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Winter Propagation Projects: Pomegranates

 

When the weather is too cold to do much work outside, I get a little over zealous and try propagating all sorts of plants, just to see if I can. Since I got a couple of new heat mats for Christmas, I am in the process of propagating a variety of plants including ‘Parfianka’ Pomegranate, ‘Sweet’ Pomegranate, ‘Strawberry Verte’ Fig, ‘Bababerry’ plants, Thornless Raspberry plants, and tomato seeds.  Because I spend so much time doting on the cuttings, my hubby says I am going to turn into Jordy Verrill from Creepshow who ends up covered in Alien Weeds if I am not careful. I hope not. Well, if I find a mysterious meteorite in the backyard, I promise I won’t put water on it!

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The pomegranate cuttings are in the peat pellets on the heat mat. These are a semi dwarf variety good for cooler coastal areas named “Sweet.” I originally bought my tree from Armstrong Garden center in Long Beach in January 2010 as a little one gallon tree.

Although I don’t have room for anymore Pomegranate trees, I had read they are one of the easiest fruits to propagate, so I just had to try.  And it’s true! I took a half dozen of cuttings from each of my two trees on January 14th, and I already had to transplant some of the little trees yesterday into 4 inch pots because the roots were growing out of the peat pellets and out onto the heat mat.  If I had know it would be this easy and quick to start pomegranates, I would have taken more cuttings. With the continuing drought in California, pomegranates are a good choice for a drought tolerant backyard fruit tree so I shouldn’t have a hard time finding new homes for the little pomegranate trees, once they are bigger and acclimated to the outdoors, especially since they are less common varieties.

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A new little pomegranate tree ready to be transplanted to a 4 inch pot. This one is Parfianka, rated by many folks as one of the best tasting pomegranates. My tree was originally grown by Duarte Nursery.

Propagating Pomegranates:

  1. Prep rooting medium like perlite, vermiculite, or peat moss.  I used Peat Moss pellets this time and soaked them ahead of time.  I have them on a tray over a heat mat.
  2. Take cuttings about the width of pencil and about 3 to 6 inches in length with sterile clippers.
  3. Score or injure the cuttings near the bottom end.
  4. Dip in rooting hormone (optional.) I like Dip and Grow liquid hormone for this, but be careful and follow the directions carefully.
  5. Place cutting in rooting medium.
  6. Mist a few times a day and water as needed.
  7. Watch for leaf growth.
  8. Transplant when they have sufficient leaf growth or like in my case, the roots outgrow the peat pellets.
  9. Slowly acclimate them to the outdoors.
  10. Over the first season of growth, pinch to make them bushy.
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Little new roots poking out of peat pellet on Pomegranate cutting

 

 

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Going Back to Greywatering

 

My citrus trees are a little stressed and need more water. This leave curling or rolling is sometimes referred to as “Cigar Leaf Curling” on citrus.

Normally in the winter months, the rainy season in SoCal, I have the gray water diverer on the washer machine in the off position so it will empty to the sewer, not the garden.  Southern California usually gets plenty of rain to take care of the landscape until late March or April.  This year is the earliest we have had to switch back to using grey water, since first using it back in 2007.

We have had next to nothing in the way of winter rainfall this year, and the citrus trees are starting to show signs of needing additional water.  The leaves have rolled up a little, like taco shells because they are water stressed. The Improved Meyer lemon and Bearss lime look fine, but the Cara Cara and Mandarin both have some curled up leaves on the sunny side.  I have read sweet oranges are less drought tolerant.  Odds are, it will reduce the flowering and fruit crop on both this year.  If the citrus trees look thirsty, that means the apples and stone fruits are probably needing water too, eventhough they don’t have much in the way of leaves yet to show it.  Therefore, it is time to start moving my greywatering hose around from one mulch basin to another.  I also put in a request to the city today for a mulch delivery so I can top off with a thicker layer.  The chickens will have a field day with it!

I normally try to be conscientious about not wasting too much fresh water on the landscape, but this year the governor has announced that Californians need to use at least 20% less water.  That means we will have to use even less than we normally do.  I will probably let both the front and back lawns die.  Sorry about that chickens; they love the grass! Maybe the fluffier mulched ground will make up for it?  Sadly, I also plan to remove some of my less waterwise edibles, like my low chill Sunshine Blue Blueberries. I can always easily replant those if water is plentiful again in the future.  I am worried about my raspberries.  I have yet to try grey water on them; this year will be first.  If they can’t take it, they will also have to go temporarily.  I am glad we have our grey water divertor valve for the washer machine so at least my mature fruit trees won’t die.

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My post it note warning on the washer machine to make sure no other family members accidentally hurt the fruit trees by adding something toxic to the grey water going out to the yard.

 

I have tried a lot of different brands of  biodegradable laundry detergent to use with the grey water system, and I am certainly not loyal to just one. This week, I bought one I haven’t tried before from Trader Joes that my hubby suggested we try.  Trader Joes used to sell one called Ecos, but I don’t know if this is the same one just with a TJs label.  Have any of you used this detergent?  And does it clean well? Or do you have a favorite Biodegradable or Bio-compatible detergent?

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Biodegradable laundry detergent is necessary when watering with grey water. Biocompatible detergent is even better, but I don’t want to spend a fortune on shipping laundry detergent. So far, we have had no adverse effects on the landscape using just biodegradable detergents, but some don’t clean as well as others.

© 2014, .

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Choosing a New Bare Root Fruit Tree – Spice Zee NectaPlum

 

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Pretty blossoms on NectaPlum hybrid Spice Zee

I know, I know, I shouldn’t be thinking about buying and adding more bare root fruit trees, since my yard is already crammed full, but it is hard to not collect one of everything, and even more so, after K shared some of her Spice Zee nectaplums last summer. Back in early July, K generously gave me a half dozen Spice Zee fruits, even though she didn’t have much of a crop yet since the tree is only 3 years old. I cut the first few up, and they were gone in seconds. My normally easy going kids, got into a shoving match over who got the few slices of the remaining fruits. I have never seen them act that way over fruit! I have tried a lot of different stone fruits at the local farmers markets over the years, and honestly, the Spice Zee was probably the best tasting stone fruit I ever tried. Usually the best tasting stone fruits need more chill than we have around here in coastal Southern California, but this nectaplum only needs about 300 chill hours, making it a good choice for a low chill fruit tree. The fruit looks like a white nectarine and the taste is sweet and rich. On top of the amazing taste, the tree is really pretty. It has purple red leaves in the Spring, resembling a Flowering Plum a little bit, and turns green as the summer approaches. Spice Zee would make a good tree for guerrilla gardening and planting in a median strip because of its similar looks to flowering plum. It could probably go unnoticed until it was heavy with fruit. After very little consideration, I decided I am going to have pull something out and plant one; it is just a matter of deciding who goes. Hmmmm….Sorry Red Baron.

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Spice Zee fruit on the cutting board, before the kids tried it and seconds before it all disappear.

Note: If you are looking for where to buy a Spice Zee NectaPlum, K’s tree was purchased locally at H & H Nursery in Lakewood, CA.

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© 2014, .

Tons and Tons of Vincent Kiwis!

Okay, maybe not tons, but at least 50 or 60 lbs. of Kiwis, is my guess at this point. Although in past years, I have grumbled and griped a lot about the lack of pollination on my Kiwi vines, this … Continue reading

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How to Prune Bababerries and other Everbearing Raspberry Plants

 

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Bababerry plants along the driveway loaded with unripe raspberries. This photo is from a few summers ago, but I added it to show what the little raspberry patch looks like.

The past couple of years I have been received lots of questions via email regarding how to prune Bababerry plants, a variety of everbearing raspberry that grows well in Southern California and other low chill – warm climates.  Managing Baba raspberries is much the same as any other everbearing or fall bearing raspberry variety.  Most folks are able to pick fruit the first year they buy and plant an everbearing raspberry, including Baba. That is not the case on summer bearing raspberry varieties, which only produce on second year or two year old canes.  Since I am in the middle of my winter pruning chores, including pruning out the old wood on the berries, I figured it was a good time to take a short break and post something about it.

A new or first year cane on a raspberry plant is called a primocane.  A second year cane is referred to as a floricane or floracane.  Summer bearing raspberries only produce one harvest each summer and only on their floracanes.  Those two year old canes are then pruned out in late fall or winter, after bearing fruit. Everbearing varieties produce on the top half of primocanes the first fall, and then on the lower half the following Spring.

With all everbearing raspberries, the gardener can choose to have either one or two crops each year, depending on the pruning or management technique the gardener prefers to use.  Here at Hanbury House I often to prune to get two crops a year.  To do this, I prune out all the two year old canes to the ground each winter and just prune the top half of the primo canes from the previous season.  Although it is ideal to prune when they are dormant, if you are unsure what to prune at first, the chore can wait until the first new leaf buds begin break dormancy in early spring.

Usually I can tell which canes are two years old on my Babas just based on how the “skin” of the cane looks. The canes that are grey and/or really flaky looking are usually the old ones that need to be cut to the ground and completely removed. New canes usually emerge nearby. Any canes that are primocanes and produced fruit on the top 1/2 of the cane in the fall, usually look healthy and a medium shade of brown, with the top part being dried looking and sometimes has a few tiny barren side stems where the berries hung last fall.  They will also have new buds along the stem. I prune those canes down only about half way, to the point just below where the last berries grew or above where it looks like there is a live bud still.  Those pruned canes will bare fruit along the rest of the portion of the cane, usually in by mid to late Spring or early Summer.  Then, next winter, I prune the rest of that cane out as mentioned above.

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Bababerry Everbearing Raspberry Primocane needing to be pruned. I will prune right above the bud in the middle of the picture for fruit in the Spring or Summer.

The other method to manage everbearing raspberries is pruning all canes to the ground when the canes are pretty much dormant, typically sometime between the new year to early February, basically in the middle of winter. With this pruning method the gardener only gets one crop later in the summer or early fall, instead of two. This is the easiest method, and many folks prefer it, including my friend across the street that also grows lots of Baba berries. It is much less work, and a bit tidier looking. Either method, new canes usually emerge each spring around the base of the plant.

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Floracane at the end of the growning season on Bababerry. Notice how the cane is greyish and a little flaky. Some canes get even flakier. This is about to be pruned to the ground to make room for new primocanes on the raspberry plant.

Once a raspberry patch has been established for many years, the canes will have spread out and multiplied a lot.  Any canes that are outside the designated garden bed can be dug up and and used to start a new raspberry patch or shared with friends. The best time to divide and dig out canes, if you want the canes to survive the transplant, is in the dormant season.  If you are just trying to tidy things up, dig out the stray canes at any time of year. If you are still wondering if your raspberry plants are summer bearing or everbearing, here is short list of commonly grown varieties of each. I put an * next to varieties I have grown or my close friend across the street has grown at some point over the last two decades.

Everbearing raspberry varieties:

  • Anne *
  • Amity
  • Autumn Bliss
  • Autumn Britten *
  • Bababerry *
  • Caroline *
  • Dunkum
  • Heritage
  • Fall Gold
  • Indian Summer *
  • Kiwi Gold *
  • Josephine *
  • Polana
  • Rosanna *
  • Summit

Summer Bearing

  • Boyne
  • Canby
  • Latham
  • Meeker
  • Willamette

Bababerries are my favorite, and in my opinion, the best raspberry, out of the all the red raspberries varieties I have grown in our low chill Mediterranean climate.  I hope this helps those of you searching for tips on how to prune your raspberry plants.   If you still have raspberry questions, leave a comment and I’ll be happy to get back to you.

© 2014, .

Spring Update: Kiwis, Berries, Cherries, and More…

    By Southern California gardening standards, we are already half way through Spring, and as usual, the Hanbury edible landscape and ornamental garden continues to evolve.  Every winter and Spring I change out things that under performed or plant … Continue reading

Long Beach Residents want Backyard Chickens, Bees, and Dwarf Goats

I usually like to post links to TV and newspaper articles related to backyard chickens all together on a different page, but this one hits a bit closer to home and was on the front page of the local paper yesterday.  … Continue reading

The New Gray Water Diverter

Now that our wet season is pretty much over, it is time to switch back to gray watering in the in the back yard garden. For a little over 5 years we have been using some of the water from … Continue reading

Joint Custody

My two broody hens stared at each other in their separate nests for the last 4 weeks, on fake eggs and then on the fertile Cochin eggs I bought on ebay.  I had been thinking about the possibility of letting … Continue reading

Loud Ducks

How loud are ducks? At 6AM, when I am trying to enjoy a few extra minutes of sleep, they seem really loud. The quaking started shortly after dawn this morning.  At first is was a soft quacking. Then all 3 … Continue reading