Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Coconut Fiber

Coconut fiber or coir is natural fiber taken from by product of coconut husk then cleaned and compressed into bales. Coconut fiber belongs to the category fibers/fibrous materials, Coconut fiber is obtained from the fibrous husk (mesocarp) of the coconut (Cocos nucifera) from the coconut palm, which belongs to the palm family (Palmae). Coconut fibers have high lignin content and thus low cellulose content, as a result of which it is resilient, strong and highly durable. The remarkable lightness of the fibers is due to the cavities arising from the dried out sieve cells. Coconut fiber is the only fruit fiber usable in the textile industry. Coir is obtained by retting for up to 10 months in water followed by sun-drying. Once dry, the fiber is graded into "bristle" fiber (combed, approx. 20 - 40 cm long) and "mattress" fiber (random fibers, approx. 2 - 10 cm long).

This product can be used in place of sphagnum moss in lining wire baskets. Also as a potting medium in cedar baskets or clay orchid pots for orchids and bromeliads. Coconut fiber is excellent to use as a moisture cushion when mounting against cork. Lasts twice as long as moss.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Lychee (Litchi chinensis Sonn)

A lychee is a rare sub tropical fruit originating in South China where the lychee is very important in their culture and is famed as "the King of Fruits".

The lychee fruit is about 1½ to 2 inches in size, oval to rounded heart shaped and the bumpy skin is red in color. Once you peel the skin off, the crisp juicy flesh of a lychee fruit is white or pinkish, translucent and glossy like the consistency of a grape, but the taste is sweeter. Lychees have a sub acid sweet taste and have a wonderful freshness to them that is hard to describe.

Lychee trees are beautiful hardwoods that can grow 20 to 40 feet tall in a primarily dome shaped habit of growth with dense, evergreen leaves. Lychee trees are popular landscape trees in South Florida and other areas of the southern U.S. and container, atrium or greenhouse growing of lychee trees is becoming popular throughout the rest of he country.
How do grow
Lychees require a warm subtropical to tropical climate that is cool but also frost-free or with only very slight winter frosts not below -4°C, and with high summer heat, rainfall, and humidity.
Lychees will not stand heavy frost especially when young. If well sheltered with a guard for the first two winters or until the tree is 1.5 M (five ft) high, it will then stand light frosts to -1 degrees. Growth is best on well-drained, slightly acidic soils rich in organic matter. Lychees have no drought tolerance whatsoever. They must be kept moist at all times. Whereas most trees will wilt when dry, then recover sometime after watering, the Lychee will not recover from a dry-out, but will drop its leaves and eventually die. Protect from frost and cold winds in winter until 2 metres high. They are also grown as an ornamental tree as well as for their fruit.
Maturity period 3-5 years to bear fruits, Mid-May to early July in Florida.

Nutrition Info
Low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium, High in Vitamin C and Copper, Health benefit Maintaining optimum health and Weight loss

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Kiwi Fruit "Hayward"

The kiwifruit is native to the Yangtze River valley of northern China and Zhejiang Province on the coast of eastern China. Originally known as the Chinese Gooseberry. Kiwifruit was given when the fruit was brought to New Zealand for wide cultivation. The most common cultivars of kiwifruit are oval, about the size of a large hen's egg (5–8 cm / 2–3 in long and 4.5–5.5 cm / 1¾–2 in diameter). It has a fibrous, dull green-brown skin and bright green or golden flesh with rows of small, black, edible seeds. The fruit has a soft texture and a unique flavour, and today is a commercial crop in several countries.

How to grow
Kiwifruit will tolerate part shade but prefer a sunny location where they can ramble across some type of trellising system. The vines should be protected from strong winds. Spring gusts can snap off new growth where it emerges from the canes. Kiwifruit is not recommended for the hot dessert climates. Kiwifruit prefer somewhat acid (pH 5 - 6.5), well-drained soils that are rich in organic matter. Kiwifruit plants need large volumes of water during the entire growing season but must also be in well-drained soils. Watering regularly in the heat of the summer is a must. Never allow a plant to undergo drought stress.

For best fruit production, pruning in the winter is a must. All pruning techniques are usually based on a "cane replacement" and differ only based on the trellising method used. Kiwi vines need to be supported and this is usually done in one of three ways: single wire, 3-5 wire on a T-bar system, or onto a patio cover.

The plants need a long growing season (at least 240 frost-free days) which will not be hampered by late winter or early autumn freezes. When fully dormant they can withstand temperatures to about 10° F (and perhaps a bit lower.) However they must acclimate to cold slowly and any sudden plunge in temperature may cause trunk splitting and subsequent damage to the vine. Late winter freezing temperatures will kill any exposed buds which limits the adaptable growing areas of kiwifruit.

Sow seed should be done in a fine, somewhat sandy planter mix which is kept moist but not soaking wet. Seed germinates in 4 to 5 weeks

Maturity info
About 4 years

Nutrition info
Rich source of Vitamin A, C and E. Kiwifruit is often reported to have mild laxative effects, possibly because of the high level of dietary fiber. The skin is a good source of flavonoid antioxidants.

Health Benefit
prevention of prostate and lung cancer, prevent the mutations of genes that may initiate the cancer process.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana L.)

The mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is a tropical evergreen tree, believed to have originated in the Sunda Islands and the Moluccas. The tree grows from 7 to 25 m (20-80 ft) tall. The rind (exocarp) of the edible fruit is deep reddish purple when ripe. Botanically an aril, the fragrant edible flesh can be described as sweet and tangy, citrusy with peach flavor and texture.

The mangosteen fruit - alternatively known as the King or Queen of Fruits - is seed-bearing and multi-segmented. The number of segments varies from 5 to 7, with the largest invariably holding the seed. It is a round, tennis ball-size fruit that has a purple outer rind and a soft, milky white edible center.

Despite its name, it has nothing in common with the more popular tropical fruit mango. The fruit is not largely cultivated across the world because of the specific climactic conditions required for its growth. It grows abundantly only in countries like Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Brazil and India. For this reason, mangosteen is one of the most expensive fruits available.

The mangosteen fruit’s high cost also stems from the fact that it appears only sparingly on the tree. It is only partly edible and has a captivating flavor of its own. It usually appears twice a year: autumn and the early part of summer.

How to grow
The mangosteen is ultra-tropical. It cannot tolerate temperatures below 40º F (4.44º C), nor above 100º F (37.78º C). Nursery seedlings are killed at 45º F (7.22º C). It ordinarily requires high atmospheric humidity and an annual rainfall of at least 50 in (127 cm), and no long periods of drought. The tree is not adapted to limestone and does best in deep, rich organic soil, especially sandy loam or laterite. Good drainage of soil is essential.

Maturity Period
take 12 to 20 years to fruit

Harvest season
2 distinct fruiting seasons, one in the monsoon period (July-October) and another from April through June.

Nutrition info
Good source of dietary fiber, folate, vitamin A & C

Health benefit
Used as traditional medicine for treatment of skin infection wounds for many years. It contains a variety of secondary metabolites such as oxygenated and prenylated xanthones which can anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti cancer effects.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Red Dragon Fruit (Pitaya)

The Pitaya, also known as pitahaya, dragon fruit or strawberry pear is the fruit of several cactus species, especially of the genus Hylocereus. Native to Mexico, central and South America, these vine-like epiphytic cacti are also widely cultivated in Malaysia, Vietnam and Southeast coast of China.

Hylocereus blooms only at night; they have large white fragrant flowers of the typical cactusflower shape, that are often called Moonflower or Queen of the Night. Sweet pitayas have a creamy pulp and a delicate aroma.

The red-flesh variety dragon fruit (Pitaya) which has better sweet taste and high yield. The flesh, which is eaten raw, is mindly sweet and low in calories. The flavor is sometimes likened to kiwifruit. The fruit can be converted into juice or wine; the flowers can be eaten or steeped as tea. Sesame seed-sized seeds are embedded throughout the flesh.

How to grow

Sow the seeds in a gritty potting mix, water and cover the container or wrap in a polythene bag. A couple of weeks later the seedlings start to appear. This is a reminder that all cacti are true dicotyledons as the seedlings come up with two seed leaves, a bit like germinating beans. At this stage there is no evidence that they will develop into cacti, but these are the first and last leaves that will be produced.

As the seedlings develop, an angular spiny stem grows in the central growing point between the two leaves. The stem thickens and elongates and after several months the cotyledons shrivel and are shed. The seedlings can be potted on into individual pots and in principle could be grown on to a large plant and flowered to produce more fruit.

Pitaya plant cannot stand by itself. It is a climber and needs to be supported for it to grow upwards. Because the plant can live for a few decades, the support structure provided must be very lasting. In some countries like Taiwan and Peninsular Malaysia, concrete cement is used as a support for the plant.

The pitaya has adapted to live in dry tropical climates with a moderate amount of rain. The dragon fruit sets on the cactus-like trees 30-50 days after flowering and can sometimes have 5-6 cycles of harvests per year. It is disease-resistance plant and easy to grow. Grower will feed the plant with organic fertilizer in monthly interval.

Growing Session
All year around with tropical, sub tropical or dry climates where there’s about 20-25 inches rain per year

Maturity Period
It takes about 18 months to bear first fruits from seed.

Nutrition value
Rich in antioxidants (phytoalbumins) and has an exceptionally high content of soluble fiber. It is considered a good source of Vitamin C, dietary fiber, calcium and potassium. In Taiwan, dragon fruit is use a food substitute for rice and source of dietary fiber for diabetic patients.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Galia Melon

Galia melons are similar to Cantaloupe, although they are slightly larger with a yellow green flesh, surrounded by a lightly netted yellow to yellow-green rind. Galia melons were developed in Israel, but since they are easy to grow, are now found in southern regions of the USA, Chile, Costa Rica and Panama.

How to grow
melons prefer is diffuse light rather than bright light. The soil should be rich and well drained, and like the atmosphere around them, kept continually moist. they typically grow best under glass, but can be grown outdoors in warmer regions. They need higher temperatures than tomatoes (around 30°C/85°F) and high humidity (which helps discourage red spider mite, a pest), but will grow well with cucumbers which require similar conditions. Contrary to popular belief, you can grow melons alongside cucumbers; they are similar, but will not cross-pollinate each other

As for harvesting, its best to go on the colour. The skin of Galia melons should be a nice shade of yellow. Check the melon is a good size and weight for its size, and if you\'re really lucky, the melon will easily come off the stem, another sign that it\'s ripe and ready for eating!

Tropical Green Guava (Psidium guajava L.)

Guavas are evergreen, shallow-rooted shrubs or small trees to 33 ft, with spreading branches. Growth in California is rarely over 10 - 12 feet. The bark is smooth, mottled green or reddish brown and peels off in thin flakes to reveal the attractive "bony" aspect of its trunk. The plant branches close to the ground and often produces suckers from roots near the base of the trunk. Young twigs are quadrangular and downy.
Guavas are primarily self-fruitful, although some strains seem to produce more fruit when cross-pollinated with another variety. Guavas can bloom throughout the year in mild-winter areas, but the heaviest bloom occurs with the onset of warm weather in the spring. The exact time can vary from year to year depending on weather. The chief pollinator of guavas is the honeybee.

How to grow
The guava will tolerate many soil conditions, but will produce better in rich soils high in organic matter and well-drained.
The tropical guava is best adapted to the warm climate of Florida and Hawaii, although it can be grown in coastal Southern California, and with some protection, selected areas north to Mendocino County. Guavas actually thrive in both humid and dry climates, but can survive only a few degrees of frost. The tree will recover from a brief exposure to 29° F but may be completely defoliated. Young trees are particularly sensitive to cold spells. Older trees, killed to the ground, have sent up new shoots which fruited 2 years later. Guavas can take considerable neglect, withstanding temporary waterlogging and very high temperatures. They tend to bear fruit better in areas with a definite winter or cooler season. The adaptability of the guava makes it a serious weed tree in some tropical areas. The smaller guava cultivars can make an excellent container specimen.

Maturity period
2 to 3 years (bear first fruit)

Nutrition info
Guavas are often considered superfruits, being rich in vitamins A and C, omega-3 and -6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and especially high levels of dietary fiber.
Health benefit
This fruit could help diabetics with its sugar-lowering. It's fruit extract may have constricting properties on skin, which makes it a potential skin irritant when used regularly

Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis)

Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) is a tree and fruit native to the Malay Peninsula and western Pacific islands. It has also been widely planted in tropical regions elsewhere. Large, bowling ball sized fruit, usually yellow-green in color, with hard, starchy white flesh. Fruit is either eaten fresh cooked (usually baked or boiled) and served hot, or eaten unripe as a vegetable. The breadfruit is one of the most important food crops for southeast Asia and the Pacific islands, with cultivation dating back hundreds of years.

How to grow
The breadfruit is ultra-tropical and will not survive temperatures below 40F. It will not succeed outdoors anywhere in the continental United States except for sheltered locations in extreme South Florida and the Keys. Growth stops and trees decline when temperatures drop below 60F or above 95F. Trees need lots of water, high humidity and deep, well-drained soil.

Maturity period
Three years

Uses: Fresh fruits are baked or boiled and served with garnishes. Breadfruits are also used in making myriad other dishes, from soup, to chowder, to custards and even bread. Unripe fruits are roasted or pickled and used as vegetables. Seeds from the seeded form (the breadnut) are roasted and eaten.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Vinca Rosea (Madagascar Periwinkle)

Plant Description
It is an evergreen subshrub or herbaceous plant growing to 1 m tall. The leaves are oval to oblong, 2.5–9 cm long and 1–3.5 cm broad, glossy green, hairless, with a pale midrib and a short petiole 1–1.8 cm long; they are arranged in opposite pairs. The species has long been cultivated for herbal medicine and as an ornamental plant. As an ornamental plant, it is appreciated for its hardiness in dry and nutritionally deficient conditions

How to grow
popular in subtropical gardens where temperatures never fall below 5 °C to 7 °C, and as a warm-season bedding plant in temperate gardens. It is noted for its long flowering period, throughout the year in tropical conditions, and from spring to late autumn in warm temperate climates. Full sun and well-drained soil are preferred.

Planting Season
All year around (Flowering: Daily)

In traditional Chinese medicine, extracts from it have been used to treat numerous diseases, including diabetes, malaria and Hodgkin's disease

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Plant Description
The durian, native to Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia, has been known to the western world for about 600 years. Widely known and revered in Southeast Asia as the "King of Fruits", the fruit is distinctive for its large size, unique odor, and formidable thorn-covered husk. The fruit can grow up to 30cm (12 in) long and 15cm (6 in) in diameter, and typically weighs one to three kilograms (2 to 7 lb). Its shape ranges from oblong to round, the color of its husk green to brown, and its flesh is pale-yellow. The edible flesh emits a distinctive odour, strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Durian trees are relatively large, growing to average 25–50 meters (80–165 ft) in height. The leaves are evergreen, elliptic to oblong and 10–18cm (4–7 in) long. Large yellowish green feathery flowers produce a lot of nectar and have a heavy, sour and buttery odor

How to grow
Durian needs a tropical climate with abundant rainfall. It prefers rich, deep, well-drained sandy clay or clay loam (deep alluvial or loamy soil), high in organic matter. Durian trees have one or two flowering and fruiting periods each year. A typical durian tree can bear fruit after four or five years. The durian fruit can hang from any branch and matures roughly three months after pollination

Planting Season

Maturity Period
The fruit ripens on the tree and then falls down to the ground where the durians are collected. Wait for 2 to 4 days for the fruit to fully ripen before eating it.

Eating raw and can be used to make durian cake and ice-cream

Nutrition Info
A good source of Dietary Fiber, Thiamin, Vitamin B6 and Manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin C.