i picked up a white thai guava plant today.
most people in the united states don't really know about guavas except for guava jelly and guava jam. i would like to point out that eating a nice fresh apple is a completely different experience from eating a bowl of even the best applesauce. fresh fruit is waaaaay ahead of processed or cooked/canned fruit. this is especially true of guavas. the preserved products in the store are a pale shadow of the real thing.
unfortunately, guava trees are easily damaged by frost, and fresh guavas are difficult to ship. they have very thin, delicate skins, and they ripen quickly when picked off of the tree (more like a bush). this makes them a produce manager's nightmare. they are rarely sold fresh outside the immediate area where they are produced, and even then, only in specialty markets.
i grew up in central florida (polk county) and had access to a wide variety of fruit. guavas were one of the joys of my childhood. i now live in north florida (jefferson county), where guavas - and lots of other fruit i grew up with - don't thrive. a couple years ago, i met a botany geek who showed me that with a simple passive solar greenhouse, most of my childhood favorites could be grown here. i have been enjoying ruby supreme guavas all this summer and fall.
white thai? maybe by next summer. i have already had small crops of mango and avocado - more to come, with luck. there are three stalks of rajapuri bananas ripening now.
i don't know how close i can get to food self sufficiency i can get, but i'm getting closer each year.
works in progress:
avocados, 9 varieties
bananas, 7 varieties
mangos, 6 varieties
pineapples, 4 varieties (maybe only 3, i may have a duplicate)
papayas, 3 varieties
guavas, 2 varieties
nuts - pecans, walnuts, almonds, chestnuts, hazelnuts...
and of course, the regular gardening stuff, lettuce, tomatoes, collards, sweet potatoes, garlic (gotta keep the werewolves at bay), etc.
rainwater catchment system for irrigation and backup domestic water supply for if/when the grid goes down.
This is my first real attempt at a garden. I decided at the end of summer to try and do some good prep work for next year. I'm in zone 7A. So far,
I've tilled about 650 sq ft of yard to about 9-12 inches (was packed, it used to have an above ground pool on part). It's the sunniest part of the yard, getting a minimum of 6 in a small part, and mostly 8 hours of sunlight. Leaning toward greens or carrots in the part that gets a bit less sun.
Tilled in about 1000 lbs or so of composted horse, goat, and rabbit manure. Soil seems better, was clay-ish.
Planted cover crop of rye, clover, vetch, and snow peas...about knee high now. Not sure whether to flatten it and plant through the layer in spring, or chop it up and till into soil...I think I'll try some of both ways for different sections.
60 organic garlic bulbs coming up nicely around 3 hops plants that have varying degrees of good new growth after transplant, but all seem ok. Going to cover all of this in 6 inches of straw for the winter.
I'm going to add humate and mycorrhiza. I think I should do that in spring, not now.
Have a redworm bin a few months in and released about 250 euro nightcrawlers into garden soil. Less castings are accumulating than I expected in the bins, might end up using it in foliar-feed tea instead of mixing in soil.
Have compost pile going with grass, leaves, chicken manure.
Had slugs eating cover crop, pulled 100's off, then spread rust/bait pellets around and haven't seen them since.
I'm sure I'll have beetle and stinkbug issues (and who knows what else), but I'm planning to spray with tobacco and pepper juice or an insecticide made of mint and other oils when I see bug damage.
Lots of rabbits and squirrels around, I think it was a squirrel that dug up 2 planted cloves of garlic. I'm not sure how badly I'll need a rabbit fence (neighbors have surprisingly little issues...the rabbits only nibble a bit), or if the squirrels will become much of an issue. Also saw a small hole dug, a mole or vole I think. Not sure if they'll be an issue.
Going to grow under lights various perennial herbs, hope to have enough to border garden in mints, lemongrass, hyssop, woodworm, lavender, and a few others. Going to mix in chamomile, sage, thyme, basil, and a few other annual herbs through garden. Going to start inside under lights 8 weeks before frost: peppers, bush beans, tomatoes, melons, squash, peanuts, tobacco. Then later directly into the soil carrots, radishes, beets, pole beans, corn, stevia (trying to replace sugar), broccoli, spinach.
So, any tips or advice? Thanks in advance!
f. john's right about sulfur.
there are three primary plant nutrients - nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. those are just the three cards on top of the deck. plants also need a trace of sulfur, iron, magnesium, calcium, manganese, zinc, boron, the list goes on. if you are close to the coast, go to the beach after a storm and pick up a heap of seaweed. it has all the minerals that have leached out of the land since forever. hose it down to remove surface salt, and add it to your compost pile.
not convenient? there are easy work-arounds.
zinc? take some galvanized hardware and seal it up in a 2 liter bottle of club soda. you'll get zinc carbonate plus whatever other metal that was under the galvanizing (iron?).
supfur? epsom salt is magnesium sulfate
calcium? limestone, seashells, chalk dust, crab waste (pretty smelly!)
manganese? your old aaa batteries are rich in manganese dioxide. crunch a couple up and throw them in the compost pile.
boron? go to the laundry closet and steal a pinch of your wife's twenty mule team borax.
remember, these minerals are TRACE requirements. little dab of each will do the trick.
foliar feeding? great technique. but some plant leaves have oily surfaces that make the feed run right off. a couple drops of dawn dishwashing detergent in the sprayer will break the surface tension and greatly increase the absorbtion.
dawn dish detergent also makes an environmentally friendly bug spray. insects have rigid exoskeletons which are covered with a waxy cuticle to prevent water loss. a little dish soap (a teaspoonful in a quart spray bottle) screws with this wax job and they dry out and shrivel up. (this works best on warm dry days.) a saucer of beer will trap and kill your slugs if they return.
clay soil? compost and sand. lots of compost and sand (or perlite). compost benefits from diversity. damn near anything that once lived can be composted and reborn as plant food. shredded newspaper, hairclippings from the barber shop on the corner, egg shells, coffee grounds, dryer lint (cotton and wool are good, synthetics are mostly inert and add texture), dead slugs (see above). there is a concept called the "c-n ratio" that is useful in composting. the short version goes this way: the workhorses of your composting operation are decomposition microbes, and other small critters up to the size of earthworms. generally, these critters are happiest with twenty five bites of nitrogen (animal wastes) and one hundred bites of carbon (plant wastes). if your compost is low on nitrogen, the critters will take nitrogen from your soil and your plants will have to do without.
garlic's a good crop for fall planting. so are collards. a non-heading version of the cabbage family. flavor is improved by frost. will survive down to about 10 f.
it's getting late. email me at my tfmr handle at nettally dot com
1 tablespoon saltpetre* (potassium nitrate)
1 tablespoon superphosphate (ammonium phosphate)
1 teaspoon epsom salt (magnesium sulfate)
a drop or two of dish detergent (to cut surface tension)
combine with two litres (or quarts if you like) warm water and shake.
shake again in five minutes.
let sit over night.
strain through a paper towel or coffee filter (to remove any residual grit that might clog your sprayer).
use in any spray bottle. an old windex bottle works well. this is a dilute solution, and i use it once a week on just about everything that has leaves. my plants love it.
*saltpetre is hard to find. teenage boys buy it to make black powder and get in all kinds of mischief, so the govvy discourages its sale. not to worry. many stump remover products use saltpetre as their main - and only - ingredient. here's the msds for "hi - yield stump remover," available at lowe's and most other garden centers:
95 -99% potassium nitrate. that's industrial grade saltpetre. close enough for folk music! your plants will love it.
Costco has a nice 400w solar system on sale
Everything but batteries.
My daughter has clinicals at the Cleveland Clinic and she is minorly worried that if there is ebola found in the Cleveland or surrounding area (and they have over 100 people on observation) that they will send them to the Clinic.
Since she is under a lot of stress as a nursing student, I have her take a multi-vitamin every day. She has not been sick at college yet.
I sent her back from fall break with a quart of colloidal silver just in case. She also has a new bottle of vitamin c.
pineapples, mangos, avocados, figs, coffee, naranjillas, still a waiting game...
To take zinc and selenium too! (I am not a doctor, but multiple studies have shown the virus has a very hard time taking hold with both zinc and selenium present).
Just wondering about the success of your coffee plants, any "dos" or "don'ts" I just learned the berry portion that surrounds the seed (outside portion) is a rich anti-oxidant.
Just might try growing.
the coffee plants i have are still pretty small (about 20" - 24") and young. it may be a while before i'm enjoying a mug of home-grown. i'm guessing a couple years, maybe more. i haven't a lot of experience with coffee except that a friend of mine keeps a couple tree/bushes in his greenhouse. he gets a couple pounds a year off them, and says it's quite a bit of work - depulping, drying, roasting, grinding, - but the coffee's great tasting. the blossoms smell great, and it's a nice looking plant.
i have three plants. they seem to like the conditions i have given them, semi shade, sandy loam soil with lots of organic matter. i keep the soil moist, and give them a spray of dilute foliar feed every week or two (recipe a few posts back). they are planted under other, larger plants (an avocado and a papaya), which gives them about 40-50% shade. i give the avocado a light application of 8-8-8 every couple months in warm weather, and the papaya about twice as often. i expect the coffee gets some of this. all this is inside a greenhouse which is heated mostly by passive solar. i have electric heating for very cold nights to keep things from freezing, but don't have to turn it on very often.
i have eight feet of sandy loam soil into which i have worked quite a bit of compost, and below the sand is a clay layer. this gives me almost ideal drainage conditions. i have found that tropicals, and for that matter most plants in general, like moist, but not soggy soil.
coffee is a handsome plant with glossy, dark green leaves. it can make a nice houseplant, a nice large houseplant.
...and, of course, it is one more (small) step toward self sufficiency. worst case scenario, if sthtf really badly, it may be a long time for things to get back to normal. a really long time. it is nice to think that no matter how bad things get, i will have coffee. at least a little for special occasions. and seed stock to grow more.