Sunday, November 30, 2008

Kishu Mandarin

I planted a Kishu Mandarin this past weekend.  The tree has loads of sweet fruit the size of golf balls.  

This picture only shows a third of the fruit that was on the tree when I first got it.  I took a lot of the fruit off because I was afraid the branches would break off when the tree was removed from the container.  The container was 2 feet tall and quite heavy.  I later found out that the roots of the tree only went half way down the container.

I think the nursery purposely kept a lot of fruit on the trees they sell to make it more attractive to buyers.   November is a great time to buy a Mandarin tree as the fruits are just becoming ripe.   Certainly, the fruit from this tree is a winner.  The skin is thin, easy to peal, and the whole fruit fits easily into your mouth. My 10 year old son ate his first one in one bite.    One of the best tasting Mandarins I have ever tried.

Next year, I hope to pick a lot of fruit from this tree.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hanging Chinese Pumpkin Update

The Hanging Chinese Pumpkin did not make it.  It was the lack of sun rather than the weight of the fruit that did it in.

The fruit started turning yellow, then black and finally fell off.    This area of the garden gets sun only a couple of hours during the day.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Chinese Pumpkins Still Growing Strong

In contrast to the Winter Melon plants, my Chinese Pumpkins plants are still growing strong.  

Chinese Pumpkin vines have a tendency to take over the garden.  They grow very fast, in all directions and will swamp out the rest of the plants.  I think one reason my Winter Melon yield was low this year is because the Chinese Pumpkin vines blocked out the sun for the Winter Melon vines.

I planted two Chinese Pumpkin vines this year.   One got a lot of sun and grew to be over 60 feet long (see picture below)

The other vine grew mostly in the shade.  The one in the sun has fifteen fruits of various sizes currently growing.  This does not include the approximiately eight fruits that I have already picked from the plant. The one in the shade has only 3 fruits growing and had a several fruits abort and turn black.  Next year, I am only going to grow Chinese Pumpkins in full sun.

The fruits from my Chinese Pumpkin vines are quite large (~15 lb). The fruits start out green and if I leave them on the vine long enough they turn orange.  

One of the ripe orange Chinese Pumpkins looked like a regular Western pumpkin.  So I cut the fruit off of the vine and put it in front of my house for Halloween.

The Chinese Pumpkin vines will climb, similar to Winter Melon vines.  However, I find that the Chinese Pumpkin vines are much less flexible than Winter Melon vines.  The Winter Melon vines, I can pick up, move and train them to take advantage of supports and trellis that I have built.  If I move the Chinese Pumpkin vines, the vine will break off or get damaged.  That is why I try to keep the Chinese Pumpkins low to the ground, so that the fruit rests on the floor.

However, the Chinese Pumpkin vine that is growing in the shade has reached the limits of my property and is starting to grow up the retaining wall seperating my property from  my neighboor's property.  So now I have a fruit that is dangling about 4 feet off the ground.  Hopefully, the plant can support the weight and the fruit won't come crashing down.

As long as the Chinese Pumpkin vine looks healthy and the fruits are growing, I plan to keep it growing as long as possible.  With luck, the plants my last until Christmas.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Winter Melon Harvest

It's time to take all of the Winter Melons off the vine. The vines have been fading the last few weeks.

See the dried and shriveled leaves in the pictures to the right.

The vines have been like that for several weeks, but I delayed picking the melons in the hope that the plants would be able to recover. The evening temperatures have been in the 40 to 50 degree range and the Sun only shines on this part of the garden in the morning. Not the best weather for growing Winter Melons.

This year I strung one of the vinest between the branches of a tree to see if the tree could support some melons.

Sure enough, I was able to get two melons to grow. Next year, I will try to see if I can get the vines to wrap around the tree and get a second
layer of melons to grow.

This year, my harvest was 9 large melons, 7 medium sized melons, and 4 small melons. I had picked around 10 melons of various sizes (mostly small to medium) throughout the Summer and early Fall to give away or to eat. So these 20 melons represent the last crop.

Next year, I want to grow fewer vines to see if I can increase my yield. This year, I grew 15 plants and the vines ended up competing for sun. I think, I will try 8 plants next time.