Friday, April 06, 2007

Entry #20: Hay Carambola!

That is a rather sexy picture of the Carambola (porn star name: Star Fruit) and I will be planting these little hot tigers! When I googled the mess, there wasn't an ad for carambolas on the side bar! Whaaaaa? But EBAY came to the rescue!!

Some fast facts:
Origin: The carambola is believed to have originated in Sri Lanka and the Moluccas, but it has been cultivated in southeast Asia and Malaysia for many centuries.

Adaptation: The carambola is classified as subtropical because mature trees can tolerate temperatures as low as 27° F for short periods of time with little damage. Like many other subtropicals, however, young plants are more susceptible to frost and can be killed at 32° F. Carambolas can be severely damaged by flooding or prevailing hot, dry winds. The small trees make good container plants.

Fertilization: In soils of low fertility young trees should receive light applications every 60 to 90 days until well established. Thereafter, they should receive one or two applications a year in deep soils or three or more applications in shallow soils where nutrients are lost by leaching. Application at the rate of 2 lbs per year for every inch of trunk diameter is suggested. Fertilizer mixtures containing 6-8% nitrogen, 2-4% available phosphoric acid, 6-8% potash and 3-4% magnesium are satisfactory. In the more fertile soils of California, this program can be reduced. The tree is prone to chlorosis in many western soils but responds to soil and foliar application of chelated iron and other micronutrients.

Propagation: The carambola is widely grown from seed though viability lasts only a few days. Only plump, fully developed seed should be planted. Veneer grafting during the time of most active growth gives the best results. Healthy, year-old seedlings of 3/8 - 3/4 inch diameter are best for rootstocks. Graft-wood should be taken from mature twigs on which leaves are still present and, if possible, the buds are just beginning to grow. Cleft-grafting of green budwood is also successful. Top-working of older trees has been done by bark grafting. Air-layering is less successful than grafting. The roots develop slowly, and percentage of success often is low. Trees are small and rather weak when propagated by this method.

Further reading:
* Facciola, Stephen. Cornucopia: a Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications, 1990. p. 39.
* Maxwell, Lewis S. and Betty M. Maxwell. Florida Fruit, rev. ed. Lewis S. Maxwell, 1984. p. 19.
* Morton, Julia F. Fruits of Warm Climates. Creative Resources Systems, Inc. 1987. pp. 125-128.

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