Thursday, March 6, 2014

Loquats: Really Tough Trees

I ate my first loquat of the season a few days ago. Here's a nice cluster on my oldest and largest tree:

The big one on the end there is now in my stomach. Tart, sweet, delicious.

There's a reason loquats are one of my top survival crops for this area. They're evergreen, tasty, productive... and totally underutilized.

I need to tell you more about the one I've been enjoying fruit from this week. I'm going to post its picture - and it's not pretty. Don't laugh, though - this tree has had a tough life.

After a time on the street, smoking raw MiracleGro and popping Jobe's, he had a radical turnaround when an emaciated transvestite and former trucker told him about FertAnon...

No. It didn't work like that.

This loquat tree was originally growing on a commercial property. It was a seedling tree struggling along in half-shade behind an aluminum business. My cousin, Epic Timmy and his wife Lizzy the Calm were renting a doublewide in the back of the property.

Epic Timmy told me that the place was about to go into foreclosure and be seized by one of the many Great Big Evil Banks and that they were likely to clear out all the fruit trees when they took it. With that in mind, we did a plant rescue (one of many plant rescues I've participated in... I'm looking at you, JJ and Allen the Beekeeper), dug up a bunch of banana trees, then took a shot and pulling out the above loquat tree.

Unfortunately, the tree was a long stick, shooting way up into the branches of another tree... so I had to cut off the top. I probably took off over a third of the tree, then we started digging.

Holy moly... that was hard work. The ground was rocky and the taproot was enormous. After fighting with it for a while, we basically broke it off with about 2' of taproot with almost no ball... to support 10' of tree.

There's no way this thing will live, I thought to myself.

That was two years ago. When I planted it, I put a hose at the base of the tree and let it run on a continuous trickle for at least a week, then watered it very regularly for months afterwards. It's sat and hardly grown at all since then... at least above ground. My bet is that it spent two years developing a new root system before deciding to bloom this winter and set fruit.

I'm glad it lived... the fruit are very good, plus I just like the idea of saving a fruit tree that would otherwise have been either ignored or discarded.

Today's takeaway: loquats are really tough trees.

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At March 6, 2014 at 9:11 AM , Anonymous SomeGardenGuy said...

Hey Dave,

I also have a loquat, and though it makes a million little fruit bulbs (and I mean a million), none of them ever grow to fruit really. Am I doing it wrong?

At March 6, 2014 at 11:59 AM , Blogger jean said...

Your fruit in the stomach from a formerly sadly neglected orphan tree is what happens when you give it tender loving care. Ain't it worth it?

At March 7, 2014 at 1:05 AM , Blogger George G said...

Loquats sure are nice trees.
I did something similar to you -
I found a wild seedling growing in my backyard and
transplanted it to a better place.
Not as much work as your tree transplant though.
I am thinking about buying a named variety now, as well.
And maybe trying some grafting.
There is some good info, from UF on varieties in the Florida area here:
They say:
"The Tropical Research and Education Center has budwood available for nurseries to use in propagation of 14 varieties of loquat."
You might be able to get some good varieties very cheaply from them, if you could graft them.

At March 7, 2014 at 6:23 AM , Blogger George G said...

I hope you don't mind me making a suggestion that
some varieties are self infertile, such as Champagne.
Might possibly be the reason.

At March 7, 2014 at 8:19 AM , Blogger David The Good said...

Good possibility. I've never seen a loquat do that before.

At March 7, 2014 at 8:20 AM , Blogger David The Good said...

Very cool info - thank you.

As a bonus, I've been told that loquats are one of the easiest fruit trees to graft.


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