Red Navel Orange

About a month ago I purchased a red navel orange from our local citrus nursery it came in a 10 gallon pot(Flying Dragon). Wasn’t really intending to get another orange, but I tasted the fruit and was impressed with the flavor. No seeds and the one I had was sweet but not overly and just juicy enough. Let’s face it, living in Florida you can never have enough citrus..

The red navel or cara cara is thought to be a cross between a Washington navel and a Brazilian Bahia, so it was essentially a genetic mutation. Not all mutations are good, but this one is definitely a winner.

Here’s the young tree, the foliage is much darker green than my other citrus. Not sure if that’s the nature of the red navel or it’s just healthy. It does have a few small fruits on it and you can see in the second picture that it’s getting ready to blossom. Hoping this will be an orange making machine.

Happy gardening!






Pear tree grafting in Florida

Feeling a sense of confidence from my recent apple grafting success I wanted to give it a try with pears. I’ve got a total of 4 pear trees in my backyard orchard. Pineapple, Kieffer, Flordahome and Leconte. None of which have yielded any fruit. The Flordahome is a recent addition, and the Kieffer almost died from a fire blight strike that nearly took out the entire tree. Fortunately, I was able to save it.

Anyway, I connected with someone on the site who had some spare Harrow Delight wood and was kind enough to send it to me free of charge. Some of it was already showing signs of leafing out, so I started grafting as soon as the wood arrived. I mostly used the whip and tongue technique same as I did with the apple trees. In addition I tried a cleft graft. The jury is still out on whether that one will take.

Harrow is supposed to be blight resistant, which is good. On the other hand based on what I’ve read it requires pollinators that I don’t have. In addition the chill requirements are more than double what we get here in north Florida.

Here are a couple of pics from the Leconte pear graft. It’s already showing signs of life. While that’s encouraging, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will fruit. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see how this experiment pans out. Stay tuned.

Happy gardening!



Thinning your apple trees

For all backyard “orchardists” or anyone with young fruit trees the subject of fruit thinning is a tricky one. The tendency for most newbies is to want to get as much fruit as quickly as possible. I’ll admit I’m guilty of that myself.

Unfortunately, that’s not always what’s best for the long term production of the tree. So, you have to ask yourself, does the short term reward of getting  a little bit of fruit early on outweigh the long term gain of a healthy tree that produces bushels for you down the road??

My Dorsett Golden is flush with apples. Some of the branches have clusters of 3 and 4. However, my dreams of homemade apple pies, apple sauce, baked apples, apple butter, etc, must be tempered with reality. It’s just not good to have that much fruit on a tree this young. A tree this size should really only have one per cluster and ideally not up high like they are here.


Another good rule of thumb is one apple per 30 leaves. Like I’m going to count all of the leaves on this tree. The easiest way is to simply thin it to one or two apples per cluster which is what I’m going to do.  That way, I’ll still get some fruit and the tree will be able to put the extra energy in to getting bigger for next year. It’s all about planning ahead..

Happy gardening.

Apple grafting success

Was out walking around the yard yesterday when I noticed this. No your eyes are not deceiving you. Those are tiny leaves coming out of the branch I grafted..









Turns out the Roxbury Russet graft to the Big River apple actually took. I was pretty surprised. Several of the other grafts look like they are going to make it as well. The big question is whether a high chill variety like Roxbury will work on low chill trees. Time will tell.

Either way, the success is encouraging. This opens up a whole new realm of apple varieties to us. I’ve got some additional scion wood coming, Kanzi, Pink Lady and Gold Rush. Will be excited to get them grafted to the trees and see what they do.

Happy gardening!!