Friday, February 27, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Easy edibles

By
March 28, 2011 |

We get questions.

I have never planted a living thing before. I have a patio and I want to plant some edible things.

Which fruit trees do you have to spray for bugs?

There are lots of new gardeners these days planting fruit trees and vegetables. Many express concern about the amount of time or expertise they’ll need. Bottom line: many of you want to grow food without fuss.

My definition of easy: a plant that gives good food without any special fuss! No routine spraying needed. Simple pruning, if at all. Tolerant of a range of soil and water conditions. Here are a dozen or so easy edibles.

1. Strawberries

Garden strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis) — Easy? They flower within weeks of planting and set fruit right away.

Grow strawberries in half or full-day sun, in soil that you’ve added compost to, and where you can water them frequently. Plant Sequoia for best flavor, day-neutral varieties to extend the season.

Hint: Protect the fruit! Spread coarse bark around the plants just as they begin to flower. They’ll set their fruit above the ground, away from sowbugs and slugs. Plants live 2 to 3 years.

Alpine strawberry (Fragaria vesca) is very different. The plants do not produce runners; great for the herb garden or even in pots. Produce small very sweet berries throughout the summer.

Prefer some shade. Plants live many years.

2. Some easy citrus

Kumquat (Fortunella species)

The hardiest citrus. Full sun or light shade. Not fussy about soil, but like regular feeding. Peel is sweet, flesh is tart. Ripen year-around. Fragrant flowers in summer.

Nagami has bright orange fruit shaped like an olive. Very ornamental; best-known type. Meiwa has sweet, round fruit.

Hybrid kumquats gain some cold-hardiness from the kumquat parentage. Calamondin is a prolific producer of round, tart fruit that are used in drinks and as garnish. Limequat is hardier than lime, but has similar flavor.

Lemons (Citrus x limon)

Full sun or light shade. Somewhat frost tender, especially when young.

Meyer Lemon is said to be a cross between a lemon and a mandarin. Compact plant to about 6 feet, easily kept lower. Can flower, set and ripen fruit year-around.

True lemons (Lisbon and Eureka varieties) grow much larger and have thorns.

Mandarins (Citrus unshiu)

Full sun for best flavor. More cold-hardy than other citrus. Owari Satsuma is the hardiest, best-known mandarin, ripening November to January. Other varieties extend the harvest season through spring. See our article on mandarins from January 2011.

Oranges (Citrus sinensis)

Full sun for best flavor. Young plants may need frost protection; established trees survive cold weather. Navel and blood oranges ripen in winter. Other varieties ripen in spring. Valencia oranges, used mostly for juice, ripen in spring and summer.

3. Mediterranean and Asian fruits

Figs (Ficus carica)

Tolerant of nearly any soil. Can live without any summer watering; very heat tolerant. Produce a small crop in spring and a large crop over several weeks in late summer and fall. The sheer quantity of fruit can be a problem.

Black Mission and Brown Turkey are the common backyard varieties. Gourmet figs also do well: white (Conadria, Kadota), striped ones (Panache), and more. Slow-growing variety called Blackjack can be kept under 10 feet.

Mulberries

Easy? Indestructible.

Morus alba is the white mulberry. The fruitless male is used as a huge shade tree. Teas Weeping is a fruiting type easily kept below 10 feet tall; cute garden accent or playhouse for young kids, with mild, sweet fruit that stains everything. Reseeds.

Morus nigra is the black mulberry, including Russian, Persian, and Pakistani varieties. Slow-growing small trees to 15 feet, easily kept lower. Large, soft, juicy, intensely sweet-tart fruit resemble giant blackberries. Birds love them. Fruit stains fingers, sidewalks and clothing. Does not reseed.

Persimmons (Diospyros kaki)

Tolerate drought or garden watering. Beautiful chartreuse foliage in spring; showy fruit in winter. Grow at moderate rate to 30 feet by 20 feet, but can be pruned for size. Produce dozens to hundreds of fruit. The trees drop fruit steadily all season, including lots of unripe fruit as the tree thins itself. Birds will enjoy what you don’t harvest.

Fuyu is the flat-bottomed variety you eat while it is still firm. Hachiya has elongated shape and is puckery-astringent until squishy-soft.

Pomegranates (Punica granatum)

Probably the most heat and drought tolerant fruit species. Showy red flowers in late spring; nice yellow fall color, then bright red fruit in fall and winter. Attractive large shrub can be trained as a small tree.

Look for Wonderful, Granada (earlier-ripening), Angel Red (more juice. A number of other varieties are becoming available.

4. Plums

Many stone fruits need careful pruning and spraying. Plums are nearly foolproof. Take partial shade or full sun, average watering.

Japanese plums (Prunus salicina) — Tangy-sweet flavor. These listed are self-fruitful, meaning you only need one tree. Good thing: they’re very productive. Santa Rosa produces prodigious quantities of fruit (hundreds) that ripen all at once. Emerald Beaut, Howard Miracle, and Nubiana have fruit that hangs on the tree for a couple to several weeks, remaining firm and of good quality.

European plums (Prunus domestica) — Maybe if we stopped calling these “prune plums” more people would grow them. The fruit, fresh off the tree, is firm and very sweet.

5. Guava-like fruit

Chilean guava (Ugni molinae) and Pineapple guava (Feijoa sellowiana, now Acca sellowiana) are hardy ornamental shrubs with edible fruit (and edible flowers in the case of Feijoa). Tolerant of sun or light shade, and drought.

6. Some easy vegetables

Anyone gardening with kids should plant radishes and sunflowers; quick to sprout, easy to grow. Full sun.

Gypsy pepper is the most productive sweet pepper I grow. Each plant produces at least a dozen pale yellow-green fruit which ripen red very quickly.

Small-fruited tomatoes are reliable, heavy producers. Choose Juliet hybrid, Sungold hybrid, or two popular heirlooms: Currant and Yellow Pear.

Finally, kitchen herbs are very easy to grow in the ground or in containers, an excellent choice for novice gardeners.

— Don Shor and his family have owned the Redwood Barn Nursery since 1981. He can be reached at [email protected] Comment on this article at www.davisenterprise.com

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    Woodland infant’s death remains a mystery

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

    New greenhouse will add to ‘Farm to Mouth’ program

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Learn about pollinators, gardens and honey at Yolo Basin fundraiser

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Can you give them a home?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    For the record

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Fire damages South Davis home

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Gerber nominations close Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Explorit: Humming right along

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A3

    Flower arrangers feature S.F. designer

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Celebrate Africa on Saturday at I-House

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Chamber explores how to pay for Davis’ needs

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Wolk and Dodd team up to provide Napa earthquake tax relief

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Robb Davis to speak about homelessness, energy

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Spring sing-along is March 4

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Two free yoga classes offered March 12

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Take a night walk at Cache Creek

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Class of 1970 plans 45-year reunion

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Bicycle safety course to be offered in Davis

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Documentary on immigration issues will be screened

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Learn about your brain on March 14

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    A fill-up mishap

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Adopt a household for Bridge to Housing participants

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Workshop will teach sustainable gardening methods

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Forum

    Tired of all of this

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Oral Health Project launches

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

    Here an H, there an H

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

     
    Cavalier attitude about bike safety

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

    Start early to build healthy dental habits

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B6

     
    No extra cost for containers

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

    .

    Sports

    Inquiring minds want to know about Aggies

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Encouraging start for DHS boys tennis team

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Off day for Aggie men at UCSB

    By Kim Orendor | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Aggie women fall to 4th after lackluster showing

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Lady Devils are on to the SJS semis

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Blue Devil boys expect a spike in production

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Late goal lifts Red Wings over Sharks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

    Watney struggling at windy Honda Classic

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    International Film Series to present ‘Jaffa’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

     
    Monticello announces March schedule

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    The Artery presents ‘Stepping Into Nature’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10 | Gallery

     
    YoloArts’ Gallery 625 presents ‘The Poetry of Dots’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    ‘Focus': A sharply conceived caper

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    The Woodland Opera House announces 2015-16 season

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12 | Gallery

    .

    Business

    Nissan’s Z remains an affordable performer

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3

     
    Car Care: Simple DIY steps to protect your car through all seasons

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Dieter W. Gruenwedel

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    George Miller Jr.

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Death notice: Celia E. Recchio

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Vernon E. Burton

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, February 27, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B5