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Through the Garden Gate: Pomegranate, Ancient Fruit Full of Ruby Red Arils

The pomegranate (Punica granatum) originated in the region extending from Iran to northern India and has been cultivated since ancient times throughout the Mediterranean region. It was introduced into Spanish America in the late 16th century and into California by Spanish settlers in 1769.

The pomegranate is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub that grows between 6' and 12' tall. Left to itself, it will also grow about that wide, so if you have a small yard, you may want to prune it into a more narrow version or remove the lower limbs to give it a small tree-like look. It can be grown as a single trunk small tree or multi-trunked bush with 3-5 trunks. You may wish to keep it in the back of your garden due to its size and abundance of thorns. It can endure temperatures down to 12 degrees before being damaged, and usually starts to leaf out after all danger of frost has passed. The fruits contain hundreds of arils (seeds), that are very sweet and nutritional.

Since it's been around for so long, it has developed a huge amount of folklore, as well as being shown in art and has had various religious and cultural uses.  Ancient Egyptians regarded it as a symbol of prosperity and ambition. Hindus believe that the pomegranate fruit is a fertility enhancer and recommends that women who want to get pregnant eat this fruit in abundance  It figures prominently in Greek mythology, as in the myth of Persephone, married to Hades and required to spend the number of days there each year equal to the number of seeds in a pomegranate, before she can return to her family in the heavens above.  If she would have asked a master gardener, she might have been told to grow a miniature pomegranate bush, whose fruits are much smaller, only slightly larger than a golf ball, and hold only a fraction of the amount of seeds in a full-sized fruit, thereby allowing Persephone to spend the majority of the year away from Hades.

For more information on myth, lore and health benefits of the ancient pomegranate, visit this website below, or just search for pomegranate and you will have lots to read. “Fun Facts on Pomegranate in Religions and Mythology”, at

http://www.amazing-pomegranate-health-benefits.com/pomegranate-in-religion-and-mythology.html

 

 

Pomegranate geometry. photos by David Bellamy
Pomegranate geometry. photos by David Bellamy

Pomegranate over garden gate.
Pomegranate over garden gate.

Close up.
Close up.

Posted on Friday, February 21, 2020 at 10:22 AM

Martin Hauser: 'The Curious Case of the Stingless Bees of Palo Alto'

Martin Hauser of the California Department of Food and Agriculture will speak on stingless bees of Palo Alto at the Pacific Coast Entomological Society meeting on Feb. 27. Here he introduces Madagascar hissing cockroaches to Bohart Museum of Entomology guests on Feb. 15 during the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The title is intriguing: "The Curious Case of the Stingless Bees of Palo Alto." Isn't it illegal to import stingless bees in the United States? It...

Martin Hauser of the California Department of Food and Agriculture will speak on stingless bees of Palo Alto at the Pacific Coast Entomological Society meeting on Feb. 27. Here he introduces Madagascar hissing cockroaches to Bohart Museum of Entomology guests on Feb. 15 during the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Martin Hauser of the California Department of Food and Agriculture will speak on stingless bees of Palo Alto at the Pacific Coast Entomological Society meeting on Feb. 27. Here he introduces Madagascar hissing cockroaches to Bohart Museum of Entomology guests on Feb. 15 during the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Martin Hauser of the California Department of Food and Agriculture will speak on stingless bees of Palo Alto at the Pacific Coast Entomological Society meeting on Feb. 27. Here he introduces Madagascar hissing cockroaches to Bohart Museum of Entomology guests on Feb. 15 during the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Plebeia sp (Images by Martin Hauser, California Department of Food and Agriculture)
Plebeia sp (Images by Martin Hauser, California Department of Food and Agriculture)

Plebeia sp (Images by Martin Hauser, California Department of Food and Agriculture)

Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2020 at 4:30 PM

Canna x generalis

A few years ago I helped out as a docent for the annual Vallejo Garden Tour. I have volunteered as a docent during the past 10 years for this great event. During this particular assignment, I was thrilled to be placed in a backyard garden that was designed to thrill any and all guests lucky enough to have a viewing.  
 
To this day I remember a tall border of Canna 'Tropicanna Gold' lining up along the back wall of the garden. Cannas thrive nicely year-round in our gentle climate and this display was doing well with the heat bouncing off the nearby block wall. The leaves of this variety are striped with a contrasting light yellowish green and mid-green palette which is adorned with a glorious yellow and orange flower. Reaching a uniform height of nearly four feet tall, the result was really stunning. 
 
I am currently in the dreaming stage of redesigning an atrium which has a narrow border of box privet encasing a very modern water feature. I can't wait to get my hands on this space and bring some life and color into play. Can't think of a better choice than a border of Canna Tropicanna. Incidentally, there are other color and leave combinations but I think I'll repeat what was used in that garden which has stayed in my mind's eye for these past years. 
 
https://idiggreenacres.com/products/tropicanna-174-gold-canna  Here is a link to see the beautiful flowers and foliage.
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2020 at 10:25 AM

Walter Leal: Lighting the Way and Sparking the Fire of Knowledge

UC Davis chemical ecologist Walter Leal, distinguished professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, has just been named recipient of the UC Davis Academic Senate's Distinguished Teaching Award for Undergraduate Students. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

"I don't teach because I have to; I teach because it is a joy to light the way and to spark the fire of knowledge." So says noted chemical ecologist...

UC Davis chemical ecologist Walter Leal, distinguished professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, has just been named recipient of the UC Davis Academic Senate's Distinguished Teaching Award for Undergraduate Students. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
UC Davis chemical ecologist Walter Leal, distinguished professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, has just been named recipient of the UC Davis Academic Senate's Distinguished Teaching Award for Undergraduate Students. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

UC Davis chemical ecologist Walter Leal, distinguished professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, has just been named recipient of the UC Davis Academic Senate's Distinguished Teaching Award for Undergraduate Students. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at 3:29 PM

Planting California Natives- The do's and don'ts

How to Plant California Natives

California natives are wonderful plants to have in the garden. They don't need a lot of maintenance once they are established. What they do need, is the appropriate installation to get them going and make them happy. Natives do not like to be fertilized. They do not like to be overwatered. They take 1-3 years to become established.

CA natives really prefer to be planted in the fall. Planting in the spring is your second-best choice. Find out what type of soil you have by doing a hand soil test. Then check your drainage. Dig a 1' square hole, fill it with water and time how long it takes to drain. If it takes 15 minutes, it is fast-draining, somewhere between 15 minutes to an hour, its medium draining, over an hour to drain, it's slow draining.

Know how much sunlight your area will receive. Many of the native plants do not like the all-day hot Vacaville sun. If the plant label reads sun – part sun. Does the zone have 6 or more hours of sun? Then that area is receiving full sun. Install your plants in the part sun. Full sun natives do best near the coast and the elevated regions.

Know your plant. Does it have low, moderate or high-water requirements? Read the plant label, or ask someone at the plant nursery.  

How much wind do you get? The plant will need additional watering if you live in a high wind area.

Space accordingly. Place the pants so there is enough space for when they become mature. Don't overcrowd, they need air movement or they will get diseases and insects. 

 

Let's get your new plants in the ground.

Water the area 2-3 days ahead of time, if the ground is dry. 

Soil - they like undisturbed soil. Do not till the soil. If you have to create better drainage. Plant them on a slope or add 1/3 amount of crushed red lava rock to the native soil or buy native plants that do better in clay soil.    

The plant hole should be 2-3 times wider than the width of the container. The crown of the plant should be installed 1” above the level of the existing soil. This will allow the plant to settle.

Backfill the area and gently tamp the soil to remove any air pockets. Air pockets will kill the roots.

Mulch should be 2-3” above the soil. Use leaf matter or walk-on bark. Stay away from shredded redwood bark. It acts like a sponge and doesn't let the water infiltrate through into the soil, it's also highly flammable. Do not use bark nuggets or colored bark. Keep mulch 5-6” away from the crown (stem) of the plant.

Immediately after you plant it, water it thoroughly, 4-5 gallons per plant.

Check on your newly planted babies. Test the soil 2-3” down in the ground using a trowel or your hands, to see if the soil is dry or moist.  Do this 2x a week.  Do NOT water if the soil is moist.

New plantings will require additional irrigation during the first 1-3 years. Water deeply and regularly. Minimum of 5 gallons per plant.

This guide is for how much to water once the plant has been established.

Low: Every 14-21 days or less   Moderate: Every 10-14 days   High: Every 3-7 days or more.

Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at 10:31 AM

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