Field trip to Hapa Joe’s Nursery November 11th @ 10 am

If you find yourself on Hapa Joe’s website you are presented with an introduction  that is certainly  better than anything we could come up with, viz:

Connecting you to the world’s rarest, most exotic fruit seeds.

“… I’m Hapa Joe, a passionate conservationist, scientist, fruit hunter and adventurer. I travel the world to collect and source exotic and rare fruit seeds to share with you.”

What Joe doesn’t mention is that he is a member of our chapter and has kindly granted  us an extremely coveted invitation to visit his growing field… to learn about the collecting and growing of these very rare seeds and seedlings, and of course to hear of his adventures in the Amazon and beyond.

On his site, he goes on to say: “All seeds and seedlings have been “fair trade” sourced to create value within the local communities that inhabit these rapidly deforested areas.” This means that he has established close relationships within those local communities and we will get to hear about those as well. And of course about the current risks these communities are facing. This is truly a one-of-a-kind field trip.

Feel free to browse the  site to get some idea of the vast numbers and varieties of seeds and seedlings he offers…. some of which he will have available for sale.  When he spoke to the San Diego chapter recently, Joe sold out of what he calls his “cheap seedlings”, so bring dinero if you’re exotic fruit inclined.

Long time members know the rules about field trips:  no touching, no picking, no stomping, no requests for scions or fruit, etc. but if you are a new member please keep in mind that we are very very lucky guests and should behave accordingly: keep those hands and feet in check.  Despite his vast collection, Joe’s  yard is actually very small, so – as is true of most field trips — no guests will be allowed.



Mango scions and Fig Festival

Just alerted to a couple of exciting events this weekend.  Champa Nursery in El Monte, where we had a field trip a couple of years ago, is having a half price Labor Day sale.  Even more incredible, they have many many mango and annona scions on offer for $5 or $6 each.  Check them out.

Also our own Charles Malki and the Fig Hunter (together with  Tom Spellmen of Dave Wilson Nursery) are hosting an incredible Fig Festival down in Huntington Beach on Sunday.   Charles sent us this flyer

but there are more details on the site, including the info that CRFG members get in for half price.

What a weekend for fruit lovers!

Huntington Field trip list is full!

Astonishingly, within 3 hours, all  20 spots were filled and we now have 9 folks on the Wait List.  We are reaching out to the Huntington to see if they would allow more of our well-informed and well-behaved members to attend but at this point, the list is closed.  Thanks!

September 9th field trip to the Huntington’s Experimental Ranch Garden

The James P. Folsom Experimental Ranch Garden is an urban agricultural garden that explores and interprets optimal approaches to gardening in our regional ecosystems and climate – the semi-arid landscapes of Southern California. The garden includes a mixture of edible landscapes, where fruit trees mingle with native shrubs, perennial herbs, and reseeding annuals. In the center of the 1.5-acre garden is a traditional vegetable row garden.

In a nod to the Huntington’s  agricultural roots, the site encompasses the surviving orange groves from Mr. Huntington’s day and a new heritage grove of avocados representing the 33 most significant varieties in the state’s agricultural history. Also gracing the Ranch are dozens of fruit trees from the South Central Farm, an urban garden in Los Angeles that was razed in 2006. Rescued by the Metabolic Studio, the trees were boxed and moved to The Huntington.

The Ranch Garden is envisioned as a community resource to help bolster L.A.’s capacity to establish a sustainable and equitable food system.  Its combination of history and forward-thinking research should have a lot to teach all of us.

Please note:  at the insistence of the Huntington, participation has to be capped at 20 people.  This means chapter  members only. No guests!  If you wish to attend, please contact us immediately to get on the list.

A VERY interesting meeting with Robert Pavlis

Based on the turnout, the many questions at the end and then the requests for a link to the video of the Zoom, our meeting on Soil Science and Myth Debunking for Gardeners has to be on of our most popular meetings ever!

Many thanks both to Robert and to our Program Chair Deborah for setting up the meeting. There was a world of wonderful information in it for all of us. The notion of mobile vs immobile nutrients was a total revelation to me.

As a long time (50+ years) organic grower, however, I feel obligated to set the record straight on some issues around chemical vs organic fertilizers.  Putting aside the whole issue of synthetic fertilizers’ impact on the biome of our soil (for example, its deleterious effect on earthworm populations), please keep in mind that Robert’s home is in Guelph, Ontario (Canada, not California!) which means his growing season is 3-4 months long.  Our growing season of course is basically endless.  On top of that, most of his writing is on annual crops like tomatoes.  We on the other hand focus primarily on tree crops and other perennials.  Even rhubarb (hah, had to get that in there somewhere) has become a perennial crop for us.  As a result, the relatively long slow release of organic fertilizers is a plus for us, not a minus.  Except for what we grow in pots, this means we can fertilize once or twice a year and be done.  In Guelph, they have to get those plants up, bearing and harvested in a matter of weeks. Hence the emphasis on super quick release fertilizers with the ever-present risk of over-fertilization and plant burn..

I should add, moreover, that our speaker’s claim that organic fertilizers take years to be available to plants is simply untrue.   I had my first large-scale organic garden in Waterbury Vermont which is in fact north of Guelph and I fertilized my tomatoes, corn, eggplants, beans, etc. exclusively with aged cow manure and granite dust and the plants exploded out of the ground.  Even cottonseed meal, which is considered a slow-release organic fertilizer, makes its nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium available to plants in 1 to 4 months.  Plus, it acidifies, which in our alkaline soil and water is a definite benefit.

It is true that rock powders can be very very slow releasers and bottom line – with our alkaline soil – mostly unavailable to plants here.  But rock powders are traditionally employed as sources of Phosphorus and Potassium, two parts of the NPK triad which we probably don’t need.  I will admit that – when I ran my first serious soil test in years this past fall — my yard’s abundance of Potassium was sort of a shock to me.  But almost all Left Coast soils have a ton of Phosphorus and don’t need any supplementation of that at all.

All of which is a long way of saying:  leaven any experts’ dicta on how you should grow with your own experience, or the experience of your fellow CRFG-ers.  Virtually all of the members you most respect (you know who they are)  use only organic fertilizers.  Some of them, in fact, have so skillfully amended their soil with compost over the years that they don’t need to fertilize at all.    Learning things like this is why we love to share our gardens, successes and failures.  Grow on!

Signed, Your Humble Ottoman




Field Trip to Angeles Crest Creamery November 12th

This is something totally new for us! It has nothing to do with fruit but it does have to do with climate change which is already affecting us (chill-hours anyone?) and will continue to do so more and more until we wise up.

 Angeles Crest Creamery is a goat ranch in the San Gabriel Mountains, that was dedicated to developing a low-input and climate-change-resilient model for meat & dairy in Southern California, and providing educational opportunities for Angelinos interested in learning more about how food can be produced regeneratively in our local mountains. The property is a private inholding in the Angeles National Forest. Prior to the establishment of the Forest, the property was deeded under the Homestead Act. Cattle ranching was common in the area at the time and some of the original 19th century structures are still on the property.  There are also adorable ducklings!

Tragically the Bobcat Fire of September 2020 destroyed nearly 80% of the ranch and owner Gloria Putnam is now in the process of paring down her goat herd and trying to determine what her land needs from her going forward.

Obviously this is a longer distance field trip than is the norm for us but one that seems well worth the gas and effort.   If you are interested in going, either alone or in a car pool (totally vaccinated for that, please) let us know ASAP.   Dependent on reception up there, we will also be Zooming.


Photo by Ray Aucott on Unsplash


Zoom Meeting 10/8/22 @ 10 am Margaret Smither-Kopperl on Cover Crops!

Thanks to an excellent talk by Deni Freis a few years ago, we all know about rain barrels and  storm water collection.  A far easier way of putting that scarce (nonexistent?)  rain water to use —  while simultaneously improving the fertility and tilth of your soil and the happiness of the good bugs — is with cover crops.  If you already use them, you will be eager to hear Margert Smither-Kopperl’s newest information on them.  If you are still in the dark, this Saturday’s meeting will be a real eye opener and a treat.

Specifics for fruit growers will include:  Overview of what to consider when planning a cover crop in an orchard. What are your goals and what are the resource concerns that you plan to address? For example, are there problems with soil erosion, weedy species, insect pests, nematodes? Do you need pollinator species? Do you wish to add nitrogen through use of a cover crop? Consider the equipment that you have available and options for managing the cover crop. After this you can decide the most suitable species for your orchard.

Margaret is Manager of the 106-acre USDA-NRCS Lockeford Plant Materials Center (CAPMC), in California’s Central Valley since 2010. The CAPMC supports NRCS in California by testing plant species including cover crops and pollinator species, and is a site to demonstrate soil health. Her agricultural experience started in England with fruit and vegetable production, her  in botany from the University of London, and her Ph.D. is in Plant Pathology from Michigan State University.

Beyond all these professional and academic accomplishments, she is a captivating speaker and we are so very lucky to get a chance to hear her.  (Fellow bee keepers will also  be thrilled to know that she has been at the forefront of encouraging farmers to create wildflower hedgerows for the endangered pollinators. )

Chapter members will receive Zoom links in this week’s newsletter.   If you are not a member but want to be included, just let us know at



Photo by Jeffrey Hamilton on Unsplash

Saturday 8-13 @ 10 a.m. meeting with Ernesto Sandoval back to Zoom only

Sorry, folks.  Ernesto’s travel plans changed and he will be back in Davis next week.  So we will be back to meeting on our jammies (on Zoom!) as we have for most of the past two years.

Note that despite the fact that LaVerne Nursery has been sold, Dan Nelson is still there and our tour with him in September is still on . If you haven’t done the LaVerne tour before, don’t miss it.  It is fabulous.  I’m going for the third time.



Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

Argentinian ants

This year seems to have featured, along with other disasters, an even heavier-than-usual invasion of Argentinian ants.   If you are trying to keep them out of your figs (who knew?!) or your bee hives, this is an extraordinary paper on why those traps you bought at Home Depot just aren’t working and what to do instead.

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