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Messages - TriangleJohn

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Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: First Cocona (Solanum sessiflorum) Flowers
« on: December 10, 2021, 07:52:18 PM »
Mine have to be harvested in early November due to frosty weather so I don't think mine are actually "ripe" ripe like those in the photo. You can rub all the bristly hairs off of them easily with a glove. Eaten raw they taste like raw yellow squash to me but if you cook them down (til they basically dissolve) and add some sugar and a small splash of lemon juice they explode in flavor.  Very tangy, kind of like a tangerine mixed with some mango. They don't taste like anything else. Easy care free plant to grow. They do take up some space and you have to grow a bunch of them to get enough fruit to do a lot with.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: First Cocona (Solanum sessiflorum) Flowers
« on: December 05, 2021, 12:23:47 PM »
I have purchased seeds from numerous sources and some had a photo of the red pear-shaped version but all of the fruit I've grown ended up looking the same - gold yellow ping pong ball sized round fruit. I do have to pick them right before frost and they might turn a darker color if I could keep them going longer. I will add that I have better germination with home grown seed, but you can usually get a few to sprout with purchased seed and each fruit has a ton of seeds in it.

I was hoping to cross Cocona with Lulo but I needed to succeed with growing them at first. I started down this path in 2010 when I visited friends in Colombia and they said that the hybrid fruit makes the best juice. I do like the flavor of Lulo the best but our summers are just too hot and steamy.

I'm on the south side of Raleigh, right off the beltline. There isn't much to see in the garden right now but in the spring this place comes alive.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: First Cocona (Solanum sessiflorum) Flowers
« on: December 05, 2021, 07:40:10 AM »
I'm in Raleigh NC (zone 7b) with an outdoor in-the-ground fruit and veg garden and a large greenhouse for tropicals. I used to collect all different types of Solanum including true Lulo and Cocona. Our summers have only gotten hotter and drier over the years and Lulo just can't take the heat. Cocona handles everything just fine and I get a bumper crop every year and it is the only species from that collection that I still grow. I could only keep Lulo happy if I grew them in large tubs and moved them into the cooler/shadier areas of the yard during the heat of summer.

Raleigh sits on the edge of the coastal plain at about 600 feet above sea level. The only problem I have with these plants is that they catch any disease specific to tobacco and this is or was a big tobacco growing area so there are lots of disease in the soil. I find that if I sow fresh seed every year (usually at the end of January in the house, not outside) I can expect a good harvest by the end of October without any problems. Taking cuttings and rooting them and growing them in the greenhouse is when I see diseases pop up. Those plants will survive but be stunted even if planted outside the following spring.

Cocona grown here are pretty bland if eaten fresh but the flavor is very tropical and citrusy is cooked and sweetened. The lulo I used to grow tasted a lot like a good tangerine.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: 100 gallon pot options?
« on: December 04, 2021, 09:34:45 AM »
My local garden center will occasionally have what they call Tree Pots in the cheap plastic molded container section. They are only $9.95. I buy as many as I can fit in the car when they have them. I don't know the volume but it has to be over 50 gallons. Inside my greenhouse, when trees get big enough to fruit, I will move them up to what I call Cage Pots. I make them out of wire mesh and zip ties. They don't have a bottom but after a year or so the media has been knitted together by roots and fungus to the point that when dry it can be pushed around a little bit. The drawbacks are that they take an immense amount of soil or media, they have to be watered often and they hold a lot of water, and they have to be weeded frequently. On some of mine I have wrapped landscape fabric around the inside of the wire and that slows down the weeding. The whole idea was to make it easier to solve root problems and add fresh media without lifting a heavy tree. So far, so good.
  one of the plastic tree pots

  a view of one of the cage pots

Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: Cherimoya/Pawpaw hybrid
« on: September 19, 2021, 03:05:58 PM »
I'm not sure that would work. We get really cold winter weather sometimes and I think the rootstock would be the only survivor.

Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: Cherimoya/Pawpaw hybrid
« on: August 09, 2021, 08:18:04 PM »
I spoke too soon - the larger of my two cherimoyas does appear to have some fruit set. Years of hand pollinating has finally paid off. Perhaps wearing a bumblebee costume did the trick! Actually I think the tree just wanted to be of a certain size. It is seed grown and produces a lot of flowers so I get to practice often.

Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: Cherimoya/Pawpaw hybrid
« on: April 04, 2021, 07:42:35 PM »
Here's my years later update (see the original post). My only surviving potential pawpaw x cherimoya cross has finally bloomed and the flower looks just like a pawpaw and it bloomed at the same time as my other pawpaws. I believe the mother plant (pawpaw) may have been influenced by the presence of cherimoya pollen but that a cross never occurred. Everything about this tree has been true to pawpaw. There was no cherimoya-ness to the leaf shape, the growth style, the stem color and now the flower color and shape.

I get more fruit from the row of pawpaw trees than any normal human could eat, but neither of the two cherimoya trees have ever made a fruit. I will try to master the art of hand pollination. I hear these are difficult in Florida so my climate may have the same roadblocks (high summer heat and humidity).

The original pawpaw tree that had the one branch that bloomed in late summer, where I attempted to cross with cherimoya pollen from my greenhouse collection, that tree has been dead for a while. The branch that bloomed twice in one year eventually died and then the entire tree died.

Many years ago I grew this plant so you are not the first to offer it. I didn't sell the plants but I did trade seeds with forum members. I had visited Medellin, Colombia and loved eating this fruit, when my friends came to the states to visit they brought me some seeds. Lately I have switched to Cocona because it handles our high heat of summer better. I can buy Lulo pulp at my local grocery store here in North Carolina, the package will call it Naranjilla but the flavor is of Lulo.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Feijoa cold tolerance ??
« on: September 23, 2020, 12:08:39 PM »
I'm in zone 7b (Raleigh, North Carolina) and I can grow them just fine. Our winters are mild with only a few weeks of really cold weather scattered throughout the season. Although it can get down to 10-12 degrees F, it is rare. Only a couple of hours drive north into the Virginia mountains (I assume zone 6) people can keep the plants alive but they never get fruit.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Renovation on greenhouse
« on: July 05, 2020, 11:39:52 AM »
I have a 20' by 30' hoop house with a 15' center ridge and take my plastic off during the summer. Once the trees get tall they are damaged by the heat build up in the top parts of the greenhouse interior. Even with vents open. Even with the doors open and large fans blowing. Even with a shade cloth (only 30%). I have learned to do the work all by myself, it only takes a few hours to pull two layers of greenhouse film over the structure. I keep the shade cloth on all year and it helps with any hail or heavy rains. The only problem has been strong winds knocking over the taller trees, which are top heavy because they are being grown in large pots. It keeps things cooler and I don't have to water as often.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Best way to root feijoa cuttings?
« on: April 26, 2020, 05:25:52 PM »
A long time ago I attended a lecture at our local arboretum about a recent trip to New Zealand. The speaker had a slide of an entire grove of different cultivars of Feijoa and showed the nursery where all sorts of fruits were being propagated. He said that the workers told him that they only get one cutting in the thousand to root using standard methods (snip, strip, dip and stick). I have a row of seed grown pineapple guavas that only produce if I hand pollinate them and then one lonely bush up near the house that I bought from a nursery. I keep trying to root a cutting of it to move down to the others and after 10 years I have never had it happen.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Please id this sour Borneo eggplant
« on: May 05, 2019, 11:01:45 AM »
It looks a lot like Solanum quitoense 'Naranjilla', or Solanum sessiliflorum 'Cocona' from South and Central America. When I've cooked Cocona with a splash of lemon juice and good amount of sugar it cooks down a jam that taste a little like mango.

Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: Hardy cactus with edible fruit?
« on: January 10, 2019, 06:29:10 PM »
I brought various un-named species of Opuntia with me when I moved from Oklahoma City (zone 6 or 7) to Raleigh NC (zone 7b). Oklahoma has hotter and longer summers and the fruit there had decent flavor (not quite the same as cactus in Arizona or California. The fruit from these same plants when grown in NC has hardly any flavor. I am going to try fertilizing them more to see if I can improve the taste.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Potted Longan - keep or toss?
« on: December 09, 2018, 05:57:33 PM »
So I have this hoop house I seal up tight for winter (I'm in zone 7b, Raleigh NC). It's 20' by 30' with a 15' center ridge built on old basketball court asphalt pad. I grow fruit trees in large containers. Some I move outside for summer and others are too big to move so they stay in the structure all year. I grow a lot of stuff from seed. I have a Longan that I grew from grocery store fruit seed and it is a monster. I have to trim it back every year to keep it away from the ceiling plastic. It blooms and fruit every year. Some years the fruit is larger than others, but it has never made fruit the size that I originally purchased from the store. This could be because it is a seed grown tree or it could be because it is growing in a container. The fruit is nothing special flavor wise either. My dilemma is that other trees are finally getting up to fruit bearing age and produce much tastier fruit (guavas and mangoes along with citrus). I have whittled down the citrus collection to the top performers and I would like to let the Ruby Supreme Guava get as big as it wants because I like the flavor and it fruits for a much longer period.

My question is, do you think the flavor and fruit size will improve if I plant it in a larger container? feed it regularly?

I have the same problem with a tree fern. It's getting to the point where it will touch the ceiling and I either have to chip a hole in the floor and plant it in the ground or find it another home. We have dry periods and it sulks during them, making it not a showstopper in the collection.

Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: Cherimoya/Pawpaw hybrid
« on: November 14, 2018, 07:58:00 PM »
usirius - do you get any natural pollination on cherimoya? I have to hand pollinate my flowers, the local insects ignore them.

I still have two of the possible hybrids. They have been very slow growing which is typical for pawpaws under my care. I have had them outside in pots this fall but my drag them into the greenhouse to save them from harsh winter weather. The leaves look just like pawpaw leaves so I doubt they are hybrids.

For years I collected and sowed seeds for my pawpaws but now I simply wait for a very rainy day in the middle of the winter after the suckers around the parent trees have gone dormant and I simply pull the suckers out of the ground. They snap off of the mother plant's root with a sort of an elbow shape and often one tiny fragile root. I pot them up with standard potting soil and leave in a sheltered area. They sprout in the spring and usually start growing very fast. I plant them in the ground after one full year in a pot (to get maximum root growth). Some of these transplants even flower and fruit while still very small. This method is much better than seed growing for me.

Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: 2018 Wild Pawpaw Watch Thread
« on: June 09, 2018, 01:18:08 PM »
Triloba - I don't know the parentage. A local nursery obtained the fruit from a research orchard where all the trees were named varieties. There aren't many wild pawpaws in this area so I doubt any of them crossed with wild plants. The story I heard is that the orchard was multiple acres big so more than likely all the known named varieties were there.

I've tasted a lot of pawpaws and though there are differences, those differences are minor - at least to my palate. I can taste differences in fruit taken from the same branch of the same tree. I think how the fruit is harvested and handled after harvest impacts the flavor more than the variety.

Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: 2018 Wild Pawpaw Watch Thread
« on: June 09, 2018, 09:52:08 AM »
Winter weather in Raleigh was only super cold the first half (got down to 4 degrees) and kinda normal the second half. At least we didn't have the hard freeze like we did in April of 2017. Here on the south side of town the weather has been very dry, ten miles away they are flooding. There are no wild pawpaws in the woods around my house so nothing for me to contribute there. I do have one tree that was won in a raffle that claimed to be a wild variety but now that it is fruiting I think it is just an un-named cultivar and that they meant "native" when they said "wild". All the other pawpaws in the garden are seedlings of named cultivars. One of them is my 'super producer', always making more fruit and larger fruit than all the others. This year, due to the dry weather I am spending a lot of time keeping them watered, so far so good.

My greenhouse (actually a hoophouse that I seal up as tight as possible in the winter) is 20 by 30 with a 15 foot center ridge. I used to heat it with an old wood burning stove but going out there every hour or so to toss more logs on the fire got old after a couple of years so I broke down and bought a poultry barn electric heater (slightly cheaper than an electric greenhouse heater). It did require an electrician to install a 220 line to it but I already had one because the lot used to have an above ground swimming pool. On a normal winter it only costs me $35 - $50 per month for four months of hard winter. During really cold snaps (like right now) it costs me about a $100 per month. I'm in zone 7b so winters are generally mild. The hoophouse sits on the asphalt pad of an old basketball court which extends out beyond the structure, so when the sun shines it heats up and transfers a lot of heat to the floor of the hoophouse. I also allow it to heat up in the middle of the winter, the peak of the day heat will warm up the potting media in the pots and that will keep everything warm long into the evening.

My tree is about 8 feet tall and 10 feet wide, maybe 5 years old (but I bought a tiny little graft-ling)

I prefer mulberries but this year I did not get much of a crop.

These Che taste very sweet, kinda fiber-ey, no seeds, with a strong hint of melon. I can only eat a few of them each day, I find them too sweet (I'm the same way with Muscadines or Scuppernogs).

My small tree is finally mature enough to really fruit. I think this is year 5 or maybe 4. It has fruited the last two years but the berries were small and never fully ripened. Every time I have tasted them on other people's trees they tasted like really ripe cantaloupe but this year mine are tasting like watermelon.

Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: Early August zone 7b fruit crops
« on: August 08, 2017, 04:40:39 PM »
Citradia - I have Black tupelo in the woods beside the house also. The dogs snarf up the fruit when it falls (mid July this year), I've tasted it and found it way astringent and harsh but people supposedly make jelly with it.

Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: Early August zone 7b fruit crops
« on: August 06, 2017, 05:39:23 PM »
TT - I never got a taste of the seed source fruit. Friends that work for a local nursery told me how wonderful the fruit was and said that they had collected the seed to grow out and sell. I bought four seedlings from them. My taste buds are not as refined as others and I don't pick up a lot of differences in the various named fruits. I have had one that did taste more like a mango than anything else (not from my trees). I have had fruit that taste wonderful along side fruit that was just so-so and they both came off the same tree at the same time. This year the fruit is just okay, nothing special. This could be due to the odd weather we have had so far - wet mild spring after very warm winter with hard freeze in April and now blistering hot and bone dry. Everything has been early in the garden this year.

Temperate Fruit Discussion / Early August zone 7b fruit crops
« on: August 06, 2017, 10:27:16 AM »
Things are bone dry here in Raleigh NC but it looks like all my hard work watering is paying off with bumper crops of fruit. I've harvested most of the fall crop of Blackberries (Prime Ark Freedom) and the table grapes (Fredonia) have been made into jelly - sorry no photos of either of them, but here's what else is going on in the backyard:

Ogeechee Lime - actually a Tupelo not a citrus

unnamed pricky pear - cactus do fine here if you plant them in a mound of gravel. The fruit doesn't seem to have the intensity of flavor I remember from out west so I plan on harvesting these early and see if that helps.

Cranberries - you don't need bog but you do need acid soil and near constant weeding to keep them happy.

no name trees grown from seed (from named cultivars). The worst thing about pawpaws is that you get a landslide of fruit at one time. Kitchen fridge is full, basement chest freezer is full...

Everything else in the veggie garden is crispy yet this one lonely rhubarb keeps chugging along (don't tell him that we've been over 100 degrees)

Got watermelons planted late but even with the drought they're happy.

Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: Ogeechee Lime seedlings blooming
« on: April 27, 2017, 08:30:02 AM »
The tree I saw was past the fruiting stage and the fruit I gathered off the ground was pretty rotten so I didn't taste them. The person showing me the tree said that they are very sour and have to be watered down a lot in order to use them (he didn't like them). I've been hand pollinating them and it looks like they are fertilized so I should have fruit to taste this summer.

I've always heard that this type of tupelo only grows wild along the Ogeechee river but at another stop on that day of tours a nursery owner told me that he grows tons of them to sell as seedlings to the stream bank restoration companies throughout the state (SC) so they are now planted along many rivers and streams.

They're supposed to be hardy to zone 7 (I'm zone 7b).

looks like some sort of Ruellia - Mexican Petunia

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