Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Produce With An Identity Crisis


      When the Coastal Carolina Fair comes to town, I get excited because that means Flower Shows and time to demonstrate some garden expertise in a friendly competition. Flower Show is actually not a really good description because there are also design competitions, plants that don’t flower, fruits and vegetables on display. I don’t only enter different things into different categories; I have been assisting in plant identification and placement of the entries as they come in.



     The fair just recently ended, it was a blast as usual. However, this year there came to light an interesting problem. We have produce that has an identity crisis!! Here is the story.
     I was setting up Section S, Vegetables, Fruits, and Nuts (insert your own joke), and we got a watermelon in to be displayed. The owner had it entered in the "any other fruit" category because they thought there was not a specific place for it. As I was moving things around, I realized that there WAS a watermelon category, under the vegetables!
I thought, okay, there was a major boo-boo in the printing in the show schedule. When I asked about it, they told me that botanically, it is a vegetable. I already knew that tomatoes were classified in the fruit section. SO, I had to do some research and find out if I was living in Bizzaro World!!


Photo Courtesy of: http://livinginbizarroworld.blogspot.com/

     It’s true that watermelon and other melons like the honeydew and cantaloupe (which are fruits) are in the Cucurbitaceous family, but the watermelon is in the Citrullus genus, which is an important distinction between the two types of produce. I know that is a lot of fancy jargon, let’s break it down a little. The dictionary defines “fruit” as “the ripened ovary (pistil) of a seed plant and its contents, which includes the seeds.” This includes things like apples, oranges, and cherries. These are ripened ovaries that include seeds of the plant that bore them. A broader definition of a fruit is anything that contains seeds.
     Sounds easy, right? Well, under that definition, squash and green beans would be considered fruits, even though most people would consider them vegetables. The dictionary defines a vegetable as “anything made or obtained from plants.” Basically, that means all fruits are also vegetables. To further clarify the vegetable family, most people consider vegetables to be the leaves, stems, stalks, and roots of certain plants, which helps to define why celery, carrots, lettuce, and onions are all, unequivocally, vegetables.
     Okay, now it gets confusing.
     The “rules” over what is or is not a vegetable are not really set in stone and are often open to interpretation. In many cases, the distinction is made based on how the produce is used and how it tastes. This is referred to as a culinary distinction. Using these culinary distinctions, things that are low in sugar and are of a savory taste are considered vegetables, and things that are sweeter are then considered fruits.
     SO, Bell peppers and tomatoes are considered vegetables because they’re savory and low in sugar, even though they have seeds, which technically make them fruits. Pumpkins, cucumbers, and squash are all fruits because they have seeds. However, in a culinary sense, these items are all vegetables. So, basically "fruit" and "vegetable" are defined differently depending on whether you're a gardener or a chef.

Photo Courtesy of: @TheChefsGarden - https://twitter.com/thechefsgarden

      The fruit vs. vegetable debate can sometimes reach such a fervor that the law must step in.  In the 1893 United States Supreme Court case Nix. v. Hedden, the court ruled unanimously that an imported tomato should be taxed as a vegetable, rather than as a (less taxed) fruit. The court acknowledged that a tomato is a botanical fruit, but went with what they called the "ordinary" definitions of fruit and vegetable — the ones used in the kitchen.

Photo Courtesy of: http://www.eatthis.com/your-diet-isnt-as-healthy-as-you-think-it-is/

     Okay, if all of this is not bad enough, we all know that anything with “berry” in its name is basically a fruit, right? WELL, despite its name, the strawberry isn't a true berry. Neither is the raspberry or the blackberry. But the banana, it turns out, is a berry, scientifically speaking, so are eggplants, grapes, and oranges. To be considered a berry, a fruit must have two or more seeds. Thus, a cherry, which has just one seed, doesn't make the berry cut, rather, cherries, like other fleshy fruit with thin skin and a central stone that contains a seed, are called drupes. HOWEVER, you might be inclined to call it a vegetable, thanks to its green hue and savory taste, but the avocado is technically a fruit, and even more specifically, a single-seeded berry.



     Ready to scream yet?
Did you know that apples, pears, and quince actually belong to the rose family?
That my friends is fodder for another day!
If you have any questions about this article, (or need me to untangle the knots in your brains wiring after reading this) or any of my other articles, drop me a line at
TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com
If you dare, you can follow me on FACEBOOK too!
Happy Growing!
Darren

Sunday, November 5, 2017

2017 Southeastern Citrus Expo

   
     I would be totally remiss as The Citrus Guy if I did not write about one of the greatest annual events to happen in the world of citrus for us amateur folks. It has been going on since 2003 when Southeastern Palm Society member Stan McKenzie organized the first-ever South Carolina Citrus Expo at Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Columbia, South Carolina. The expo has changed over the years and has become what is now known as the Southeastern Citrus Expo. It gets moved around from year to year and has been in places such as Virginia Beach, Virginia,  Fort Valley, Ga., Tifton, Ga, Florence, SC and Charleston, SC just to name a few.

     This year it will be in Savannah, Georgia!!

     This event is attended by Citruholics from around the country, and sometimes the world. The amount of expertise that will be on hand to answer any and all questions is second to none. A panel of experts will be brought up at the end to answer your questions, should you have any left after the itinerary of speakers is done.



Citrus trees will be for sale, though, due to quarantines, this will only apply to Georgia residents. The trees MUST stay in the state of Georgia. There will also be fruit to sample!




Books will be for sale.



Goodies galore! Raffles, giveaways, and so much more!







Of course, the obligatory fruit contest will be going on too!
 This contest is a friendly competition, though there will always be the ribbing and the poking for the bragging rights!

 









There is always a lot of fun when we all get together, it is just like a huge family!


     I truly hope that you can attend, you can make a weekend of it! There is always plenty to do in Savannah, I hear there is a Camellia Show the same Friday, not very far away. You can send me an e-mail if you are curious about that.
     All of the information that you should need is below. If you want or need even MORE information, you can contact me at TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com or go to our Facebook Page, there are pictures from many of the previous expos as well as more ways to contact us.
Happy Growing!
Darren

Print this page out below to take with you!

SOUTHEASTERN CITRUS EXPO 2017

The Southeastern Citrus Expo is coming to Savannah, Georgia on November 17 and 18, 2017.
Optional tours on Friday the 17th will include Franklin Farms of Statesboro and a Savannah backyard citrus orchard in the afternoon, as well as self-guided visits to the plantings at Armstrong State University and the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens. Additional tour possibilities will be forthcoming.
Saturday's conference sessions will be held at the beautiful Skidaway Island State Park, which borders Georgia's Intracoastal waterway.
http://www.gastateparks.org/SkidawayIsland
Confirmed speakers include Jamie Burrow of the University of Florida on citrus greening and other citrus growing challenges;
Lindy Savelle of the Georgia Citrus Association on the progress with commercial citrus growing in Georgia;
Billy Renz on the commercial citrus groves of Franklin Farms in Statesboro;
A panel of experts will share experiences and provide advice.
More presenters will be added.
If you grow citrus or want to learn how, mark your calendars and watch for further announcements about the conference schedule, as well as more information about tours and the citruholics banquet on Friday the 17th. If you have program ideas or questions, contact Marj Schneider at marjschneider@bellsouth.net


Friday, November 17: Places to Visit

Franklin Farms: 2:00 PM Tour,
200 Bohler Rimes Rd., Statesboro, GA
On I-16 exit onto Hwy. 301 and head north towards Statesboro. Bohler Rimes Rd is a little over 6 miles from the interstate. Turn Right on Bohler Rimes (It's a dirt road with a gate but we will have the gate open). Come about 1 mile down the dirt road and you will see some greenhouses and a packing house on the right. Pull in there and park.

John Trask Citrus Grove: 2:00 PM Tour
275 Orange Grove Rd., St. Helena Island, SC 
Look on map and head to Port Royal, Lady’s Island, St. Helena Island.  Once on St Helena turn onto MLK Drive. Go exactly 2.3 miles to Perry Rd. Turn right at Perry Rd. and continue for about one mile which intersects with Orange Grove Rd. Turn left onto OG Rd and proceed about 1/4 mile. See mailbox #275.  Across from mailbox is a red barn. Turn into the driveway to the red barn and someone will give direction to the citrus orchard.
Or even simpler, use GPS to #275 Orange Grove Rd, St. Helena Island.

In Savannah
Home of Marj & Don, Between 1:00-5:00 PM Tour
212 Oxford Dr., Savannah, GA
Turn east on Eisenhower Dr., turn left (north) on Waters Ave., continue north to Althea Pkwy (at blinking yellow light), turn left into Kensington Park, turn right onto Oxford Dr., continue to 212 Oxford, fifth house on left past Reynolds Ave. House number on the front door. Enter backyard by the gate on the left side when facing the house.

Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm, Self-Guided Tour
2 Canebrake Road, Savannah, GA
Take exit 94 from I-95 onto *Hwy. 204 towards Savannah. Turn right at first light onto Gateway Blvd., then left onto Canebrake Rd to your destination on left, just before Hwy. 17. *(Note: Hwy. 204 is Abercorn St., the same street as Armstrong State University and the Quality Inn.)

Armstrong State University (To tour campus plantings)
11935 Abercorn St, Savannah, GA
See Map Below
Take exit 94 from I-95 onto Hwy. 204 towards Savannah. Turn right off Abercorn onto campus road Arts Dr. Past the parking lot on the left is the campus police station. Park and obtain a free parking pass from the police station.



To Quality Inn Midtown
7100 Abercorn St. Savannah, Ga [Motel has an entrance on Abercorn and Eisenhower)

From the West: On I-16, follow to Exit 164A, GA-21/Lynes Pkwy, onto I-516 east. Follow to Abercorn St. Turn right onto Abercorn; turn left onto Eisenhower Dr., enter Quality Inn property on your left.
From the south:
On I-95, take exit 94 and make a right turn onto GA-204 (which is Abercorn St.). Drive 11.6 miles, turn right onto Eisenhower Drive, Quality Inn will be on the left side.

Coming from the North: on I-95, take exit 99 to I-16 East. Follow I-16 East to Exit 164A GA-21/Lynes Pkwy/I-516/US 17/US 80. Follow GA-21 S to Abercorn St. Turn right onto Abercorn, continue to Eisenhower Dr. and turn left. Quality Inn will be on the left.

Citruholics Banquet, 6:00 PM, Sweet Potatoes Kitchen
6825 Waters Ave., Savannah
Please arrive close to 6:00 PM. We will be ordering from the regular menu.
https://foursquare.com/v/sweet-potatoes-kitchen/4b92c65df964a520941a34e3/menu

From Quality Inn parking lot, turn left onto Eisenhower Dr. and in a little over ½ mile turn left onto Waters Ave. The restaurant is immediately on your left, just past the gas station.


Saturday Morning, November 18: Skidaway Island State Park group Shelter for Citrus Expo: Registration, 8:00-9:30 AM; Sessions begin 9:30 AM


To Expo from quality Inn: Turn left onto Eisenhower Dr.; Drive a little over a ½ mile to Waters Ave. and turn right. Waters Ave. will soon become Whitefield Ave, and then Diamond Causeway. Continue approximately 7 miles. Turn left onto State Park Rd. 1/2 mile to the Park.

To Expo from the west: On I-16, follow to Exit 164A, GA-21/Lynes Pkwy, onto I-516 East, which becomes DeRenne Ave. Continue to Truman Pkwy. Turn right and enter the Pkwy. Exit onto Whitefield Ave. Turn left onto Whitefield Ave. Turn left onto State Park Road. Park is straight ahead ½ mile.

To Expo from the north: on I-95, take exit 99 to I-16 East. Follow I-16 East to Exit 164A GA-21/Lynes Pkwy/I-516/US 17/US 80. Follow and I-516 becomes DeRenne Ave. Continue to Truman Pkwy. Turn right and enter the Pkwy. Exit onto Whitefield Ave. Turn left onto Whitefield Ave. Turn left onto State Park Road. Park is straight ahead ½ mile.


To Expo from the south: Take exit 94 from I-95 onto Hwy. 204 (which is Abercorn St.) towards Savannah. Turn right onto Truman Pkwy. Exit onto Whitefield Ave. Turn right onto Whitefield Ave. Turn left onto State Park Road. Park is straight ahead ½ mile. 





Fruit Competition Rules and Procedures


Fruit Preparation
1. All fruit entered must be grown by the entrant, either in a container or in the ground.
2. Before submission, fruit should be washed and prepared for eating. Judges may have to taste fruit in case of a tie.
3. A minimum of three fruit of a specific cultivar will constitute a single entry. For example, three Satsuma fruit are required to qualify as one entry. One of the fruit must be cut in half “against the grain” (as you would a grapefruit) to show the inside of the fruit.
4. Fruit must contain at least ½ inch of stem attached; one fruit should have a leaf attached to the stem. Submissions from growers in quarantined areas are exempt from this requirement.
5. Check the category sheet to determine best category for each entry.
At the Expo
1. Entering of fruit must be done during the assigned time, 8:00 to 9:15 AM. After this time, entries will not be accepted.
2. At the fruit contest area you will be given an entry number to ensure anonymity. Make sure you keep this number with you until the award ceremony.
3. An entry form must be filled out for each entry. Be sure to put your entry number on each form. Display plates will be provided.
4. Blue, red, and white ribbons will be awarded for each category.
In addition, there will be a “Best in Show,” “Honorable Mention,” and “Most Unique” award.


Citrus Categories for the Contest
Class 1. Satsuma
Class 2. Mandarin
Class 3. Sweet Orange
Class 4. Sour Orange
Class 5. Lemon
Class 6. Lime
Class 7. Grapefruit & Pomelo
Class 8. Kumquat, Calamondin & their Hybrids
Class 9. Trifoliate & its Hybrids
Class 10. Complex Hybrids
Class 11. Ichangensis Hybrids
Any cultivars not listed here will be assigned to a category by the judging coordinator.

Citrus Fruit cultivars
Satsumas: Armstrong, Brown Select, Early St. Ann, Kimbrough, Mijo, Miyagawa, Owari, Silverhill, others.
Mandarin: Changsha, Clementine, Clem-Yuz 2-2, Clem-Yuz 3-3, Dancy, Fallglo, Juanita, Keraji, Minneola Tangelo, Nasnaran, Orlando Tangelo, Page, Ponkan, Robinson, Shekwasha
Sweet Orange: Ambersweet, Cara Cara navel, Hamlin, Navel, Parson Brown
Lemon: Eureka, Harvey, Lisbon, Meyer, Ponderosa, Pink Variegated, Sanbokan, Ujukitsu
Lime: Australian finger, Bearss, Key, Persian
Sour Orange: Abers Narrowleaf, Bergamot, Bigaradier Apepu, Boquet des Fleurs, Chinotto, Citrus neoaurantium, Gou Tou, Nansho Daidai (Citrus taiwanica), Sauvage, Seville, Smooth Flat Seville, Willowleaf, Zhu Luan
Grapefruit & Pummelo: Bloomsweet, Chandler, Croxton, Duncan, Flame, Golden, Hirado Buntan, Marsh, Oroblanco, Pink Marsh, Ray Ruby, Rio Red, Ruby Red, Thompson Pink
Calamondin, Kumquat & Hybrids: Chang Shou, Fukushu, Hong Kong, Lemonquat, Limequat (Eustis, Lakeland, Tavares), Marmaladequat, Meiwa, Nagami, Nippon Orangequat, Procimequat, Sunquat
Trifoliate Orange and Hybrids: Citrange (Morton, Troyer, Carrizo, Benton, Rusk, others), Citrumelo (Dunstan, Swingle, USDA 80-5, others), Citradia, Citrandarin (CiClem #10, Citsuma, Changsha x English Large, others), Dragon Lime, Flying Dragon, Rubidoux, Standard
Complex Hybrids: Citrangequat (Thomasville, Sinton, others), Glen Citrangedin, Razzlequat, SanCitChang, US 119
Ichangensis Hybrids: Ichang Lemon, Ichang Papeda, Sudachi, Taichang lemon, Yuzu, Yuzuquat, Yuzvange



Cut Here To Use This Form
_______________________________________________________________________________



2017 Southeastern citrus Expo Fruit Competition form

Entrant’s Number _______________
(Will be provided by contest volunteer)
Class 1. Satsuma Cultivar_______________________________________________
Class 2. Mandarin Cultivar______________________________________________
Class 3. Sweet Orange Cultivar___________________________________________
Class 4. Sour Orange Cultivar____________________________________________
Class 5. Lemon Cultivar________________________________________________
Class 6. Lime Cultivar: ________________________________________________
Class 7. Grapefruit & Pomelo Cultivar_____________________________________
Class 8. Kumquat, Calamondin & their Hybrids Cultivar_______________________
Class 9. Trifoliate & its Hybrids Cultivar___________________________________
Class 10. Complex Hybrids Cultivar______________________________________
Class 11. Ichangensis Hybrids Cultivar____________________________________
NOTE: PLACE THIS SIDE UP DURING JUDGING
>>>>>>>>>>>>>Fold form here so information below does not show>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

TO ENSURE THE CONCEALMENT OF THE PARTICIPANT’S IDENTITY DURING JUDGING, THIS SIDE MUST REMAIN DOWN. (Unfold and display the entire form after all judging
is complete) Please complete the following.
Where grown: ________________________ ______________________ State & County/Parrish USDA Hardiness Zone________
Thank you for your participation. Good luck!

Cut Here


Citrus Trees For Sale At Expo


Here is some good news if you are a Georgia resident.
Citrus trees will be available for attendees to order in advance of this year's Southeastern Citrus Expo, but only on a limited basis. Due to regulations to prevent the spread of citrus greening, trees can only be purchased from inspected nurseries and must stay in Georgia once they leave the expo. If you are a Georgia resident or the tree itself will stay in the state, you can buy any of the trees on offer from Mark Crawford or Lindy Savelle. Read on for the varieties they have for sale and place your orders before the expo on Saturday, November 18. Mark and Lindy will be bringing preordered trees to the expo, and don't count on them having extras, though you could get lucky! Again, these are trees that have to remain in Georgia.
Mark Crawford of Loch Laurel Nursery in Valdosta has the following varieties available. Trees are grafted, two-year-old trees in 4 or 5-gallon pots at $35 each. Contact Mark at 229-460-5922 or <craw142@bellsouth.net> to order trees in advance of the expo and arrange for payment. If you are in search of more unusual varieties, ask Mark if he has them. Visit Loch Laurel's website for further descriptions. http://www.lochlaurelnursery.com/citrus.asp
Satsuma varieties available:
Early Maturing: Oct-Nov.
Miho
Xie-Shan
Okitsu-Wase
Late Season: Nov.-Dec.
Owari
Frost Owari
Aoshima
Port Neches*
Agricola*
* Unregistered varieties that have good quality fruit.
Other cold-hardy citrus (Zone 8)
Juanita
Sugar Belle (On Rubidoux rootstock)
Kishu
Ambersweet
Lindy Savelle of 1 Dog Ventures LLC of Mitchell County has the following grafted varieties available. Unless otherwise designated, the trees are offered at a wholesale price of $25. They are one-year-old trees, 12 to 18 inches in height. Contact Lindy at <lindylamarsavelle@gmail.com> or at
850-830-1746 to order in advance of the expo and arrange for payment.
Citrus Tree List
Rootstocks available: Flying Dragon, Rubidoux, Rich 16-6 & Sour Orange.
UGA trees are priced higher, with a royalty for research going back to the university.
Satsumas:
Frost Owari
Early St Anne
LA Early
Silverhill
Brown Select
Other Varieties:
Keifer Lime
Persian Lime
Improved Meyer Lemon $40 (3 feet tall)
Thornless Key Lime $40 (3-4 feet tall)
Murcott Mandarin
UGA Sweet Frost Tangerine $50
UGA Pink Frost Grapefruit $50
UGA Grand Frost Lemon $50
Atwood Navel
Lisbon Lemon
Blood Orange
Valencia Orange
Nagami Kumquat

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Bloggin for the Noggin

     Back on January 16th, 2010 I wrote my very first blog. My reasoning at the time was simple, I was tired of reading articles in magazines, online, and elsewhere that I REALLY wanted to learn more about in the horticulture world, only to end up with just as many questions (if not more) than when I started. I was nowhere near as prolific in the garden scene as I may be now, so I really was trying to learn. Yes, I sat and read textbooks that I could find. My Friday nights were filled with searching out Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), which is a document that contains information on the potential hazards (health, fire, reactivity and environmental) and how to work safely with the chemical product. Yeah, I was a REAL party animal!!

Here is a typical sheet I would read, this is for Carbaryl (Sevin Dust)
     As I was saying, other than the textbooks and MSD Sheets, I was having issues learning by reading Magazine and online articles, they just never really completed the whole story. Hence, one of the main reasons for The Citrus Guy blog, to teach as MUCH information on a specific topic as I possibly could. Does it fall short occasionally? Probably.
Is it from lack of trying? No.
But I would bet that you will know A LOT more about something after reading one of my articles. I only say that because I have received many wonderful e-mails thanking me for the information that I provide. I completely believe in the quote, which is commonly attributed to Sir Francis Bacon, "Knowledge Is Power".

     Michelangelo once stated that "He is Still Learning".
 I like that one too!
So, as I continue to learn, I will continue to teach. However, teaching and knowledge are great, but you need to put that knowledge to use.


So in actuality, the equation is Knowledge+Action=Power.
     How does this relate to the subject at hand?
Other than the obvious, people need to go outside and dig in the ground, plant something, or simply work in the garden more, I wanted my blog to be more than just information.
My action?
     I have been vetting different gardening, horticulture, and yard paraphernalia sites over the past several months to make this blog a one-stop shop as it where. Here is the gist. I discuss something here, maybe a new plant cultivar that has come out, or a new pesticide, you get all excited about it and you want to get some. Where do you go? You have to go hunting around the web, possibly getting frustrated, then you give up. You have the knowledge, but without the action, or tools to create the action, you do not have the full power. If I have numerous links either in the article itself or at the top of the page, I can direct you there.
     Pretty simple, huh? There is a caveat that I am attempting to fix. Occasionally, you will see a link in one of my articles that does NOT make any sense. For instance, I talked about Sweet Potatoes before. One of the programs I am using to install links on here is a little too literal, it will probably take you to a dog food site that is made with Sweet Potatoes. I will also discuss Neem oil as a horticultural organic pesticide at times, the link may take you to an essential oils health and beauty website. I assure you I am working on getting that changed, so please, if you get sent to a weird site and have NO IDEA why it sent you there, it is being worked on. In some cases, it might just happen to be something that you needed anyway, so if that is the case, BONUS!!
     Another secondary reason for the blog was to help and try to fix as much of the "bad" information that was out there.
Let me give you a couple of examples:
Example #1- I was at a function onetime and was asked, how do you tell the difference between a male and female fig? I was waiting for the punchline and wanted to know what they meant. They proceeded to tell me that a "fairly" reliable source had stated that you need a male and female fig to produce fruit. I quickly told them that was absolutely incorrect and that one fig tree will produce fruit.
Example #2- A well-known market type website had a product for sale that a very nice lady asked me if I thought it was a good idea to purchase. When she told me what it was, I almost spit out my coffee that I was drinking. The item? She wanted to know if she should buy some seedless grape seeds.
I will let that sink in for a minute.


     The sad part is, I stumble across things like that on a weekly basis. If it is on the Internet, it must be true right? Huh? What? Wait a minute, my blog is on the Internet, so if it isn't right, it's, but....never mind!
      I try to research everything I post as much as I possibly can. I take my teachings very seriously. The world is losing all of the growers, horticulturists, and gardeners at an alarming rate. I wrote an article last year entitled "We're Losing Them Folks" discussing how the younger generation is turning away from gardening. I want people to see that we need education. We need truth. We need to get rid of false news and information. We need the younger generation to get OFF of their computer-laden butts and get out into the yard or garden.
     Please pass this around to as many people as you can. Information is the key and if people are getting bad info, they will have problems and probably fail, thus discouraging them from trying again.
Failing numerous times is not bad, failing once and never trying again is!
End of rant.
If you have any questions about this or any of my other articles, drop me an e-mail to TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com and don't forget to follow me on FACEBOOK!
Happy Growing!
Darren

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Me Mammey!

     With fall, more or less being here, the calendar says one thing, the weather says something else, it is still really warm. Don’t get me wrong, I am by NO MEANS complaining! But, it is time to start decorating for the season. While mums are the usually chosen plant of choice, I have a second, even more brightly colored autumnesque plant, the Mammey Croton.
Just as a side note, it can also be spelled mammy and mamey, personally, I like two M’s and an E.

Picture courtesy of palm tree landscaping/pine island/cape coral

     This plant just screams fall. Considered one of the smaller crotons, easily kept at 3 feet or shorter, it is known as a red variety with bright red, yellow and green leaves, also with the occasional black variegation. They are easy to grow and easily obtainable.
     Botanically, it is Codiaeum variegatum and is a member of the Euphorbia family. Native to Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Pacific Islands, it is a standard plant in many Florida and California landscapes.

Picture courtesy of http://www.marriedtoplants.com

     Crotons, in general, can be planted in almost any light - full sun to partial shade - with some types of this plant, like the classic Petra, preferring a bit more shade. Mammeys attain their brightest coloring in full sun; though keep in mind that crotons should be shaded during the hottest part of the day since too much sun can bleach the color of their leaves. Mammy is an awesome looking plant with its twisted, multi-colored leaves that look like long party streamers flying out of its container.
Grown indoors, its leaves are subtler in their coloration, tending more towards the greens and purples with bits of red, but if grown in bright light environments it rapidly transforms into an explosion of brilliant color.

Picture courtesy of https://www.pinterest.com/naturalsweetnes/crotons/

     The general consensus states that Mammey crotons will not survive below 50 degrees and should be grown as potted plants to be brought inside when the temperatures get that low. Here in my zone 8, I have seen them freeze back at temperatures below 30 but come back the next year. A heavy mulch will help tremendously. They like at least 40% relative humidity but will tolerate lower, possibly with some defoliation. Mammey will grow in most any soil type, just make sure the area is well-drained...none of the crotons will put up with "wet feet."
     This plant is moderately salt-tolerant and drought-tolerant, once established, though it does best with regular irrigation. Give it time to dry out slightly between waterings. Pruning is only needed occasionally to keep the plant's size in check. As with all foliage shrubs, you should always trim stems - don't cut across the leaves.

     Fertilize 3 times a year if planted outside, early spring (March), summer (June) and autumn (September) with your favorite acidic fertilizer, such as Espoma Holly-Tone. If you bring it indoors, a little shot of liquid fertilizer would be useful in January.
     Spider Mites, Scale and the occasional Mealy Bug are the only pests; use a miticide for the mites, insecticidal soap for the mealies and neem oil for the scale.

Photo Courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/scotnelson/25232425739

     Propagation is relatively easy and is a great way to use the clippings when you are pruning. Cut a 5-6 inch long stem with at least 3 sets of leaves at the top. Cutting the stem just below a leaf joint. Remove all the leaves except the very top, and dip the end of the cutting into a rooting hormone such as Dyna-Gro Water Soluble Root Gel. Place it in moist soil (or your favorite rooting medium) and cover the container with a plastic bag to provide greenhouse type conditions. Open the bag occasionally to check whether the plant needs to be watered. You can propagate crotons by cuttings at any time of year and you should get a rooted plant within 4 weeks. When the cutting has developed its own root system, remove the plastic cover and place the plant in a shaded place for another 8-10 weeks. Remove it into a permanent container or plant it outside.
     Although the croton is a common houseplant, you should be very careful when handling it. The plant’s sap is highly toxic. It is even suspected that the oil is co-carcinogen. All parts of the plant, leaves, stems, flowers, and roots are poisonous if ingested. But, thankfully ingesting it is usually not deadly. Some of the usual poisoning symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The contact with the plant’s sap, as with many of the euphorbia species, can cause skin irritation and allergic reaction. Handling the plant can cause skin eczema in some people. So if you have the possibility of having this issue, be sure to wear gloves while handling it. The plant is also considered dangerous for pets such as dogs or cats. If your pet has eaten the croton, call a veterinarian or a poison control center immediately.
     Well, there you have it, a fall-themed plant for the outdoors and a really nice houseplant at the same time. Just don’t try to serve it at any of your holiday meals.
If you have any questions about this or ANY of my other articles, please feel free to e-mail me at TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com.
You can also follow me on FACEBOOK.
Happy Growing!
Darren

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Ornamental Dinner

     I was changing out the flower boxes today at work, trying to make them look a little more Fall-ish.
The plants that were in there were looking a little tired anyway, so I yanked them out. There was some Salvia spp. and Penta spp. and some Potato Vine (Ipomoea batatas).
Well, when I pulled the potato vine out, look what came out with it.


     Yup, those are really sweet potatoes!
     Southerners know these tasty tubers because when they come into season, you see people selling on just about every other street corner. The garden varieties of the edible sweet potato have been selected due to their flavor while the ornamental varieties were selected for their colorful foliage and trailing nature. The most common of the decorative cultivars include ‘Blackie,’ and ‘Marguerite’. While the first has very dark purple foliage, the second is a bright chartreuse most commonly seen spilling over the sides of spring planters. These came from 'Marguerite'.


     These plants can grow quickly and will take over. Even when planted small, they can grow easily 5 to 10 feet in a single season, so give them plenty of room or prune them to stop them from eating your small children and Chihuahuas. Their trailing vines are much better at hanging down over the sides of containers, hanging baskets, or creeping along the ground than they are at climbing up a pole or trellis.
      Sweet potatoes, both the one grown for food and the ornamental one, prefer moist, well-drained soil in full sun with a moderate amount of water. They can tolerate light shade if necessary, but the ornamental one will be less dramatic. They are cold hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant zones 9 through 11, but you can also dig them up in fall and store them over winter for spring planting. Here in my zone 8, I have seen them overwinter in the ground and come back with a vengeance the following Spring.
     Propagation is very easy. If you overwinter the tubers, treat them just like a potato. In the spring cut them up into chunks with each section containing one “eye” (the little nub) and plant separately. Before they get hit by the first frost, you can start new plants from 4 to 6-inch cuttings. Remove the lowest leaf and stick the cut end in a container filled with vermiculite or your favorite potting mix that is moist and well-draining. A little root hormone will definitely not hurt. Keep the rooting medium moist, but not wet. You may also find that the plant has rooted itself along the trailing vines. If it has, carefully dig it up at the point it has rooted, cut it free from the mother plant and place it in a pot with some fresh soil.  You can grow them as houseplants through the winter in a sunny window.
     Although relatively carefree, there are a few problems to watch out for. Pests include the golden tortoise beetle, potato flea beetle and the sweet potato looper which is a caterpillar. Mainly these pests chew holes in the leaves, such as seen above. Natural enemies of these pests will help control them as long as pesticides specific for the pest are used and avoiding the use of broad-spectrum insecticides, if at all possible.

Golden Tortoise Beetle- Photograph by Lynette Schimming, bugguide.net.

     Verticillium and Fusarium wilts are two of the most common fungal diseases of sweet potato plants. If either one of these fungal diseases crops up you will know it is present by the yellowing of the leaves that begin at the bottom of the plant and work its way up. If you discover a fungal infection, apply a quality fungicide that is designed for use on vegetable crops, such as Daconil Fungicide Ready-to-Use.

The question has been raised, are the tubers from the ornamental sweet potato vine edible?
Absolutely!
     They are safe to eat, but reportedly not really tasty. Personally, I haven't tried them, nor have I tried the leafy green tops which are edible too. From what I have heard, if you’ve never tried eating potato vine leaves, you’re missing out on a tasty, highly nutritious veggie.


     It's not a great picture, but this is 'Bright Ideas Black' sweet potato. Everything you read above goes for it too.
     There has been a push for incorporating edibles into the landscape, so if you are growing the ornamental sweet potato, you are already killing two birds with one stone! It may not be super tasty, but in a pinch, it is a very healthy food.
So, Bon Apetite!
If you have any questions concerning this article or any of my others, please feel free to comment, or send me an e-mail to TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com
You can also follow me on Facebook.
Happy Growing!
Darren

Monday, October 2, 2017

Guest Post-Prevent Garden Disease By Looking Ahead

There are times in life that a little help is always appreciated. As you all may know, I stay very busy with lectures, workshops, as well as maintaining my yard. So, when a chance to have somebody do a guest blog came about, I thought, why not?

Meet:
Wendy Dessler
Wendy is a super-connector with My Seed Needs who helps businesses with building their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. Wendy frequently writes about the latest in the gardening trends world and tries to help novice and experienced planters grow.

Prevent Garden Disease By Looking Ahead
Home gardeners have to be on guard for insects and disease which will destroy their plants.
While it is easy to see the signs of insects feasting on your crop, a disease is much harder to
spot. UGA Extension pathology specialist Elizabeth Little tells us, it is much easier to prevent
disease than it is to combat it.
Bacteria and fungus thrive in moisture. This is why you should always water your garden in the
morning. This allows the heat of the day to dry the soil. If you water in the evening, the ground
will stay too moist and that breeds bacteria. If you live in an area that is hot and humid, you are
wise to stay ahead of the game.

fall-colors-1796151_640.jpg

Prevention is the key. The following tips will help you prevent disease and will help you stay a
step ahead of any issues.
Of course, you must do your research. Be aware of where you plant. Know which plants need
direct sunlight and which do not. Look up the signs of insect damage and diseases of the
particular plant you are dealing with. Make sure you use the correct soil, mulch, and nutrients.
● If you are cutting or clipping a diseased plant make sure you clean your tools well
before moving to the next plant.
● Plant in a sunny area, if the plant needs a lot of sun, and with good air circulation
● Make sure the rain can drain well so the plants do not get too much water
● Choose disease-resistant varieties or ones adapted to your growing zone, if
available
● Start with healthy flower or vegetable seeds, and non-GMO-herb seeds.
● If you are transplanting, check every plant for signs of disease before you plant
them.

vegetables-790022_640.jpg

● Plant all your summer crops as early as possible
● Do not plant the same plants in the same area year after year. You must rotate the plants to keep the      soil healthy
● Give plants plenty of space for good air movement.
● Trellis tomatoes
● Limit the frequency of overhead irrigation to keep foliage dry.
● Use drip irrigation if possible.
● Use organic matter to keep the plants healthy
● Test the soil’s PH balance regularly
● Make sure all of the old plants are removed from last year

What can I do?

Once you see disease in your garden, remove as much of it as possible. Cut back to below the
disease line. Cut off any unhealthy leaves or plants that will pull the nutrients away from your
garden.
Mother Earth News states that adding some completely cured compost to the garden may save
the healthy plants. The fact that you used organic matter and good quality seed and transplants
will help the healthy plants stay healthy.

How’s your soil?

It does not take a lot of knowledge to see if your soil is healthy. At the end of your season, after
you have harvested your plant. Grab one of the stems and pull it up from the ground. Is the soil
moist? Are the roots spread out? Those are good signs. Perhaps the best sign is earthworms.
How many earthworms do you see? (You do not have to count them?) If there are worms living
in your soil, that is a great sign that your living soil is good for planting.
Earthworms feed off of the compost that you added. The worms are a sign of a healthy natural
ecosystem. If the soil broke and crumbled when you pulled it up, and the roots are small and close together, this is a sign that your garden was not healthy.

And there it is, the first ever Guest Blog for The Citrus Guy!
Thank You, Wendy! You gave us some great tips.

Happy Growing!
Darren

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Going Bananas!!

     We have had a LOT of rain here in Charleston, nothing like Texas thankfully, and please keep them in your thoughts and prayers after Hurricane Harvey. This August was probably one of the wettest that I can remember, or at least seemed that way. While most people don't necessarily like it, I do and the plants certainly do. My citrus are doing well, the camellias look great and the flower bud set is amazing. You know what else is loving all the moisture? The Bananas.


      This picture does not do them justice as to their size, they are easily 13-14 feet tall.
Bananas, (Musa spp.) are an edible fruit – botanically a berry and are often mistaken for trees or palms - they are actually herbs. The banana is a perennial plant that replaces itself. Bananas do not grow from a seed but from a bulb or corm, and it takes 9 to 12 months from sowing a banana bulb, or corm, to harvesting the fruit. The trunk is actually a "false stem" or pseudostem. 
     Banana plants grow best with 12 hours of direct, bright sunlight each day. They can still grow with less (more slowly), but they will stretch to find more, kind of like this one.


This was actually from, what I thought, was a useless piece of a root and stem. I had tossed it into a pseudo compost pile in between my greenhouse and shed. It rooted and is stretching well above the roof line under a Bradford pear and Pecan tree. The leaves are extremely longer than usual, because of the stretching. 
     Banana plants require a huge amount of water, but still need to be in soil that is well draining because they are susceptible to root rot. They prefer slightly acidic pH and are not very salt tolerant, even though they are associated with a tropical growing condition. As with any other plant, any balanced fertilizer, where the NPK numbers are close to even, will work, but banana plants need to be supplemented with additional potassium and magnesium for best growth and fruiting. Some of the best banana fertilizer I have found is Banana Fuel  Keep in mind that when temperatures are warm and bananas are in their active growth stages, they are heavy feeders, so feed lightly, but often, maybe every 4-5 weeks. 
     Bananas flourish under uniformly warm to hot conditions. Shoot growth is best between 78 to 82 degrees and fruit growth at 84 to 86 degrees. Plant growth slows below 60 degrees and stops at 50. So you can imagine that these plants do better in zones 9 and higher. However, some will work in a zone 8 and there even a few dwarfs that will produce fruit in a container. If you attempt to grow some in a cooler climate, chill damage and freeze damage may occur at or below 32 degrees. Symptoms of freeze damage include a water-soaked appearance to all of the above ground parts of the plant as well as browning and death of leaves, and fruit. Temperatures below 28 degrees may kill plants to the ground. However, new growth usually sprouts from the underground rhizome with the return of warm weather. If you do suffer damage to your plant, do not cut the dead leaves off, especially if some of the trunk is still green, they will act as an insulation against the next cold spell. Wait until Spring, then cut off all of the dead leaves and the trunk as far down as it seems mushy. This gives the plant a little head start to coming back. 


     Banana fruit must be transported over long distances from the tropics to world markets. To obtain maximum shelf life, harvest comes before the fruit is mature. The fruit requires careful handling, rapid transport to ports, cooling, and refrigerated shipping. The goal is to prevent the bananas from producing their natural ripening agent, ethylene. So, if you think about it, the fruit you get at the store, is not really ripe, per se. On arrival, bananas are held at about 63 degrees and treated with a low concentration of ethylene to get them ripe enough to sell. Thinking about trying to grow some yourself yet?
     While in no danger of outright extinction, the most common edible banana cultivar the Cavendish could become nonviable for large-scale cultivation in the next 10–20 years. Its predecessor 'Gros Michel', discovered in the 1820s, suffered this fate. Like almost all bananas, Cavendish lacks genetic diversity, which makes it vulnerable to diseases, threatening both commercial cultivation and small-scale farming. With that being said, for the hobby grower, the diseases are not extremely common, but it is good to at least know about them.
    Panama disease (Fusarium wilt). Panama disease is of worldwide importance and is caused by the soil borne fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense. On mature plants symptoms include progressive yellowing and eventual death from older to younger leaves, so that only the youngest emerging leaf may remain; this is not to be confused with the natural decline of older leaves. The disease will also cause brown and black discoloration and slimy appearance of the stem (it may give off a bad odor as well); and death of the plant. 
     Pests, again, are not extremely common for the dooryard grower, but it could eventually happen. The Banana borer or weevil (Cosmopolites sordidus) and the Sugar cane weevil (Metamasius hemipterus) act very similar.  They lay eggs at the base of the plant and the larvae bore into the pseudostems and rhizome causing extensive damage. Young plants may be killed by extensive tunneling and mature plants may weaken and topple with a subsequent reduction in yield. 
     Humans can damage the plant too. You will want to maintain a grass-free area 2 to 5 ft or more away from the plant. Never hit it with lawn mowing equipment and never use a weed eater near the banana. Mechanical damage of the plant will result in the weakening of it, and if severe enough can cause the banana to decline or die.
     The fruit bunches are generally harvested when the fingers, as they are called, are plump but before they begin to turn yellow. However, bananas may be picked at different times for different purposes. In general, bananas for fresh consumption in the home landscape may be picked when they have reached or have nearly reached the normal size for your particular variety. Usually, this is when the edges of the fruit have smoothed out and the sides of the fruit have swelled. Homeowners may want to harvest fruit 7 to 14 days prior to ripening on the plant. Hang the fruit in a shady, cool place to ripen, this allows development of better flavor than if allowed to ripen on the plant. Bananas may also be cooked and consumed when still green or when very ripe as is done with plantains.
     I mentioned the different growing zones that they do well in. I am in Zone 8 and if we have a normal winter, (defining normal as, only a few cold nights) I can get fruit on my Ice Cream Banana.
Don't believe it, check it out


Grown In North Charleston, SC 2012

There are many, many cultivars and varieties out on the market, I encourage you to at least try one or more. If nothing else they will make a very tropical looking annual. If you want to try growing them in a container to protect them during the winter, look for Dwarf Cavendish, Dwarf Chinese, or Lady's Fingers. 
     As a closing shot, bananas are healthy for you and I strongly encourage you to eat some, but, did you know bananas are radioactive? 
Yes, bananas are radioactive, but so are you. This comes from the fact that they contain relatively high amounts of potassium.  Specifically, they contain Potassium-40, which is a radioactive isotope of potassium. And, Yes, you will certainly die from radiation poisoning if you are able to eat 10,000,000 bananas at once. You may also witness chronic radiation poisoning symptoms if you eat 274 bananas a day for seven years.
     That is a LOT of bananas!
     As you may know, Spiderman got his superpowers because he was bitten by a radioactive spider. If I give my friend here (I call her Japonica) a huge amount of bananas, she is a banana spider after all, then have her bite me, do you suppose.....?



     I hope you enjoyed going bananas with me, there is so much more to teach on this subject, I just couldn't fit it all in with this one article. If you have any questions about this, or any of my other articles, please feel free to comment below or send me an e-mail: TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com
Also, don't forget to follow me as The Citrus Guy on Facebook.
Happy Growing!
Darren

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Please Help My Citrus Tree!!

     We live in some amazing times!
As many of you know, I have a love/hate relationship with electronics, when they work they are fantastic. When they don't they are the biggest pain since aphids were discovered. Updates all the time, new models come out before the last ones even got broken in, the list goes on.
     However, they have made communication much easier! As The Citrus Guy, I literally get questions and comments from around the world. People send me pictures of their trees, sometimes because of a problem, sometimes just to show me what they are doing. I love them all. I truly enjoy helping folks with their issues and seeing what and how others grow their citrus.
     Today, I thought I would spend a little time, showing some of the interesting things that I deal with on a regular basis. I will not mention any names, nor places, but I will show you, and tell you, what you are looking at. So if you see something that looks familiar, it might be yours, or, if you have this problem and didn't know it, now you do. Sometimes things I get are very interesting and I really need to put my thinking cap on. The first one fits that category.
It is an ongoing situation, hopefully it will come out okay.
This person thought they may have had gummosis on their Meyer Lemon. Gummosis is the exuding of an amber colored sap oozing from small cracks in the infected bark. They read on the internet to cut it out and cut off the bark.


This is what they had done to the tree before they contacted me.
I wish they had contacted me first. After I got all of the details of what was going on, it looks like it was only a Copper Deficiency. With a copper deficiency twigs can develop blister-like pockets of clear gum at the nodes. As the twigs mature, a reddish brown or amber colored ooze may occur in the outer portion of the wood. Severely affected twigs commonly die back from the tip with new growth appearing as multiple buds. The jury is still out as to whether this tree will survive.
     Which brings me to another point of this article, spread the word! If you know somebody that has, or if you have some citrus trees yourself, and have some kind of problem, drop me a line. Pass my e-mail address around, TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com, send them to my BLOG, my WEBSITE, or my FACEBOOK PAGE, I am happy to help and it might save a tree.
     The next one is a situation I had only dealt with one other time prior. Half the grapefruit tree was dying, apparently for no reason. It was fairly well established, being fed and watered properly, but still continued to decline. After I recommended cutting the dead branches off and look for some kind of borer or insect issues, they sent this picture.


Bingo!
     Now I knew what was wrong. Sooty Canker. It is also called branch wilt or limb wilt. It causes cankers, wilting and dieback in tree branches. Leaves on the affected branches are often small, wilt and die during the summer. Brownish, moist areas appear on the limbs during the first stages of the disease, then the bark in these areas crack or peels away revealing black masses of fungal spores. Massive pruning, fungicides and lots of finger crossing is about all you can do at this stage. Again, the jury is still out on this case.
     This next one had me stumped for a while. It was a Pomelo that the bark was literally being eaten off of the tree. I thought maybe deer at first, but this was in a very small courtyard and there was absolutely no way a deer could get in. Then insects were my next prime suspect, but it was very extensive, and there were teeth marks.


Rats!
     Yes, rats ended up being the culprit. If there is not much food or water around for them they will revert to eating the bark off of trees. I have seen them do it to hibiscus trees.
     Some of the issues I deal with are quite common, which makes it easy for me. As you may or may not know, the majority of citrus trees are grafted. The scion (top yummy part) and the rootstock (root section, not usually yummy) are the players in this game. The tree is bought, taken home and grows. Sometimes, due to neglect, wicked bad weather, or disease issues, the scion dies. The rootstock on the other hand continues on. So, I will get the question of, "My (insert citrus name here) at one time produced wonderful delicious fruit." A couple of years ago I (insert scion killing entity here), but it came back and now the fruit is nasty, bitter, and full of seeds. What is wrong?


Enter exhibit A- Poncirus trifoliata. The first clue is usually the leaves. Common citrus trees are one piece, maybe with a large petiole (the lower portion of the leaf). The Poncirus is trifoliate, three "leaves". This is a better example.


     So if the leaves from your tree that have come back look different, you may have a rootstock growing. When this happens, you have three choices:
1) Allow the rootstock to grow-it will produce fruit, but it may taste like you are being poisoned. I promise you are not.
2) Learn to graft- find a friend that has a really tasty tree and get a small piece from them.
3) Dig it up, toss it and start over. Actually, if you are close to North Charleston, SC, call me, I can use it.
     As the final issue for today, if this becomes popular I may do a sequel, I present the misidentified disease.
     Citrus Greening is a VERY nasty disease that effects citrus. It is literally killing thousands of trees all around the world and there is no cure for it. So, understandably, when folks see something going on that does not look right, human nature fears the worst. I can not even begin to tell you how many times I get an e-mail, phone call, or even at a lecture, a frantic client that thinks they have that greening disease, my tree is going to die, what can I do?!
     Luckily, I have yet to come across anybody that has had, thought a couple of times I had, but the tests came back negative. Greening disease mimics some nutritional deficiencies, so it is hard to tell sometimes. If the leaves are a mirror image of itself by folding it down the midrib, its nutritional.
But, like I said, human nature fears the worst, and more times than not, this is what I am looking at.


     See the gnarly looking leaves that have a tunnel like line running through it? This is citrus leafminor. Citrus leafminors are the larvae of small, silvery-white moth that flies around at night. Adult females lay single eggs on the undersides of the new flush of growth. The eggs hatch in just 4 or 5 days. The larvae then burrow their way through the epidermis layers of the leaves creating tunnels that appear as white trails running throughout the leaves. This feeding activity causes the leaves to curl and become misshapen. Older citrus trees typically tolerate the feeding damage without reduced crop yield or plant growth. Young trees sometimes suffer stunted growth but rarely die from their injuries. Luckily it is just a cosmetic damage. Other than netting, the best way to at least slow down this pest is with Neem oil. If you can't find any locally, you can get it online here Neem Oil. You spray it on the undersides of the new flush of growth, she doesn't like mature leaves, and the moth will not lay her eggs on the oily surface. Do not spray any horticultural oil if the temperature is above 75 degrees, it will cook the leaves.
     So there it is, some of the more interesting issues that pertain to growing citrus from around the world. I was really glad to have been able to help all these people, and the many others that I did not mention here.
Keep the pictures, issues, and problems coming folks!
I will be glad to help, if you are having an issue, surely somebody else is too!
     If there is enough interest, I will do a sequel. There are many more interesting, and maybe not so interesting things that I have seen that I can share.
Don't forget to follow me on Facebook or go to my growing Instagram page and check out some of the pictures from my yard.
I look forward to answering any questions pertaining to this, or any of my other articles.
Happy Growing!
Darren