Here in Napa we have enough heat to really ripen pomegranates. The flavor is tangy and the color of the arils ranges from clear to very dark red. I prefer the darker color and a balance between sweetness and tartness. I like to use the trick of removing the arils in a bowl of water to speed things up and keep the juice from getting where is it not desired. Pomegranates are just becoming ripe and are well worth all the work to squeeze out the juice to use or store in the freezer in a canning jar to enjoy at another time of the year. The tree does not require a lot of water once it is established and there are no pests to the tree or fruit in this part of the world. The origin of the pom is the Middle East so plenty of heat and lots of sun is required to fully ripen the fruit but not much water. Plant soon to enjoy juicy fruit arils to add to salads, to eat out of hand or to make a dark red drink. I have tasted many varieties and our nursery carries the darkest colors with the best sweet/tart balance because these are the ones that win the taste tests.
Coast Redwoods, Sequoia sempervirens, can be planted close to each other, 3 – 7 feet apart and then pruned and groomed to be a hedge. Ours was planted out of 24 inch containers and within 3 years, a fully private hedge was created. For this one, trees were placed about 4 feet apart and are now 12 feet tall. It is pruned so that the top is narrower than the base so the sun keeps the interior green, not browned which would happen if no light penetrates. Plan your height so that your ladder works! Redwoods are shallow rooted and need to be watered if they are not in a fog zone. Here at the Main Street Tree farm we have a single tree that has a 6-foot diameter trunk and makes quite an impact when you walk up to it through bush and suddenly see the massive giant’s base up close.
A nice shady cool spot is excellent for young trees at the nursery. Tiny natives start out from seed, root or cutting in a lath house. Outdoor rooms with shade cloth or thin strips of wood keep most of the sun off the seedlings and starter sizes of new plants. A mist of water will spray overhead to keep up humidity. When the trees are ready they will be potted to a larger size and moved to a less protected part of the farm.
Mike is working hard on re-oaking strategies for Napa and California. We are growing trees to be used for restoring native oaks to parts of Napa. Sometimes the location for the oak planting is in a home landscape setting and is easier to care for the tree while it is getting established and other times there are challenges to get the tree up to a big enough size where watering, gophers, deer, erosion, cattle, other rodents, weeds ….. are not going to prevent success. The interest in reoaking is going up and up lately. We are experimenting with many different ideas to make it work. In this picture Mike is taking a break from dissecting test root balls to study the recovery of the tap root in a transplant. Brownie is available to help make farming fun.
We are famous for our large sized Valley Oak, aka Quercus lobata. This picture shows a couple in 48 inch diameter containers. They are about twenty feet tall and about 5 inch caliper (the width of the trunk). These trees do fine with good watering after they are put in their forever home. The Valley Oak is very fast growing if planted in their favorite habitat which is the valley floor, clay soil is great for them. The range goes to 1500 feet. They are also called water oak and are not the type of native oak that hates to be watered. They even grow in the river! They will find the water table with a strong tap root that reforms and drills deep deep deep into the clay for summer water. Until that happens you will need a drip system so it won’t dry out in the summer. The whole valley floor here in Napa was Valley Oak back in the day before wheat, fruit trees and finally wine grapes dominate. Usually you will see the round apple sized gall balls hanging and that will help identify a Valley Oak from a distance. If you are from other parts of the US you would call this tree a White Oak. Beautiful!
This picture was taken from the Main Street side of the farm (vs the Beard Rd side). The very old barn has been earthquake retrofitted. Some of the other “buildings” are shade rooms and frost protection sheds to help keep the young plants happier. We strive to improve the farm and the light/shade situations for the trees each year. The big blue sky is so beautiful over our little farm and makes a lovely backdrop and view while caring for all the plants. Back here are young fruit trees and oak seedlings.
Here in Napa at our suburban farm we grow apple trees. We have new varieties, common varieties and heirloom varieties. One of the oldest is probably Ashmead’s Kernal Apple from 1700. I’m sure it never won a beautiful fruit award but it is a high scorer in taste tests. Click to the apple page on the website to see our list including Gravenstein 1669, Waltana 1910, Golden Russet 1845, Bramley’s Seedling1813, Belle de Boskoop 1856, Northern Spy 1800. It is no wonder that the heirlooms have been preserved when you taste them. Worth growing because they taste great.
We carefully collect acorns to grow up to sizes for people to purchase and plant so that they can have more oaks trees on their property. Acorns planted would do the job if those busy critters don’t munch your tree as a snack. The Quercus lobata or Valley Oak and the Quercus agrifolia or Coast Live Oak are both fairly fast growing oak trees. The Q. douglasii or Blue Oak though is slow growing. We have some that are crossed in nature with the Valley Oak and it is much faster growing (than straight Blue Oak) called Jolon Oak. It is CUTE!
Consider a gift certificate. The recipient can choose the gift that best suits their situation. Fruit trees are often given as gifts and remember, it is a gift that keeps on giving!
Thanks Rob! We love our new sign.