they are:

And on the vine:

And the row of vines. There is a dried-up row of black beans in front that are totally dried up. They were in the ground for 3 months whereas the healthy looking row has been in the ground for 6 months and seems to be starting a second life right now. They are supported on a frame but I've just left them on the ground in previous years.

I do hope to dig swales to retain water.  I'm curious if there are actual groundcovers that cover the whole ground surface that are useful and grow in such climates, or if using mulch is as good as it gets.  (I had thought about perennial peanut and birdsfoot trefoil, but they may need more water than is available.)
The beans I use self-sow and come up when conditions are right for them suggesting that even annual plants can help moisture retention as well as provide a constant supply of organic material.
There are cactus and succulent varieties that you may be able to use too. Ice plants come to mind but some (like carpobotus) are considered invasive in some areas. Lampranthus, Aptenia and Oscularia are others.
Trailing acacia(a. redolens)?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Tamarind in CA?
« on: May 15, 2018, 10:45:05 AM »
Interesting that tamarind is a challenge to cultivate in San Diego. I'm about 800 miles South in the middle of Baja and they grow like weeds here - from seed, not from invasive roots. It may be a little warmer here with no frost and the heat gets pretty intense in summer. Summers are in the 90s for about 3 months and winters occasionally get into the low 40s.
My trees are quite mature. One is on the edge of my veggie garden which is irrigated daily. The other is in a ~10' diameter bed in the middle of a paved patio and never gets water. The latter is very much the healthier tree. Average rainfall is about 7" with a range of 0 - 24". The trees survived a recent 11-year drought.
I've also noticed that germination of tamarind seed in my veggie patch has declined as I've improved the soil with compost. Maybe they prefer a poorer soil. They are nitrogen-fixers.
If you want to try my seed I'll be flying into LA late July and can try to bring some with me.

Can you build swales to help water retention? Good ground-cover will also help water retention. I've found some beans to be drought tolerant and good ground cover. The best were a gift from a local and weren't identified.
Many cactus are nitrogen fixers - opuntia for nopal and prickly pears, stenocereus (slow growing) for pitayas.
Similarly desert trees such as acacia and mesquite are nitrogen fixers although mesquite can be invasive in some areas.
You might also get some help from

It's been a while now but I think I cured a similar stump problem by digging down and cutting off the stump about 12" below the surface.
Another stump was encased in a concrete path which discouraged any digging. I hit the emerging shoots with glyphosphate which took about 6 monsths to kill the stump.

Thanks for the heads-up. I'm definitely going to follow up on this.
It takes my worms a while to get through avocado peels but they love the half-avocados that have turned brown inside.

Here is a quote from the Florida IFAS Extension - "In addition, some plants may produce more than one type of flower and exhibit different degrees of male or femaleness. This may be triggered by temperature, changing day length, and soil moisture availability. Female plants produce medium to large round-shaped fruit of good quality and a large seed cavity. Bisexual plants produce small to large elongated fruit of good quality and a smaller seed cavity. Male plants with bisexual flowers may produce a few, elongated, pear-shaped, poor quality fruit."

It looks like you have both male and female flowers in your photographs. The fatter ones are the females and the slender ones are males. This isn't unusual on papaya.

I've been trying to grow them in fairly sandy ground with plenty of compost. I had the same problem with few and small tubers. Someone who has farmed them in the past told me that the runners shouldn't be allowed to form new roots, so move them around. An alternative is to provide support for the runners to grow up so they stay away from the ground. I tried that this year and have had a much better yield.
You can also propagate them by simply cutting off and planting new shoots. No need for the tubers.

Thank-you very much for the heads-up Raul. Glad I asked before I tried to order anything.

Anyone had dealing with the Greenss Shop based in Veracruz, Mexico?
Seeds at
They advertise an impressive collection of fruit trees shipped internationally.
They also have a Facebook page -

Anyone had any success with then in hot climates? My plants seem to grow well but haven't produced sprouts. Is there a secret to triggering the sprouts or is it just too hot for them here?

If you compost bin remains cool, you might try adding some worms to it to help digestion and produce a rich soil.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Home made compost for fruit trees
« on: March 26, 2018, 12:15:36 PM »
Compost definitely has micronutrients in it. If you are eating food without micronutrients you would not live very long. Amount of micronutrients is going to depend on the type of food you are eating. So yes the quality of the compost will depend on the quality of your food.
As you say, the content of the compost depends on its source material. It may not apply to the OPs garden, but I was considering the possibility of "leaves, grass clippings" from micronutrient depleted soil. Recycling such compost will return their micronutrients to the soil but will not provide the necessary increase in missing micronutrients.

You have storage space for gardening equipment, fertiliser, compost etc. and an area to work in if you want to do any gardening? Access for a vehicle if you anticipate delivery of mulch material etc.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Home made compost for fruit trees
« on: March 23, 2018, 09:34:26 AM »
It sounds like your guava provided a good answer for you. It would probably take a year for mulch to decompose and provide nutrients which explains the year delay. Compost is equally recommended for trees although with both you are advised to keep the materials away from the trunk of the tree so that retained water doesn't encourage fungal infection.
Neither mulch nor compost necessarily provides micronutrients which your soil may need and gain from other supplements. However, phosphate from fertiliser may inhibit mycorrhizal symbiosis and some sites recommend avoiding fertiliser. It's going to depend on how much material you have to compost/mulch.
I prefer compost to mulch only because I generate large quantities of garden waste from trees and mulch would overwhelm the garden. In a dry climate you need to keep your compost pile moist. I wrap mine with a polythene sheet to reduce drying out and add water every week or so. Even then I encounter dry areas when I turn the pile. Both processes speed breakdown and have compost ready in 2-3 months.
Another way to quickly recycle some of your organic waste is vermiculture. I use a horizontal plastic 55 gallon drum with an access hole cut out of the side and add fresh waste every day or so. It is on my irrigation system and gets about 2 gallons of water per day. I drain that off every day from a tap in the bottom of the drum and use the liquid to feed the trees and other plants. Every few weeks I clean out the drum and get a wheelbarrow full of rich, black soil.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Home made compost for fruit trees
« on: March 23, 2018, 09:33:08 AM »
duplicate post

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Mango Tree Oozing Brownish Orange Sap
« on: February 16, 2018, 09:55:16 AM »
The oozing sap is a symptom of gummosis which is a sign of damage to the plant. One unfortunate cause is a fungal infection caused by Botryodiplodia theobromae also known as Lasiodiplodia theobromae. It is characterised by discolored vascularisation. Recommended treatment is to cut off the damaged branches and seal the cuts with Bordeaux paste. A recommended fungicide is Cidely Top from Syngenta
This is a good description with photographs of the problem in young plants.
Here are some other sources.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: San Diego garden photos
« on: February 06, 2018, 08:34:49 PM »

The water is harder than tap water which is around 500ppm in san diego city but the well water has no chlorine and other toxins.  And I can water heavier to wash any salts out.  I had a little salt burn at the end of last summer.  But have been using softer fertilizers now so hopefully not salt build up.

A local nursery owner and now friend told me the soil here has a salt problem and suggested that agricultural gypsum can mitigate it. It may not be the same as your problem so testing is always a first step. He recommended a minimum of 10 kilos per 1000 square feet. This link seems to support the idea This link says gypsum can help leaching of salt

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Agave americana - Pulque
« on: January 20, 2018, 07:11:03 PM »
Partial translation of document at
The maguey is reproduced from  the suckers of the maguey (hijitos  or mecuatitos) which grow around the plant. The method used for this varies depending on the resources, knowledge and beliefs of the farmer. One of the methods is to extract the sucker of parent maguey, pruning some leaves for  better access. When the maguey is between two and four years, the sucker is extracted with its roots and transplanted in  one of the following ways [Loyola Montemayor, 1956: 5-7].
a) Planting in the field: some leaves are removed and the plant left to lie in the field for a few weeks before planting.
b) Planting in a pot: the maguey is removed when it is between five and eight months old. Plant it in a small pot. When it reaches approximately 1 m in height (from three to four years old), the maguey is planted in the field.

The plant is ready to for harvest when aged between 8 to 12 years, largely depending upon the climate. There are cases in which it needs more than 12 years and even up to 20, although normally this happens with much larger magueyes. To start the "capada" of the maguey the agriculturist looks for changes in appearance that signal the plant is ready to produce the quiote (flower stem).  Some of these are the thinning of the heart, the loss of thorns of the leaves and darkening of the leaves. You look for the best side of the maguey to reach the heart, usually that which is pointing to the sun when it rises at dawn, taking into account the side where there are fewer leaves so that access to the center of the maguey is easier. Remove the thorns using a sharp knife (espumilla) for better access to the center of the maguey to remove the heart. Remove the leaves that hinder access to the heart and break off the upper part of the heart (along with the leaves that could not be pulled out), traditionally done with an instrument called a quebrador (huge bar/chisel). Leave a few fragments of the heart to prevent drying out and cover the heart to keep pests out.
Chop the maguey, ideally at full moon or a few days after it. Use the quebredor to chop the plant, cutting the edges of the heart and moving it to break the stalks and detach the bottom of it. Continue to expose the quiote stalk and form a depression. After the heart is removed, the concavity to gather the aguamiel  should be be cleaned and then filled with the pieces that were obtained when cleaning it; It will help the quiote stalk "sweat" and "rot", to initiate production of the sap in the quiote stalk. It maturess together with the other botanical juices produced by the maguey and the pieces that rest on the concavity. During this stage the maguey is allowed to stand for three to eight days, sometimes it can be longer, depending, as we have already mentioned, on the farmer, the development of the maguey and the climate.

Scraping the maguey and extracting the aguamiel

This activity is carried out by the tlachiquero twice a day during the time that the maguey produces aguamiel (from four to eight months, according to the maguey). It is important that it is carried out since the aguamiel can spoil if it is not extracted and the quiote stalk is scraped again. To ensure that the bugs do not enter the aguamiel, as well as that in rainy weather the water does not fall into the quiote stalk, some stalks and a stone are placed on top of the concavity. To scrape the quiote stalk you have to use an instrument called "raspador" . Scrape very carefully, since the walls of the concavity can be damaged, affecting the production of aguamiel. Some time later the aguamiel contained in the quiote stalk is extracted with a utensil called "acocote", the narrowest part is dipped in the sap and the aguamiel is sucked in through the widest part without it reaching the mouth. Pour the liquid obtained into the storage containers and continue extracting the aguamiel leaving the quiote stalk without traces of aguamiel then scrape again.

Production of pulque

A tinacal is the place where the process of pulque fermentation takes place. The pulque is fermented in containers such as glass fiber tubs, animal skin, barrels and plastic containers, among others. The obtained aguamiel is poured into the containers destined to ferment it and containing the pulque starter, which is a substance made from the leftovers of pulque. From this moment, fermentation of aguamiel begins in pulque, which takes approximately 24 hours, so daily "feeding"  of additional aguamiel is needed. The strength of pulque varies from three to six degrees [Loyola Montemayor, 1956: 48] and depends on the aguamiel, the quality of the mague, climatic factors and the time that the maguey was left to "rot". It is important to mix the pulque from different containers to maintain the quality of the drink and that it does not spoil, as well as to carry out the daily feeding to continue with the fermentation. After 24 hours in which the fermentation of the aguamiel takes place, pulque is produced, of which there are two types: natural and cured. The drink is ready to be drunk in the right places for it, at family parties or at home or to accompany it with meals. The quality of the pulque depends on the maguey, the environmental factors, the care given by the tlachiquero as well as the quality of the aguamiel.

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