Exotic fruit care... Naturally

by The Garden Goddess

ello fellow Earthlings, and welcome to the second part of our series on care of tropical and sub-tropical fruit trees. Last month we discussed care of citrus and avocados. This week we will be talking about more tropical fruits and their specific requirements. So let's take a stroll down to the back forty where you keep all those trees and give them a look see

Tropical fruit trees can be categorized in the same way that you categorize other fruits. Many tropical fruit trees are deciduous in our area due to our mild, cool season. In the tropics they do not need to shed their foliage and go dormant because there is no winter to speak of in equatorial climates. So, up here in our climate, many fruit trees that are native to tropic zones go dormant during our brief winter season to protect themselves from catching a cold. Guavas, cherimoyas and sapotes are a few examples of tropical fruit trees that are deciduous in our climate.

Evergreen tropical fruits like bananas, papayas, and mangoes are able to hold on to their foliage the whole year in our area, even though they do get pretty ragged during the winter.

Summer is the time when all of these fruit types do most of their growing and produce the bulk of their fruit. This is why proper feeding during this time of year is so critical to success with tropical fruits. Along with water and mulch, feeding should be about all of the maintenance you need to perform an your tropical fruits during the growing season other than eating, of course.

Water is probably the most critical ingredient in growing crops of this kind and a thick, thick layer of mulch around your tropical fruit trees will make them, the soil, and your wallet very happy. That mulch layer will help your soil to absorb up to five times more water than a soil without a layer of mulch. It will also insulate the root system and keep it cool during hot weather. Mulch will also prevent evaporation of precious water from the soil, saving you money. It will also improve the quality of your soil as it decomposes and makes humus, and it is a favorite food of earthworms, your garden buddies.

Feeding your tropical fruit trees is very basic. To do it naturally will cause you no extra effort to speak of and the plant foods that you use will last longer, feed the plant in a more natural way, and will not harm your personal environment with poisonous chemicals.

So let's do it, already. The following blend of materials will feed your fruit trees for three months as it assists your mulch in the improvement of your soil:

1 part Kelzyme (fossilized kelp) or kelp meal
1 part greensand
2 parts cottonseed meal
1 part soft rock phosphate
1 part seabird or poultry guano

Mix these ingredients together and feed your trees at an application rate of two pounds of mixed fertilizer per inch of trunk diameter on deciduous and woody tropicals and one pound for every three feet of height for bananas and more herbaceous or soft (green trunk) wooded plant types. Repeat application in 90 days then let your trees rest for the fall and winter months. You may begin applications with this wonderful fertilizer in mid-spring which is around April 15th in our climate. Always remember to never feed a thirsty plant and always water after applying any plant food to activate it.

Follow these simple instructions and your tropical fruit trees will be prolific in growth and plentiful in providing you and your family a bounty of tasty exotic fruits. Remember that these plants are also very attractive and can be used very effectively in the ornamental landscaping around your home. Fruits and vegetables do not need to be confined to the "back forty."

Next time we will be discussing general garden maintenance during the dog days of summer. Come up and see me sometime! Remember that all of these materials can be found at Grangetto's Farm and Garden Supply in Encinitas, Escondido, Fallbrook and Valley Center.

  Got Questions? Fax the Goddess at (760) 632-8175 or email her at gdngodsmill.net The Garden Goddess is a trademark of the Organic Gardener's Resource Centre of Encinitas.