วันศุกร์ที่ 3 ตุลาคม พ.ศ. 2551

How to Grow Durians # 1

How to Grow Durians
(Hawaii growers click here)

Latitude: The durian tree is ultra-tropical, a native of Southeast Asian equatorial rainforests, and needs much tropical warmth, abundant moisture, and sunshine to thrive (except for the young trees’ first year, when semi-shade is preferred — simulating rainforest conditions). Most commercial durian cultivation in Southeast Asia is located within 15 degrees latitude of the equator, and some literature has suggested that 18 degrees north or south is the limit at which durians can thrive. However, growers in the Hawaiian Islands have demonstrated that durian cultivation is quite possible as far north as the island of Kaua‘i at 22 degrees north
(1 degree latitude equals about 70 miles or 112 km, at these latitudes). And in Thailand, one of the established commercial durian-growing areas is in the northern province of Uttardit, not far from Chiang Mai at 18 degrees north; the southernmost point of land in Hawai`i is only about 70 miles [115 km] further north in latitude than this. Successful durian cultivation is very unlikely outside the tropics.

Altitude: In Sri Lanka, the upper elevation limit for growing durians is said to be 600 m [2000 feet]; in the Philippines, 700 m [2300 feet], in Malaysia, 800 m [2600 feet]. These are the upper limits at which it’s possible to grow durians at all, though, not the optimum; on Penang island in Malaysia, few productive durian farms are above 300 m [700 feet]. These places are also all relatively close to the equator, which suggests that the altitude limit for successful durian growing in areas further away from the equator like Hawai‘i may be considerably less, perhaps 300 m [1000 feet] at the most, with best growth and production at the lower elevations.
It will take some experimentation by growers at marginal altitudes in more northern or southern tropical areas (such as Hawai‘i) to determine just what is the upper limit for growing durians there. The Hawaiian islands in particular have so many microclimates depending on elevation, wind patterns, terrain, and existing vegetation that it may be difficult to give any set rules for this. Some higher-elevation microclimates as on the south slopes of gulches, may be suitable though the surrounding area is not.

Regarding altitude and climate, coconuts may be a fairly good indicator as to the likelihood of success with growing durians: if coconut palms can grow and bear well in your micro-climate… except for seaside areas [durians are not salt-tolerant], durians may be possible too.
Temperature: For an ultratropical, durian is surprisingly tolerant of relatively low mean temperatures. There are places on the island of Java between 400-600 m [1300-2000 feet] altitude where durian is successfully grown that have a mean yearly normal temperature of just 23º C. (73º F.)

Some research has indicated that growth is limited below a mean monthly temperature of 22º C. [71º F.]. The trees may survive occasional dips in temperature as low as 10º C. [50º F.], but may drop their leaves. On the other end of the spectrum, durian trees in India sometimes successfully tolerate high temperatures up to 46º C. [114º F.].

Water: Durian trees need abundant rainfall, or equivalent irrigation. In most areas of Asia where durians are grown, mean annual rainfall is greater than 2000 mm [75 inches]. Historically, though, the better production sites have developed in areas with annual mean rainfall totals of 3000 mm [125 inches] or more, well distributed throughout the year. There is no doubt, though, that drier zones can produce good crops with appropriate irrigation. In India, durian trees are often planted along the banks of streams, where the roots can reach water. They do not do well very close to the ocean, having almost no tolerance for salinity in the soil.

Established durian trees cannot withstand more than 3 months drought without suffering irreversible damage. However, in places fairly close to the equator (such as Malaysia), three to four weeks of dry weather and relatively dry roots are needed to provoke the tree to flowering. Without a sufficient dry period, there will be no fruit that season. Farther from the equator, on the edges of the tropics (as in Hawai`i) where weather patterns start to somewhat resemble the four seasons of the temperate regions, this dry period is not necessarily required, and flowering is influenced more by day length and seasonal temperature.

Soil: "Rich soil conditions will make the tree grow well and fast. Sometimes four to five-year old trees can start to flower. The secret is in the soil. Organic fertilizer will improve the soil by balancing the pH level. This will produce quantity and quality durians."—Bao Sheng Durian Farm website, Malaysia

Favorable terrain for good durian cultivation ranges from flat to steep. In Chanthaburi province, Thailand, which leads the world in quantity of annual durian production, many durian plantations are on relatively flat land. In contrast, on the island of Penang, which has the reputation for growing the finest connoisseur durians in Malaysia, all the durian farms are on tall hillsides and valleysides, many of them fairly steep. The root system of a durian tree is very sensitive to standing water, and good drainage is essential, which is well taken care of by such sloping situations.

Durian trees grow best in a rich, deep, well-drained sandy clay or clay loam (deep alluvial or loamy soil), high in organic matter, pH range of 6 - 7. Heavy clay soils are not supportive of good durian tree growth and health, as they do not drain well. Seedlings make more vigorous growth when potted into media that is light and sandy rather than high in clay content.

In Thailand it is commonly recommended that growers avoid using organic animal manure, as the most troublesome disease of durian trees there, the fungal Phythophera palmivora, is encouraged by the moist fertile conditions at ground level around the trunk created by manure and mulch. It is not clear that such advice holds true for conditions elsewhere, however, and when using good organic tree planting practices. Traditional organic fertilizers are used with good results in Malaysia and elsewhere.

In many places in Southeast Asia, semi-wild durian trees thrive and bear perfectly well on their own with relatively little care. Maxing out the health of durian trees of choice varieties with modern organic methods and soil amendments such as compost and rock dust is likely to produce bumper crops of humongous spiky fruits of unimaginable and staggering deliciousness! Amen. :-)


Italian Gardens and the Olive Tree

Facts, History and Use of the Olive Tree in Italian

huge olive tree

GardensThe European olive tree (Olea europaea) has come to symbolize, more than any plant, the essence of the Mediterranean region and it's gardens. Growing from 8 -12 meters tall in the poorest, rockiest of soils and depending on ferocious Mediterranean sunshine, the olive tree has truly won the battle of survival in the Mediterranean, growing indigenously from Lebanon to parts of Iran and Syria and even to certain areas of China. The olive can survive for 2,000 years or more, with the correct human care and cultivation and can provide one of the most respected substances ever derived from nature olive oil!

Italy alone produces around 3,150,000 tons of olives per year and world production currently stands at a staggering 17,320,000 tons and most of this is destined for the production of olive oil. Olive tree cultivation counts for one of the largest and oldest agricultural practices in the whole of the Mediterranean's history.
Olive oil, or "Liquid Gold", as Homer (the great Greek poet) so rightly named it, has been used throughout history in cooking, skin care and as a medicine. It

has been considered a divine 'gift' from the Gods and nature by many cultures throughout history. Ancient Greek athletes were anointed with olive oil to render their skin supple and healthy in elaborate ritual ceremonies and both Roman men and women used the product to clean and render their skin beautiful and supple.
olives from olive tree in italy olive oil

Olive tree branches and elaborate crowns made from them were also discovered in the tombs ofhistory olive trees Egyptian Pharaohs. The fascination and respect for the olive tree honored it with a spiritual status over the centuries and it has been considered a symbol of peace, abundance and great natural power.

Indeed it is a plant that is able to survive in the most inhospitable, rocky terrains and with just the minimum of water it survives, thrives and provides a wondrous, healing oil. An evergreen tree it kept it's leaves throughout the winters while others would lose theirs and this would have also mystified early civilizations.

In Italy there are around 300 cultivars of the tree, however only a few are now cultivated for large agricultural production. The 'Leccino', 'Frantoio' and 'Carolea' are the cultivars favored in Italian agriculture owing to the 'sweet' and 'fruity' flavours (respectively) of their oil. Curiously these cultivars have very little in common with surviving evidence of their ancient ancestors- the closest relatives being found only in the Licinian olive varieties.

The magnificent Etruscan culture that arrived in the area now known as Tuscany in around 400B.C. was probably responsible for initiating the intense farming of the olive tree.

Below: The area populated by the Etruscans. Below Right: Etruscan vase depicting olive harvest. etruscans olive oil olive oil depiction vase

The Etruscans clearly delighted in the use of olive oil and displayed their respect for it by including the olive tree and it's cultivation often in elaborate designs on their intricate ceramic work. The designs on Etruscan vases, discovered in numerous tombs in Tuscany, have revealed how this highly social and sophisticated culture used and regarded both the olive tree and its oil.

The Etruscans were responsible for trading vast amounts of high quality olive oil throughout the whole of the Mediterranean region. Vases and Amphora of superb quality were produced in order to store and transport, not only oils, but also wine, by ship, to many areas in Europe, including the south of France.

The use of the olive tree in Italian gardens

Olive trees, with their dreamy, metallic-silver foliage and gnarled trunks, that almost resemble old Tuscan men, are a must for any Italian garden. The olive's strong Mediterranean symbolism clearly creates a valid nuance in the Italianate garden and it's pacifying grey color creates the perfect, shimmering backdrop for many Mediterranean plants. In spring the reds of poppies can be literally propelled out from grassy areas between the lines of olive trees. Alternatively the pastel pinks and blues of wild flower areas around the olive trees can be harmonized and pacified by the silver-grey foliage. When the trunks of old olive trees are illuminated at night their character can really emerge, rendering them by far as interesting as any sculpture.


cultivation of olive oilThe olive thrives on calcareous, poor and well-drained soils, in areas that are not afflicted by prolonged cold periods during the winter- making coastal areas the ideal place. They can be purchased in a range of sizes, even several centuries old and can transplant well if moved immediately after hard pruning in late February or early March.

An olive tree's contribution to a garden can be both as aesthetic as it is fundamental in supporting the tiny ecosystems that contribute to and maintain the area surrounding it in perfect health.

Below: A old, gnarled olive trunk in Tuscany

Below: Ants living in the same, living tree trunk

olive trunk olive tree ants

Culinary use

Both the fruit and the extracted oil can be used in cooking and it's use is widely known.

olives olives olives olives

Medicinal use

medicinal use of oilve oilOlive oil's anti cholesterol properties are widely publicized but the potential for skin care is rarely touched upon. Olive oil can render skin supple and healthier with daily applications.

Olive tree leaves also provide an anti-oxidant substance that is currently undergoing studies in Israel that have found the leaf effective against disease by helping to damage the cell membrane of the virus or bacteria, allowing intercellular nutrients like potassium, phosphorus, and glutamate to leak out, disabling the infection and letting the immune system restore a healthy balance. This can be taken in the form of a tea made of the leaves of the olive tree.

NOTE: Life in Italy strongly recommends consulting medical advice before preparing the tea to establish any possible harmful side-effects

By Jonathan Radford

Macro photographs by Hannah Summers

Coppy from http://www.lifeinitaly.com

Elements of a Roman-Style Pleasure Garden

Essentials to a Roman Style Garden

There is a considerable body of evidence surrounding the gardens of ancient Rome that details the various elements that comprised their pleasure and villa style gardens. Many classical features are found in today's gardens and landscapes paying homage to those ancient stylized Roman gardens. The following article discusses ways you can transform your garden or landscape into an ancient Roman pleasure garden filled with elements reminiscent of that glorious past.

roman garden fountain
While inhabitants of the city of Rome frequently employed courtyard ( as above) and kitchen gardens, it was the inhabitants of the Roman countryside who perfected the pleasure garden that ancient Roman villas are noted for. These gardens were so beautiful that even the ancient Barbarians who conquered Rome kept them up and learned from their design. Today, gardeners opt for many various themes when designing their own garden or landscape; a roman style garden, because it is classical, will never go out of style and many elements that are reminiscent (mainly reproductions) of the era can easily be found online or at local garden centers.
The overlying ideal of the pleasure garden was for relaxation and rejuvenation. Entertainment was also at the core of the design. The owners of these elaborate villas usually entertained guests and the garden was the ideal place to entertain them. Certainly, the orchards and vineyards were productive and useful to provide the banquets with an abundance of fruits, vegetables and wine. Nevertheless, the idea of the pleasure garden was to showcase the landscape with many beautiful features and breathtaking views.

Most Roman villas featured a transition element between the house and the garden. The Romans incorporated marble into their patio type structures. One can well imagine pergola style overhangs decorated with vines and hanging flowers. Marble was the construction material of choice. Of course, the price of marble is very rich today, so many landscape designers might even consider a painted patio with a marble effect; however, simple large clay tiles like terra cotta work perfectly. Roman style patios would have featured wall art—large frescos depicting scenes from Roman agricultural life. (Visit our section on frescos here: Italian Fresco)

There most likely would have been a dining area—low tables with low couches. Garden furniture is widely available today so purchasers have a good selection. However, to find something in a truly authentic Roman style might warrant a custom job when it comes to furniture. Nevertheless, always opt for lavishly comfortable styles when selecting furniture for your own plroman garden near the seaeasure garden. Other patio features would include stone planters, a water feature like a chalice well, basin or wall fountain.

While there is not a wealth of information surrounding the ancient Roman pleasure gardens, there is enough information to suggest that the patio opened up to a grand landscape that was designed in all directions. A walk would be the main element of the grounds for seeing each garden delight. Generally, the property would feature a terraced section, an orchard or vineyard (probably both), a kitchen garden for herbs and vegetables (this might not be a part of the grand garden tour however) and various sections that might contain prized plants like roses. The center of the garden would also feature a special element like a fountain. Other important features might include shrines and grottoes.

Water was prized in all styles of Roman gardens—the ancient Romans who were the aqueduct builders of the old world. A Roman pleasure garden would boast several water features on the property. In fact, each view might contain its own water feature. From the central fountain to a stream running down the terrace, to a garden pond to an elaborate pool that was an important social element of the Roman world. When considering water features for your landscape, work with the land, but also with a view for the types of entertaining you will do.

As for the types of plants, you will certainly want to adapt plant life to your climate but some typical Roman choices would include roses, cypress, rosemary, mulberry and fig trees, dwarf variety trees, tall trees, marigolds, hyacinths, narcissi, violets, saffron, cassia, thyme, and many more. Your pleasure garden should be well-kept and each section should feature its own scheme of plantings. Flowerbeds, groves and water-loving plants should all be included.

villa adriana

Finally, your ornamentation will go a long way to capturing that ancient Roman feel. Your garden walk might contain hidden arbors with stone benches, various classical figures carved in stone, and perhaps even ruins like a column base implanted somewhere in the landscape. Finally, birds were welcome attractions for the guests of these ancient villas, so consider features that might attract various kinds of wildlife such as birds and other desired animals. ( Above the remains of the 2000 year old Villa Adriana at Night - ANSA)

coppy from :http://www.lifeinitaly.com