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Messages - BajaJohn

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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.

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Agave americana - Pulque
« on: January 20, 2018, 09:20:16 AM »
Did you find this one?
This page ( is in Spanish but has an email to contact for more information for those interested in making their own pulque. Don Guillermo at Hacienda de Xochuca - They have a web page and two pulquerias - La Paloma Azul and La Pirata which have Facebook pages.

There is a series of videos at:
Preparing the maguey heart for extraction of aguamiel:
Extracting aguamiel and 'rasping' the heart:
Maguey cultivation:
Pulque preparation:

There are several sources for historic weather records. is one.
There probably isn't anywhere in the continental US that doesn't have record lows above freezing. Warmest areas are on the East and West coasts where the oceans moderate temperature. The gulf coast suffers mid-continent effects so is more extreme. In addition to Florida, Coastal California is another region that has few freezing days but the dry climate isn't ideal for tropicals and real estate costs are high. Hawaii is the only US state that doesn't get freezing temperatures but it isn't 'continental'.

Many thanks to those who donated - and to those who run this wonderful forum.
The request didn't include information on how to pay - not that it matters now, but it may be something to consider adding in future requests.
Have a Merry Christmas everyone - and a very Happy New Year.

Citrus General Discussion / Re: new greenhouse planning
« on: November 06, 2017, 06:37:07 AM »
You can reduce moisture problems by using closed cell foams which are a natural vapor barrier.......
Many solid and spray/pour insulating foams are not closed cell and therefore allow diffusion of water vapor where it condenses on the cold side so be sure you use a foam that has vapor barrier properties. Apparently mealworms will eat polystyrene foam although it may not be their first choice in a greenhouse.

I guess that is a part of the motivation for growing our own.
I'm not a fan of glyphosate, or Monsanto but there seems an element of alternative truth in the article.
If glyphosate is the only impurity, worst case scenario is that the OJ is 99.9999974%  pure.
Europe has the more conservative Allowable Daily Intake of glyphosate at 0.3 mg per day. The EPA permits more than 5 times that dose. Three pounds of oranges would have about 40 micrograms of glyphospate at the higher contamination levels. That is less than one tenth of the ADI. A large glass (2 cups) of OJ would have about a third of that - 12 mg max. It is hard to figure why the article baulks at those kinds of doses per year.
I think there is a real cause to be concerned about glyphospate based more on its pervasiveness, growing use in many crops and potential contamination of water supplies. Loads of food crops are treated with glyphosate and there is a growing trend to use it in crops such as wheat simply to make harvesting easier. Individual foods may be within acceptable contamination levels but contamination of multiple food sources may take daily intake above acceptable level. There is also concern that current acceptable daily intake levels are way too high, based on research since those levels were set.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Best fruit tree fertilizer
« on: October 18, 2017, 06:45:01 PM »
Probably any generic NPK fertilizer will do in the short term. Osmocote and Nutricote have the NPK and some micronutrients also but the best approach is to get your soil tested by a soil lab. There are loads of them in Florida. When I had my soil tested the lab made specific recommendations for my garden based on agricultural fertilisers rather than mass market mixes. They also indicated amounts per 1000 square feet which varied for the different locations I took samples from.
The products were:
Calcium ammonium nitrate  27% N, 6% Ca
Triple superphosphate  20% P, 17% Ca
Agricultural Gypsum  23% Ca, 19% S
Potassium sulphate. 40% K, 18% S
Chelated iron

They are easily available but are not treated in any way for slow release. As Simon suggests, it also depends on the stage your plants are in and what you want to accomplish. Nitrogen promotes leaf growth at a cost to fruit production. Phosphorus is important for flowering and thus fruit production. There are other important minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, sulphur so it is a good idea to get your soil tested and even modify your applications to the season.
Ultimately, mulch or compost are an important addition for soil fertility.

Thank you very much for the suggestion Erica. Initial Google searches had turned up only spider mites but encouraged by your post, I hunted a little more and also found bagworms and webworms in addition to tent caterpillars. The webworms may be another candidate as they tend to form webs over leaves rather than a nest in the nodes of branches produced by tent caterpillars. I didn't find caterpillars or pupae on the leaves so it is still a mystery. I'll have to look closer and see what I can find.

My thriving sweet potatoes have an area of dying leaves with webs over the top of them. Does this look like a spider mite infestation?

Simon - You are undertaking a fascinating project which looks to be doing very well. Congratulations.
A mundane question that may be relevant to others too is whether your trees may become a violation of building ordinances. The 4' side yard is mandated as a fire break and a tree may be considered a fire hazard. It probably won't be a problem unless you have a grumpy neighbor who complains but it's just a heads-up in case you want to check. I had trees on the south side of my house and Santa Monica (an arbor day tree city) demanded that I cut them down after they changed city ordinances to limit "fences" in front of houses to 4'. Apparently an anonymous neighbor complained. I managed to save them by appealing directly to the city council but the whole process was time consuming and expensive.

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Tylosema esculentum
« on: October 08, 2017, 01:59:45 PM »
Thanks for the introduction. Looks like it would do well in Baja. Possibly good ground cover too. Unfortunately no information of its potential as an invasive species in new areas.

Citrus General Discussion / Re: ID of a citrus tree grown from seed
« on: October 08, 2017, 01:45:00 PM »
Thanks for the pictures  :)
How old is your tree ? is the new growth hairy ?

As I never saw pictures of the new growth of a grapefruit tree, could you or someone else put a picture, as I would like to see the hairiness of new leaves, to compare with my seedling.
It is probably 4-5 years old now. I didn't plant the seed so I can't be sure. I haven't noticed hairs on any leaves and also noted that the leaves on your seedling differed from my grapefruit (unfortunately, variability even in the same plant adds confusion). Your leaves are more elongate and the petioles on my grapefruit do not overlap the leaves. Heinrich's comments seem to keep minneola in the picture too.
> That does not look like grapefruit or pomelo. Looks like some sort of Citron???
Not at all. The leaves of citrons are not articulated!
That occurred to me also.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: How far apart should papaya be planted?
« on: October 08, 2017, 01:23:16 PM »
I have a similar problem with space. These are 4 seedlings from a store-bought maradol transplanted to 1 meter apart about a year ago. The idea was to cut down the least productive but so far I haven't had the heart. Recommended separation is about 2 meters between plants.

The tree at the left side of the row is doing way better than the others although it is only about 6 feet from a grapefruit tree. One other is producing a lot of fruit but is way behind in terms of maturity. Not sure if this is because of close planting or not. Another tree planted earlier and alone but with some hours of shade each day is doing the poorest of all.

Topping to induce branching is advised against in culture recommendations. It is reported to reduce fruit production and also requires that you support branches with heavy fruit load.

A local helper suggested that it is commonly thought that damage will induce a male tree to become female or mixed. He stuck a vertically oriented knife blade right through the trunk about 6" from the ground and made a second cut at right angles to it. He did this at maybe 6 months when the trees had started flowering. Sure enough, the trees with only male flowers started to produce both male and female flowers. Not a controlled experiment but possibly something to try if your plants produce only male flowers.

Citrus General Discussion / Re: ID of a citrus tree grown from seed
« on: October 04, 2017, 12:10:22 PM »
Here are a couple of pics of the leaves on my seedling - which is now about 2 m tall.
They don't quite look the same as yours and as I noted in my other post, the ID is hearsay from someone who has been grossly wrong in the past.

Citrus General Discussion / Re: ID of a citrus tree grown from seed
« on: October 01, 2017, 05:24:47 PM »
This site has some good information with hundreds of pictures you can filter by structures such as petioles It looks like quite a few pomelos may be candidates.  Banpeiyu, Java Pink, Pink Sensation....
This is an interesting one for me because my neighbor gave me a seedling with similar leaves. He claimed it was from a red grapefruit. He also gave me 3 avocado plants that morphed into 2 passifloras and one I still haven't identified!

I couldn't find an original research report to verify the article which seems to have originated from a Texas A&M press release. Maybe I missed it and someone else could point me to it.
As far as I could find, it seems to originate from work done by 2 research groups. One from the University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center described using Lumex 994 GC or Dalen Weed-X meshes to control root weevil. Lumen seemed to do a better job at reducing in-ground larvae and/or emergence of adults. They also noted increased grown with the mesh ground cover.

The other, from Texas A&M investigated the effect of bed height and mesh ground cover on productivity. They confirmed the improvements in growth with UltraWeb 3000 ground cover but found that fruit production in covered flat beds was twice that of trees in covered raised beds.

Another article from the same Texas A&M group reported that the best time to spray against citrus psillids and other insects is prior to flush because the psyllids time reproduction to coincide with a flush. I lost the reference to the article he stated this but this is a related article that explains the reasoning

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Edward mango: mono or poly embryonic seed?
« on: September 15, 2017, 05:24:04 PM »
A couple of informative articles here on polyembryony. If I understand them correctly:
1. Polyembryony isn't "all or none". You can expect up to a 10% incidence of monoembrionic seeds in a polyembrionic variety and vice versa.
2. Some embryos from a polyembrionic seed are fertilized (zygotic). The others are produced non-sexually (somatic) and are genetically identical to the mother plant so are effectively clones of the tree that produced the fruit. Unfortunately, without genetic testing, the only way to identify the clones is to wait until they bear fruit.
3. The "cloned" seedlings of a polyembryonic seed can become more vigorous plants than a parent plant produced by several generations of vegetative propagation.

I've just raised 8 seedlings from fruits of the same tree. One produced 4 plants whereas the seeds all of the others produced only a single seedling.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Best Hurricane App for your phone?
« on: September 14, 2017, 12:08:00 PM »
I lived on a boat in the Sea of Cortez for 10 years so hurricane tracking was an essential survival tool. I mostly rely on the web pages from Their severe weather pages seem very comprehensive with maps of storm history, model projections and commentaries by their weather staff. They display all available models. Warnings begin as soon as they see depressions forming and track likely interactions with tropical waves that kick depressions into hurricane mode. They also have local 10-day forecasts for all of the U.S. They are currently tracking 7 storms worldwide.
Another site that is more focussed on marine weather is They have some good animated maps of wind, waves and pressure predictions but that means they tend to focus on just one model and they are sometimes inaccurate.

Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: Pomegranate Propagation Questions
« on: September 13, 2017, 07:26:44 PM »
Another novice on both grafting and pomegranates. I bought a pomegranate which turned out to have inedible fruit but is very vigorous. It grew from 3 to 8 feet in 4 years so I'm trying to use it for rootstock for other pomegranates. A friend has one with good tasting fruit that I plan to use. I've also managed a bush from seed of a tasty store-bought pomegranate that I have used for possibly successful grafts (my first attempt!).
A challenge for me is living in Baja California Sur, Mexico which has a poor selection of nurseries and seems challenging to import trees from the U.S. Hence my struggle to find good trees.
The first question I have is if the large calluses at the graft site are a problem. They were a whip graft without a tongue. The scions were wrapped in cling wrap and I used electrical tape to secure the graft. The grafts are about 4 weeks old and the rootstock and scion donor were starting to flush at the time I did the grafts. Here are pictures of the grafts. The sections are 3-4mms diameter.

Leaves flushed a week or two after grafting.

A second question is if I even need to think about grafting pomegranates. The seedling I used for scions had a flower within a year of germinating suggesting that pomegranate seedlings may produce when very young. The seedling also appears to be very vigorous. Other posts suggest that pomegranates can be easily propagated by various methods of rooting more mature plants. Am I wasting my time - other than learning more about gardening?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Category 4 Hurricane Irma
« on: September 12, 2017, 08:50:53 AM »
So sorry to hear about all the damage but glad to hear people are OK. I hope we hear that everyone and their homes came through the storm OK and that gardens/groves are recoverable.
For what it's worth, Odile partially uprooted my 20' high coconut a few years back. I supported it with ropes and used a come-along to haul it upright again, then kept it supported for about a year. It is solid again now and just went through Lidia without a problem. Not sure if it is possible with a 50' mango tree TD, but maybe something to think about.

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Cacti thread
« on: September 09, 2017, 08:33:27 PM »
With the storms assaulting us at the moment I thought I would mention the challenge posed to water sensitive plants. My opuntias stood up well to flooding in storms but other cactus and succulents didn't do so well. After the last storm a year ago I used large fork pushed down near each plant as deep as it would go and slightly lifted up the plant with the idea of getting some air deep in the soil and helping it to dry out. It seemed to work as I didn't lose anything.
Good luck to all of you in Florida. I hope you have gardens to return to.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Pineapples--The Half Pot Experiment
« on: September 08, 2017, 06:46:11 PM »
I can't see how that would work since humid air is lighter than dry air. You will quickly lose any humidity. I wonder if your friend was thinking of the pots made of polythene sheet where you can fold the top of the pot around the stem of the plant to avoid losing moisture? I guess you could add a top to your pots to reduce loss of humidity and also shade the soil from the sun to prevent it drying. Another experiment I guess!

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Category 4 Hurricane Irma
« on: September 08, 2017, 06:20:34 PM »
European forecast model unfortunately starting to be agreed with by most other forecast models out there.. NOT good for us. Good luck everyone.
Better agreement between the different models is to be expected as the storm gets closer.
Also, as you note, the European forecast is changing too, so it isn't like the Euro model is predicting the correct path all the time. Most importantly, don't expect any one model to be the best predictor for every hurricane. Each performs differently and their accuracy ranking changes with the particular storm and may even change from day to day within a single storm.
Absolutely hope for the best - I'm with you there, but as your governor says, do all you can to prepare for the worst. I've only lived at risk of hurricanes for 10 years but it that has been long enough to recognize that the models can't be relied on to tell how close a storm will come or how strong the winds will be in any location.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Category 4 Hurricane Irma
« on: September 07, 2017, 05:53:41 PM »
This looks like a very informative guide to hurricane safety produced by Palm Beach. A bit late for some actions such as tree care but other timely information also.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Category 4 Hurricane Irma
« on: September 07, 2017, 04:06:08 PM »
Euro is one of four weather models favored by the weather services. They are all run by many agencies on a daily basis or even more frequently. This is one page that shows current model runs for all four models.
Each model is run multiple times with slightly different starting conditions to reflect the uncertainties in the available information. The results of these different runs are called ensembles and produce the dense mass of lines on the simulation maps. Each model performs better under certain conditions and those conditions can change very quickly. That means you can't rely on any one model to predict what is going to happen, even though one may have performed well so far.
There is little comfort in any of these models. Much of Florida is less than 100 miles across. Current hurricane force winds in Irma are up to 50 miles from the eye and storm force winds 160 miles from the eye. The storm is three times bigger than the width of Florida.

My preferred weather side is with information on Irma and Jose here. Their latest update is here. They express significant concern for flying glass from glass curtain hi-rises in some areas and also concern for storm surges as high as 10 feet in some areas. This page maps predicted storm surge for different strength hurricanes in southeast Florida.

It is hard to let go of things you have nurtured and cherished but as many have said here, you can replace or restore things but not lives. Please be safe and remember is is better to go back and repair damage than to not be there to return.

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