Tuesday, September 30, 2014


This is a pluot tree that I planted on 5 March 2014. It has three varieties of pluot on it:
  • Supreme
  • Queen
  • Dapple Dandy
It flowered and some fruit set. Only one of the pluots survived and it grew to the size of a ping pong ball and then one day mysteriously disappeared so I never got to try it.

A pluot is a hybrid between a plumb and an apricot. An aprium is also a hybrid between a plumb and an apricot. The difference is that a pluot has more plumb than apricot and an aprium more apricot than plumb.

Beaumont Pink Guava

This is a Beaumont Pink Guava that I planted on 5 March 2014. Since then it's flowered twice but no signs of any fruit.

I think that the reason that it's looking so healthy is that it's spent most of the summer in the shade of a lemon tree so hasn't suffered the direct harsh sunlight.

Sugar Cane Jujube

I planted this Sugar Can Jujube on 5 March 2014. At that time it was a bare root "stick" with nothing on it. It's done a remarkable job of growing branches and today (30 September 2014) has a single fruit on it.

It seems to be doing well even though it's been getting way more water than it should be because of its proximity to the grass that's getting watered.

Lamb Hass Avocado

On 26 October 2013 we planted this 15 gallon Lamb Hass Avocado.

I strategically selected a spot under the mesquite trees to provide it with morning sun and afternoon shade. This seems to have worked relatively well except that the Arizona sun still gave it a beating for a couple of months. A sunscreen would have probably been wise for those months. The leaves appeared to burn and died off. Luckily there's been new growth which seems to be keeping it healthy.

The tree flowered profusely and fruit set on it in the spring. Only one avocado survived and it grew to the size of a large grape before shrivelling and dying.

The desert cotton tails (I think it's them) appear to have nibbled at the trunk and one of the branches which isn't good.

Seedless Kishu Mandarin

At the beginning of March 2014 this Seedless Kishu Mandarin went into the orchard. Out of all the citrus trees it is doing the best as it flowered and the fruit set and we now (30 September 2014) have around 30 mandarins on it which should be ready to eat soon.

The label describes it as early maturing variety from China. Popular in specialty markets and landscapes. Excellent container specimen.

Season: November to April

Tree: Small size with round shape.

Fruit: Very small. Light yellowish-orange rind. Easy to peel, seedless, mildly sweet.

Grapes - Black Monukka, Flame, Thompson, Himrod

In March 2014 we bought 4 seedless grape vines. Black Monukka, Flame, Thompson, and Himrod.

This photo shows one of them which is doing a good job of winding through the fence and will hopefully create a grapevine fence along our front yard.

Two of the vines produced bunches of grapes over the summer but they were quickly eaten by birds or insects. We may net the vines next summer.

Indian Curry Leaf

This is our Indian Curry Leaf tree. We got it in October 2013 and it was only about 5 inches tall.

For the first few months it was under severe strain as the humans wouldn't head my advice and leave it alone. They kept on pulling off its leaves and using them in their cooking.

Luckily the tree survived and today (30 September 2014) about a year later it stands at 33 inches tall and has two branches.

I expect it to lose its leaves over the winter but to regain everything in the summer. Last winter we covered it at night to help it survive.

Cara Cara Pink Naval Orange

New tree in the orchard as of 18 September 2014 is the Cara Cara Pink Navel Orange from Willits & Newcomb Nursery via Costco. Described as having a distinct reddish-pink color the fruit is a medium size with a deep orange rind. The taste is much like the Washington navel orange. Fruit ripens mid-November into early March. The tree has a compact growth habit and may occasionally produce variegated leaves. Some limbs may bear normal orange colored fruit.

The tree is currently 38 inches tall.

At the time of writing this the tree has been in the ground for 12 days and there are already several new green shoots on it up to 2 inches long.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Top trick for travelers

I've just tried this and it works amazingly well. (Remember that this blog isn't called Wild Fiction for nothing.) I flew to a conference in San Francisco this week and since I was flying on Southwest I opted for the early online check in for an extra $12 which meant that I got priority boarding.

I put on a fat suit (uninflated) and then piled baggy clothing on top of it. While in the waiting area I inflated the suit and tripled my size. I was enormous. It turned out that I had to actually let some of the air out once on the plane as I couldn't quite fit down the aisle. They thought I was farting when they heard it.

I got myself seated near the front and everyone looked at me in disgust as they came past. Nobody sat next to me and at takeoff I farted out the rest of the air and returned to a baggy cloth wearing manipulative evil traveler.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Trader Joe's Excellent Service

Today my wife went shopping at Trader Joe's. When she checked out she told the cashier that she didn't want her shopping double bagged. As she got back to the car a handle on the bag broke and the bag fell and a glass bottle of grape seed oil broke and covered the rest of the food in broken glass and oil. My wife took the oil drenched receipt back to the store and told them what had happened. She said that it was completely her fault for turning down the offer to double bag and that she was going to get another bottle of oil.

They wouldn't hear of it. Instead one of them came out to help her clean up the mess in the parking lot and another took her receipt and went shopping with it and filled a new bag (this time no arguments from my wife on double bagging) with her groceries and brought them out to her - no extra charge.

Isn't that incredible customer service? 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Arkansas Black and Grimes Golden

Last Saturday (25 January 2014) I attended a grafting "class" at Arizona Rare Fruit Growers and grafted my first tree.

My father-in-law was with me and he grafted the one on the left. That one is an Arkansas Black. I grafted the one on the right which is a Grimes Golden. The AZ fruit growers association had been on an excursion to a place east of Phoenix just west of Miami called Top of the World where there are a bunch of apple orchards which were originally grown to feed the miners during the boom days. They took a bunch of scions from there and these are two of them.

If they are successful then this is what I believe the Grimes Golden will look like:

And this will be the Arkansas Black:

Here are some notes from Joe Sabol CRFG Board member, ex president, and leader of a California program:

Congratulations! Your new apple tree is happy to have a home. Take care of it and it will live to be 50 or 100 years old!

You have a grafted apple tree, grafted to a root that is a “semi-dwarf” rootstock.  Your tree will never grow to be 30 or 40 feet tall.   This is good news! You can easily keep this tree at 8 or 10 or 12 feet tall! No worries! 

Remove the green or white tape by June 1 this year. Remove all new growth and shoots from below the graft location after you are sure your scion is growing and well connected.  Then, do not let any shoots grow from the rootstock.  Remove all but the strongest bud growing from the top (scion) and then tie this shoot to a stake.  It will become your tree trunk!

Plant the tree in a sunny location, the more morning sun, the better.  A well drained location is best. You may even wish to plant it on a mound.  Water it often when the weather is warm this first summer.   If you cannot plant it in your yard by June 1 this year, you must move it to a 5 gallon container on June 1 or it will quickly become "pot bound" in that gallon can!  Fertilize this young tree with care. Some of our CRFG members water their tree with "Miracle Grow" at half strength, every time they water during the spring and early summer! It will go dormant as winter approaches and all of the leaves will fall.

This first winter, you may prune the top of the tree off.  Yes, cut that single shoot so it is only 18 to 24 inches tall. This will force the side buds to shoot out in the next spring and begin to build the main scaffold/framework for a nice tree. Most back yard apple trees are destined to be in the shape of a vase… with 3 to 5 main branches coming from the single trunk. Do not let your tree have more than 5 main branches at this point.

If you planted your apple against a wall, you may wish to train the tree to be flat, more of a fan shape or even "espalier" the tree! The good news is that apples respond to training. They will quickly adapt to any shape you wish or need.

We want the tree to work hard on building a strong foundation for the future in these early years so, we only let the tree have one or two apples the second year. Remember, it takes 55 leaves to make enough sugar to have that big apple taste just right! So, thin the apples to leave only the biggest one the second year.

Finally, if your main scaffold branches try to grow straight to the sky, you may want to pull them down gently, and over time, have these branches grow at more of an angle, even horizontal for the first few feet!

30 September 2014 Update

 This is the Grimes Delicious, the one that my father-in-law grafted. The one that I grafted did not take so there is not Arkansas Black.

The Grimes Delicious is doing well and I've been following the instructions to cut away all but the strongest bud and soon I'll lop off the top to make it grown like a vase.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Jean Claude Van Damme vs Chuck Norris Split

If you haven't seen Jean Claude Van Damme's (JCVD) Volvo advert then I suggest you take a look at it.

And in case you were thinking of trying that note the warning at the end of the video that points out that this was done by professionals on a closed circuit.

Now take a look at Chuck Norris' response.

Note that Chuck's stunt does not carry any warnings about professionals or a closed circuit so feel free to try this one at home. I guess this stunt was easier because they were going forward unlike the JCVD stunt which was going backwards.