I hope Glenda doesn’t mind my moving her comment into a new blog post to make sure her ideas are visible to more people. I know that many people don’t scan comments to blogs unless they are really interested in the topic under discussion. Glenda says:
Hi thanks for your update on the dragons, I am at Minden and have also had a lot of activity with my plants I have so far counted 60 buds over 3 dragon poles and have so far had approx 15 flowers that opened,I also I have 5 fruit that are developing at a very rapid rate. I did very little pruning this year because of the long cool season I missed the opportunity as I did not want any further damage from frosts, my dragons have really been powering on and all of my buds are on old growth so far, I have given my plants a good soaking with “seasol” liquid fertiliser and today I am going to throw a handful of blood and bone around the base just to give them a bit of an edge. I have 6 new poles with the red flesh variety but I doubt that I will see any flowers this year, actually I am a bit disappointed with these plants as they seem to be a bit retarded with their growth so far, maybe next year for them. I am really looking forward to the plants peak in budding however my worst fear is that fruit fly will get the taste for the fruit, have you had any trouble in this area, I have read that fruit fly can be a problem. Like you I seem to have lots of ants that seem to be all over the buds so I am hoping that they deter the fruit fly ( your thought would be appreciated).
Here’s my reply:
That’s interesting about your already having 60 buds over three poles – I assume that is three plants? I made the mistake of following advice that the red variety grow better on a horizontal beam whereas the white ones grow better on poles with “spreader” frames at the top. The decision was also influenced by wanting to try growing them in a shadehouse and on a heugelklultur base.
If you are not sure what heugelkultur/hugelkultur is have a look at this site. There are plenty of other sites on the net, but this one explains it well and is not too far from what we have done here. I’ve been meaning to write something about the design of our beds, but every time I start I run up against the fact that while I was I was too busy and too dirty and sweaty to stop digging and get the camera.
Anyway, back to poles vs beams. Our three plants are growing up the posts supporting two horizontal beams, each about 1.5-2m long. – see photo below This doesn’t provide anything like the support for growing lots of branches that three posts with frames would have done. I’m pretty sure this is why Glenda has 60 buds to our 29 (Glenda I’d love to have a photo of your poles to use here).
There is only about 20km between our properties, though Glenda might have an edge over our poor and stony sandstone soil.
The climate is pretty much the same, with the biggest difference being that because we are on a high ridge we never get frosts – the cool air slides off the ridge into the valley before the temperature gets down to frost level.
Another difference is that we are growing one of the deep red varieties, whereas I assume from what Glenda says she has a white variety. The two varieties may have different numbers of fruit in our climate.
And of course, our garden has been pretty much neglected while we have been fighting the motocross facility proposal for the last two years. I haven’t made a single batch of compost in that time.
Regarding fruit fly, we have never had a fruit fly problem with out Dragon Fruit. I suspect that the thick skin offers some protection. It’s also interesting that the parrots have not yet attacked our Dragon Fruit. The shadehouse is not closed in, but only has 30% shadecloth draped over the frame and down to the blue batten you can see in the photo above. Normally the parrots would find any interesting fruit in this sort of structure.