Shady Way Gardens Bits and Briefs November 2002
Luffas & Favas

NOVEMBER

Itís sure hard to remember those simmering summer days now!  But with the new mild days and cool nights, you do need to remember that your plants do not need as much water as in previous months.  In fact, youríre doing them a disservice and wasting your money if you donít adjust your application to fit the plantís needs.  People complain because they get umpteen different answers about how often to water.  Thatís because there really is no pat answer, as we all have different soils and other conditions that determine how quickly a plant dries out.  At this time of year it is very important not to overwater established trees and shrubs since many are going dormant, especially things like Grapes and deciduous fruit trees such as Peaches, Apricots, Plums, Apples, etc.  The rootballs of any newly installed plants should always be kept wet.  To help you figure out your watering schedule, the folks down at the City of Mesa have put out a dandy booklet (FREE ! by the way) called LANDSCAPE WATERING BY THE NUMBERS.  For those of us who donít like to wade through a lot of technical information this is a good publication.  We have these available at the nursery.  This is a rare opportunity to take advantage of your tax dollars at work!  Pick up a booklet and one of the little yellow cards (youíll need your glasses) to help determine irrigation needs.

HELP!! Thereís holes in my Citrus fruits and theyíre smelly and filled with bugs!!!  No, the bugs did not make the holes.  One of our feathered friends noticed those nicely ripening fruits and thought, ďYum, I feel like some fresh juice for breakfast.  Iíll just use my handy beak to make a hole in the rind and sip out some of that nice, sweet juice.  Then, Iíll fly over to another fruit and do the same thing.  Then to another.  And another.  Just one little hole in each.  What fun!Ē  That one little hole has created exposed flesh which, as usual, attracts all sorts of vermin like fruit flies, gnats, fungi etc.  Trees with ripening fruits can be covered with bird netting or even bed sheets if the problem is severe.  Use freshly damaged fruits immediately before rotting occurs.

LUFFAS

Whoops!  Last month we crabbed about our lazy Luffas not living up to our expectations because they refused to flower and make fruits after months of lavish care.  The Luffa god must have read the newsletter, because not too long after that, we saw an amazing array of bright yellow flowers adorning the citrus tree into which the vines had scrambled.  And shortly after that we saw sausage shaped fruits dangling among the branches!  Ask ( or complain ) and ye shall receive!  Actually we found out from an experienced Luffa grower that ďthatís what they do.Ē  They do nothing but make green leaves until fall, then put out a big flurry of flowers just as you are about to rip them out in frustration. Fruits follow quickly and grow fast.  By the way, If you are wondering what a Luffa is, itís a type of gourd (Luffa aegyptiaca) thatís cylindrical in shape and up to 2í long.  The immature fruits and even the leaves are edible.  When mature, the fruits develop a sturdy, fibrous network resembling a sponge, which when dried can be used for bathing, scrubbing things, crafts etc.  They are grown commercially in South America, the Orient and southeastern United States.  Other names for this plant include Dishcloth Gourd, Sponge Gourd, Vegetable Sponge, Lufa, Loofah, Loopha, California Okra, Silky Gourd, Shui Kwa, Murop Huong, Papangay.  Plant seeds in early spring for a fall crop of fruits.

FAVAS
A plant that can be grown during our winter is Fava Bean (Vicia faba), also known as Broad Bean or Horse Bean Although grown for centuries in  Europe, they are not too common in gardens here, and unlike other beans, they like cool weather and are somewhat frost resistant.  The beans are very large, can be eaten fresh or dried and contain a high grade protein.  The plants grow upright and bear sweetly scented flowers.  Sounds like a winner!  Be aware, though, that certain people (particularly those of Mediterranean descent) may lack an enzyme necessary to break down substances in the fruits and pollen and may experience some unpleasant symptoms if they eat plant parts or inhale pollen.

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Web Comments george@mswn.com September 13, 2004 © Shady Way Nursery 2004