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.
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?
I hope you don't mind me making a suggestion that
some varieties are self infertile, such as Champagne.
Might possibly be the reason.
Good possibility. I've never seen a loquat do that before.
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?
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:
"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.
Very cool info – thank you.
As a bonus, I've been told that loquats are one of the easiest fruit trees to graft.
I air layered a loquat tree from the neighbors yard. It is now 4 years old and 15′ tall. Bushy, healthy and gorgeous. While the neighbors tree has tons of fruit, my clone remains fruitless. It was set in native soil with plenty of compost and has a layer of compost then mulch surrounding it. Why no fruit? Too much pampering?
It should fruit soon – just wait. I’ve never seen one fail to fruit forever. Give it another year or two.