Kauai – enough fruit to make a Californian jealous

California winters are a mixed bag. Cold weather, rains, sleeping plants and of course scion exchanges. After the scion exchanges in January I get antsy for fruit and looking at pictures isn’t enough.


A towering Davidson plum

This February I packed up my family – plus my parents, my brother and our significant others into the plane to our timeshare in Princeville on Kauai. We’ve been to Kauai several times and each time we’ve been able to experience something new. This time was no different. Having done all of the usual tourist activities, and seen the recommended botanical gardens (National Tropical Botanical Gardens are a must), I opted this trip to find more local growers to get a real feel for Hawaii fruit life.

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Growing Cherries on the Monterey Bay

Cherries on the Monterey Bay? Is that possible? Do we have the chill? Depending on who you’re listening to, and what you are choosing as your planting site, the answers can run the gamut.

Cherryvale and other parts of Soquel were known for their extensive acreage devoted to commercial cherry orchards up into the 1960s. It is also common knowledge we are in an observable trend toward warmer average winter temperatures, so is successful cherry-growing a thing of the past?

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How to Plant an Avocado: Ensuring a Good Start

'Hass' avocado

It’s Springtime in the Monterey Bay, swallows are plying the sky and peaches are in full pink. That means frost danger is passing, and it’s nearing time to plant avocados. If you can find trees, they need to go in now to start their race against the seasons. First freezes can hit in November, and the bigger you can grow your young trees, the better chance they have of surviving the cold. From our vast experience with killing trees, we would like to offer help in avoiding the blunders we’ve committed in trying to get our trees to grow.

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Notes on a Few New California Apples

A number of the apples sampled at our 77 variety apple tasting in 2018  would be unfamiliar even to knowledgeable apple growers.  These are local discoveries and novel varieties from nearby breeding projects, many of which exist only as a single tree each.  All of these apples have distinguished themselves in one way or another over their years of existence, enough so to earn a place at our tasting tables, where several of them have performed quite well among the stiff competition.  Freddy Menge, grower of a preponderance of the apples at our tasting, has offered some comments on these novel apples which I thought were worthy of pulling aside and illustrating on their own.  —Andy Moskowitz

Freddy Menge, with a mouthful of redflesh, in his Santa Cruz County orchard of high flavor heirloom and novel apples.

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Tasting 77 California-Grown Apple Varieties

Rankings and images of all 77 varieties from the 2018 Monterey Bay CRFG Apple Tasting at conclusion.

The taste for apples is strong: our 19th annual apple tasting was one of our best-attended to date, with around 500 tasters. Look for scionwood of many of these heirloom and novel varieties at our upcoming scion exchangeUpdate: Read some additional notes on the novel, locally bred varieties sampled at this tasting.

Story by Freddy Menge, Photos by Andy Moskowitz.

The Monterey Bay Chapter of the CRFG couldn’t ask for a better climate for growing apples. Thanks to our cool, coastal summers and extra-long growing-season, in the right micro-climate we can produce just about any apple variety worth cultivating.   Our annual, late fall apple tasting at Santa Cruz’s Wilder Ranch has proven to be a perfect match of timing and location. Continue reading “Tasting 77 California-Grown Apple Varieties”

The Growing of Persimmons

This article is a companion piece to the Eating of Persimmons, published on the Birdsong Orchards farm blog here.

Four years ago, in the winter of 2014/2015, we planted around forty persimmon trees in our orchard. Most have thrived, a few have died, a few more have been planted, and I have learned a few things along the way.  I cannot claim to be a master of persimmon horticulture, for my trees are still young and have many years of growing to do, but I’d like to share what I know.


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