February 15, 2018–Darryl McCullough of Sweet Song Groves

A former math professor at Oklahoma University, Darryl McCullough planted a few varieties of fruit trees in 2012. By 2016 it had grown to 150 fruit trees on just two acres and he launched Sweet Song Groves. Now the treasurer of the Sarasota Garden Club, he eats great things for breakfast, lunch and dinner, does a lot of public outreach, and is living the dream. Darryl also conducts 3-hour Fruit Tree Paradise Workshops each spring and fall to help new-to-intermediate growers avoid some of the pitfalls of growing tropical fruit trees in the Sarasota area. Click the workshop link for the current version of his notes and a basic-info spreadsheet of fruit commonly grown in our region. Darryl will condense his workshop for us and promises to provide something for everyone–philosophy, technique, and ideas for making the world better. And lots of photos. In addition, Darryl regularly conducts a one-hour walking tour of his fruit farm in North Sarasota County. Oops; just missed the one on Feb. 4th. Check his website events page for more.

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January 18, 2018 Dr. Ronald Cave: UF Research

Ronald D. Cave, PhD {bio} is an entomologist (insect scientist) specializing in biological controls, an Associate Professor and now the director at the University of Florida Indian River Research & Education Center in Fort Pierce (where we used to meet each month). He will talk about the activities at the Center that affect us as growers of tropical fruit.

Remember to bring your best fruit and treats for the tasting table, and also bring any extra plants for the raffle.

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December 21, 2017 Christmas Feast

Our annual holiday feast this year is Thursday, 12/21 at 7:00 pm at the Port St. Lucie Botanical Garden Pavilion. As usual, it is open to club members and their immediate family. Guests can also attend for $10. The club will provide the main dish of ham and turkey. Please bring a main vegetarian dish, kosher meal, appetizer, vegetable, side, salad, drinks or dessert. Let us know if you will attend, how many in your party, and what you plan to bring so we can coordinate and plan the main dish quantities and so we know how many tables to set up.  RSVP to TCRFClub@gmail.com. Thanks, and hope to see you there.

We will not have an auction, but we will have a door-prize raffle (one ticket per guest). The club will bring some special prizes, but if everyone can bring an interesting plant, cutting or seedling, more people will go home with something for their garden or table.

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November 16, 2017 Larry Zimmerman–Cold Protection

Larry Zimmerman will go over how to winterize your cold sensitive tropical fruit trees to keep them as healthy as possible when we get severe winter weather. PDF of the Keynote presentation.

• We will have our usual fruit tree auction.
• Don’t forget to bring something for the tasting table and raffle table.

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October 19, 2017–Grafting 101

UPDATE: Slide presentation from the meeting (PDF).
Check out the grafting videos (under the VIDEOS tab above)
as well as the top working video.
Propagation chart.
We have gotten many requests for a grafting class. Grafting is when you take a branch from a desired variety and splice it onto a seedling of the same species to make a new identical plant. If you have a favorite unusual mango variety that is only found in your Aunt Martha’s yard, grafting is the best way to make your own clone that will have all the same characteristics of flavor, texture, growth habit, etc. This month, club president Larry Zimmerman will go over the theory of grafting, the advantages of grafting, the tools needed, when to graft (which varies depending on the plant species), which trees to graft versus using other propagation methods, and demonstrate cleft & veneer grafts, the two most common grafting techniques. In the photo, note the swollen buds at the tip of the stem and base of leaf nodes. This is a mango in growth mode, ready to send out stems on a new graft.

• Remember the limit of 3 items for the auction (members only) so we can finish on time.
• Don’t forget to bring something for the tasting table and raffle table.

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September 21, 2017–Tropical Fruit annual self-help clinic

UPDATE: Your hands-on homework to get ready for October’s grafting theory workshop is to find a tree you would like to graft. On a few branches, cut off the end leaves to encourage the terminal buds to begin to swell. Keep watch over the next week or so and see how long it takes for the swelling to take place. On at least one branch, let it continue until the new shoots start to form so you can see what happens if you wait too long. New leaves and stems will be too tiny and delicate to survive the grafting process. You want the bud to start to swell so it is in growth mode, but not too much. For example on a mango, remove all the leaves clustered on the end of a branch, leaving a length of bare green stem. Extra credit: If you want to practice, remove the graft wood and graft it onto a branch of the same diameter. Watch the grafting videos here and here to see how it is done and what tools you need. Don’t worry if you succeed the first few attempts–grafting is not hard, but it is a skill that needs to be developed. At first you will feel like you need an extra hand or two. I would suggest grafting the first few branches onto a different branch of the same tree and not think about anything but mastering the technique. Once you get your first successful graft or two, then you can graft onto root stock and see if you can get it to survive longer term.

Most of us joined the club to learn the how-to’s of growing specific tropical fruits. We have members with decades of practical information that would benefit all. Even though we have outside expert speakers, this month we will get together more informally and share our experiences, successes and failures, fertilizers, pollination, bugs, pruning, varieties, etc. So this is the month to get answers to your fruit tree questions!

Board of director elections:  If you have an interest in organizing, planning and promoting programs for the Treasure Coast Rare Fruit Club, there is a place for you on the Board of Directors. Don’t be shy: the old board will still be here to help with advice while you get your bearings. The new board will take over the beginning of 2018.

• Remember the limit of 3 items for the auction (members only) so we can finish on time.
• Don’t forget to bring something for the tasting and raffle tables.

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August 17, 2017 John Fedock–Compost Tea

Compost Tea – Rebuild Living Soil (Powerpoint presentation from the meeting)

How to improve the quality of your soil to optimize the health, vigor and productivity of your fruit trees and other plants in your garden is our topic this month. We will have a compost tea making workshop taught by John Fedock. John will share one of his passions: the art of “compost tea” making. A great alternative to chemical fertilizers; less expensive and much better for your plants, the environment, and ourselves.

Some topics John will discuss and demonstrate: Continue reading

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