Avant Gardener – 082613

Derek Fell hosts this session solo since his co-host and wife, Carolyn is away working on a large landscape design project. Visiting the couple’s frost-free garden on Sanibel island, Florida, Derek reports that he has accomplished 100% germination of coconuts by at first floating them for four days in a bucket of plain city water, then transplanting the nuts in their husks and keeping them watered. The 1-acre property now features 45 coconut trees with ten presently bearing nuts. He also reports excellent germination of lychee seeds using fresh seeds extracted from the fruit after the delicious, sweet fruit has been consumed. The lychee grows bunches of white jelly-like fruits that are encased in a reddish-brown shell that peels easily like a hard-boiled egg. The large seed inside the pulp looks like a date seed and if planted immediately will germinate at room temperature. Outdoors in a frost-free location the seedlings will grow into a large, fruitful tree, but in other areas it makes a handsome house plant, resembling a Benjamin fig. Derek reads several headlines from his on-line newsletter, the Avant Gardener (go to Avant Gardener.info), including news that you will soon be able to grow summer-heading broccoli as a result of a breeding program by Cornell University. Regular kinds of broccoli will only produce edible heads during cool weather. The August issue also lists insecticides sold in US garden centers that use neonicotinoids – a chemical that has been banned by many European countries because of its disastrous effects on bird and bee populations. The newsletter also reports that in Pennsylvania the Tree of Heaven is now the number one cause of native regeneration failure and arborists are now asking people to regard it as the Tree from Hell by not planting it or eradicating it if it occurs on their property. In the email segment Derek identifies a disease called ‘sooty mold’ that can occur on a variety of trees and shrubs, notably fruit trees such as citrus, apples and pears. He describes the cause and recommends a control. The Fells will answer emails on any gardening topic sent to derekfell@verizon.net.