The blooms of March, part 2: Tropical mangoes

Apricots and other stone fruits are not the only things blooming now at Ladera Frutal. Below is our Lemon Merengue mango variety. You can see several flower sprays, especially on the left side (albeit blending in with the frost-burned leaves of the banana behind).

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Unfortunately, the photo also shows some of the perils of growing mangoes here: Powdery midew (or other fungus). Mangoes do not like damp cold conditions. (They come from India and other parts of south Asia, so they love humidity, but along with much more heat than they get here.)

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This one is a Thomson, and it is just starting to bloom as well (see the left end of some of the lower branches).

As many a juice and yogurt producer knows, apricots and mangoes go well together. Here at Ladera Frutal, they also grow well together (as long as we allow over a hundred feet of elevation difference to count as “together” and ignore that the mangoes, unlike the apricots, have not fruited yet).

Mangoes should do well here, and I had one variety (Valencia Pride) that did OK in Carlsbad, a mile from the ocean, before we moved here. However, it is a bit cold here for this tropical fruit. In particular, the “East Ridge” (as I call it), where the Lemon Merengue is planted, is proving to be much colder and even frostier than I expected when I chose it as a place for mangoes and bananas. It is above a side canyon of Moosa Creek in which cold air apparently backs up, spilling on to the ridge. It would seem to be high enough not to get frost, but it gets a little bit, and it’s just a little cold for mangoes and bananas. The Hass avocadoes are only slightly higher in elevation, and they seem to be doing fine, so once the younger mangoes and bananas have been established a bit longer, I think they will be OK, too.

The Thomson, on the other hand, is on a slightly more gentle slope (it’s all relative around here), facing south, between the office and house, and slightly farther above the creek below. Less frost and better cold-air drainage. I learn more and more about micro-climates all the time–in theory, the steeper east-facing slope should be warmer than the gentler south-facing one–and it continues to fascinate me.

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