Monday, June 18, 2007

Citrus Day

It was cool and very windy as a swarm of volunteers arrived in front of the library at Diablo Valley College to start preparations for Citrus Day: cutting fruit into big orange, yellow and green bowls for the tasting, arranging tables and making various signs, setting up the budwood distribution, handling registration and questions, taking signups for budwood—all sorts of jobs—and Idell whirling around coordinating and troubleshooting it all. “Many hands make light work” is not just a saying; it was enjoyable to meet and work alongside volunteers from other areas and organizations in addition to CRFG. There was a small raffle of citrus rootstock for the volunteers, but the main reward was the camaraderie of getting the job done together

There were about 85 in attendance, including members from all five Bay Area chapters of CRFG and Master Gardeners from Contra Costa, Alameda, Napa, and Santa Clara Counties.

The proceedings began with a tasting of 12 varieties of citrus Toots Bier had picked only two days before and brought up with her from Riverside. Varieties included Tahoe Gold mandarin, Pixie mandarin, Tango mandarin, Ortanique tangor (my favorite), Delfino blood orange, Barnfield late navel orange, Delta Valencia orange, Mary Ellen sweet lime, Tavares limequat, Siracusano Femminello lemon (one of the varieties limoncello is made from), Nordmann Seedless Nagami kumquat, and Rio Red grapefruit. The tasting was so intensely organized that anyone who wanted to had a chance to go through at least twice, in only half an hour!

Next, we broke up into 3 large discussion groups: growing citrus in cool climates, in climates with heavy frost, and in climates with high heat. This was a great way to exchange experiences with fellow citrus fans, and even discover neighbors with similar interests.

Then the featured speaker, Toots Bier, newly retired assistant curator of the large citrus collection at UC Riverside, took the mike and gave an overview of citrus growing, sprinkled with helpful tips. She talked about: characteristics of varieties, her favorites, and how to choose for your own plantings; how to grow (fertilization, irrigation, pruning, etc.); sources of information (including The Citrus Industry, the “bible” of citrus growing, online at ); and, took questions throughout and at the end.

During the break, folks picked up the budwood they had signed up for during registration, milled around and chatted, and peppered Toots with more questions. Despite the discovery of tristeza in the UC Riverside citrus collection last month, and recent heavy cutting of the trees in the greenhouse, Toots managed to bring enough budwood for everyone to get several pieces.

Then Toots spoke again, this time on citrus propagation—growing from seed, grafting, and budding.

This was followed by a short presentation by her husband, Bob Bier, on Eradicating (not Trapping, he took care to say, but Eradicating) Gophers with Black Hole Traps.

At this point, some went off to tour the Adaptive Horticulture Center at DVC, and others stayed for the last talk, a slide show on Techniques to Place and Protect 60 Grafts on One Citrus Tree, produced by Joe Real from Davis (moderator of Joe could not make it, so instead the discussion was led by his friend Harvey Correa, a grower of multiple kinds of citrus, chestnuts, bananas, and alfalfa near Rio Vista.

By 1:30, it was all over but the cleanup (those volunteers again!). All in all, a tremendous amount of citrus information put forth and exchanged, in just a few hours. A big hurrah to Idell and her peerless organizational skills, and to all who came and shared their experiences!
—Gail Morrison

Cherry tasting at Andy Mariani's orchard in Morgan Hill

Andy is second generation fruit farmer in Morgan Hill and has one of the most if not the most extensive collection of stone fruits and persimmons in California. The quality of his fruit is as good as it gets. Come hear him talk about the farm - a little history and what it takes to produce his artisan fruit. He will speak - then we taste and then tours will be led around the farm where you will be able to taste straight from the trees. There will be lots of fruit to purchase and take home too. Tasting is $12 per person.

Directions follow and to learn more about the upcoming tastings check out his website at There is a harvest calendar so you can see what varieties of apricots - cherries - plums - pluots - peaches - nectarines and persimmons are ripe at the different times.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sat 6/16 Edible/Medicinal/Wildlife Garden Tour

What: Edible/Medicinal/Native Plant/Wildlife Garden Tour. One of the things that most amazes me about my yard which requires very little work and very little water is how beautiful, how productive, how much wildlife it attracts and how much it has taught me. I have 85 plant families represented in my average size yard. Every plant has a story and a purpose.

When: Saturday June 16th from 3-4:30 pm

Where: Shonduel's House at 22574 6th St, Hayward (4 houses north of B St on6th St. Please note, you can only access 6th St from Bst because of the creekthat runs between A St and B St. Feel free to call me prior at (510)881-1958 for directions if needed.)

My yard is at its prettiest this time of year, maybe last week. If interested, there are pictures of my yard and an article I wrote about the native plant aspect of my yard's that can be accessed on or by simply typing "shonduel 2006". Of course, my yard has grown quite a bit this past year.

Dreaming the World Beautiful,

Monday, June 4, 2007

Monterey Chapter Cherry Tasting June 15

STONE FRUIT TALK, CHERRY TASTING, AND POT LUCK: On Friday, June 15th, we willbe holding a potluck dinner at 5:30 sharp, followed by a mouth watering cherrytasting from Andy's Orchard, and, at 7:00, a talk by Bill Coates on Growingstone fruits on the Central Coast. The event will take place at the SantaCruz Live Oak Grange, located at 1900 17th Ave (between Soquel Ave andCapitola Rd.) MB chapter members may attend for free, there is a $5 chargefor the general public.The cherry tasting will be a mere sampling of what is available at Andy'sOrchard (where you can taste and purchase them), and will hopefully inspireyou to attend the tours and tastings listed a little further down.Bill Coates is the UC Extension Farm Advisor for Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, SanBenito, and Monterey Counties, specializing in tree fruits and nuts. After hispower point presentation, he will be available for questions. He is a wealthof knowledge, so don't miss this talk if stone fruit are of interest to you.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Agricultural Research Service

Click here to read about the new US Department of Agriculture research facility in Hawaii, where scientists will work on developing papayas, pineapples, other Hawaiian crops.

This article is on the Agricultural Research Service website, which is a source of all sorts of fruit info. And, lots of nice photos free to use (don't forget to give credit) -- your tax dollars at work. Here's an example:

Hawaiian papayas, Carica papaya
USDA/Agricultural Research Service
Photo by Scott Bauer