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”
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.
On December 1, we held our annual Holiday Potluck at the Santa Cruz Live Oak Grange, one of our most important community-focused events for the membership of the Monterey Bay Chapter of California Rare Fruit Growers. At this event we meet new and old friends to discuss our year in fruit gardening, share ripe harvests and delicious home cooking, and peer forward to our group’s year to come.
This year’s potluck drew an interesting and illuminating array of winter’s-eve fruit harvests from Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, where some microclimates have already seen their first light frosts. The images below depict a nice cross-section of what’s ripe right now, though not an exhaustive list. Please do feel free to comment below with any notable omissions of fruits you’re picking this time of year (fall-winter cusp) from your Monterey Bay garden.
The Monterey Bay chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers extends many thanks to breeder Ellen Thompson and field manager Juan of Pacific Berry Breeding in Watsonville, CA, for leading yesterday’s exhaustive and elucidating tour of their caneberry breeding facility. Pacific Berry Breeding, one of only a handful of caneberry breeding operations spread across the globe, works with material from public breeding institutions and germplasm repositories, and under contract with major commercial berry producers, to develop novel varieties of blackberry and raspberry for the fresh market.
Ellen demonstrated for us the traditional breeding methods employed here, showing her technique for making controlled crosses via manual pollination. She discussed how seedling varieties are evaluated for quality and commercial viability, and how seedlings are chosen to advance from season to season as “selections”, and then as “advanced selections” suitable for larger field trials. Fewer than 2% of of an initial cohort of seedlings will make it as far as propagation for extensive trials.
Following our fascinating extended tour of Pacific Berry Breeding, a dozen of us with the afternoon free reconvened at chapter secretary Ken Konviser’s Bobcat Ridge homestead avocado farm for a tasty potluck lunch and tour of his gardens.
At Ken’s hillside farm with a broad view overlooking the valleys of Corralitos and out to the bay, and beyond his tidy rows of terraced vegetables and healthy small orchard of numerous avocado varieties for market, we also enjoyed examining some of the more exotic specimens that he’s planted.