Wednesday, January 28, 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 redbarn@omsoft.com. 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

     
    Police ID suspect in South Davis hit-and-run crash

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

     
    Art museum is a work of art itself

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Thieves swipe Gold Rush-era nuggets

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Blizzard-stricken East digs out amid second-guessing

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    UC Davis doctors strike

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    CASA seeks volunteers to advocate for kids

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Community invited to Fenocchio memorial

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Teens Take Charge program accepting applications

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    SHE to lead Center for Spiritual Living in sound healing

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Kiwanis Crab, Pasta Feed benefits local charities

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Registration open for PSA Day at Davis Media Access

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Brick sales will benefit Hattie Weber Museum

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Take a hike with Tuleyome on Feb. 7

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    The Soup’s On for NAMI-Yolo

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Sip wines at St. James’ annual tasting

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Capay Valley Almond Festival will tempt your taste buds

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    CSU chancellor calls for increasing graduation rates

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    State fails to track billions in mental health funds

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    Rebekahs’ crab feed benefits local families

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Covered California enrollment events planned

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Learn pattern darning tips at guild meeting

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Suds for a bug: Contest is over

    By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A7

    .

    Forum

    Family feels cut off here

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    It’s the final freedom

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

     
    Move past the stereotypes

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    A stunning contradiction here

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Let’s speak with accuracy

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Think again on euthanasia

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Sports

    Lady Blue Devils take care of business

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Devil snowboarders place second in short and slushy GS

    By Margo Roeckl | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Williams-less Gauchos will test Aggie men

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    Davis club ruggers open with nationally celebrated Jesuit on Friday

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    DHS ski team takes second on a déjà vu day

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: B8 | Gallery

    .

    Features

    Name droppers: Arboretum director wins leadership award

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Lemon tree, very pretty: Our most local fruit?

    By Dan Kennedy | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    .

    Arts

    Red Meat, Deke Dickerson bring rockabilly honky-tonk twang to The Palms

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Granger Smith to play at The Davis Graduate

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Young musicians to perform Winter Concerto Concert

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Art science speaker series event set for Feb. 5

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Death notice: Betty J. Cogburn

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Wednesday, January 28, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B6