Edgar Valdivia is one of the great fruit growers and researchers in the Southland with a specific interest in developing new varieties of fruit. Seven years ago he counted 112 different types of fruit in his orchard and he has surely developed even more by now. It is the casual way he imparts a lifetime of fruit growing wisdom, however, that makes him a living legend and a cherished speaker. We are extremely lucky to have snared him for our October 13th meeting. He will be talking to us about cherimoyas and figs. Do not miss him!!
From Bruce Blavin, our old Chair: “Our chapter is extraordinarily lucky to be getting this opportunity to tour a truly inspirational home garden. The owner has been growing fruit for more then 30 years and has literally hundreds of successful grafts. He continues to graft and cultivate some of the rarest varieties of fruit trees from around the world. The citrus collection is truly amazing and there is also a wide variety of Cherimoya, and even a rollinia tree. He has researched irrigation systems and has also planted a unique ground cover, which is drought tolerant.
His gardening passions extend beyond rare fruit trees and he has put together a world-class collection of Cycads, which he recently added to from a number of private collectors. There are also chickens, peacocks and other fowl on his property. The home is in a unique micro climate not too far from the beach and therefore spared the extreme heat and/or frost problems some of us occasionally face. If you are fortunate enough to make the cut off, be sure to bring a pad and paper. Our host is extremely knowledgeable and excellent at answering complicated questions. I never left him without having learned something new.”
We will be visiting a member’ orchard all the way out on Point Dume. This is a long and physically challenging tour with limited space, so it is absolutely restricted to members only. RSVPs are required and can be made by using the form below. Once your chapter membership is verified, you will receive the exact address.
PLEASE do not RSVP if you only think you might be coming. Our host requires an accurate count. If we receive more RSVPs than he can comfortably handle, the tour will be repeated in March for the overflow.
Note: If you RSVP and then fail to show up, thereby depriving someone else the opportunity, you will not be allowed to come in March.
So far Charles Portney has 75 plants picked out for the raffle: Sugarcane, blackberry, babaco, paprika, pepino, nopales, loquat, cape gooseberry… and he is not yet done. There will also be a hefty 5-gallon plant started from Stavros Olympios’ Greek fig tree plus I’m sure contributions from other members. Do not miss this!
Denise “Deni” Friese of Custom Landscapes (whose services include eco-friendly design, consultation and installation) will speak to us on August 11th about composting and mulching in the orchard. If you heard her at our last field trip/workshop, you know she is incredibly knowledgeable. This time she will have the floor mostly to herself (though I’m sure our membership will be contributing their voices and experience as well.)
[Deni adds: “I am an Eco-Friendly Landscaper, own business since 1995, I do design, consultation, installation, specialty maintenance and irrigation. Love putting in edible gardens. My specialty is knowing plants and what they need to thrive. I try to help my clients design their own “dream yard”. I have been a Plant-a-holic for many years and have way too many plants. Joined CRFG a few years ago and love it]
Also the renowned Charles Portney will be describing rare fruit trees he has propagated and will be generously donating to the day’s plant raffle. These raffles seem to be shaping up as only semiannual events so don’t miss this one! The next one probably won’t be until our Holiday Party in December.
On the same note, if you have plants of your own to donate, this is the time. And if you happen to have any treepots (the tall skinny pots used for rooting plants with long taproots, they come between 8” and 14” deep) Charles desperately needs them to continue his generous work. They look like this.
And per usual, snacks to share will always be welcome. Now that Jane has donated a lovely glass beverage holder, we will be having something to drink at most meetings, so either homegrown fruit or hand-held crunchy things will be appreciated by one and all.
With some misgivings, I am throwing open my yard for our July field trip/workshop. The topic will be Wise Watering for the Hot Months Ahead. I have 6 different watering systems in use, ranging from the laundry-to-landscape greywater our April speaker Sergio Scabuzzo installed in front , to basic inline drip from Smiths Plumbing, individual drippers on a solid hose from various sources, hand watering from 10 gallon buckets where I store shower water not yet heated up (and I just got the niftiest watering can!), and a small rotary sprinkler system on the tiny lawn. If the rest of you could bring samples of whatever you are using to water your gardens, we could answer one of the biggest recurring questions members have here in Drought City.
Members should enter through the big driveway gate and head to the backyard where I will put fences around anything I am concerned about people trampling. As is true of all field trips, please do not pick, poke or otherwise molest the green-age.
The driveway is in perpetual shade but I have no chairs there so if any of you have portable ones, it would be great to bring them. There are a (very) few chairs on the back deck plus steps where the younger folk can sit, so if it is not too hot, we can have our workshop there.
The backyard has some mature trees: a Black Mission fig, 2 Satsuma tangerines, Moro blood orange, Meyer and Eureka lemons, Bearss and Mexican lime, Big Jim Loquat with a Champagne graft from Marjane, Black Persian Mulberry (plus a new little Pakistani from Hal), Saijo persimmon plus half a dozen cherimoyas from seed (and one transplanted from Gary Richwald’s yard), 2 passionflower vines from Jorge Ochoa, a new little Sweetheart Lychee, four apple trees, two ridiculously huge Laurus Nobilis (an object lesson in why they shouldn’t be planted here especially on the south side of our yards) a couple of Cherry of Rio Grande, one Surinam cherry and probably other stuff I’m forgetting (oh yeah, papayas from seed and a Babaco from Charles Portney, plus a new Stewart avocado–ed. the Stewart just ended up in the front yard). The tiny lawn is the UC Verde drought tolerant stuff developed by, right, UC Riverside.
The front yard is not to be entered and will be rung with Home Depot’s best DANGER tape. It is full of bee and butterfly plants, an extremely fragile drip system and an even more fragile graft of Yang Mei onto Pacific Wax Myrtle. Fang Liu did approximately 15 such grafts and only the one took. Needless to say, I am extremely protective of it.
Nonetheless most of the front yard’s residents are visible from the front sidewalk or the driveway, including two Gros Michel bananas, a Janice Kadota fig and some seedlings from Marjane’s Panache, the Cotton Candy tree some of you have cuttings from, a lot of Pomegranates from sticks stuck in the ground after scion exchanges, three pears (well, only one is really visible from sidewalk), two apple trees (and two more which never really took and are probably coming out for avocados!) a new and struggling Hachiya Persimmon — struggling because the sunflowers and borage tend to crowd it out. Half a dozen roses. And my rose apple seedling from Marjane which is NOT bearing and is asking to be chopped down. The Burgundy plum next to it may be gone soon too. It has two plums on it after three years. Not especially visible are the blueberries and self-sown strawberries. Please do not walk in my neighbors’ driveway on that side. They are extremely hostile to Rare Fruit Growers, including me. Sofia will be monitoring with a machete
There is also a native California garden on the parkway (and a lot in the front yard too) which is a whole other topic we discussed at Hal’s but people can see in action.
There will be cookies. Please don’t feed them to the extremely large but friendly dog.
David King runs the Learning Garden at Venice High and also teaches the Plant Propagation class at UCLA extension. Each year he brings students to our Scion Exchange, and this year, they sent us a lovely note of thanks! And photos! Thank you, kids, for being a great part of our group. And thank you, volunteer grafter/speakers. The depicted grafter is our pineapple guava expert, Glen Woodmansee.
Julie Frink and Denny Luby will present “All About The Avocado.” Julie is the Curator of the Avocado Collection at the U.C. Field Station in Orange. Denny – a 20 year member of CRFG – volunteered with Julie at the South Coast Research Center and they have done talks and demonstrations together ever since. Between them, they know LOTS about the avocado; the different botanical races, the named and research varieties, the question of poisonous or non-poisonous, growth habits, grafting, seed size, hybridization, propagation, diseases, etc. Come, learn and bring your questions!
We’re going to Jane’s! She is a long-time member with an interesting path to her current orchard. This is how she describes it:
“It is a simple collection of plants on clay soil amended over the years primarily by mulching. Three camellias and a fig were mature when we bought the property in 1974. This was followed by years of grass lawns, play houses, and sports areas for three sons. We planted a Meyer lemon tree and removed an avocado and a peach which had been killed or severely weakened by the smog of the 1970’s (according to neighbors). We did plant vegetables most years, and I divided and added to the bulbs that were here. Most notably there was a highly fragrant tagette type of narcissus which returns every year. The bulbs have bloomed and you will see the foliage maturing and dying back, a messy necessity as they get next year’s energy after bloom. Some summer bulbs may have started.
For years I was a member of the Tinseltown Rose Society. Then I added a lot of perennials and annual flowers, and my friends encouraged me to start selling bouquets. I had clients (mostly therapists) who received a weekly bouquet in their offices. After a much needed divorce, I enrolled in and completed the UCLA Extension Gardening and Horticulture Certificate Program. For about ten years I did specialized garden maintenance in Westside and Santa Monica gardens, mostly for elderly clients. Pruning roses and vines and planting vegetable gardens were my specialties.
Kiwi was what brought me to CRFG. I bought a male and female. I never had a flower on the male or the next three males I bought. Roger Meyers offered some male flowers so I could assure myself that the impotent males were the problem. My pollinating worked, but driving to Orange County was hardly a reliable long term solution. You will not see Kiwi in my garden. You will see the still-producing Meyer lemon, figs, jujube, guavas, persimmons, mangoes, finger limes, calamondin, Kaffir lime, mandarin, pomegranate, pineapple guava, blackberries, moringa, galanga, oregano, and my latest passion: mulberries. Starting with a Persian mulberry, I now have four more little ones (small plants and in one case small fruit).
I have four compost bins and two worm farms. One of the bins is a variation on one I built based on a design from UC Davis. Mine is from fencing posts but is adaptable to different materials for those whose family or neighbors balk at the farm look. Bring a little container (yoghurt or similar) if you would like some worms. My Kaffir lime needs pruning, so you Asian food cooks can take home some branches. The galanga (Thai ginger) needs dividing so bring a bag or sheet if you are interested in this root plant.
There is ample unrestricted street parking. Take all the pictures you want but please turn off the cell phones. ”
If you are a current member, you should have already received your newsletter with Jane’s address. If you didn’t, please use the Contact Us button to let us know.
Sergio Scabuzzo of the Greenman Project will be speaking to the chapter at our April meeting. You can read more about him at https://www.thegreenmanproject.com/ (and even see a 3-year old photo of my newly planted front yard with his laundry-to-landscape installation) but I cribbed the following bio from the Greywater Action site:
After 15 years of work in construction, including managing an office with a crew of 30+ contractors, Sergio decided to move on to a more ecologically minded lifestyle. In early 2014 he began installing greywater systems and while working for Greywater Corps started advocating for their widespread implementation. He holds several certifications and is trained in greywater systems installation, water harvesting, permaculture, natural building, native landscaping, web design, and has a strong focus on appropriate use of resources. Sergio is from Argentina and currently lives in Topanga Canyon where he spends most of his free time talking about sustainability.
Despite our March rains, drought is never far from the minds of us Southern Californians. While capturing rainwater is always a good idea, it rains here only a few weeks a year while we use water in our homes 24/7. Capturing at least some of it for our orchards is among the most ecological and economical things we can do. Come learn how to do it!
Note: because the bodybuilders will be holding one of their extravaganzas at the same time as our meeting, we have been moved to the Rotunda Room (where we held our Holiday Party last December). Parking, unfortunately, will be at a premium so please plan ahead. Also, because of the inevitable crush at the main entrance, be aware there is another entrance to the Rotunda Room directly from the parking lot on the Culver Boulevard side. We will attempt to hang our banner there so keep your eyes peeled. Of course, it is always possible to enter the main entrance and turn right immediately into the Rotunda Room, but it will be crowded!