So Covid caused a lot of my daily activities to go by the wayside … no estate sales, museums, or visits to the amazing Brevard Zoo. It was a lot of being at home. So I turned to my yard, and decided to start growing fruit trees.
Most of the trees I planted came from a local nursery, Rockledge Gardens. They are knowledgeable, well-regarded, and tend to have a pretty good supply. However, they can be a bit pricey.
Recently I found a new nursery in Satellite Beach, Banana River Yard, off of South Patrick Drive. If you’re near the area, it’s worth giving a look – not fully open yet, the owner, Ben, still offers great customer service. Looking for plantains to plant in my yard, he special-ordered one and picked it up for me. When I purchased a different banana plant, he delivered it for free (and that was huge, as it was pretty big). And his prices are awesome. If you’re in the area of Satellite Beach, I’d give him a shout.
Now, onto the trees we’re now growing. I chose several different kinds, and here is some info on growing each in Central Florida – beachside. (Our sprinkler water is 2900 … ppm? … anyway, super high salt content).
Mangoes: tons of mango trees. Well, like, 7. What have I learned: if you have salty sprinkler water, the salt will decimate the mango leaves. So there are two options: get trees tall enough to escape the water, or keep the trees from the water. I keep trees from the water two ways – some I planted out back, where we have no sprinkler; some I put up shower-curtain shields to protect the trees from the water. The shields work okay, but some water still hits the leaves, Planting out back where there is no sprinkler works great. After almost a year of growth, most of the mangos got pannicles and started to set baby fruit – however, I want growth to go to the trees, so I’m only letting the 30-gallon Valencia Pride bear fruit this year. Patience will reward us.
Avocados: I planted about as many avocados as mangoes – 8. They cannot take the salty water at
all. Like, at all, so they are all planted in the narrow backyard strip, and a small area by our AC condensation drip line. My solution with the avocados was to plant them in pairs, so as they grow, two different varieties will grow (hopefully) intertwined. All are flowering, but no small fruits yet, as they bear fruit much later than mangoes – mangoes are usually spring and summer, whereas avocados are winter and early spring.
Peaches: a latecomer to our yard, I had a few spots I wanted fruit trees in, and didn’t want the hassle of the mangoes. I tried peaches, 4 total, and they are doing really well. Well, 3 are – one was really rootbound, from Tractor Supply, and it doesn’t look so good. But the other 3, from Rockledge Gardens, are doing amazingly well. After only a few months in the ground, they are leaving out, green and beautiful, and covered in peaches. I thinned their peaches to about 6″ apart, to get better-quality fruit, but am letting them bear their first year here.
Bananas: I just discovered that I can grow bananas. I’m not a huge banana fan, but some family members are, and I love plantains. And some bananas are more starchy, closer to plantains than typical bananas. So I figured, I’ll plant some, and see what I get. I have a Patupi, apparently orange and good for frying (like plantains), an orinoco, more starchy as well, and a dwarf cavendish, which is more of a typical banana. It’s only been a few weeks, but they’re doing great. They don’t seem harmed by some residual salt spray, so that’s good.
I also planted a guava, which is doing amazingly well; two barbados cherries, which don’t mind the salty water at all; two pomegranates, skinny straggly things, but they’re alive and I’m trusting that they know how to produce pomegranates; and two fig trees, tall and skinny and with just a few leaves each – but still alive. We shall see.
I’ll update on occasion to let you know the progress of my plants – how these grow, and what new additions I bring to the table. If you want to try your hand at fruit trees in Brevard, good luck! There are tons of amazing forums out there to offer help.