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Subject: Easy frost protection for warm climate Replies: 6
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 147
 
Thanks--the lightbulb is a good idea.

Subject: Easy frost protection for warm climate Replies: 6
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 147
 
I have a few marginal plants (mangos, cherimoyas, lychee, small avocados) I'll likely need to protect from freezing during several nights this winter. I made a stand for them on casters so they can be easily rolled across the patio and under the eaves, against a window. I put in a few screws to quickly anchor the grommets of a tarp, and now I can cover everything in just a couple of minutes. Our inefficient, single-pane casement windows will undoubtedly radiate enough heat to the great outdoors to keep the plants well above freezing, and who knows--maybe the tarp will even reduce drafts in the house! I did a dry run this morning to make sure there won't be any problems some cold evening when I'm in a hurry:

view from outside:
2015-10-19 frost protection 024.jpg

from inside the tarp:
2015-10-19 frost protection rdc.jpg 

looking through the window:
2015-10-19 frost protection 005.jpg 


Subject: OT Avocados for desert Replies: 28
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 759
 

Mark, the jury is still out on the Wilma, as I haven't yet learned how to tell when they're mature and ready to pick. I picked the first four too early.  There are ten more to go, so hopefully I'll get the timing right soon.


Subject: Fig Beetle going inside your fruits trough fig eye ?. Replies: 4
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 265
 
Herman, thanks for the recommendation. Souring is the biggest problem among my trees, but I haven't tried growing Negretta. Guess I'll have to give it a shot. I haven't had problems with Black Mission, either.

Subject: OT: Persimmons Replies: 119
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 4,208
 
My parents had a Hachiya in their back yard in San Bernardino, Ca. It didn't get any special care beyond watering, and it fruited regularly and heavily. It's probably 50 years old now and as far as I know (the house was sold a couple of years ago) is still very productive. No idea why your tree isn't fruiting, but maybe you could check with your local extension, or a good nursery, to see if other people in your area are successful, and ask what varieties work best in your local conditions.

Subject: OT: Persimmons Replies: 119
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 4,208
 
I also tried air-layering  my Hachiya. No luck--just a  big knob where I hoped to see roots. They are very easy to graft, though--I've had excellent success using Joe Real's "bark graft" technique. Joe Real's bark grafting tutorial I think this link will work--if not, google it. You have to register as a member of the Citrus Growers Forum to see the photos.

Now my real reason for posting today:
A few years ago I grafted Saijo onto a 1-gal American Persimmon seedling, and also top-worked it onto a 15+ year old Hachiya. Both trees produced their first Saijo fruits this year--dinky things maturing about the size of my thumb joint. The taste is okay, but not as good as Hachiya. Slightly grainy. So, Saijo experts--is the small size/low quality due to the young age of the graft, and will they get bigger and better with the years, or is this as good as it's likely to get?

Subject: Simple Bird Netting Frame Replies: 17
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 426
 
John, yes, that raised area around the screw is what makes the coupler fit tightly into the PVC. I left the other screw in place but plan to remove it when I store everything for winter, because it serves no real function and still managed to get caught in the netting when we were setting things up--even though each screw was turned to the inside of the corner.

Mara & Frank, I wish I could offer a solution for raccoons, but (fortunately) I don't have any experience with them, although they do live in parts of Tucson. I have an electric fence around most of my little orchard to keep javelinas out--maybe something like that would work? A friend keeps rats out of his garden with a three-foot-high wire fence with a hotwire suspended an inch above the top (connected to insulators). When rats climb the fence they have to grab the hotwire to get over the top, and it sends them flying--with little enthusiasm for a second try. Maybe a bigger version would work for coons. My guess though, from what I've read on the forum, is that the only way to truly solve the problem is to completely enclose your trees in a cage of metal mesh.

PS--yes, I have tried plastic clamshell berry boxes. They work to a point, but I don't think they'd deter a raccoon for more than about 10 seconds. My main problem with them is the birds often manage to get a beak in through the ventilation slits; the fruit also seems to get pretty hot inside them, though maybe that's less of  a problem in cooler areas.

Subject: Simple Bird Netting Frame Replies: 17
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 426
 
John--Sounds like a good method. I didn't think to try fitting EMT into one of the pipe-threaded side outlet ells. However, the EMT couplers are so cheap ($1.60 for a bag of 5) I expect jamming one into a slip-fit side outlet ell may still be a few cents cheaper.

Subject: Simple Bird Netting Frame Replies: 17
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 426
 
It's the "bird netting smaller mesh" from Amigoni (http://www.amigoni.com/). It's very inexpensive per square foot, but you have to buy a 13' x 820' roll for $245. I don't recommend it for long-term installations--the manufacturer claims it's UV stabilized to last 3-4 years, but for me it only lasted one year.

Subject: Simple Bird Netting Frame Replies: 17
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 426
 
Thanks All.

Jdsfrance, it is a Fuyu persimmon. I prune the top each year or two to keep the fruit within easy reach. It bears so heavily that the branches have become bent downward, resulting in the compact shape.

Subject: Simple Bird Netting Frame Replies: 17
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 426
 
A storm destroyed the netting on my big cage and I still needed to protect the ripening fruit on my persimmon. I figured I'd make the whole frame out of 1/2" PVC but it seemed too wobbly for the uprights. Electrical conduit (1/2" EMT) seemed better, but they didn't have the fittings I needed for the corners. Then I noticed I could force an EMT coupler into a PVC side-outlet elbow (slip fit) by removing one set screw and squeezing the fittings together in a vice. Presto! Just the hybrid fitting I needed to connect EMT uprights to a rectangular PVC frame. A digging bar was used to make holes in the ground to hold the EMT vertical.

For the netting envelope I folded a length in half and sewed up 1 1/2 sides of a big rectangle (make it slightly bigger than you need), leaving the lower half of one side's seam open for a door, which I closed with clothespins. From ladders, my son and I slipped the netting over the top, like a loose sock, and rolled up & clothespinned the slack "triangles" of netting hanging down--left over from the sewed corners.

The frame is not glued, so at the end of the season I'll just dismantle it and store everything till next year.
fuyu cage 1.jpg 
fuyu cage 2.jpg 
fuyu cage  corner.jpg 


Subject: self-watering for the lazy Replies: 14
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 595
 
Having side holes to prevent over-filling during rainstorms, as well as a bottom drain for occasional total drainage both sound like important features. As far as growing medium, I checked with a friend who grows a very wide variety of plants, and he recommends a mix of coir and pumice (or coarse perlite) with a little vermiculite and dolomite. If anyone is interested, here's an article he wrote about coir and how it has been improved in recent years. It sounds like the ideal growing medium:

http://www.tucsoncactus.org/html/growing_in_the_desert_column_June_2013.html

He said that bottom-watered coir might not wick moisture as high as I want, and also cautioned about salt buildup, so I decided to modify my approach with a combination setup--using a pan with float valve to ensure a minimum half inch of water at the bottom, but with a water tube running from the valve up to emitters at the top of the pot. That way, any time the pan level drops below a half inch, the tree will get watered from the top. There will be some lag time between when enough water trickles down into the pan to turn off the valve, and when it finally stops percolating down through the mix--so the pan will likely overfill a little after the valve shuts off, but in my climate that's fine. Then, every couple of months I can drench it thoroughly with the hose to minimize salt buildup.

Subject: self-watering for the lazy Replies: 14
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 595
 
Thanks for all the input. Larry Hall's videos have given me a new perspective, and the Mosquito Bits sound like a quick solution (raising tilapia sounds intriguing as well, but to preserve domestic tranquility I'd better not think about adding yet another project!).

Now I need to come up with a pretty permanent soil mix that functions like a big, coarse sponge--sucking up water, while leaving air spaces throughout. 
I had thought of using "Al's gritty mix" but don't think it will wick water up from the tub. On the other hand, I worry that something with a lot of organic material will decompose and compress into an anaerobic brick over time. Does anybody know of a very long-lasting mix that would provide both wicking and good aeration? 

Subject: self-watering for the lazy Replies: 14
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 595
 
Justin, you have a great yard-full of plants! I really like your flood-table set-up--do you leave those trays filled to the same depth all the time, or does it fluctuate or even dry out occasionally? Have you tried bottom-watering for 5 gal or larger trees? Do you see it as a way to permanently maintain large, container-planted trese--maybe even in something the size of one of those giant nursery pots stacked in your yard?

I'm wondering how many inches above water level the soil will be able to wick moisture. I hope to find a soil that works like a sponge--transporting water freely while leaving large air spaces for good aeration. I like the "gritty mix" idea in terms of air circulation and not breaking down, but I think it's designed specifically to prevent water from wicking upward.

Subject: self-watering for the lazy Replies: 14
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 595
 

Several years ago a forum member (sorry--I don't remember whom) told of having good success with potted figs placed in a big tub with an inch or two of water in the bottom, so the roots always had plenty of moisture available throughout the heat of the day. I wondered about keeping roots constantly submerged, but tried it and my plants seemed to thrive.

I decided to expand the idea, and threw together a crude plywood tray with 2x2s at the edges to form a shallow dike, and then covered everything with a plastic sheet. I ran some drip emitters to it so the tray would fill to overflowing once each day, and put my smaller potted stuff in it. Usually by the end of the day, most of the water has disappeared, so the bottom isn't always 100% submerged:
self-watering tray.jpg

Anyway, it's been working fine for years, with the following drawbacks: mosquitoes, and stinky, anaerobic soil in the bottom inch of each pot (which as near as I can tell, doesn't seem to hurt the plants any in my dry climate). I try to make sure there aren't any roots at the bottom of the pots when I first place them in the water tray, but often they grow roots right out through the drainage holes.

SO--my question is: Why bother with elaborate "self-watering" pots that have small reservoirs underneath? Is that really any better than just sticking a pot in a water tray, and keeping an inch or two of water in it? What am I missing?

My reason for asking is that I just purchased a 3 gal Pickering Mango, which can't survive Tucson's winters in the ground so it's doomed to stay in a pot. I thought I'd move it up to a 5 gallon container and then set it in a plastic tub fitted with a 1/4" water line and float valve to maintain an inch of water in the bottom at all times during the summer (in cooler months I'll let it dry out). I'll wrap the pot with a light-colored cloth that hangs down into the water, to shade the pot and keep it cool via evaporation. Then, I'll "cloak" the whole thing with mosquito netting to baffle the blood-suckers. The upper part of the soil will stay pretty dry but grow progressively wetter lower down, with the bottom inch always under water.  I figure the roots will grow into the zone of ideal moisture and avoid anything they don't like. Does anybody see any fatal flaws with this idea?



Subject: Easy beetle trap Replies: 12
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 3,550
 
I'm glad some found it useful--there's another (smaller) bunch in the trap today. Maybe it's time to change the attractant. Now if there was only an effective way to eliminate large quantities of dried fruit beetles (Carpophilus spp), I'd be in business!

Subject: Easy beetle trap Replies: 12
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 3,550
 

Those of you plagued with green fig beetles, aka green June beetles, may find this easy-to-build trap useful. I found the basic idea online but thought step-by-step directions might be helpful:

beetle trap 015.jpg 
1. Cut both ends from a 2-liter soda bottle, creating a funnel. The "neck" hole needs to be big enough that beetles can easily fall through.

beetle trap 039.jpg 
2. Make a plastic baffle that fits snugly into the soda bottle. I cut two rectangles from a plastic ice cream tub, with a narrow slit halfway up the center of each so they could fit together in an "X" shape.  One of the online sources said traps with bright colors at the top worked best, so I painted some decoy "fruit" dots in different colors. I don't know if it really helps, but it might!

beetle trap 007.jpg
  3. Using the wide end of the soda bottle funnel as a guide, use a Sharpie to draw a rough circle around the neck of a gallon milk jug--avoiding the handle. Then cut the circle out with scissors, taking care to stay inside your line far enough that the soda bottle will fit snugly into the hole. It doesn't need to be perfectly round--the bottle will conform to the shape. Then cut a couple of narrow slits in the sides of the milk jug, about 1-2 inches up from the bottom. These will allow rainwater to drain out.

beetle trap 030.jpg 
4. The critical part is what to use as bait. In years past, I've tried similar traps with no success--using over-ripe fruit that beetles had already been eating. The online source I read recommended isopropyl  alcohol, with some grape juice mixed in. Rather than pour it into the bottom of the jug, put it in a small container with a hole drilled in the lid for a wick. I used a pill bottle with a rolled up a paper napkin for a wick. To keep it from falling  over, I stuck it in the lid of a spray can, which I snipped into a daisy shape to keep it from filling up with gunk. The snipping was probably not useful.

beetle trap 019.jpg 
5. Fasten it in, or near, a tree where beetles like to hang out. Don't do what I did, and tie it to something--because when you want to dump the stinky, drippy dead beetles it's a pain to have to untie a knot. Now I use a spring-loaded clamp to clip it in place. The final step (best done after it's in place) is to put 2-3 drops of dishwashing detergent in the bottom, and then pour in water till it starts to dribble out the slits in the jug. The detergent water will quickly drown the beetles.
 

That's it. Check it every couple of days, because soapy dead-beetle soup is super stinky, and probably won't attract many new beetles. Unclip it, pull out  the funnel and dump the beetles, hose it out, and reset it. This year it was just an experiment to see if it works. It does. Now I'll start saving milk jugs & soda bottles to have a bunch of traps ready for next year.



Subject: Looking for fig cuttings in tucson az Replies: 1
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 196
 
I'm in northwest Tucson, and am curious about how your figs are doing. PM me if you're interested in comparing notes.

Subject: Sickly Fig plant - any ideas what's up? Replies: 15
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 462
 
I don't think this applies to your situation, but it's worth noting for fig growers in some parts of the country. I've had young, in-ground figs look similar and eventually die, and when I checked the roots, found that beetle grubs had eaten virtually all of them. I had a Smith die last year, and when I dug it up, all that was left underground was the main stem--and nine big, white, C-shaped grubs. They had even eaten the bark off of the underground stem, as well as chewed little trails into the wood. They seem to prefer some varieties over others--grubs killed an LSU Scott's Black but didn't touch a UCR 135-15s growing right next to it.

Subject: Thinking About Poisoning my Figs Replies: 46
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,010
 
Suzi, the only thing that really works is a physical barrier. Even if you kill one pest, a new one will soon show up to fill the vacuum--probably the day before the next fig you're waiting for is fully ripe. The war never stops, which means it's never won.

I've posted in years past on the big walk-in bird-netting cage I built to protect my figs and other trees. It works great until we get high winds or the rare snowfall--then the netting rips. It got a 50' rip a few weeks ago, just as the figs were ripening, and I don't have time to mess with it. So, this year so the birds get it all.

If I can find a wholesale source (I need 72,000 square feet), I plan to redo the whole cage next year with 1/2" galvanized poultry wire. That should be a permanent solution, with the added benefit of (hopefully) being able to also keep chickens in it, which should eliminate most weeds and help reduce the beetle problem--which in my yard, are actually much worse than the birds.

Subject: My ripe lsu purple Replies: 8
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 460
 
ChrisK, you may be right. The first few are starting to ripen, and they're a totally different shape than before--larger, and much rounder. If they taste good this time I'll post a picture.

Subject: My ripe lsu purple Replies: 8
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 460
 
Count yourself fortunate to have tasty figs on an LSU Purple so quickly. My tree was started from a rooted sucker in 2011; it has grown beautifully and I've had to prune it to keep it in check. It's also quite prolific--but the best of its fruits have been "ho-hum" at best. I've kept it only because so many forum members have sung its praises and advised patience. It's loaded again, as usual, so maybe when they ripen, this will be the year. Here's hoping!

Subject: Strange--mouse mummy on a fig twig Replies: 28
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 715
 
Works for me--they say the simplest solution is usually the best.

Subject: Strange--mouse mummy on a fig twig Replies: 28
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 715
 
That it is, Vivian--among the nastiest things I've seen in a fig tree. However, I'd still prefer a headless mouse to hordes of hungry fig beetles.

Subject: Strange--mouse mummy on a fig twig Replies: 28
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 715
 
It's an appealing theory--but the tree is inside a bird netting enclosure with 3/8 inch mesh--so no hawk can squeeze inside, nor drop a mouse through the netting from outside. I'm guessing the mouse, seeing the fig, settled down to wait for it to ripen, and knowing how good it would taste, wasn't willing to leave--even to go get a drink of water. In short, he lost his head over a fig (something many of us can relate to), and it cost him dearly. When the fig finally ripened, it was already too late for our fuzzy friend, and something else came along and chewed the hole in it.

Subject: Strange--mouse mummy on a fig twig Replies: 28
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 715
 
Wow--that's a pretty intense stare!

Subject: Strange--mouse mummy on a fig twig Replies: 28
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 715
 
Great shot! A bit weird, of course, but very nicely done. If it had been impaled on a thorn I would say it had gotten on the wrong side of a shrike, but I don't know what to think when it's feet-up on a pear tree.

Subject: Strange--mouse mummy on a fig twig Replies: 28
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 715
 
Maybe--it's a deterrent to me!

Subject: Strange--mouse mummy on a fig twig Replies: 28
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 715
 
He does appear to have lost his head.

Subject: Strange--mouse mummy on a fig twig Replies: 28
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 715
 
Great scenarios! I'm still smiling. No worries about losing one fig--there are plenty.

Subject: Strange--mouse mummy on a fig twig Replies: 28
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 715
 
I'm sure there's a story here somewhere, but I have no idea what it might be. I was reaching down to pick this breba and changed my mind. I don't think the dead mouse has anything to do with the hole in the fig, but...? Normally I'd cut around a pecked spot and eat the fig anyway, but I think I'm gonna pass on this one.

mouse & fig rdc.jpg 


Subject: Georgia White Hybrid Replies: 9
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 424
 
Thanks Joe; let me know how it does for you in Phoenix.

Subject: Georgia White Hybrid Replies: 9
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 424
 
Breba.

Subject: Georgia White Hybrid Replies: 9
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 424
 
Yes, a member in Georgia bought it, labeled as a celeste, which it is not. There have been forum discussions about it in the past; here's one with information about it:

http://figs4funforum.websitetoolbox.com/post/6082105


Subject: Georgia White Hybrid Replies: 9
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 424
 
This "unknown" remains one of my favorites. Big, sweet, and juicy. It seems to need a fair bit of heat to develop full flavor--there has been a jump in sweetness over the past couple of days as we've started breaking 100 degrees. 2015-06-03 Georgia White Hybrid.jpg 
2015-06-03 Georgia White Hybrid, cut.jpg 


Subject: Pawpaw Replies: 115
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 10,848
 
I haven't grafted any pawpaws yet either, but what Susan said makes sense to me. If you graft multiple varieties onto the same tree, it seems like you ought to be able to keep things balanced with careful pruning.

I will probably buy scions from Cliff England if he has what I'm looking for--I think he sells them for about $6 per stick, plus shipping. I also want to get a Shenandoah, but it's a patented variety that Cliff England doesn't offer--so to graft it onto one of my seedlings I'll have to purchase a potted plant from an authorized nursery and sacrifice it for the scion. Kind of a hassle and more expensive, but I think it will do much better in my yard if I graft it onto a healthy seedling with a normal tap root than if I tried to establish a small, container-grown plant in my climate & soil. My big question at this point is whether it's superior enough to the many excellent, non-patented varieties to justify the extra effort and cost.

Subject: OT Avocados for desert Replies: 28
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 759
 
Not yet--this is its first year fruiting, and the biggest ones are still only a couple of inches long.

Subject: Pawpaw Replies: 115
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 10,848
 
It will be interesting to see whether they take off once you get them into the ground.

Subject: Pawpaw Replies: 115
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 10,848
 
Hi Phil,
No, I didn't know the best way to plant the seeds at that time, and so put all of yours directly into the ground, where they either rotted or critters ate them. These were seeds from 'mango' and likely pollinated by 'Overleese' that I got the following year from guy on GardenWeb, who said to germinate them indoors and plant them as soon as I saw the root tip start to emerge. That worked great, and nearly all of them came up.

Subject: OT Avocados for desert Replies: 28
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 759
 
Back in 2012 I posted that I was going to plant two avocados: 'Wilma' and 'Opal.' According to the grower (Devine Avocados, located in Devine, Texas) they are self-fertile with thin, edible skin; grafted onto 'Lula' seedling rootstock (a heat & salt tolerant West Indian/Guatamalan cross) and reportedly hardy down to 16 and 14 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. Devine doesn't ship out of state, so a kind and generous Lone Star F4F member went beyond any reasonable expectation and sent them to me.

I planted them in 2013 and quickly lost the 'Opal', but fortunately had grafted a backup which is growing slowly but doing fine. The 'Wilma', on the other hand, is now 12 feet tall with a nice crop of fruit developing.  'Opal' is on the left, 'Wilma' on the right:
2015-05-27 Opal (small) & Wilma (12') rdc.jpg 

Developing fruit:
2015-05-23 Wilma fruit rdc.jpg 

I can't speak to how much cold they can take because the past couple of winters have been pretty mild, but without protection they survived temperatures that killed volunteer avocados sprouted from grocery store seeds tossed out as mulch.

A few days ago I learned of another variety that thrives even in Phoenix--'Aravaipa', available from Shamus O'leary's Tropical Fruit Trees. It is also sold as 'Don Juan.' So, if you figured you can't grow avocados because you live in an area with hot summers and frosty winters, you may be in luck after all.





Subject: Pawpaw Replies: 115
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 10,848
 
Thanks, Susan--they were planted in the spring of 2012. Growth rates were quite variable, mostly ranging from two to four feet, but one appears to be a natural dwarf of just a few inches, although apparently healthy. Here's a shot of the tallest and the smallest (circled); both are the same age:

2015-05-27 pawpaws short & tall rdc.jpg 


Subject: OT: Paw Paw trees Replies: 28
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,076
 
I checked with Cliff England, and you're right, he does not sell any of Peterson's varieties. The handful of nurseries authorized to sell Peterson pawpaws don't sell his scionwood, so if I want to graft Shenandoah onto one of my healthy rootstocks I'll have to buy a grafted plant and then sacrifice it; I'm not interested in wood from non-authorized sources. Since I enjoy grafting and sharing good varieties, the restriction against propagating additional plants is starting to make the Peterson varieties less appealing to me, although it may still be worth getting one if they really are superior. In the meantime, I'll see if Cliff has any Maria's Joy scions available for 2016, and maybe try some of his seeds as well.

For my climate I'm convinced that starting with seeds in the ground is the best way to get a healthy pawpaw tree. I'm guessing the taproot goes straight down to the impermeable caliche layer, and then follows any moisture it can find, which is probably why my seedlings never appeared to get water-stressed from the very beginning.

Subject: OT: Paw Paw trees Replies: 28
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,076
 
I'm trying to decide on named varieties to graft onto a couple of seedlings. I have no first-hand experience with pawpaw fruit, so I have to go by what I read; I'm leaning toward 'Shenandoah' and a Jerry Lehman variety called 'Maria's Joy.' Can anyone suggest a source for scionwood?

Subject: Pawpaw Replies: 115
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 10,848
 
I thought I'd update this post with shots of a couple of my seedlings. Several fizzled out but I have four that seem very healthy. With regular water they seem to tolerate Tucson's climate just fine.

pawpaw 1 rdc.jpg 

pawpaw 2 rdc.jpg 


Subject: Souring in Tucson, by variety Replies: 9
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 559
 
Susieqz--you're welcome!

Joe, I haven't had any bird problems at all in the cage since repairing it, so I haven't tried any bags inside it, either. Maybe I ought to try bags on the GWH (I'll need to order some), since the figs are usually spaced just far enough apart for easy placement, and the figs are big enough to be worth the hassle. On the VdB, though, the figs are packed so close together I don't think I could squeeze a bag in between the adjacent figs. Maybe I'll see if I can find some of the branch-sized sleeves my daughter sewed a few years ago, and see if any can be patched up to use on the VdB.

I've noticed the variations in ostiole size among figs on an individual tree as well, although I have yet to see a big opening on the Black Missions or Hardy Chicago/Marseilles Black.

I've also seen those big year-to-year swings in insect populations. Last year the big green fig beetles were buzzing around by the hundreds--my teen-aged son may have dented the population somewhat by battling them in the orchard with a racquetball raquet--but this year I doubt I've even seen ten. Ditto for the brown June bugs.

If you have single-trunked figs pruned up so the branches don't trail on the ground, you can completely eliminate ants on your figs with a band of Tanglefoot around the trunk. Some people apply it directly to the bark and have no trouble, but I always wrap first with masking tape (sticky side out), after having a young stone fruit tree die and snap off right at the band of Tanglefoot.

Subject: Souring in Tucson, by variety Replies: 9
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 559
 
Thanks for the suggestion. In the past, I've tried bags, as well as sleeves large enough to cover an entire branch; unfortunately, woodpeckers made short work of them, and then the beetles can go through the holes and are right back in business on whatever the birds missed.

I've also tried sticking pieces of masking tape over the ostiole, and even used a narrow art brush to dab white glue over the hole while the figs were still green and hard. I found that covering the eye tended to reduce the quality of the fig, and it was also too labor-intensive--even back when I was only trying to protect one tree.

Subject: Souring in Tucson, by variety Replies: 9
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 559
 
I've thought about it, but to get the beetles you'd just about have to spray inside the figs, since they fly from fig to fig. I think I'll just have to stick with trouble-free varieties, and the list keeps getting shorter!

Subject: Souring in Tucson, by variety Replies: 9
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 559
 
After giving up on one open-eyed variety (Improved Brown Turkey) due to souring caused by the Driedfruit Beetle (http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/r261300111.html), I planted a variety of closed-eye figs as replacements. Unfortunately, what passes for "closed" in some parts of the country often looks like a wide open door with a big welcome mat to the beetles in my yard.

These rice-grain-sized beetles appear shortly after the start of our summer rainy season (which also happens to be prime fig season), and I haven't found an effective way to get rid of them. The name is misleading, as they seem to prefer fresh, ripe figs; as soon as a fig is nearly ripe, they squeeze in through the ostiole, or eye, bringing bacteria with them, which rapidly turns a delicious fig into a flaccid blob of stinking, vinegary ooze. If the fig has an interior void, the problem is worse. Here's a quote from the above link: Driedfruit beetles damage figs in three ways: their presence in the fruit causes downgrading or rejection of the fruit, they transmit spoilage organisms that cause fruit souring, and they increase the attractiveness of the fruit to other pests such asvinegar flies and navel orangeworm.

This is the first year several of my trees have become really productive, and up until a few days ago I thought my trees were going to be safe from beetle problems. Unfortunately, two of my favorite figs are proving to be vulnerable to beetle-souring, and some of the others are affected as well. Here's the list of varieties that are now turning sour, and start spewing beetles as soon as I touch the fruit:

Violette de Bordeaux
Georgia White Hybrid
LSU Gold
Ischia Green
Conadria (not as severe as GWH, but still pretty badly affected)


The ones that (so far) seem unaffected are:
Black Mission
Black Mission NL
Hardy Chicago
Marseilles Black VS
LSU Improved Celeste (although mine have started getting a hard, dry patch near the eye--maybe a different manifestation of beetle damage?)
Celeste (cutting from Cecil's neighbor's tree--still too young to be sure, but seems to have a tightly closed eye from the one or two figs that ripened this year)
Tena (I see beetles on them, but no souring yet)
Excel (I see beetles on them, but no souring yet)
Panachee (tree is still too young to be sure, but no beetle damage yet)
LSU Purple (still young enough that the fruit isn't very good; maybe the beetles simply don't like it yet, either)

Trees that are either still too small to fruit or haven't ripened yet this season are:
Smith
LSU Scott's Black
Black Madeira
Col de Dame
Petite Negri
Desert King (should be safe since it ripens a breba crop, long before the beetles emerge)
Paradiso
Joe's Jersey
JH Adriatic

Subject: Today's haul Replies: 44
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,660
 
Thanks, All, for your comments.

M5allen, it's hard to pick a favorite, but at this point if I could only have one fig tree in my yard I'd probably go with Violette de Bordeaux. However, out of the light-colored figs I've tried so far, the GWH is my favorite in terms of taste, size, productivity, and the general health/appearance of the tree.

Subject: deep watering fig trees Replies: 22
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,390
 
I removed a healthy two-year-old fig recently to make room for a different variety. I had irrigated it on a drip system, but also soaked its basin once or twice weekly with a hose, watering quite deeply. To remove it, I rigged up a tripod of 4x4s and hooked a "come-along" to the trunk so I could crank it up out of the ground. To my surprise, virtually all of the roots were within about two inches of the surface, and came up in continuous mat (kind of like pulling up a tablecloth by pinching it in the middle, and lifting). The absence of any deep roots made me question how well the water was being used, and prompted me to start using spray heads on some of my trees.

I also used the same method to remove a Kadota I wasn't happy with, and it had deep, tenacious roots that I eventually had to cut off with loppers. I don't know how someone could find out (without causing a lot of damage) which trees' roots are shallow and spreading, and which ones go down deep, but some varieties might do better with frequent, shallow watering than with deep soaking.

 

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