one year after the storm - progress

natives_and_veggies(10b)September 2, 2013

Some of y'all may remember that we were just about the only people in Florida to suffer any damage from Tropical Storm Isaac. We lost a 40-foot sapodilla that shaded our pool and much of our back yard. When the tree crew started cutting it up, they discovered it had been planted next to a spigot and had grown around it - as my dad put it "taking a water line into its breast." Not what tree guys are expecting when they start cutting up a tree. Huge mess. The tree was rotted inside. We suspect a trickle leak from that spigot was slowly killing it - the reason it fell in a really minor storm. Though it took out our back fence, it was polite enough to fall in the street behind us - and not in our pool.
Because Isaac blew and rained for three days, the 15-foot dwarf ponciana also fell over. For unknown reasons a 20-foot live oak up and died around the same time and we cut it down a couple weeks later.
We went from too few places for plants that needed sun to too few for plants that needed shade in the span of a month.
Many of you offered plants so I could start over, which was very generous. In the end, my parents found a way to turn this into a birthday gift for me and called down to Pine Island Nursery and gave them a credit card. (PIN has amazing fruit trees, BTW. And they're really sweet when you show up and say "I think my dad called and gave you his credit card" - apparently people don't do that very often and they were impressed.)
We stuffed an ice cream banana, a 6-foot macadamia nut, a 5-foot sapodilla and a 3-foot fig into the back of my hatchback.
A year in, the macadamia is happy. It did nothing for the first few months, but didn't die, which was all I was hoping for in the dry season. Once it started raining, it grew a foot. It's still not a shade tree, but it will be some day. It seems to have absolutely no pest problems, even though I've got the dreaded white fly in my yard.
The sapodilla hasn't grown much, but also has refused to die. And we've discovered two volunteer sapodillas from the tree we lost - one we had forgotten about near the fence that will replace the oak nicely. We had tried to cut it down years ago in an effort to give the oak space, but it declined to be killed. Another is about five-feet high and was coming up in the shade of the mother tree. I don't know how long any of them will take to bear fruit, but I can't wait.
The banana is going great guns and has put out a pup. (Question: do I need to fertilize bananas? I try to do chemicals very sparingly and really only fertilize the bottle palm and the grapefruit. And how long does it take for a banana to produce? It's five-feet high now. )
The fig has been attacked by aphids AND white flies and may not make it. Any natural/organic suggestions for trying to control the white fly? I think this is one of the new ones that folks are having so much trouble with.
Finally, the dwarf ponciana: one of my favorite trees because it was its own ecosystem, hosting a cardinal nest, feral parrots who came to eat its seeds and hummingbirds and flocks of butterflies who came to feed on its flowers. We tried to cut it down, but we couldn't manage to dig the roots. It has come back and is now five-feet tall. It's kind of bushy and not something you can walk under, but it's going to be a great tree again pretty soon.
The coonties that were under the big sapodilla seem to like having more sun and the bleeding heart that was pretty but not aggressive in shade may have to go now that it's in sun.
It's kind of weird to lose a couple trees and have another tree have to start over from the ground. It's a totally different yard. And it's going to be years before it is the lovely, shaded yard I used to have. But it will happen.
This yard doesn't look anything like it did when we moved in seven years ago. It was a barren grass-scape at that point. I like to remember that when I look out at all that sunshine where I want shade. Takes time, but I'll have some shade one day.
How have others recovered from a big landscaping loss?

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shavedmonkey (Harvey in South Fl.)Z10b

bananas are hungry. They will take a lot of fertilizer. They like compost also. Where in 10b do you live?

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 12:37AM
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whgille(FL 9b)

Hi Susannah

It is good to know that you are recovering from the storm, just like you I started with just a lawn when we moved to this house, year after year we have been changing into something that we like, however the garden is always changing and when something does not do well in the yard it gets a replacement. Fruit trees are always welcome in any house that I ever lived, they are so worth it.
From the trees that you are growing I consider one time to grow the macadamia, but it takes long time to grow. When it produces for you it will be great and is ornamental.
The bananas in your zone will produce like crazy! unless you can use a lot of ripe fruit keep just a few. If you like organic fertilizer, compost, greensand and others should be a good choice.
If the fig is small, I would cover it with a light insect cover. At this time of the year with the rains they get rust anyway. Figs are very hardy and I think it will recover.
Glad to hear about the progress with your dwarf poinciana and your sapodilla, I wish your yard has a fast recovery and look lush again.

Silvia

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 9:22AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Hi
have been growing in the same spot for almost 35 years
and the only plant left from the original plantings is a sheflera lol. have been very lucky from the storms with only one time with severe damage to the house .Plantings another story wiped out at least 5 times lol Mostly wind but also cold .citrus scab, putting in a gas line ,flood and overplanting. Canopy has returned from Jeanne / wilma and have settled on 5 trees , only one is giving me trouble
schizolobium. though I think I've arrived at a pruning regimen that works lol. planting area runs from full morning sun to dappled to dense shade .. the cassia flowered for the first time this year so the jury is still out if it will seed too much lol. have went ahead with my very old dream of
a " rainforest".. I know there will be no more hurricanes ,hard freezes !! i forbid it!! lol
I guess the reward of "gardening " is the journey not the destination?? Anyway good luck with yours !! gary

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 4:35AM
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natives_and_veggies(10b)

Thanks folks. I look at some of the things I planted years ago that took so long to reward me. Crinums, for example, because I started very small.
We researched a lot on the tree front. We wanted shade, but we were really wary of anything that would provide it fast - so many fast growing shade trees are also really vulnerable to wind, or are dangerous to water lines. With the pool and our small yard, we had to be careful. So once we decided on slow-growing, that opened up all kinds of choices. Someday that macadamia is going to be really pretty. And maybe we'll get a few nuts before the squirrels do.
We're in Miami - so a good bit south of you shaved monkey. I'm surprised you're in 10b in Stuart. I lived in Jensen years ago and kind of thought I was in 9b/10a.
I know there are things I could grow up there that simply won't thrive down here, like azalea or daylilies.
Anyway, thanks for watching it all with me.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 1:38PM
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