NOW IS THE TIME
By Eunice Messner

NON-FRUITING MANGO

I had a question from a man who has 14 acres of land in Hawaii. He wanted to know why two mangos trees with 6 inch trunks had never fruited. He was using a16.16.16 fertilizer.

I replied "Mango trees need only a minimum amount of fertilizer as they reach maturity. Since phosphate is the inducing nutrient for blossoms and fruit, stop using this high nitrogen chemical combination and switch to a micronized soft rock phosphate applied to the foliage or the soil. Add to the solution a mix of organics. Peaceful Valley Farm Supply (
www.groworganic.com) has several suggestions - kelp, fish, humates and Brix Mix.

We, in California, have ample phosphate in the soil but it is mostly not available to the plant unless you are organic and have lots of microorganisms assisting in the uptake. Chemical fertilizer destroys these microorganisms. Phosphates do not travel in the soil so if you are planting trees, that is the time to get a mined, natural source of it
(phosphorus and calcium) down by the roots. Only make sure it is soft rock phosphate. One application lasts about five years. Locally, "Growmore" has it available in 5 pound boxes.

POTTING SOIL

My success in growing mangos from seed has increased since I started adding worm castings to my potting soil mix of sphagnum peat moss, pumice and mycorrhizae. According to a report in "Avant Gardener" earthworm castings are rich in hormones as well as nutrients. Mangos seeds produce a long taproot. Since adding the mycorrhizae, I have noticed secondary rootlets develop along the tap root. Now if I only had a Green House, then they would really look good by Green Scene. As it is, I struggle to keep them warm in the winter. To further annoy me, something often eats the entire plant.

IN THE GARDEN

This has not been a good year. First all my broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage plants were consumed by one of my many critters. Then, gophers ate the heart out of two papayas and a banana, plus the entire contents of a 2'x2'x4' box of vermiculture worms - a $125 lunch for the greedy gopher. It chewed through 3/4" plywood to get at them.

Our ridiculous weather has me already thinning fruit on my 'Desert Delight' nectarine and 'Tropic Snow' is almost there. Odd, that the apricots, which should bloom first are not showing plump buds yet. I guess they are waiting for more winter chill. I didn't receive a calendar this year that indicated the best planting, grafting or weeding times. So, I just took a chance and grafted 'Nettie' white sapote seedlings this week. 'Nettie' was named by a former CRFG member who moved up north. It is a pear shaped fruit with excellent flavor. I also grafted 10 avocado seedlings with the scion wood procured by our wonderful volunteers at the Field Station. I'll await the maturation of couple of these
non-commercial varieties with great anticipation and the 'take' of the rest will be for "Green Scene". Grafting is such
fun!