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Topics - Solko

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Tropical Fruit Discussion / Cold hardy avocado - from seed
« on: July 06, 2017, 10:32:58 AM »
Here is post to share my limited experience growing cold hardy and drought tolerant avocado trees from seeds.

I started doing this in 2010 and have tried a lot of different seeds and methods and I am myself quite surprised at what seems to work best, so I thought I would share.

Background: I live in the Netherlands, in Northern Europe, climate zone 8b. I have a small garden in Portugal, climate zone 9a, with a very dry summer and I want to get some avocado trees going there. I have no irrigation or winter protection.

Over the years I have read so much in the web and I have tried most methods that one can find, so here is what worked best for me in the end: sowing massive amounts of seeds of a diversity of avocado's in small 'nursery patches' and then let Darwinism do the rest of the job.

The first two years I started doing the traditional way: germinating seeds of store-bought avocado's in pots at home and planting them out when one or two years old. I transported around a hundred seedlings like this from the Netherlands to Portugal, planted them one by one carefully and NONE of these survived. This seems to be the preferred method for professional growers, but when you don't have irrigation or the time to give the seedlings aftercare when you plant them it is very easy to lose them.

These first two years I also just planted loose seeds all around the terrain. All of them came up, some took more then a year, but all of them came up, but they had a lot of trouble competing with the weeds and ferns, and they somehow stayed very weak and small in the dry ground.

The third year I really took the time to dig a small garden bed and amend the soil with two large bags of good potting soil and planted around one hundred seeds of Hass, Reed, Pinkerton, Zutano and Bacon avocados, that I found at the local market in the Netherlands and I kept eating the rest of the year. It basically took me seven years of eating three avocados a week to get my trees going - but I am not complaining  ;D

This worked very well the next year the bed was full of seedlings - they were doing fine for two years, but I lost them all in a very dry year - one hundred seedlings competing with each other on one square meter in a dry summer is too much!
But I already started to notice that there was really no pattern in which seeds survived either the summer or winter well - of all the cultivars it was equal amounts.

I started making small amended nursery beds all over the terrain in which I showed only eight to ten seeds and let them germinate by themselves. From all these beds at least one grew into a healthy tree.
Now they are starting to become as tall as myself and next year I will be ready to do some grafting.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / A wealth of different types of Uvaia
« on: March 14, 2017, 05:37:03 PM »
I have become more and more fascinated with all the different types of Uvaia.
There are sweet Uvaias, sour Uvaias, round and pear-shaped Uvaias, smooth and gnarly Uvaias, Orange, yellow and pale yellow Uvaias, there are bush-type Uvaias and tree-type Uvaias and now there is also a giant Uvaia. And they not only look and taste different, they also fruit in different seasons. The website of Estancia das Frutas from Brazil says they have over 21 types of Uvaia!
They seem to come from different botanical species that are closely related and able to generate some hybrids in between them. Eugenia Pyriformis, Eugenia Beaurepairiana, Eugenia Lutescens, Eugenia Uvalha are all called 'Uvaia' in Brazil.

This year I have been fortunate enough to receive seeds from 8 different sources, and I already had two Uvaias, both very different. So here are some of the pictures of the seedlings, with many thanks to my friends on this forum.

If you grow some Uvaias and recognize any of these as similar to your own, please post some of your observations, as taste and ripening time.

These are five batches, two from Brazil, three from Portugal. My guess is that the two big ones on the far right are E Lutescens, the top-center and bottom-left are Pyriformis and bottom-center and top-left are hybrids. In any case the difference in size and shape is remarkable.

These were the two Uvaias I already had

The main difference seems to be the leaf type, leaf arrangement and the hairiness and color of the young leaves

Which type of Uvaia do you have and what is your favorite? Any observations or remarks are welcome! As are seeds of any of your varieties  ;D

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Strawberry Guava Selections
« on: October 12, 2016, 02:14:14 PM »
I'm looking forward to doing some Strawberry Guava selections, I really like the fruit and it grows easy enough here, even in my cooler climate.

I know a couple of you on this forum like the fruit as well, and I have also seen that there is quite some variety in shape, size, season and probably taste. If a couple of us send in some seeds of our best fruits, and let me know if they have room to grow out a couple of trees up to fruiting stage, than I'll repack all the seeds I get into a selection of two or three seeds of all the different sources and send that back to you to grow out.

It will take a few years, to grow out the trees, but who knows what we will find. I've seen fruit sizes vary a lot and heard very different taste reports on Strawberry Guava. So, if you are interested in finding some better strains or more variety in season and taste, or just for the fun of it, you are welcome to participate.

And if you don't want to grow out a bunch of trees yourself, but you do want to participate and try to get some better selections in a few years, than you can also just send in seeds. I'll send you seeds or scions of the best selections in a couple of years in return. I am in Europe, so scions for the USA will only be possible if one of you in the USA is willing to grow out the same collection of seeds and make a selection out of the seedlings over there.

At most it will probably take up the space of two or four big pots. One big pot to grow out the seeds for the first year or two. And if you are good at grafting, than that is basically all the space it will take, because after the second year, you can then graft the seedlings onto the two to four largest ones. I plan on growing out 40 seedlings myself and to graft them on four of my larger trees that are in pots here. They will have quite a good branch structure by that time and will be able to hold about 10 different varieties each. They will be able to grow large enough to at least give some fruit for tasting and evaluation.

Who is up for this?

I'm looking for any of the following traits:
good flavor, dwarf trees, precocious trees (fruiting from seed within 2 years), cold hardiness, quick ripening, large fruit size, fruit fly resistance, special colors, anything out of the ordinary, or just if you think your tree gives delicious fruit.

Send me a PM to get details for sending seeds back and forth and to discuss wether you just want to just send in seeds, or also want to grow out a selection of the different seeds I'll collect. I'll post updates of the process here and will send seeds or scions of any resulting plants to all who send in seeds.



I've posted a taste report of my temperate Myrtaceae in the temperate fruit section, I'm posting a link to it here, because I know there are quite some Myrtaceae addicts in the tropical fruit section who might find it interesting  ;D

After seeing all the mouthwatering taste reports of the subtropical Eugenia's come by in the tropical fruit section, I couldn't wait to harvest a plate of my own temperate Myrtaceae. But not only does it take longer for them to ripen in my 8a climate, it also took a long time to find a plate that was small enough so that my harvest wouldn't look completely ridiculous  ;D

Three different types of Luma and several different Ugni Molinae cultivars are ripening up right now.

On the picture above you can see, starting at the top left the small red Ugni Molinae "Elite", then in clockwise order, the purple Luma Chequen, my small leaved Ugni Molinae, grown from seed, then a Luma Apiculata with small pear-shaped berries, my large leaved Ugni Molinae variety, and finally my variegated Luma Apiculata, probably Glenleam Gold, which makes big round berries.

This is what the inside of the berries look like, the Luma's have a very creamy sweet pulp.

And this is what they taste like:

Ugni "Elite"- very good, fruity and sweet, it's a very small fruit, but the plant is said to fruit in abundance.
Luma Chequen - surprisingly similar to the Ugni's, but with a much more creamy flesh, like ice cream or yoghurt - I was really pleasantly surprised, it has a beautiful taste and texture, fruity and sweet. But it does have a tannic or bitter aftertaste if you chew the skin. And it has much larger seeds than the Ugni. You can just pop the pulp in your mouth and spit out the seeds, or eat it with the skin, it is not a strong tannic flavor, so I kind of enjoy it.
Ugni small leaf - Also small berries, but with a beautiful, fruity and sweet flavor, medium sized fruit, very hardy plant, both to drought and cold
Luma Apiculata - pear shaped small fruit - sweet pulp, but very bitter and resinous aftertaste, not really palatable, the ratio of pulp to skin and seeds is very small, and this one really has a very very strong tannic and resinous flavor, I wouldn't offer this one to eat to anyone.
Ugni large leaf - largest fruit, more pulp, same delicious taste, more acidic then the small leaf, but also sweeter, so all in all a more concentrated fruity and tangy flavor. No astringent aftertaste whatsoever, just fruitiness.
Luma Apiculata variegated, probably Glenleams gold - very good, sweet, creamy pulp and even a bit spicy, not so much fruitiness. It also has no resinous aftertaste, nor bitterness, but not the same depth or fruitiness of the Luma Chequen.

I must say that I was all in all very pleasantly surprised by the taste of the bigger Luma berries. I love Ugni's, but I am glad that I discovered that the pulp of the Luma's is absolutely delicious as well. It is much more creamy, but also very sweet and fruity. The skin is more tannic and resinous with the Luma's, and they have large seeds, that I didn't chew on, while you can eat the Ugni's without a problem, seeds and skin and all. There just seems to be more variation in the Luma's than in the Ugni's, going from almost unpalatable to delicious for the Luma's, while almost all Ugni's are good.

And finally the only reason why these berries are relatively unknown: their size....

But the upside is that they are pretty rare and they do grow well in a 8a climate without any protection, they can handle prolonged frost up to -8 Celsius without any problems.

I grow subbtropical plants in a temperate climate and overwinter some inside to protect them from the hardest frosts. The downside is that they need to stay inside in a dark garage, so they don't get the same amount of light they would get outside.

And I have been puzzled by the behaviour of some of them, so I wanted to ask if any of you had any thoughts on this.

Some of them (Jaboticaba, Campomanesia, Backhousia, Pitanga, Pitomba, Grumichama) stay green all through winter (inside and outside) and lose their leaves only when I put them back outside in spring. Of these some appear to be dead, only to come back after a month or two with new leaves. But some actually are dead and some others only come back to life if put in indirect light, when temperatures warm up, while direct sunlight seems to kill them off...

I know that putting them in the garage somehow triggers a natural response in the plants, but how am I supposed to think about these semideciduous subtropicals? Should I as quickly as possible give them light and sun in spring? Even if it is still a bit cold outside? Or should I keep them warm inside in the dark until late spring and let them get used to the outside in indirect light again?

I mean, for normal deciduous plants, to put them in a warm garage may actually disturb their dormancy, make them leaf out too soon, and then kill off the young leaves when I put them outside in early spring. I have the idea that for some plants I may disturb their dormancy by putting them inside and then back outside...

For others I know they need protection from frost and that they change their leaves in spring, but do I need to put these in full sun once they are back out, so that they can heat up and get energy as quickly as possible?

I don't now what kills my plants that do not survive. Too long of a wait in the dark, or too early and bright sunlight back outside?

Any thoughts or experiences would be very welcome.

Hi, and especially to all members in Brazil, Uruguay or Argentinia,

I have been looking for seeds of Myrrhinium Atropurpureum for a long time. Unfortunately I haven't found any online sellers. If you know any, please let me know. I would be happy to trade or pay for seeds or fruit of this species with any ember from Brazil, Argentina or Uruguya (or anywhere else :-)

Good growing,


Temperate Fruit Discussion / Great Temperate Garden Visits and pics
« on: September 07, 2015, 06:19:36 AM »
I thought I would start a thread with pictures of visits of remarkable gardens. I love to visit both Botanical and Ornamental gardens and thought it would be nice for all of us to share some pics of the most remarkable and inspirational ideas we've seen.

Here I'll start with a very little known garden in France on lake Geneva that has been designed as a classical medieval garden: Le Jardin des Cinq Sens in Yvoire - a classical medieval, temperate, espalier, medicinal and fruit and herb garden:

What I really like is how they use the walls, hedges and espaliers to fit in a very large variety of fruits in a small space. Lots of pruning, though! 4 full time gardeners are employed to keep the 1300 species fo plants and fruits in check!

The garden is layed out in blocks that are bounded by hedges. Inside each hedge there is an espalier of apples about 1,5 meter inside of the hedge, and that works quite well...

All in all well worth a visit, even if it is just to see how they have organized the garden. It is so neat, you feel like they have vacuumed the place just before you enter!

Hi everyone, I have been looking around on this forum for quite a while now, and I think it is time to introduce myself and my projects.

I am a painter (artist) from the Netherlands, who recently moved to the Geneva area in France. A couple of years ago I bought a little terrain in the north of Portugal, a climate 9a zone - just as a hobby. There is a little ruin of a traditional sheperds hut, which I am trying to restore, and the small area around it consists of abandoned terraces, that were once used to grow corn, but are now overgrown with Eucalyptus trees. It's small and wild, but I love the place and I try to grow all plants that I like there, basically killing the most of them, because I am apparently pretty optimistic about climate conditions. Besides my optimism about what seedlings can handle, they also have to deal with the fact that I can only go there once or twice per year - so no watering in summer and no pampering in winter! And that in a Mediterranean climate....

My basic approach that worked so far is just to put everything I can find in the ground in as massive numbers as possible and see what is still there next year...  8) This approach seems to be working for avocado and macademia, Feijoa and tea-plants, as well as a single mango (!) while at the same time so far no Lychee, Longan, Grumichama, Black Sapote, Cherimoya, or Eugenia raised from seed has ever survived... But I don't give up easily and am now focussing on Myrtaceae that could maybe handle a 9a-climate.

I have like the most of you ordered a wide variety of seeds from around the world and lots of them from Brasil. I raise all plants from seeds in my house in France, put the little plants bare-rooted in my suitcase when I fly to Portugal, try to look as inconspicuous as possible whe I pass customs, and then drive straight from the airplane to my terrain to put them in the ground. Most of them are about 20 cm high when I do that- there is just not enough room in my suitcase  for anything larger... 8)

Probably the best way to introduce myself is to show the place where I intend to grow my plants. Here are some pictures of my place:

My garden started as an abandoned piece of terraced land in Portugal, that was fully planted with Eucalyptus. I am now replanting it as a mixed orchard or forest garden, while I leave most of the Eucs in place to provide overhead winter protection and protection from sun in summer for most seedling Eugenia's. There is no irrigation. The only thing I did to protect the trees is to put a fence against the deer, goat and boar around the place. I do not live there myself, so I cannot plant anything that needs a lot of care, watering or pest control. I don't have to have a big harvest either, all this is more of an experiment, I just love plants. I like to find the best varieties for the place, I am also really interested in breeding and crossing experiments, for my curiosity is often greater than my need for fruit.

This is the old hut on the terrain:

And this is what the general region looks like - it is a 9a climate, with granite, rocky soil, where people grow grapes, citrus, peaches, figs and olives:

As you can see, quite warm, but with snow on the mountain tops in winter...

And Here are some of the plants I killed! ::)


And one year later:

I'm happy to say that all the survivors are in the ground now  and doing good.
I'm looking forward to exchanging seeds, ideas and experiences with all of you on this forum!



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