Saturday, October 9, 2010

One Green World nursery tour... part 1

I just got back from the most interesting nursery tour. One Green World hosted a nursery tour and tasting of some of its unusual fruits. Here are some photos and lots of notes that I took along the way.

A disclaimer on my tasting notes: many of the items that are being sold as being unusual edibles, many of which are processed into preserves or fruit. For me, I am far more interested in having fresh fruit as many months out of the year as I can. So I have to admit that I ended up turning my nose at quite a few fruits that would taste good sugared and made into preserves or juice, but I feel that I need to steer clear of the sugared products. And I don't want to have to work too much.

If you are short on time, the most interesting of the unusual fruits to me were the pawpaws (which I already have), pineapple guava, astringent type persimmon, and the carraway crabapple.

First on our tour was the fig trees. The lady that was hosting the tour said that figs tend to grow very well in our climate (zone 8) but whether or not they ripen here is another question. She said that you want to make sure that the nursery that sells the tree has actually tasted fruit off the tree to verify that it is a variety that will produce fruit in this area. She said that Desert King is the absolute best variety for our region. Laturella is also a nice variety. Desert King is also frost resistant where most varieties are not.

More notes: She said that figs produce a summer crop and a fall crop. Most figs will produce both crops but you can buy varieties that will do only one or the other. Supermarket varieties suck if they haven't been ripened on the vine. The neck of the fig will droop when it is ripe. Kiwis bear fruit on wood that grew the previous year.

Desert King Fig.... roughly 8 years old. 
Laterella (sp?) fig. 

Next stop is the hazelnut, which is native to this area. Eastern hazelnut blight is a big problem, and the symptoms are shown in the photograph. There are varieties that are starting to come out that are blight immune. Cut out branches that are infected.
Hazelnut showing signs of hazelnut blight.

Large hazelnut tree.

The next specimen of interest is the Akebia vine. They are semi-evergreen. Not the choicest of edibles but has a very pretty bloom. She said that some are using akebias in place of peppers for stuffed peppers.

Semi-evergreen akebia vines. 

Closer pic of the akebia with kiwi growing through the middle. 
I definitely agree that akebias aren't the choicest of edibles. They tasted very blah to me and one tasted like mold.

Akebia tastings. 

Akebia fruit.
The next photo is of a Bayberry. All I remember her saying was that some use it in pilaf.
The next plant she talked about is a pineapple guava. She raved about this fruit, saying that the fruit is so good that she can't stop eating it. She says the flavor for her rates as high as a blueberry. Evidently there is a variety that is shipped from California to stores, and the Oregon ones taste much better. The pineapple guava ripes about the second week of December, but crops will suffer setbacks if there is a 25 degree or below spell. If that happens you can pick the fruit and it may ripen on the counter. She likes the variety Nikita. From a seedling, the plant will produce fruit in 3-7 years. Pollination can be an issue. Performs best in the sun but they do have plants that receive only half days of sun and they do produce fruit. Evergreen. They are from Southern Brazil. They have tart skin but the skin is edible. She prefers to peel the fruit. I think she sold me on this fruit.

Pineapple guava.
Pineapple guava. 
Beautyberry. Not edible but very pretty berries. Purple fruits stay on vine through mid feb. Can use in cut flower arrangements.

This photo is a pallonia (sp?) tree. Value is mostly in the wood. Very warp resistant. 
Next in the orchard are the American Persimmons which are native to the east coast. The american persimmon is an astringent type persimmon, which means they have to be absolutely ripe before eating. Though they are an astringent variety, the astringency makes them more flavorful and sweet. They ripen in late October and won't last long. She says you can pulp and freeze the pulp. There is a book she talked about called "Dimple Green" (I think) that has useful persimmon recipes. You can take an unripe astringent persimmon and put it in a food dehydrator and it will lose its astringency. Leaves are sugar factories for fruit production. Once the leaves fall off, no more sugar will develop.

American persimmon roughly 25 years old.
An unripe American persimmon. 
The Asian Persimmon is a non-astringent type. It is deciduous and turns brilliant colors in the fall. The most popular fruit in the world is the persimmon, as there are so many persimmon trees in China. The persimmon is relatively disease resistant in this area unlike its native environment.

Asian persimmon. 

Unripe Asian Persimmon fruit
She's excited about this new growth on the persimmon. 

The Cornelian Cherry is a fruit you have to eat when completely ripe.

Tastings of the Cornelian Cherry. They are sooo sour. There were a few sauces made with them which weren't bad. 

This currant is showing signs of aphid damage, which looks like a fungal problem but isn't. Typically currants will ripen in July.

The Jujube or Chinese date will turn brown when ripe. The fresh texture is like an apple. Dried, it is truly very much like a date. There are some reported benefits of cholesterol reductions. Ripens mid-october and will keep for 1-2 months.
The Chinese Date or Jujube

The Chinese dogwood was bred for ornamental fruit. Pick when very red. They taste very blah to me. The "Julian" variety was the taste test winner.

Fruiting dogwood. 
Click here to see One Green World nursery tour... part 2.