Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Who Killed The Honeybees?

There's a very interesting article in today's online Salon Magazine (http://www.salon.com), with a panel of experts discussing the possible causes of hive decline among our honeybee population. Since not everyone belongs to Salon (although perhaps they should ;-)), I've copied the article to http://www.crfg.org/chapters/golden_gate/images/honeybees.pdf.

Bill Grimes

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bud grafting help needed

Jerrie, a non-CRFG member, in Albany is looking for someone to help her graft budwood from an old, but historically reliable, apricot tree onto a new tree. She is willing to pay for the service and asked me to post this message. Please call her if you can help, 510-479-7260, or email her at jreining@gmail.com.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

LA Chapter Activities

May Meeting
Date: Saturday, May 26, 2007
Time: 10:00 A.M.
Place: Sepulveda Garden Center
16633 Magnolia Blvd., Encino, CA 91316

Program: Don’t’miss this meeting! Learn the best techniques about grafting, air layering, clonal propagation and scion wood selections from the experts: Julie Frink, Dennis Luby, Don Winterstein, Roger Meyer and Riley Holly. We will watch this wonderful DVD these Orange County members made entitled “Techniques of Grafting”. The DVD will be available for you to purchase at $10.

June Meeting
Date: Saturday, June 23, 2007
Time: 10:00 A.M.
Place: Papaya Tree Nursery
12422 El Oro Way
Granada Hills, CA

Program: Alex Silber, will lead us on a tour of Papaya Tree Nursery. Be prepared to see many unusual and rare fruit trees consisting not only of guavas, mangos, cherimoyas, star fruit, miracle fruit and lyches, but much, much more. You will have a chance to buy some quality trees. As most of you know, Papaya Tree Nursery was started by Alex’s parents-David and Tina Silber- in 1985. Alex is carrying on the tradition in this wonderful and unique nursery. You can check out the website at: www.papayatreenursery.com

Directions: Take the 118 freeway and exit at Balboa Blvd. At Balboa make a left turn. Go to Midwood Dr.and turn left. Make a right on El Oro Way. Arrive at 12422 El Oro Way.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Chapter tours

CRFGers came from all over the Bay Area and beyond on Sunday for 2 great Golden Gate chapter tours.

Tom showed us the plantings of white sapotes, passion fruit, capulin cherries and other subtropicals, large and small, that he’s shoehorned into spaces in otherwise “normal” gardens. He says the climate in El Cerrito is good for cherimoyas, and showed us this giant specimen to prove it.

Later, we visited Idell’s fantastic, ever-evolving garden. Incredible variety—yesterday she gave a talk on birds in her garden and another on butterflies, earlier today she was one of the stops on the big Bring Back the Natives tour, and she still had the energy to take us around to see her fruit plantings.

Thanks to them both! Made me want to run right home and get to work.

Blueberry tasting May 12, Parlier

Dear CRFG Members and Friends of the Berry:See note below from our friend and fellow CRFG Member, Martin Berghuis of the Sequoia Chapter!!!If you enjoy the Blueberry meeting we will have on May 12 at Cal Poly, you may want to drive over to Parlier (U.C. Field Station) and meet with Manuel Jimenez and see his collection of 72 varieties!!!!!!!!!!! Manuel was a speaker at our Festival in September and is a great guy.Shucks, stay over night in Reedley and attend the FREE Blackberry Meeting the next day????See below;Joe

Saturday, May 5, 2007

CRFG on TV (Again)

Yet another cable channel broadcast featuring members of the Los Angeles Chapter (Jorge Pelaez, Edgar Valdivia and Emory Walton) has aired and is linked on the CRFG website (http://www.crfg.org/videos.html). Viewing it requires that you have installed the free Google Video Player, also linked from the above page. In this interview, again hosted by the great Walt Zmed, our members talk about the Great Freeze of 2007, grafting and the grafting video they have for sale. It's worth a watch at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7435647618962039443&hl=en.

Bill Grimes

Friday, May 4, 2007

Caltech Olive oil article from Spidra Webster

Caltech branches into ・olive oil
The Pit Expulsion Lab? Students will bottle the fruit from campus' copious trees.
By Larry Gordon, Times Staff Writer
April 28, 2007
Take 130 trees dropping olives on campus walkways. Add in students seeking prankish respite from their studies. Mix in a French-born university president with a taste for Mediterranean cuisine.
That's the formula for making olive oil at Caltech.
The institution better known for rocket science is launching its own brand of the golden kitchen condiment, produced from the trees on its Pasadena campus. A minor flood ・upward of 300 gallons ・is expected this fall.
"We are here to educate students, but we are also there to give them an opportunity to experience different things in life," Caltech President Jean-Lou Chameau, an engineer who loves cooking, said in explaining why a school without a botany course is embracing a project that seems more suited to a farm college than a Nobel Prize factory.
The olive trees, which average 80 years of age, provide the science-and-engineering campus a canopy of shade from the San Gabriel Valley heat. But those trees drop so many olives in autumn, staining walkways black and felling skateboarders, that the school sprayed them to retard fruit growth and even considered replacing them with fruitless varieties.
In October, the ripening crop snagged the attention of students Ricky Jones and Dvin Adalian. They began an exercise that might date to Socrates' pupils in ancient Greece: whacking olive trees with a stick (in this case, a plastic pipe) and collecting what falls.
"I was just trying to relieve the stress from being inside and busy all the time. I wanted to go outside and do something else," recalled Jones, 21, a talkative biology major from Minnesota who wants to be a physician.
"As a physics major, I'm supposed to be working on a chalkboard or something," explained Adalian, 20, who is from Virginia. "But it's nice to go out and do something physically and show I can do something useful besides physics work."
The two proposed an experiment: Could Caltech's trees produce olive oil?
"We want to figure out stuff people haven't done at Caltech yet," Jones said. "There is always this feeling at Caltech that you want to find something new to do."
Good timing intervened. Recently arrived from being second in command at Georgia Tech, Chameau and his wife, Carol Carmichael, noticed the pair at work with tarps and buckets on the aptly named Olive Walk. Told of their plans, Chameau issued a challenge: If they actually made oil, he would cook them dinner at the presidential residence.
The students, with help at various times from as many as 15 friends, took up the dare, armed with a little Internet research and a lot of winging it.
Their 30 pounds of black and green olives were cleaned, soaked and (somewhat) pitted. Four kitchen blenders in the Ruddock House dorm pulverized the olives into "this slurry, a disgusting mess," Jones recalled. The glop, Adalian said, was stewed in "lots and lots of pots" for two hours in kitchens on three dorm floors.
The odor triggered some complaints. "The smell of stewing olives is wonderful, but it is a little bit powerful," conceded Jones, the dorm president.
It took engineering trial and error to separate the oil from water and solids.
The students first placed the stew inside plastic garbage bags ・with cheesecloth and punctured holes at the bottom ・and pressed down with cinderblocks and concrete pieces. Some oil dripped into bowls, but most of the bags remained clogged.
The next idea was more successful: press the stew by hand through window screens. (Yes, they did clean the screens first.) Then, with the consent of a somewhat baffled professor, they purified the oil by spinning it in centrifuges in a biology lab.
Jones explained the process in Caltech-speak: "They are different chemical structures, and because of that they don't bind to each other and don't have the same molecular weight. So you use a centrifuge to take advantage of that property and separate them by density. So oil will go to the top and water will go to the bottom, along with dirt and particulate matter."
The result, stored in plastic test tubes with blue caps, was about a half-liter of nice-tasting oil. Late one night, the crew delivered a surprise portion to the president's house.
"We didn't realize they would actually have the moxie to walk up to our door at 10 o'clock at night and hand us the olive oil," recalled Carmichael, a technology researcher who is now Caltech's senior counselor for external relations. But, keeping their pledge, she and Chameau invited the group over for a November dinner of rabbit stew, onion tarte and cranberry sorbet.
The students' oil was not used in the meal, but the presidential couple and their six guests taste-tested it along with store-bought samples from around the world.
Carmichael admitted having suspicions. "I have to say at first I was not sure I would eat this without seeing them eat it too," she said. "We were sort of new on campus and heard all the local legends of Caltech pranks. We didn't want to be eating dish soap or something." As it turned out, the oil tasted "wonderful."
The students' success inspired Delmy Emerson, Caltech's buildings and grounds director. Her staff sent a batch of olives to a commercial presser. The resulting 54 small bottles are being given to donors, guests and staff.
In a major expansion, plans are underway to harvest 60 trees as part of a festival next fall. Students, faculty and grounds crews will do the work from ladders and cherry pickers.
The Santa Barbara Olive Co. will handle pressing and bottling, although students will design the labels. The anticipated 3,000 12.7-ounce bottles will be sold on campus and could generate at least $30,000 ・probably for scholarships or gardeners' bonuses.
Craig Makela, president of the Santa Barbara Olive Co., recently visited Caltech to teach grounds workers and students how to turn the trees from ornaments into providers. He was joined by landscape architect Douglas Campbell, an adjunct professor at USC who is advising Caltech on sustainable agriculture.
Standing on Olive Walk, Makela urged the gardeners to trim the trees, which average 45 feet in height, and described an organic deterrent for fruit flies he uses on the 5,500 trees at his Gaviota Coast farm: Put a yeast mixture in plastic bottles hanging from trees; flies enter through holes but can't escape.
Although he had to explain that olives should be picked by hand (no sticks allowed), Makela said the students "got the principles right." He joked that Caltech, which manages the Jet Propulsion Lab in La Cada Flintridge, might wind up sending "a bottle of olive oil to the moon."
Caltech has joined the California Olive Oil Council, a trade group, and expects to submit its wares for lab and taste tests to gain that group's approval for extra virgin oil ・indicating low acidity, among other things. It is not the first university to do so.
UC Davis wanted to prevent bicycle and pedestrian spills caused by olives dropping from its 1,500 trees, according to Dan Flynn, manager of the campus' olive oil program. The UC Davis Olive Oil brand offers several varieties, including one named after Gunrock, the school's mascot mustang.
Cal State Fresno is working on a much bigger scale, testing mechanical picking on 12,000 trees planted very densely on 20 acres. That school expects this year to produce about 4,000 bottles of Fresno State Estate Reserve.
Caltech's product will be sold under the name Olive Walk. With such commerce, Caltech students realize their oil's quirky origins may be lost, but that's an acceptable trade-off if the harvest festival, complete with a celebratory dinner, becomes a tradition.
Jones imagines a future when he might attend an olive festival as an old alumnus. "The students," he joked, "will be bathing in oil and they could have oil-chugging contests."