Atlanta Fruitman’s Blog


Feijoas
June 1, 2009, 10:44 pm
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Here is little known fruit (in this area at least) that need more attention. Its one of the few temperate evergreen fruit bushes  around, so it is perfect for a single bush or a wind break. The another common name for it is Pineapple Guava.  It is not a true Guava that you would see in tropical markets, but is still part of the myrtle family. Dont let the name fool you it is a cold hardy bush. I have never seen any real damage to it around my house and I know some people are growing them north Georgia.  Some leaves will burn on the end when we go down to single digits, but I always get a new flush of leaves in the spring. The bush can be pruned to a short hedge or trimmed to a small tree. The leaves are similar to a Camellia but have a frosted look to them. The flowers have white-lavender fleshy petals and red stamens and yellow tips. The petals are even slightly sweet and minty flavored. The fruit looks like small aromatic green torpedoes with a taste that is sweetly acid. Some say it is a mix of strawberry and pineapple, but I think it has taste all its own.  It is a great fruit for salads and salsa or just fresh. Some people eat just the inside witch is more sweet, others will eat the skin and all which have a more sharp flavor. The seeds are tiny and unoticable like kiwis.

It is a very low care bush. I have never done anything to it.  I will occasionally take brush an dab the flowers, so I am sure I get the best pollination, but it may not be necessary. You will need two bushes to get fruit.  I have never sprayed, watered or even covered the bush, and I am always rewarded with a few bushels of fruit every year -even during the drought years (the fruit were just smaller). The squirrels or birds dont seem to like it. I dont know if they even know it is there. The fruit stays green even when it is most ripe and at a distance may be hard to see on the bush. You know it is ripe when the fruit falls to the ground.  This happens around late October early November here.

I am thinking about them now because I just picked a bunch of flower petels to make mild flavored wine…so actually you could say you get two crops out of the bush! I have made a very distinctive flavored wine out of the fruit as well lst year. This has to be one of the top fruit trees in the yard.



invasion of the dog penis
May 25, 2009, 9:49 pm
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Sorry for the vulgar title, but seems appropriate for what is happening in the yard. I saw these things last year in the yard for the first time and was rather fascinated by them. This year they came back in an even wider area.  after a little research, I discovered that these are Stinkhorn mushrooms. They are not a sign of anything bad, but they are alarming in the shape, color (in my case) and smell. The on shown here is from recent mushroom walk. The one in my yard is a little smaller and is red in color. The smell is maybe one of somewhere between stinky cheese and sweaty underwear. 🙂    …but yet kinda yeasty

I was told that it is eaten in Asia. I don’t think I will try it this time, but I do plan on examining it further. I have it in the house right now and the smell lingers everywhere.

Maybe I will light a few matches.

Stinkhorn

Stinkhorn



Ode to thomasville
May 23, 2009, 6:04 pm
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This is another old one of last year that I put up because of some interest in citrus growing in Atlanta.

though my love has cooled just bit, because a few minor problems I have had in recent years with it. It is still a great tree to try out.

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I love Thomasvilles!

I know all of you are saying WTF!
So let me back up.
I got some fruit seedlings from the bamboo garden in Savannah, GA. of a hardy citrus called Thomasville Citrangequate. This was from a gorgeous 30+ year old tree with deadly 4 inch spikes surrounding the base. So yes, you can grow citrus in Atlanta. The great thing about the tree is that it is VERY precocious. It started fruiting in its fourth year from seed. Thats good for most trees, but great for citrus. Most dont get going till their tenth.

But why do I love this tree so much. Well, maybe it was partly due to the wait, but also the look, taste and experience of eating this fruit is very special. The fruit is teardrop shaped and can range in size from a medium size fig to a good sized plum. My first crop was flawless orange yellow which gave a nice contrast to very dark green leaves. Because of it Kumquat heritage, there is not bitter pith to the fruit. In fact, the skin is mildly sweet, which contrast nicely to the sharp sourness of the pulp. The pulp tastes like a grapefruit to me. The lack or pith means you eat the fruit WHOLE! There may be a 3-5 seeds in there (which you will easily find and save!) I am the type that eats a good grapefruit without sugar( if I can peel the pith and membrane off). The skin also gives you that little tingle on your tongue and lips that Grapefruit rind give if you ever had candy from the rind. So this gave a joyous experience eating the fruit. Unlike most kumquats the the fruit was juicy and big enough to take few bites from just one.

Now in the off chance you have heard of this fruit, you may have also heard that it has the “Poncirus wang” taste to it (The very hardy Poncirus being another part of its heritage). That may be true for some, but I can say I have never tasted it mine. I tend to believe that there may be a 2 or more races of these Thomasvilles and I happened to get the one that dosent have this taste, or maybe I and my friend just dont taste it. I can say I am a “super taster” so I dont know.

My tree is growing fast, I cant wait till I get enough of these little gems to share with people and to make things with them. I cant say this is my favorite tree in the yard yet. I is usually is what ever I am harvesting at the time, but can say I will really look forward to tasting the fruit and propagating this tree next year!

PS: another surprise for this year have been my Ichang lemon that has leaves that smell like the more tropical Kiefer Lime!



Nankings
May 17, 2009, 2:44 am
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Well, it seem like my bush cherries are ready.  Anyone who knows me has probably heard me mention them.

These are very productive low-care cherries that grow on 6 foot high bushes. They are usually the first fruits to flower and ripen. Now when I mean they are productive, I mean they tend to bend all the branches with fruit. The birds love them as well.  I first I was netted the bushes, but now there generally so many fruits I dont bother. They do have some problems though. The fruit is very delicate. I have to be eaten fresh or within a few days. That also means they cant be easily pitted (at least I havent been able to). Another curious fact is that the cherries will lose its color once cooked – turning into this pink Peptobismol colored goo. This would not make the most attractive preserve. I usually end up freezing most of them and eating them as a snack in the summer heat.

This year the bushes flowered as usual, but I did get the fruit productivity as last year.There are still more than I care to pick, but not a huge amount. It is far worse on my Stalla Dwarf cherry. I have maybe 4-5 fruits!! My theory is all the rain we have been having. There was a period of about a week that it rained almost everyday last month. This was when my bushes and tree were in full bloom.  It restricted the bees from pollinating or maybe the rain did something to the blooms.

Anyway, no tree cherries and few bush cheries this year.



Rain…Rain
April 20, 2009, 12:08 am
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I got my first mosquito  bite today.  I guess their out now. I was hoping they would wait for a while longer so I could enjoy hanging out side – not that I am running for cover… yet, but I will need to be more mindful of covering my body when I am outside. I saw a small swarm around a container of water a few days ago.  I have found that if I put a little dish-washing liquid in the water, their little baby crib becomes a trap. The soap changes the water tension so when they land on the water, they fall in a drown and any larvae that are in the water suffocate.Yeah, I’m a saddest. I actually keep some water outside now to draw them in. Their biting early this year it seems. Our nights are still a bit cold. Maybe cause it is because all of this rain we have been having. I dont know.  Maybe it its me.

This rain is really strange though, after all, we are in a drought pattern right.  Is this the end? Are we going to make up for all the lost rain four the last 4 years? It seems so. Dont get me wrong I like rain. Everything is growing fast and green like I have seen in a long time. There are its down side for me too (not just the bugs). All this rain came during a week when my cherries and almonds were blooming. The bees dont really like to work in the rain, so the flowers suffered in pollination and plus all the wet seems the make mold flourishing the blooms. I will not have a good crop this year. I am not so worried about the Nanking – the production could be cut by half and I still would have plenty to eat and share. I just wanted to have good crop of Stalla cherries to show off.  Its still a bit early to know for sure, I dont think I will have more than a pint or so.

My fingers are crossed.



Rites of Spring
April 12, 2009, 6:58 pm
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This Easter is a specially  gorgeous day the birds are singing and the bees are buzzing all around.

I thought it would be nice to brake out my special southern spring cocktail:

half water and Muscadine homebrew wine in a jar filled with frozen nanking cherries.

I love theis time of year….



Fruit Hunters
April 11, 2009, 1:45 pm
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My I suggest an interesting book for people interested in some of the stranger goings on in fruit culture. The book is called Fruit Hunters by Adam Leith Gollner. I bought this book about a year ago and put it with the other big stack of books I have yet to read. I regret putting it to the top of my list because I got to briefly meet the author, plus oddly enough, I seem to have meet some of the colorful characters in the book. It’s kind of strange reading about people you have meet or emailed that are not at all the celebrity types – ones that you think is all that colorful. This of course makes you look at yourself in the mirror in a slightly new light…but that a different story. The book goes deeper in to the fruit underground of smuggling, US policy and history. Being somewhat fruit fan, I really wanted more….a part II, because I think he has yet to tell the full story. There are many others out there that need their stories told. Anyway, I was wondering if anyone else out there had read the book and was interested in their thoughts. I really want to hear from non fruity people to get their thoughts. I guess I want confirmation that I am not a weird as I thought. 🙂