Saturday, August 18, 2007

Some Festival of Fruit tours

Maddock Ranch Nursery

The first nursery we stopped at was Maddock Ranch Nursery in Fallbrook. They’ve been in operation for 40 years. The Founder’s picture is on display in the office, opposite the mural of the original home. His twin sons run the nursery now. The mural was painted by Ella, whom we met in the office. She likes the environment there; when she’s finished in the office, she can go outside and paint the plants.

They have 70 acres of a wide variety of citrus, avocado, deciduous fruit, shade, and nut trees, and grapes.

Clausen Nursery

Next we went to the Clausen Nursery in Vista. We talked to Gordon, grandson of the founder. The nursery produces tens of thousands of trees annually and sells to all sorts of customers, from homeowners to growers to Home Depot. Gordon spoke about the difficulty of predicting what fruit will be popular. It takes them two years to grow the trees to a size they can sell, and sometimes by then the demand has waned.

He had some balled and burlap citrus from “the desert,” where they grow them in the ground instead of pots. They grow very fast there because of the heat (one year to saleable size instead of two). But the foliage is not as attractive. The leaves are smaller, and a less rich green color. Sometimes in the desert they erect old telephone poles to support shade cloth, and hold the trees under that for a while until the foliage relaxes a little and becomes more attractive; sometimes they hold them at their growing grounds in Vista for the same reason.

He talked to us about Rangpur lime when he found out we were from northern California. The fruit looks like a mandarin (which it is), but tastes like a lime, and is much more cold hardy than “real” limes.

There are several huge white sapotes on the property (one of three growing grounds they operate), planted by his grandfather. We tasted the fruit of one, a seedling of Suebelle; delicious! He sells the fruit of this particular tree to a broker, who ships the fruit to France. There are cherimoyas and some citrus in the ground also.

The nursery is only 7 miles from the ocean; every day after work he goes surfing. We heard big booms in the distance—gunnery practice at Camp Pendleton.

Encanto Farms Nursery

Then we went to John Verdick’s incredible banana garden in Encanto, Encanto Farms Nursery. Even from the street, you can see that something amazing is going on.

There are paths through the jungle of 100 banana varieties, but overhead the canopy is almost solid. Thick, richly colored trunks beside you, the leaves rattling overhead and bunches of bananas at every turn. He grows them in a layer of stones a bit smaller than a fist, with sand and clay sifted down between them, and compost over all.

In among the bananas are citrus, cherimoyas, apples, pears, even a papaya, and countless pots of figs—300 varieties.

Art & Dottie Logan

Last but not least, we went to Art and Dottie Logan’s home garden in Vista. In only a few years, they have a good start on a jungle of their own.

Among a lovely collection of ornamentals are mangos, bananas, papayas, longans, lychees, cherimoyas, sapotes, citrus, and many others. The day we were there, Better Homes & Gardens was also there, taking photographs for an upcoming book.

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