What's Been Happening?
If you've read previous blogs, you'll know that my Sweet Tart has gone thru some serious troubles. My buddy Brandon in Florida sent this tree up to me as a 7 gallon beast. A year later it picked up a disease that was killing it from top to bottom. I had to cut it back to about an inch or two above the graft just to find good wood. It took a long time to recover properly from that. So all mangoes now get regular fungicide applications. So far so good.
The Cotton Candy and Orange Sherbet mangoes were frustratingly void of any blooms. Both were absolutely big and mature enough to produce. I'm sure it all comes down to poor timing with the pruning. They just seemed to be in a never-ending growth flush. Believe me, they receive no nitrogen, but sure did not slow them down. Gonna be difficult nailing down the formula for getting these two to bloom/fruit. The problem is that if it fails, you pretty much wait for another year to see if your next effort is successful.
This is not a greenhouse issue, folks down south can experience the same frustrations. I think the best would be to prune them the same time as the Sweet Tart...after the fruit is harvested. After that...leave them alone to do as they will. Drop the temps during winter and hope for a flowery spring.
Related to the mangosteen, just not nearly as good or popular. Although the achachairu is beginning to become quite popular thanks to good Australian marketing. I obtained these trees from Bryan Brunner at Montoso Gardens in Puerto Rico...a long time ago. They are twelve years old at the least. Folks in Florida are fruiting these in sometimes 5-6 years. So while my trees certainly grew like crazy and all were very healthy, the greenhouse still cannot compete with Florida warmth, sunshine, and humidity. Our Ohio winters are mostly overcast. But hey! It's a win and I'll take it.
Unfortunately, this first fruit was disappointing. Was not impressed with the flavor at all. The skin is terribly thick and not a good idea to eat. Hopefully the next fruiting will be better and more productive.
Not A Good Ending To The Year
I needed some circulation since all of the precious heat from the heaters was not making it back down lower to the ground. So I decided a ceiling fan would be a good, inexpensive option. It should also be a quick and easy project given the electric is still up there near where the previous ceiling fan was mounted. Easy and quick. For those of you who know me or at least have read my previous blogs, there is absolutely no project I undertake that turns out to be easy and quick. Mr. Murphy is always nearby ready to throw a wrench into the smooth-running gears.
In my zeal to clean and straighten up the basement, I had removed and disconnected all of the old electrical lines coming from the greenhouse. Most of these were definitely no longer connected to anything, but shit, the line to the old ceiling fan sure could have come in handy! I had cut that and terminated it into an electrical box as all good electricians should do. Right! So now I had to reconnect it and run it to the breaker box. You've heard of the wise old saying "measure twice, cut once"? For electricity, I check for power 20 times, before touching or cutting anything! But on my list of projects, this went okay. It's just that there is nothing simple. I also replaced the old, non-working spot lights out there with new ones. Let there be light.
I also took the time to prune the hell out of some of the trees. I wanted to get them away from the ceiling glass. This helped circulation as well.
I have been spraying my mangoes with a foliar mix that would hopefully trigger blooms. I had also lowered the temps in the greenhouse to just above 50 degrees and not letting the temp to get above 55. Lots of skylight and window openings during sunny days to keep it cool in there. I thought I had last pruned the mangoes at the proper time but it looked like the Orange Sherbet and Cotton Candy wanted to be a little more aggressive with the new growth than I would have liked. The really cool temps and the foliar sprays also covered my soursop seedlings as well as my lovely Miami soursop that was in the ground. All of this contributed to killing many seedlings as well as the Miami. So I'm glad I did some grafting before it completely failed. Another hard lesson. Not all trees will tolerate the same shit as others will.
The sabara jaboticaba was loaded with blooms and small fruit. The Thai Red pomelo had hundreds of blooms. First time for this. It is grafted on my Kaffir lime. Hog plum in container is blooming, but will set no fruits. The Sweet Tart mango is putting out lots of blooms. I had obtained a bunch of fish guts and other throw away parts. This was to be used for flies to help pollinate all of the mangoes. I was going to order fly pupae for this chore. Unfortunately, the other two mangoes failed to bloom and I basically just figured screw it. The tree remarkably is holding on to several lovely mangoes so far regardless!
Preparing For The Move
In between these projects, there's been non-stop work inside as well. Clearing and cleaning out the basement followed by painting...yippie. Partial remodel of the downstairs bathroom. More fun and adventures that I will not bother with here. Still lots to do but I am just too burned out at the moment to start something new.
The container trees included a big Kari starfruit, Vexator, peanut butter fruit, various grafted citrus, a big New Zealand Lemonade, grafted Miami soursop and soursop seedlings, hog plum, small grafted Kari starfruit, small rooted peanut butter fruit, grafted Zill Dark Surinam cherry, figs, huge Mexican guava, big lemondrop mangosteen with a superior find grafted on, dwarf Hawaiian mango, guava air layers, mamay sapote seedlings, and some assorted garcinia seedlings. It's no wonder I could barely walk thru the greenhouse!
So...while I'm happy that trying to get rid of these are no longer a concern, it's still saddens me. A lot of time and effort went into these trees. I truly wish every single person complete success with the trees they purchased.
The above four pics are a sample before pruning. Luc's is first pic followed by rollinia. The outside pic is a good example of how many are pushing against the glass. The last pic is the jaboticaba. Nearly everything in there was either pushing against house, glass sides and/or top, or all the above. Even trying to tie branches back, this all makes it very difficult to clean...and it's already a difficult job.
I spent several morning hours on the ladder accomplishing this task. There is only so much room for the ladder and in many cases, this required me standing on the last rung from the top and stretching and/or bending for all I was worth to reach branches. Every part of my body, especially feet and ankles, was working desperately trying to keep my dumb ass from falling off that ladder. It took a long time and I cut back more than I normally would.
Power washing sucks. Doing your sidewalk or driveway is a piece of cake. Balancing on the last rung of the ladder and reaching across or thru a tree fully extended using one arm/hand for the power washer is uncomfortable at best. Even with the trees cut way back, it is still a lot of work. The side with all of the garcinias and jaboticaba is the most crowded and therefore takes the most effort.
Not sure when I will tackle washing the outside. This has its own hazzards...like climbing up top and trying to stand on wet, soapy glass. Tried that last year and the results were no different than me on a ladder and using an extension pole to clean the top glass. Hard on the shoulders, but a lot safer too.
Yeah...all of this is hard work and takes time, but I only do this once a year. People do this for their pools all the time. It's just all a part of the up keep. A necessary evil so to speak. I certainly could hire someone to do this, but how careful around my trees would these people be? They're focus will be on cleaning and probably won't much care about a branch here and there that is in their way. I do care.
Case in point. When I had the back side of the house re-sided, I called in the company that initially did our vinyl siding. I took all of the shit off of the house inside there and even labeled each piece. But I was not comfortable putting it all back together again because they were going to have to custom fits some pieces. Now...was taking it off easy? No. I had to squeeze and wiggle behind some trees to get to the siding and still had very little room to maneuver. I still accomplished the removal without loosing a branch.
So what do one of these fucking clowns do? They took a large branch on my jackfruit tree, snapped it at the trunk and then bent it around out of their way. I went absolutely bat shit crazy when I saw that and turned that crazy loose on the foreman. He pretty much finished the job by himself obviously not trusting the dipshits working for him to do so and not break something else.
So yeah...I may be sore and tired, but the job was done correctly.
This is all on me. There are a few people I've bent my own rules for. I put out the trust and held these trees for many many months. I had people begging me for some of these trees, but held firm. Now who is the idiot? These are all of the largest and most expensive trees left. Despite what you may think...Ohio is not a hotbed for tropical fruit growing. Not by a long shot. Fortunately for me, I found a previous customer just as whacky about plants as I am. She purchased them all and paid in advance on the spot. Awesome for both of us and definitely a huge load of worry off my shoulders.
Facebook Marketplace is a mixed blessing. You can sell a lot of stuff thru here but you first have to weed thru a ton of jackasses. Why is that? Go advertise something and then let me know how many mouth breathers send you a "Hi, is this still available?" request and then never hear from them again! I don't get it. Why in the hell would you take the time to look at and respond to an ad if you had no intention of following up on it?! Assholes. Plain and simple.
But in between all of these window lickers are some really great folks out there. Most come to the house not only eager to take home a new tree, but genuinely want to learn about the greenhouse and growing tropical fruit trees. I have many repeat customers that I interact with often. Good people. But damn! Some folks you encounter are just down right rude and inconsiderate. This is not a business and I do not have standard business hours. I couldn't count the number of times someone has told me they would be at the house at a certain time...and never show up without a courtesy heads up. Some argue over a price or becomes upset that something isn't available. Some want me to dig trees out of the ground in the greenhouse! Thankfully, these folks are few and far between. And for all of those who have purchased my trees, I wish you the very best of growing.
That's it for now. Still lots of work around the house to finish up before we can put it on the market. Hopefully there will be someone out there wanting a greenhouse...with a nice home attached to it.