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Floridians can grow more fruit than just citrus

By Staff | Sep 13, 2016

When people think of growing fruit in Southwest Florida, they automatically think of oranges and grapefruit.

But there’s much more you can grow year-round to satisfy your desires, and the plants don’t necessarily have to be high maintenance.

The Edible Gardening Exchange’s September speaker will be Denzil Dunkley, a backyard gardening enthusiast and avid participant of the Caloosa Rare Fruit Exchange. Denzil will share his many years of hands-on experience with fruit trees.

Dunkley will talk about alternatives to the traditional fruit trees people plant in their backyards, such as citrus.

“The citrus industry in Florida is in decline because of disease and lesser acreage,” Dunkley said. “I’m suggesting mangos and avocados, and the more exotic plants that have been grown in other parts of the tropics.”

Dunkley will teach you how to plant and care for them and how to propagate them. You also don’t have to harvest them in March like with citrus. Many plants, such as avocados can be picked and eaten most of the year.

“You can plant enough varieties of avocados to harvest them 10 months out of the year. You have cold hearty, late and early varieties. Mangoes have varieties that go as far as September and October,” Dunkley said.

Among the other fruits that can be grown here include dragonfruit, carambola, leechee, longan, pineapple, bananas and plantains, jackfruit (which can grow up to 60 lbs. and many others.

“You can have fruit 12 months out of the year. It’s hard to grow vegetables all year because of the heat, but you can with fruit,” Dunkley said.

Join other edible gardeners on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the North Fort Myers Recreation Center located at 2000 N Recreation Park Way in North Fort Myers.

As always the meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. with an open and informal chat on edible topics. Consider bringing something to share with other gardeners (seeds, plants, a snack) and a cup if you want free coffee or tea.

All fees are paid at the front desk. The fee for all six monthly summer classes from April to September is $10. In addition, a Lee Parks and Recreation lifetime membership is also required which is a one-time fee of $10 per person.

For more information, call or text Karen Harty at 610-530-8883 or email KarenHarty@GrowAGardener.org.