Bayabas or guava is actually a fruit but I am including it in this book because it is one of those indispensable condiments in our native Filipino cuisine, just like the tamarind and calamansi. We use the ripe fruit in almost everything such as guava juice, guava jelly or jam, candies and especially to flavor our fish “sinigang”, a soup made from fish (milkfish is the most popular) and mix with vegetables and hot peppers. The almost ripe guavas are for our eating pleasure, dip in salt and you have a wonderful snack. The leaves are used medicinally in the Philippines. The leaves are prepared as tisanes if you have diarrhea. The leaves are also boiled in water and used as antibacterial in treating open wounds.
Depending on the variety, the guava tree can grow up to 30 feet tall.
I remember almost falling down from a guava tree when I was just 8 or 9 years old. My favorite is what we call the Guava Java. I think this variety is from Bangkok, Thailand. It is a bush tree with dark, green leaves and white flowers that will eventually turn into big fruits. The fruit has thicker skin than other variety and that is why it most favored because the skin is tender to eat and succulent. The seeds are good to eat too although it does not have that many inside the fruit. Some varieties of guava have tons of seeds inside that is why it is the favorite food of the birds in our hometown. Other varieties of guava have different colors, some have yellow rind and pink inside. Some have red skin and aromatic.
I had the experience to grow a guava tree in my garden and it is what they call Apple Guava “psidium guajava”. It grew up to about 7 feet tall and very prolific bloomer. It gave me lots of big fruits but it has a tendency to have white flies and that was a problem for me. I do not want to spray with any insecticide so I tried to just hose it down with water. I really enjoyed having guava in my garden not only for the best tasting fruit but also for the medicinal benefits, sometimes my friends will ask for some leaves to use as stomach ache medicine. It is also full of vitamins such as Vitamins A,B, and C. It is wonderful to know that one of my favorite fruits is full of healthful benefits.
Guava tree needs full sun and because it is tropical it will not withstand a frost. In the mainland, you will need to put it in a greenhouse during the winter months. You can grow the dwarf variety in a pot so it is easy to move to the green house. During the growing season, it needs constant watering. The soil should be amended with organic matter such as compost and a balance fertilizer every three months. When flowers appear, a bloom-plus fertilizer is a good thing to add in the care regimen to ensure good yield.