Thursday, December 1, 2016

December Is Tropical Fruit Awareness Month

The best guide to how your fruiotn plants are doing and best chance to intervene with a potential problem is to get outside. Occasionally water with the hose. The time it takes to fill the basin of each plant will give you the opportunity to look the plant over. Your plant can tell you many things if you take time to look. The color of the leaves can indicate certain nutrient deviancies. Curling of the leaves depending on which direction can reveal over or under watering. Damage to the leaves or trunk can reveal pests or disease and all possibly give you enough time to seek advise and react. If you use a watering system such as drip emitters be advised they are not fool proof. Apart from the fact that the emitters have to be changed and adjusted yearly to coincide with your maturing tree they can also fail or become plugged, and a few days or weeks with out water might have an irreversible affect.

Mangos, Bananas, Avocados, in a desert climate? Can it be done? Sure it can and is being done all over town. With a little planning and consideration to sun, wind, cold and watering you can grow numerous types of tropical and sub-tropical fruit plants and trees. Arizona's great year round climate lends itself to a wonderful array of possibilities, and in no time at all you too can be growing and eating home grown Mangos and Bananas from your own back yard.

Many think that the summer heat is the main killer and reason you can't grow many tropical plants in a desert. Well, have you ever been to India, Thailand or even Florida, it is brutally hot in the summer, factor in the humidity and well you know. Closer to home did you know that there are over 30,000 Keitt mango trees growing in the hot desert area of the Coachella Valley of California, (Salton Sea), where the daily summer highs rarely dip below 105f, and a normal summer day averages 114f. Some of the ripened fruit is distributed through local Costo stores nation wide and the remaining is shipped to Asian markets over seas. Sure the Arizona (Phoenix) summer is hot and uncomfortable for us, but this is not completely so for tropical plants. Though summer sun and heat is a factor, the main killer is wind and cold, second biggest killer is under watering newly planted trees. The presumption when someone says California climate is to think of the pleasant southern costal area and beaches and how easy plants grow there. Apart from the coastal area, the truth is that California has a diverse climate just like Arizona, from searing deserts to snowy mountains and all the challenges that come with growing sub-tropical plants.

Why don't more people plant tropical fruit trees you ask? Well actually a lot do, but in a city nearing 4 million people the percentage in relation to the number of homes is small, and the amount of nurseries in the valley offering these plants and the expertise to succesfully grow them is nearly non existence. Another factor is unfamiliarity with the plants and fruits themselves. One might think that everyone in California has a jaboticaba, lychee or pitahaya growing in their backyard and that these plants are sold at every corner nursery, but the fact is they don't and they aren't. It also takes a trained eye to spot a mature avocado tree or mango tree if you have never seen one before, so it is quite possible that you might have seen many plants you didn't know could grow here and didn't even know it. Still another factor is that people are on the go, the average time people keep a house is around 7 years in the valley. Tropical trees take time to mature and take on going care. With owners changing hands so frequently, chances are the new residents will not have the same landscape desires as the previous ones and the plant is removed or dies from lack of care, this is less evident in the older sections of town with mature landscapes. Also with the growing popularity of HOA's and their strick landscape restrictions, many tropical and subtropical trees if they are allowed at all are probably trucked away behind the house and block fences, unable to be seen from the street. One last misconception is that tropical trees need absurd amounts of water, and though yes they need more frequent water than desert adapted plants or that nature provides, they will require far less water than a pool or grass lawn would consume.

The following is a general tropical planting guide. The advise is derived from years of trial and error, reading of numerous books, web sites and the advise and guidance of many friends who share the passion and desire to grow these plants in the arid desert. I've listed some of the main sources at the end of this article, one in particular is the "Arizona Rare Fruit Growers" who meet every second Thursday at 730pm in the Maricopa County Extension building at the corner of 43rd Place & Southern Ave. in Phoenix. If you really like gardening and growing exotic and not so exotic fruit trees and plants then I highly recommend considering a membership. The fee is minimal and the rewards are great. At very least, a visit to their demonstration garden at the same address is a must. There you will see mature fruiting trees, all of which are planted and cared for by the members who are everyday backyard gardeners like you.

Well if you are ready, lets get started, however before we do let me make this statement. Gardeners have been growing and killing plants for as long as anyone knows, yes desert plants too. No one is exempt from this fact and try as you might it cannot be avoided. Soil condition, drainage, humidity, heat, cold, diseases, pests, winds, pollination are only a few of of the many obstacles that stand in our way and many well beyond our control. I will also say that every gardener, novice or experienced has an opinion, and what works in one persons garden does not necessarily work for another. With that in mind I encourage you to follow the links on our website, buy or borrow the various books listed and conduct research of your own using the search engine of your choice, then modify the information as necessary to fit your individual planting situation.

If you are looking for the perfect citrus for yourself or as a gift for a business associates, your family or friends? A quick visit to can solve all of your fresh gift giving adventures. We sell only the finest selections and the freshest citrus you can buy.

Presented By:
Sunburst Oranges
180 South “E” Street
Porterville, CA  93257

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