Meeting the second Thursday of every month except December.

Newsletter by Dick Gross


TIME: 7:00 PM
WHERE: Cooperative Extension Palo Verde Room
4341 E. Broadway Dr. Phoenix, AZ 85040


PREVIEW: MARCH 11 SPEAKER: Chris A. Martin, Ph. D., Associate Professor of Plant Biology, Arizona State University.

Dr. Martin has taught at ASU for nine years. He has researched several areas of environmental stress physiology and mycorrhizal associations in desert, agricultural and urban systems. His studies include the growing of Carica papaya in the Salt River Basin.

Unscheduled pundits invaded our program in January so we must return to square one. It was a scene much like Speakers Corner in Hydes Park, London where you can hear simultaneous diatribe from a dozen soapbox orators on almost any subject except lynching the Queen. But, even that chaos has a semblance of order enforced by Bobbies.

  1. Garden Clubs Fair: There will NOT be one at the Cooperative Extension on March 13 as expected. The event was moved to the downtown convention center in conjunction with the Home and Garden Show on the same weekend. When the question was put forth: Should the Arizona Rare Fruit Growers participate on the new turf? A NO vote was unanimous. We did not know, however, that the Cooperative Extension event had already been scrapped and an agreement with the producers of the H&GS had already been put in concrete.
  2. Arizona Chapter web site. Program Chairman, Jim Crosson is working on the matter and will report on his progress.
  3. Fund Raising takes on a different texture without the Garden Club Fair. We should not depend on an event in October either. Some of you have had good ideas for generating revenue. We could easily sell every tropical and subtropical plant that our members can propagate for that purpose if we can bridge that gap between the market and us.
  4. More on Fund Raising. If the activity didn't interfere with other schedules, the Cooperative Extension would probably let us use the demo garden and parking lot area for a private sale on any Saturday we choose.
    If not there, we can surely build up a clientele somewhere in a church yard, a public school facility, a city park or a VFW where we could hold a sale at the same location every quarter. We would have to handle our own advertising. Sources might include our new web page, the Cooperative Extension listing of Garden Club activities, the Fruit Gardener and the Yard Sale and plant sections in the classified ads of the Arizona Republic.There are others.
  5. Field Activities. [This member's opinion; a published meeting held every month at the same time in the same place (Christmas potluck being one exception) is the anchor for a healthy club. You may disagree.] Some possibilities:
    1. Member home tours, formal or informal.
    2. Boyce Thompson Arboretum.
    3. Demo garden budding and grafting workshops.
    4. Workshop/or party at a member's home with free garden critique.
    5. Hold midnight orchard raids.
  6. Monthly Programs. The Program Chairman is responsible for coordinating this activity but we can all be de-facto members of the committee. Members exclusively, for the past two years, have provided in-house programs, a commendable accomplishment. The sentiment now leans toward outside speakers for at least some programs. In that light, we should identify our shortcomings as growers and seek technical enlightenment from other experts in those fields.


Maintenance and Care. A suggestion some months ago that two or more members adopt the Demo Garden for each month has peaked interest. Janet Rogers took the initiative and volunteered for February. She was out there alone last Saturday slaving away. Thank you Janet. The work can keep two people busy for two or three hours every Saturday or Sunday; or whatever day you prefer. If you want to be Janet's partner, and I can't imagine who wouldn't, just sort of hang around her on the 11th and she'll probably take a the hint. At that meeting, a sign-up sheet will be available. If you can't make the meeting but want to be included, phone Dick Gross at 939-4570. If you would like to chair this project, contact Allison at 736-1719.

Jim Crosson reports that he can get AzCRFG name tags from the California headquarters in minimum batches of 10 for $4 each. The engraving would be done locally at an additional cost of about a dollar more. Contact Jim at 963-2136 or come to the meeting and place your order.

Nearly every year, typically in mid-December between 4AM and 6AM in the morning, we experience about three days of frost. While it will vary in severity around the valley, rarely is it cold enough or of sufficient duration to do more than kill some foliage and damage fruit on established tropical and subtropical plants. Young, tender plants, on the other hand, often succumb. Our resident expert on frost protection is Dr. Fred Yerger. He wants to produce a FROST PROTECTION GUIDE free to members and available to the public, perhaps for a small fee. To collect meaningful data for such a document, he asks that each member record the protective steps taken during this season and next, and note damage incurred with or without protective measures. Use any format you wish but keep it simple and accurate. For example, to cite my own experience:

Location: 43rd & Dunlap, home setting.
Banana, 1.5 years old under eaves, block construction, south exposure, covered completely with "frost cover". Leaves froze. Stem & roots okay.
Banana, 1 yr old, 4' tall, south exposure, under eaves, block construction, blew air with home electric fan on a stand. No damage.
Mango, 15' tall, south exp., 150 watt lamp 4' off ground. Tip burn only at tree top, 15' level.
Other measures, Sprayed water over unprotected citrus and bananas in backyard at 4am and 6am. Bananas lost all leaves, other plants were iced but okay. All plants stored under the dense canopy of a full-grown grapefruit tree, (papaya, banana, avocado, mango and wax jambu) sustained no frost damage at all. I don't know if the water spray affected the temperature of the interior.
Action plan for 1999-00: Increase the use of fans.

When you have a minute or two to spare, write up the details from your own domain and submit a copy to Dr. Yerger.


Allison Yerger has a wholesale source for bare-root, low-chill, stone fruit trees adaptable to our climate. She can purchase these at $10 per tree for 5 or more of the same variety. The source is Dave Wilson Nursery. She can vouch for the quality. If any of you want peaches, apples, pears or whatever, contact Alley and try to put something together by 2/11/99.


In case you have any doubts that the Salt River Basin is a desert, consider the following precipitation data at my address in 1998. The total rainfall was 12.19 inches. It fell in only 25 days averaging o.49 inches per day. 340 days were bone dry. Just 9 days had 0.50 inches or more, only 4 of them were over one inch. The worst gully washer in 1998 yielded 1.56 inches. For comparison, the previous years were 1992-16.92"/ '93-14.43"/ '94-8.12"/ '95-9.67:/ '96-7.85"/ '97-4.50"/ '98-12.19"



Janet R. has investigated a source in Florida with 17 varieties of micro-propagated banana starts in flats of 72 or more. Prices run from 70 to 95 cents per plant depending on the variety. She offers the following proposal for your consideration. Members may buy lots of ten, more or less, to make up a flat, or several flats, perhaps. Each member would then grow his plants to a one-gallon size. Half of his surviving bananas would be donated back to the club. The club would then conduct a seminar for Master Gardeners on growing bananas for a fee of $25. Each attendee would get a one-gallon banana plant with the expertise to grow it and the AzCRFG might luck out and pick up new members.


Mycorrhiza/mikariza/n. (pl/mycorrhizae/-zee/)(-izal) A symbiotic association of a fungus and the roots of a plant.
Symbiosis/simbee-osis/n. An interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, usually to the advantage of both.

If you haven't heard of mycorrhizae you will soon. It is the current rage in horticultural circles. A lot of research has been underway for some time. A number of companies have sprung up to market various fungi for amending soils. The function is the movement of "energy from plant to fungus and inorganic resources from fungus to plant". The mycorrhizal relationships already exist in typical soils and soil scientists are still evaluating any benefits from adding more and different fungi to the soil.


PROPAGATION: You can start budding and grafting citrus when you see the first flush of growth.


CRFG, INC. BOARD OF DIRECTORS ANNUAL BUSINESS MEETING -FEBRUARY 20, 1999 Will be held in Phoenix at the Cooperative extension Palo Verde room at 10 AM.

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