None of our trees have been irrigated over the last few years because we have a holiday camp here for flying foxes.
The Abiu struggles here and is a problem – it’s a undergrowth tree and really needs shade – this one is grafted and you can’t really fertilise – 10 years ago when I got that the fruit it would have been 10 times that size but as soon as you put fertiliser on the tree the fruit will drop no matter what size. The DPI said you should just try out a few seedlings to see if you can get one. Potash won’t work.
The White Star Apple dies back every winter – I got 2 fruit off it – it just doesn’t like the cold here – there’s a huge big weeping one behind. Haitiian has a thicker skin and has a tendency to just spread but has larger fruit if you water and fertilise but the white one is a total failure. (A couple of members get a few fruit off their white seedling type)
Cherry of the Rio Grande grows 4 times faster than the Pitomba and they are sweet, pear shaped with a large seed inside but quite often the Pitomba has no seed inside and you get little fruit so don’t be disappointed if it has a lot of little fruit to start off – I have found that when the trees get older that they do self pollinate but it’s still better if you have two trees.
Pine Nut (Pinus Pinea) I did have it but I found that in the summer they would scorch so the sunny side would burn and the shady side would grow so eventually it gets to be a very odd shape.
The Macadamia is a rainforest tree so they don’t like it when it’s too dry.
The Sapodilla takes the cold – mine has taken – 4 deg. I have a seedling one that’s smooth not grainy like other fruit but extremely difficult to graft or airlayer. There’s one called Tropical – a grainy type. There’s another called Roger which is suppose to be very good.
The Soursop is not very happy with the drought but they always die back in the winter as it’s a really tropical tree.
Two different types of airlayered Longans – Howe is more spreading and Kohalla is more upright. We recommend these two varieties and if you have patience try a BQ which has the biggest fruit but sometimes it’s biennial because the crop is too late. If you have a tree that’s not flowering, sometimes you can get one that’s a male but it will still flower. This will happen in a Black Sapote – I heard that the odd one is a male – we planted 30 down by the dam and 1 was a male. We marcot over April/May for the spring – if you do it Feb/Mar, the roots will be established by mid winter and when you take it off you’ll kill it. It loves shade – the healthiest tree is always the one in the shade.
If you want a “small” tree then plant a Pecan!!! The cockatoos come every day and have a lovely time – they’re very silent and all you see is nuts coming down and when they go they make a lot of noise – they’re saying thank you!
Black Sapote likes heavy soil - they crack too quickly in light soil if you don’t irrigate - I have Mossman which has very large fruit & Bernnaker which has big flat fruit which are very nice but a relatively shy bearer. I bought this Green Sapote originally from Don Gray up north for $50.00 – If we get a lot of rain, they drop their fruit. I grafted another one onto Mammey and they grew a lot better and we get much heavier crops. Mammey will take rain but the Green prefers dry weather – it’s a mountain tree. The other Green Sapote here is the only one which is grafted onto green sapote rootstock and it airlayers very well but grafted onto Mammey I found it doesn’t airlayer very well at all. We use peat moss and soil in our airlayer mix. Sometimes we use just soil and add a bit of dolomite. I don't use Super but I’ve been told that if you mix in ground up Superphosphate you’ll get better success but we don’t want to get too rich because we’d have to pay too much tax so we don’t worry if only half take! We get an 80% success rate. It has a roundish fruit where others are pointed.
The White Sapote absolutely hates wet soil and in some areas, some will not bear by themselves. An American study found that the same variety will bear quite happily but 100m away it will cross pollinate, so if you find that it hasn’t flowered for five years and has no fruit or the fruit falls off, then it needs cross-pollination but you could also try a bit of Borax. Sometimes the pollen is not viable. Put the boron on a few weeks before it flowers – when you see the buds and use only 1 or 2 gms with a litre of water. If you put too much on it will defoliate the tree. A lot of trees that won’t pollinate often do after you spray with Boron. We have a Pike variety – some areas self-pollinating and other areas not. Reinnakie Commercial is a self-pollinating and we also have Golden Globe: the smallest tree but very good fruit. The ever-bearing ones like Su-belle I found usually struggle because most of the time they drop their fruits. Lemon Gold is a pollinator but as it has 95% male flowers it doesn’t pollinate itself very well! It does have a beautiful flower though – similar to Golden Globe which has a stunning taste. Dennsler Rockhampton is a self-pollinating variety which grows into a huge tree and has large fruit which have a strong taste but if you pick them early you get a nice mild taste. There’s also a Southern Densler which hasn’t got much taste.
This is a seedling Sweetsop or Squamosa. The DPI use to tell you that you could use it’s own rootstock but it’s totally unsuitable as they will only grow for a year or two. Rollinias grow and bear very quickly within 18 months. Don’t go for the grafted – I got a seedling from northern NSW they call Picone and they’re doing very well.
If you want to see a decent fig tree, then go out to the cement works at Darra and the tree is bigger than my Eucalypt and it had about a 1000 trays of fruit on it and he cut it back severely and I told him he could have paid for his house with what it had cut off – stunning big fruit - so obviously it likes lime.
Other trees that like lime are the Ju-Jube and Sapodilla. Lime goes into the soil very slowly so apply it every two years – it only goes down an inch into the soil. Gypsum neutralises the soil so if you put it on top it will go down a foot – the first sign is that water won’t go in .
The Ice Cream Bean – there are two types – the large cold-tolerant red tipped one has sweeter fruit – the one I have you need two trees to cross pollinate but the seed pods were two feet long.
Mango – look after them as lousy as you can - the best varieties that do well here are the R2E2, Kwan (a type of Nam Doc) Florigon and the Bowen. Bambaroo from the Rockhampton area is also very good, and Middleton and Hatten from northern NSW are also very good. You’ll get a smaller but better flavoured fruit if you don’t irrigate. If you find your Mangoes or Lychees are flushing too much and getting too much vegetative growth instead of fruiting then put on a handful Muriate of Potash on around April and not more than a kilo for a really large tree. Nam Doc My is a wet weather tree and does well in the tropics - north of Townsville it bears all year round and if you have dry weather it has a tendency not to set and is susceptible to mildew – a few other varieties get mildew too but you get this condition much more in dry weather than in wet weather – a lot of people don’t believe you – they think you get mildew in wet weather but what happens is that the spores float around and you get the heavy dew in the morning and all the spores set but when you get heavy rain the spores wash away and you get a lot less problem and when you see the white fluff on the stems and that also makes a hard skin on the fruit. We found that the new one, Kwan, has a lot less of a problem. We think it’s a seedling with a Nam Doc background. It’s about twice as fat, same seed, and it has more orange flesh not yellow like the Nam Doc and seems to be bearing every year – it’s a very good fruit. I’m not keen on Nam Doc – it’s definitely sweet but has no flavour but if you like sweet you’ll be pleased with it and it also has a small seed. We get good crops of Nam Doc but if we spray we use Sulphur – we would never use copper on a Nam Doc. Sulphur is good for mildew. Copper gives the fruit a hard skin which then has a tendency to crack the skin. (One of our club members had a problem with cracking and put trace elements on which solved his problem) Prune when you first see them flowering. Some of the cold tolerant Bowens seem to be slowly adjusting to this area but Nam Doc will set at 9 deg.
I have a seedling Mammey Sapote - fruit can get to 2kg.
One of my rarer trees is a Velvet Apple or Mabola – very touchy – we don’t sell them as most people manage to kill them.
Custard Apple – Pinks Mammoth has large sweet fruit with much fewer seeds but you’ll get more fruit but smaller on Hilary White and African Pride.
We had a Rambuttan that flowered in its second year and three weeks later it’s dead!
With Jackfruit, the male flower falls off once it’s finished and some trees will have up to 18 months before they have a female flower – you can easily pick them because the male flower has a thin stem. The female flower has a finger thick stem right. Black Gold is excellent and is the only one which is sweet in winter if it ripens then. Asians prefer the crisp one which is more tropical but we found that we get very poor crops – one of them is called Dulatten and Bosworth and Galaxy which has very big fruit. We have a pink coloured variety called Pinks which can get up to 20kgs but it won’t ripen in winter whereas Black Gold will ripen and be sweet. I got them from Fitzroy in Rockhampton –many different varieties. If you want a fast growing tree, here’s a Candle Nut you can put on a little house block but you can shift the house afterward!!!
The Carambolas – recommended varieties around SQ Qld are Fang Tung, any of the B series and 1-11 (Kare) This last one ripens in winter and is very sweet. Wheeler also ripens in winter so is not subject to fruit fly damage but I think it tastes like medicine but the Americans love it because you can drop them on the ground and pick it up and still sell it a week later! It’s nice and firm – like the Strawberries and the Tomatoes!
This is what we make the money out of – all the Asians buy this tree - it’s a Magnolia – nothing to do with fruit. A White Michellia alba related to the Port Wine Magnolia has lovely perfumed flowers for six months of the year and they tell me that it’s a very difficult tree to grow but they say that if you’re honest it will grow! So a Chinese man gave it to me and he said “Grow it” because nobody will come back and tell you that it died!! However someone did come back and tell me that their tree died and when I told him the saying he said that the chap shouldn’t have told me that because “We’re all a superstitious lot!!” There’s a yellow flowering one called Champaka – the Himalayan Magnolia and we also have a white flowering one as well – the yellow one has plenty of seeds so we grow it from seed and graft or occasionally we air-layer it – small flowers. The Indians like the yellow one.
The tree which is probably the biggest disappointment but probably the best tree I have in the whole place is the Malay Apple – it has stunning fruit the size of an apple if it pollinates and a bright red flower but it always flowers in the winter and very few set so I’ve been told that if you don’t have a proper wet season it won’t flower until it gets cooler because the wet makes the ground cooler and it will then automatically flower so I have flooded them but it still wouldn’t work but the fruit is like a perfume Jonathon Apple with a crisp beautiful taste. The flower is like a gum flower – very stunning and red.
Wax Jambu – White Laulau – it also has a seed and is crossed between the red and white and is very sweet – strictly speaking the Wax Jambu has no seeds but this one has.
We have two bisexual pawpaw – the round red one and the long red one. The flavour of the round is sweeter but has a soft flesh whereas the long one has a firmer flesh. You’ll see we have a couple of mirrors hanging down on a piece of string – one at each end of the vegetable garden to ward off birds, wallabies etc. The secret is in the way you hang them up – tie them around the centre so when they hang, they keep turning around continuously so the light reflects off and gives a flash.
The Cedar Bay Cherry has fruit on 8 months of the year. Very hardy, will grow in shade or full sun.
Bruce has made wine out of this Yellow Mangosteen – grow them in the shade from seed.
The Cambodians and Vietnamese use the Canistels green.
Stone fruit is only good for about 12-15 years. Blood Oranges won’t colour up here but if you put them in the refrigerator for 10 days they will.
compiled by Sheryl Backhouse