Now is the Time....

by Eunice Messner

(714) 281-3903


Now that you learned how to successfully graft after our January meetings, try your hand on any citrus or sapote seedlings you may have. New buds are pushing now and you should be assured of success.

Dwarf Lychee

Maybe there isn’t a true dwarf Iychee, but here are three cultivars that are reputedly smaller trees, which are better suited for most of us who have limited space. They are, ‘Kaimana’, ‘Sweet Cliff’ and ‘Wai chee’. The ‘Wai Chee’ we planted on the east side of the Silo building has succumbed (poor soil preparation). Bill Nelson of Pacific Tree Farms had procured it for us from Flonda (I had read it was the best).

Rudy Haluza has a ‘Sweet Cliff’ at his Villa Park home that fruits abundantly every year, but the fruits are small. He also gets fruit from another variety he has growing in a protected area at his Temecula property.

Someone especially interested in gathering information on how to successfully grow lychee in our area should volunteer to question the methods of every grower who succeeds in getting a good crop. That’s what rare fruit growing is all about. It should be a fun job.

Ripening Kiwi

A grower in Coos Bay, Oregon was having trouble getting his kiwi to ripen with the paper bag method, so I sent the question to Roger Meyer. This was his response: "Leave the fruit on the vine as long as your temperature allows (at 28-29 degrees F. they will freeze and be wined). Check the seeds of the fruit and see of they are black If so, that is sufficient for them to ripen. I presume that you do not have a refractometer to check the sugar level. If available, it should read at least 6 to ripen. When you pick the fruit, leave them off the vine a day or two to be entirely dry. Then put them into plastic bags and seal tightly. Put into the refrigerator one to two weeks. Then take them out, put into a fruit ripening bowl (or another plastic bag with an apple or banana), and let ripen on the kitchen counter a few days. They should give to pressure when ripe. Omitting the refrigeration step and just leaving them on the counter to ripen will result in a dehydrated, useless fruit."

Secret Germination Method Revealed

For years, after seeing the beautiful capers plant (Cappans spinosa) in bloom, I have wanted to grow it as a drought tolerant ground cover on my hillside. My first attempt, after a long search for seeds, yielded nothing. Then I found a Fact Sheet from the U.C. Small Farm Center on how to germinate them. Out of thirty seeds (I found a source in Italy) three grew. Two succumbed after transplanting to a gallon can. The remaining one is slowly growing on a dry slope. In the Mediterranean area they thrive on gravelly soil, in cracks and crevices and even on old stone walls.

Miriam Kirk, a member of the Mediterranean Plant Society, gave me their web page address from which I learned the following:

"Caper seeds are minuscule and are slow to nurture into transplantable seedlings. Fresh caper seeds germinate readily—but only in low percentages. Dried seeds become dormant and are notably difficult to germinate and therefore require extra measure to grow. Dried seeds should be initially immersed in warm water (105 F) and then let soak for one day. Seeds should be wrapped in moist cloth, placed in a sealed glass jar and kept in the refrigerator for two to three

months. After refrigeration, soak the seeds again in warm water overnight. Plant the seeds about one centimeter deep in a loose, well-drained soil media. Young caper plants can be grown in an area of minimum fifty degrees temperature."

"Collect stem cuttings in February’, March or April. Use stems from the basal portions, greater than one centimeter diameter and eight centimeters in length with 6-10 buds. Use a loose well-drained media with bottom heat. A dip in a rooting compound is recommended. Transplanting is carried out during the wet winter and spring periods. First -year plants are mulched with stones."