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, this sordid loquat 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 and his wife were renting a doublewide in the back of the property.
He 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: If you have a brown thumb – grow loquats! And if you don’t have it – pick up a copy of my book for more on super-easy gardening in Florida.