- Author: Alison Collin
If you enjoy pomegranates you may be delighted to know that they will grow in the Owens Valley. They originally come from areas such as Iran and the Mediterranean areas. There are many varieties available, each with its own characteristics – some are sweeter, some more acidic, some have soft edible seeds and others have harder ones, some are better for juicing while others are delicious eaten fresh. The fruits are high in polyphenol anti-oxidants, and flavonoids.
Here is what you need to know about growing conditions:
- Zones: 7 -10 but must have long hot summers and if growing in the colder zones some protection from the north is advisable. If they get cut down by severe frosts most will sprout again from the base.
- Exposure: Full sun.
- Chill hours: Most need only 150-200 hours which our area easily provides.
- Soil: Any good, well-drained soil, even if alkaline.
- Irrigation: Regular watering is needed, but most can withstand some drought.
- Pollination: usually self-fertile so only one need to be planted.
- Form: Pomegranates grow as large bushes which can be pruned to 8'-10'tall and about as wide, but they can also be trained into a tree form. Some varieties are upright while others have more lax arching stems. There are some varieties that are dwarf.
- Harvest time: Late summer for earliest varieties through fall. Once ripe they will split open after rains. If harvested at its peak fruit will store in a cool dry place for several weeks.
Pomegranates have small leaves, and a twiggy habit so can be used as a screen. They have quite large reddish/orange flowers and look attractive in bloom, while the fruit generally comes in varying shades of red, from brilliant to a rich dark red, or even pink.
They do take time to become established, often not even flowering for a few years, but then are reliable so long as there are no adverse climate conditions. The only variety that I have experience with in the Owens Valley is 'Eversweet' which was chosen because it needed the shortest season for the fruits to mature. It took about five years to begin to fruit and then presented us with grocery bags full and consistently cropped since, although this year it had only a light crop (shown). So far it has generally been pest and disease free. There are some varieties which are claimed to begin fruiting earlier.
Many newer varieties have been introduced so it pays to read the descriptions in the specialist fruit catalogs to ensure that you are getting the features that you want.
Finally we can be successful with a plant that does better in our hot summers than in the gardening Eden of the Pacific Northwest!
For pest and disease information on pomegranates see: http://fruitandnuteducation.ucdavis.edu/fruitnutproduction/Pomegranate/Pomegranate_Pests_Deficiencies/Pomegranate_Insect_Mite_Nematode/
- Author: Alison Collin
Many new hybrids of stone fruits have been appearing in catalogs and on supermarket shelves in recent years resulting in a plethora of new terms many of which are defined below.
The most common hybrids are those between apricots (Prunus armeniaca) and Japanese plums (Prunus salicina) or cherry plums (P. cerasifera) and are known as interspecific plums. First generation crosses are known as plumcots, a name coined by Luther Burbank, or apriplums usually based on which they more closely resemble.
Beyond these first generation crosses further hybridization has taken place resulting in a plethora of modern hybrids containing differing percentages of the original parents and resulting in certain characteristics of either of the original fruits being dominant, but with distinct benefits such as increased hardiness, less acidity, higher sugar content, or with firmer flesh making for more marketable features.
While Luther Burbank experimented with early hybridization of plums and apricots, we have Floyd Zaiger, a family fruit farmer and a truly remarkable hybridizer in Modesto, California to thank for most of these newer, interesting hybrids. He has devoted his life to painstakingly hybridizing stone fruits by hand pollination, creating hundreds of new varieties. Out of all the hundreds of crosses that he grows each year only a very select few go forward to further trials to become new named varieties. Selections of these are now marketed by Dave Wilson Nursery. See links below.
Pluots are characterized by a smooth plum-like skin and a complex flavor where the plum dominates."Pluots" were created in the 20th century by Floyd Zaiger.
In Apriums the apricot dominates both in the external appearance of the fruit and the flavor and texture. Like apricots they tend to be early ripening, but are generally firmer and have a rosy glow overlaying the orange skin. Like pluot, aprium is also a trademark of Zaiger's.
Color-cot interspecific apricots are complex hybrids between apricots and plums where the apricot dominates.
Nectaplum is a cross between a nectarine and a plum. There is only one well known variety of this “Spice Zee” which has the appearance of a nectarine with very intensely flavored, sweet, white flesh.
Peacotum is a peach/apricot/plum hybrid. The current offering in this class, 'Bella Gold' is a home garden cultivar, whose main parent is apricot. There is another interspecific cross that is more peach-like: Tri-Lite, but it lacks apricot in the cross.
Pluerry is a hybrid between a cherry and a plum.
There are now hundreds of varieties of interspecific crosses with names like 'Dinosaur Egg', 'Flavor Queen', 'Splash', 'Dapple Dandy', but sadly, in supermarkets they are often just labeled as plums or apricots which is not very helpful for taste testing.
Growing interspecific hybrids. Some of these hybrids are now available in catalogs or from specialist growers, but a word of warning: look very carefully to see which specific varieties will pollinate each other and make sure that you choose those which are compatible otherwise you may end up with a tree which grows well, flowers well but has no fruit set! This does of course mean that you will in all likelihood end up with two trees, so make sure that you have enough space for them. Many of these crosses have low chilling requirements and flower too early for Owens Valley. (See this link for chill values.) If you're not in Wilkerson, you'll probably have frequent crop loss. Do your homework.
- Author: Jan Rhodes
I love apples…crisp and juicy, sweet and tart, green or red. I eat one daily, sometimes with peanut butter or almond butter… I even add a few raisins and some cinnamon now and then for a special treat. I have four lovely apple trees in my yard – Pink Lady, Honeycrisp, Arkansas Black and a Yellow Transparent Apple that someone was going to take to the dump because it wasn't what they wanted. I couldn't bear the thought of a perfectly good apple tree going to the dump, so I planted it and, I have to say, the apples are tasty and early.
With so many apple trees, you would think I could satisfy my apple appetite. And, though I have gotten a few over the years, mostly what I get is tasty chunks after I carve out the coddling moth damage. Ewwww. So, this season, I decided to take action, enough is enough. I water, prune, and dutifully spray these trees…I really should get something more in return.
My winter time research left me daunted – traps and pheromones, recording temperatures and sheesh – too much for someone who likes to keep it simple (you can translate that as “lazy”). So, I remembered my trip to Japan some years back where I paid $6 for an apple (I really wanted one) and realized why they were so expensive when I saw workers in the orchard lovingly placing bags on each apple to prevent insect damage. No wonder those apples looked so perfect and cost so much.
With that idea in mind, my Internet wanderings led me to apple bagging. I found a wealth of information, including video how tos. Seems I am not the only one who thought of this, in fact, lots of growers, backyard and commercial organic orchards are on board. There are even a number of sources for bagging materials of different kinds. There is even an added bonus for embracing this technique. Not only does bagging prevent coddling moth, it can help prevent other apple pests and problems … all without pesticides, fungicides, spraying and other rather bothersome tasks. This practice is most commonly used for apples and pears, and can help guard against such threats as codling moth, curculio, apple maggot, apple scab, and other impediments to a quality harvest. Bagging may even help deter birds and squirrels.
I decided to give it a try, however, since this was an experimental effort, I was determined to use what I had on hand and to try not to bag more than a dozen apples per tree. Why go all out if it might not work, right? The process begins with thinning your apple crop, that is, keeping one baby apple in each cluster. I always thin my apples (same for my grapes). The yield is less, but the apples are bigger and the tree is healthier. Per my research, I thinned my apples and when they reached about half an inch in diameter, I bagged them.
There are a good number of options for bagging – lots of bagging supplies to buy from Internet resources, including bonafide Japanese Apple Bags. And, there are lots of folks who use resealable plastic bags or nylon stockings (really!) I happened to have small (6”x8”) plastic bags (not zip lock) that I use for baked goods and backpacking. They seemed to be a good size for apples, so I used them and fastened them with a twist tie. It didn't take too long and kind of made me chuckle. A real conversation piece when company came by.
Over the summer, I kept my eye on them. With the heat, some moisture collected in the bag, and some articles suggested cutting the bottom corners to let the moisture drain. I decided I didn't want to risk insects getting in, so I opted not to do this. In the end, it did not seem to make a difference. The apples grew and matured as usual. Some articles suggested removing the bags some weeks prior to harvest, I opted not to do this, also – didn't seem to make a difference. I did have to wait a bit longer for the bagged apple to take on their color.
The proof of the pudding, so to speak, came a harvest time – though not all bagged apples escaped coddling moth – a few sneaked through the twist tie area (probably my bad) – I was excited to finally harvest and eat a good number of apples from my very own trees. In chatting with other Master Gardeners, I found that several had also tried this method, all with varying success. So, while it appears that this idea is not new in these parts, I found it to be worth the time and effort, and will definitely employ bagging next season. I do, however, intend to find biodegradable bags for the process.
I have included resources and photos here. Now, excuse me while I munch my home-grown apple!
FRUIT BAGGING OPTIONS
There is an array of options when it comes to bagging fruits. Plastic resealable bags and brown paper bags can be used to protect your fruit and are readily available. Additionally, there are specialized Japanese fruit bags that can be ordered online, or nylon mesh bags that may be better to use for softer fruits. In most cases, the bags can be reused the next year!
Some sources of commercial fruit bags I found:
- http://www.seattletreefruitsociety.com/maggot-barriersArticles about fruit bagging:
- Videos about apple bagging:
Inclusion does imply endorsement by the University. Other sources are available. These are a good place to start./h3>