- Author: Jutta Thoerner
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Jutta Thoerner UCCE Master Gardner
Can I grow Tropical Fruit in SLO County? Maria E., Los Osos
Yes, you can. Did you know that avocados, citrus and figs are considered tropical or sub-tropical fruits? There are many choices for growing citrus, from the cold hardy kumquat to the cold sensitive Mexican lime. An important first step is to buy your young citrus from a reputable nursey. Because the Asian citrus psyllid pest is in SLO County, all nurseries must have their citrus plants pre-screened by the County Agricultural Department. These inspections are vital to ensure that the spread of this destructive pest is halted. The nursery can also advise you on which varietals are best for your microclimate. Citrus trees are susceptible to insect infestations of aphids and whiteflies, among others. If you monitor and identify the pest early and correctly, your chances of a quick knock down of populations is possible.
For the avocado, selecting the right varietal and rootstock is vital, unless you don't mind having a 40-foot tree in your backyard. Avocado trees have a sensitive side when it comes to climate and water needs. They are sensitive to salt deposits in the soil and to prolonged heat and cold spells. They do best if the soil can dry out between watering. One benefit of an avocado tree it that it comes with its own pantry! You can “store” avocadoes on the tree as they will not ripen until they are harvested.
Figs are one of the first plants cultivated by humans. Subfossil figs dating to 9400 BC were found in the Jordan Valley. Figs are popular backyard trees due to their easy cultivation and delicious fruit. But because the fruit needs to ripen on the tree, many critters love to snack on ripe figs. Additional measures to exclude or trap vertebrates are often required.
If you want to know more about avocadoes, citrus and figs, please join us at the UCCE Master Gardener's Advice to Grow By workshop on Saturday, August 17th in our demonstration garden at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo, 10am until 12pm. If inclement weather, it will be moved to the Auditorium. The garden will remain open and docents will be available after the workshop until 1 pm.
Master Gardeners is currently accepting applications for its 2020 training class. Applications are due September 27, 2019. The class runs from January 7 through May 19, 2020. An informational meeting will be held Tuesday, September 10, 2019, from 1:00 to 3:00 at the UCCE Auditorium, 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. For more information, visit our website, www.ucanr.edu/sites/mgslo or call (805)781-5939.