Epicenter Orchard Tour and Tasting

Freddy Menge, picking ripe apples.

The Monterey Bay CRFG recently visited Epicenter Orchard in Watsonville, the home of Freddy Menge’s apple, pear, plum, and cherry collection/orchard, the source of many of the apples offered for tasting in the annual MBCRFG apple tasting (cancelled this year due to Covid).

During this tour and fruit tasting, members walked through the trees and discussed growing fruit holistically, pruning styles, wildlife and insect habitat creation, irrigation, varietal selection, weed control…

The approximately hour long tour was followed by a discussion and tasting of different varieties that are ripe at the time, many of which are shown and named in the video.

Apple Cider Presentation by Jim Rider

If you’ve wondered how to make apple cider, what equipment to use, or what apple varieties that thrive locally may make a cider you’ll enjoy, then check out our September 2021 meeting video, featuring local apple specialist and cider enthusiast, Jim Rider.

Jim Rider is a power hitter in the local fruit world and beyond. A 5th generation Pajaro Valley, California, apple grower with a master’s degree in Pomology from Cornell, for decades he’s been a local leader as an innovative and influential organic orchardist, a pioneering red-fleshed apple breeder, and longtime MBCRFG member. He’s also a mainstay provisioner of apple and pear wood for our annual scion exchange and major contributor of unique varieties for our yearly apple tasting.

Jim has taken a serious interest in cider making over the last decade, and when Jim Rider puts his mind to something, it comes out good. It’s truly regrettable the group wasn’t able to taste any of his fine, dry, delicious production, but Jim will be gracing our chapter with a zoom presentation to discuss the ins and outs of fermenting our own.

His talk was tailored to the backyard fruit grower wishing to make cider from their own fruit. All aspects of the process were covered, from handling of the fruit, selection and suitability of apple varieties, yeast strains, juice handling, fermentation management, bottling, sanitation, carbonation, storage… Watch the You Tube video and enjoy hearing Jim talk about this fascinating topic.

Growing Avocados in Northern California

The Monterey Bay Chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers presents Ellen Baker and Freddy Menge discussing tactics for success in growing Avocados in Northern California. Included are tips regarding varieties of interest in the Central Coast area.

Video: How to Graft Deciduous Fruit Trees

Freddy Menge has graciously brought his grafting tutorial online.

In this video, Freddy demonstrates cleft grafting via a proven method that has gotten many local newbies propagating deciduous fruit trees for the first time. He makes mention of knife style (and “caveman grip”), cleft graft technique, the physiology of grafting (cambium contact), tensioning and sealant materials (demonstrating an inexpensive and effective graft with masking tape), and post-graft training (removal of competing shoots).