Misadventures in Urban Plantsmanship

by Daisy on 06/09/2016

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I bought a pineapple guava plant through the mail.

I was lured by promises of tropical beauty and exotic flavor.

It was around midnight, and I had fallen down an internet rabbit hole of off-the-beaten-path edible shrubs, vines, and other fantastical fruits.

My eyes locked onto pineapple guava and I was mesmerized.

Apparently, the petals of this one taste like marshmallows or cotton candy. The fruit is described as a combination of pineapple, apple, and mint. WHAT???

I barely even checked Dave’s Garden to see if the seller was legit.

I mean, I did, but I barely did.

I had to have it.

A few days later, it arrived. I was so excited, I even filmed myself unboxing it.

Aside: I only recently heard of unboxing. Apparently people watch other people take things out of its packaging on YouTube A LOT. I’m not sure what that’s about. Did you all know this?

The plant looked great. It looks great. It’s right next to me in my kitchen/office as I follow the instructions and let it get used to me, I mean, my climate, for a few days.

Meanwhile, yesterday I went out to the space in the garden where I decided it would go and started to get the spot ready.

I garden in a small, suburban space, so something else would have to depart in order to fit it in. Luckily, that thing is not an edible plant, but a nandina.

It had popped up out of nowhere and loved the spot, so it’s been getting rather large, fast. It wasn’t easy to dig it out, and I had to do a lot of hopping on the shovel and root-busting to pry it out of the ground and haul it up into the wheelbarrow.

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After I did that, I kept digging around the spot to get out some of the remaining roots from a nearby crepe myrtle that won’t give up the ghost.

In the process I did something bad.

I cut my phone line.

I don’t think it’s supposed to be as shallowly situated as it is, only about 3-4 inches below the surface, but whatever. I cut it. I even knew it was there, just momentarily forgot just how close it was. That phone line plagues me wherever I go. Granted, I do a lot more digging around than most suburbanites, but sometimes I think it moves about underground just to dog me. I’ve probably come close to cutting that thing five or six separate times in the past, and I finally really did it.

Just to be sure, I went inside and checked the landline and the computer. No line.

Not one to twiddle my thumbs, I got out my wire strippers and with some effort was able to reconnect three of the four wires, the orange wires, the blue wires and the blue/white wires. The white wire broke off and I didn’t have enough slack to get them to touch.

I went back in the house and lo and behold the phone was working again. I contacted the phone company computerized system and to their credit, I soon got a callback from an actual technician.

He was a little confused.

“You cut your phone line?”

“Yes.”

“But aren’t I talking to you on that phone line?”

“Well, yes . . . ”

Long story short, he fixed it up properly and I have renewed my pledge to dig more carefully in the future.

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Will I stop deliriously ordering plants while I’m half asleep?

Will I successfully grow a single pineapple guava?

I don’t know.

Stay tuned.

 



{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Ariane June 10, 2016 at 6:46 am

A phone line only 3-4 inches into the ground? That’s just insane!!! Most subrbanites I know do at least some digging around, or hire people to do some degree of digging around! I just can’T wrap my mind around that. Just ludicrous. Wow. Glad it turned out ok for you, though!

(I expected the issue to be with the pineapple guava with the almost-unchecked seller reviews, not the phone line, hahaha!)

Kathleen June 10, 2016 at 7:46 am

First house we owned, the cable line was buried 3-4 inches underground. My shovel and I sliced it clean through. Since we didn’t have cable, it wasn’t an issue. Second house we owned, the phone line was above ground (overhead). This is our third house, and the phone line is buried about 6 inches down. I KNOW this because I watched them bury it. Yep, it’s insane. And someday, my shovel and I will likely slice it.

Blythe June 10, 2016 at 8:20 am

“I had fallen down an internet rabbit hole of off-the-beaten-path edible shrubs, vines, and other fantastical fruits.”
Oh, yes. I spend a LOT of time there. I laughed out loud.
I am following your pineapple-guava saga because I think one would taste great with goumi berries and a pawpaw. (The goumies are doing great; the pawpaw doesn’t really want to live in the Pacific Northwest — or at least not where I have it.)
And the phone line? Been there, too. We finally got rid of it. Haven’t hit the cable (yet).

Bonnie North June 10, 2016 at 8:43 am

Daisy,

I’m sure you’ll have success with your Guava, but if it runs into trouble, maybe the Guava’s roots can tap into your phone lines and dial 911 for itself. Just a thought…

Daisy June 10, 2016 at 9:49 am

Bonnie–Hahahahaha! Love it!

Daisy June 10, 2016 at 9:51 am

Blythe–I’m so happy I’m not the only one. Ha! Say, how long did it take before your goumis started producing well? Mine are about 3 years old and I only got fruit this year (maybe 4 berries)?

Daisy June 10, 2016 at 9:52 am

Kathleen–It’s like there’s a magnetic attraction between the shovel and the wire!

Daisy June 10, 2016 at 9:54 am

Ariane–Yes, I think this was a second line that was put in after everything was built up and there wasn’t room for heavy equipment to put in the line. They just barely buried it by hand.
I know, right? That’s another post, to be sure!

Sallie June 10, 2016 at 10:16 am

And why did the phone tech not mark where your phone line goes underground? I guess those boys just need somethin’ to do to justify their paychecks.

pamela June 10, 2016 at 11:34 am

Well we’ve all gone down that road in one fashion or another. Your sacrificial plant (aka the aiding-and-abetting plant) appears to be a nandina? (aka Heavenly Bamboo). I, too, have one that has to be extracted so as to make way for food…..I will take your posting as a Divine message….

Daisy June 11, 2016 at 5:54 am

Sallie–I don’t know if they do that. Either bury it deep or mark it would make sense.

Daisy June 11, 2016 at 5:55 am

pamela–Nandinas have their charms, but we must prioritize the tastier!

Blythe June 11, 2016 at 1:05 pm

I bought my goumi berries from Burnt Ridge Nursery in 2011. They have done extremely well. I have had strong harvests the past 3 years, and this year, the shrubs are loaded! Made jelly with them last year, and it turned out really well. They have a kind of fibrous texture to them, so I filtered that out when I made the jelly. Watch for birds if you want to harvest – the robins rather enjoy them!

Mattie June 19, 2016 at 4:00 pm

And this is why I read your blog, cause after having as horrible day at work, you make me laugh. What a great way to end my day. THANK YOU!!!! And I can’t wait to see what happens with the new tree.

Daisy June 19, 2016 at 7:38 pm

Mattie–You are so sweet, Mattie, and I’m sorry about your horrible day. I hope your tomorrow is much better. I will be back with guava news. I’m STILL working on that consarned crepe myrtle.

Elizabeth July 18, 2016 at 11:14 pm

I wish you success with your pineapple guava. There is a pineapple guava plant growing at the museum where I used to work, and the volunteers and staff would harvest the fruit from it, but we never tried the flowers! Didn’t know the petals were edible …

The fruit is really different from every other fruit I’ve tasted; the individual fruits are about the size of a kiwi fruit, but the skin is not fuzzy, it’s fairly smooth, sort of like citrus peel. You cut it in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon, like you do with a kiwi fruit, and the flesh is firmer and a little less juicy than kiwi fruit flesh. The flesh is delicious and sweet; it tastes like pineapple and strawberries, to me, and the rind is what’s minty: it smells like wintergreen mint. The fruits fall off the plant when ripe, and you have to wait until they soften a bit before you eat them, otherwise they’re not very sweet. If you press the fruit with your finger, and it gives just a little, they’re ready to eat. I don’t know how long it takes before the plant produces fruit; the one at the museum had been there for years before I knew what it was!

Daisy July 19, 2016 at 6:08 am

Elizabeth–That is good to know. I hope I’ll have the opportunity to taste it myself. It sounds remarkable. Is the one at the museum inside or outside and how cold does it get if it’s outside?

Elizabeth July 25, 2016 at 6:06 pm

The one at the museum is outside: part of the landscaping around a historic house. The museum is in the San Francisco area of California, but it’s in the valley south of the Bay, which gets warmer and milder weather than San Francisco and the area to the north. It doesn’t get below 35 degrees in the wintertime, and most winter days stay within the 40s and 50s, although there can be some cold snaps that go closer to 30 degrees. The climate is dry, so watering is by drip irrigation, plus a small amount of rain in the spring.

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