Just a reminder…

We fruit growers are a hardy lot so the Scion Exchange and Grafting Demos will be going on this coming Saturday, rain or shine.  Fortunately the forecast seems to be on our side, but as always we will be prepared to move everything inside should the need arise.

Another reminder, we are not allowed to exchange scions of trees still under patent or about to be patented.  Dave Wilson Nurseries has sent us this list of  verboten varieties.  (They actually sent us a  much longer list but that was mostly commercial varieties to which we have no access down here)


Scion Exchange/Grafting Demos on February 10th @ 10 am

If CRFG is known for one thing (okay, apart from Fruit Facts) it is the annual Scion Exchange and Grafting Demo Day.  West LA Chapter will be holding its version, free and open to the public,  on February 10th,  in the MultiPurpose Room of  the Culver City Veterans Memorial Building.

Members, bring your labelled scion wood between  9:30 and 10 (please, no citrus!).  Grafting demos will begin at 10 with at least 3 different experts in attendance for grafters of different experience levels.  Bruce Blavin, who teaches grafting to school children, will make sure even the noobiest will go home an expert.  AJ and Glen  and Sagi   will instruct the more experienced in advanced techniques like veneer grafts and whip-and-tongue.

The Scion Exchange will begin as soon after 10 as we can get all the wood set out.  Per usual, members who have brought wood to share will get first crack at selecting someone else’s scions.  After them, the rest of the chapter membership will get its shot at clutching that elusive special wood to their bosoms.  And finally non-members, inspired by our demonstrators, can check out the always plentiful remains to make new trees of their own.

Of course, if you want to be in that first VIP batch, make sure your membership is up to date (or join!) and bring us wood .  Instructions on cutting scion wood are right here.

What shouldn’t you bring?  No citrus scions or budwood (this includes curry leaf) plus no plants still under patent.   And of course nothing that is sick or bug infested.

A wonderful trip to the Learning Garden at Venice High

Many thanks to Julie, Ingrid, Ed and all the other volunteers who shared their time and experiences with us at the Learning Garden this past Saturday.  We saw so many amazing things:  green and brown cotton!  Hairy Ball Milkweed!  David King’s famous rhubarb patch!  Edible mushrooms! A very unusual shiny-leaved mulberry we were welcomed to take cuttings from for propagation. The new-to-us plants growing in the Chinese Herbal Medicine garden. The huge red amaranth in the Ancient Grains Garden, etc. etc.  It was a beautiful day and so wonderful to see volunteers of all ages working together.  (Weekends are for the community; Venice High Students use the Garden during the week)

Note: after essentially and needlessly being razed to bare earth during construction at the high school, the Garden has been struggling to restore itself only to be threatened once again by extinction. Please Google what you can do to persuade the LAUSD to preserve this precious resource for the students and community. Volunteering hours are Saturdays and Sundays from 12-3.

Field Trip to Venice Learning Garden – January 13th @ 12:30 NOTE DIFFERENT TIME!

The Learning Garden was founded on the grounds of Venice High School in 2001 and, until his recent retirement, its Garden Master was David King, a regular and welcome presence  — with his students —  at our annual scion exchange.  Over all these past 23 years –despite repeated threats of extermination by the LAUSD – the Garden has continued to grow both physically and philosophically.   While of course there are fruit trees and the very successful rhubarb patch David boasted about when we first started our WLA rhubarb project, the Garden is now also home to one of the most extensive Chinese Medicinal gardens in the country. The students of Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine have played a major role in the development of this garden where  traditional Chinese Medicine schools are trained from seed to harvest to medicinal use  by world experts.

There is also a relatively new Tea Garden – complete with Camellia Sinensis black tea, as well as a variety of herbal tea plants, including hibiscus, rose hips, valerian, chamomile and more.

There is a Native California Garden with more than a hundred different types of native California species, as well as a Fiber Arts Garden which has attracted natural dyers thrilled at the colors that these plants bring to fabric.

And notably there is an Ancient Grain Garden which was planted by our chapter’s own master baker Wendy Temple! (You can see her in the Learning Garden video here.

There is also a Seed Saving Garden, a tribute to David King’s long emphasis on developing and fostering the plant strains most successful in our climate.  As he was quoted saying in an  LA Times blog: “As seeds grow out repeatedly in our soil and microclimates, they adapt.  Far more quickly than one could achieve at home , a variation (for example) of Waltham broccoli specific to Los Angeles or even specific to Venice can be developed, better suited to local conditions.”

And finally, of most interest to us Rare Fruit Growers, is the Tropical Garden where the papaya tree and dragon fruit planted years ago are now both accompanied by bananas, hibiscus, pineapple, kiwi, cassava and more.

But beyond all these horticultural must-sees, perhaps the most important achievement of The Learning Garden has been the continual growth of programs and gardens it has inspired over the years. With very little funding, The Learning Garden has demonstrated the true meaning of sustainability through community spirit and volunteerism. Over 250 high school students a year are trained in organic horticulture, and many have pursued careers in horticulture related fields. In its  Seed to Sale program, students learn the process from planting to harvesting to selling at the local Farmers Market. Art students regularly use the garden to draw and paint. The science classes are out in the compost piles learning the nitrogen and phosphorus cycles. Much as we saw at Steve List’s Sylmar Learning Center, the Learning Garden at Venice High  has inspired and supported gardens at many of its  feeder schools so that garden curriculum is developing from Kindergarten thru High School.

This is definitely a can’t miss field trip (subject of course to weather!) See you there.


Holiday Party and Big Annual Plant Sale December 9th @ 11:30 am-1:30 pm

Once again we will be holding our big holiday party and annual plant sale in our beloved MultiPurpose Room.

Plants you are donating for sale should be brought in between 10:45 and 11:30.   The sale and party will start at 11:30.

As always, this is our most festive potluck so put on your fancy duds, crank out your favorite holiday dish and be prepared to see dear old friends and make great new ones.

Since the plant sale runs much more smoothly if plants are labelled and priced ahead of time, it would be greatly appreciated if you could send a description ASAP of whatever you plan to bring:  plant name, pot size and price suggestion (if you  have one).  You can see what has already been donated here.

Charles Portney, the mainstay of our propagation efforts heretofore, has announced he is drastically downsizing so we desperately need any plants you can spare.    While our dues have not gone up in years, our room rent continues to climb.

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

If you find yourself on Hapa Joe’s website Hapajoesnursery.com 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.



Such a wonderful talk by Marc Robbi

After all these years of fruit growing, surrounded by amazing mentors and lucky enough to hear expert speakers, it is still such a gift to learn something new.  And Marc Robbi’s talk on grafting persimmons was full of such gifts.  If you missed the Zoom, we now have it on our Google Drive (chapter members, ask for a link).  And if you were there, you will be thrilled to learn that Marc and Corrina have sent us a video specifically demonstrating the top working Marc recommended for persimmons.   You can watch it here!

Persimmons! with Marc Robbi of Fruitwood Nursery Saturday October 14th @ 10 am

Those of us who order scion wood from the wonderful Fruitwood Nursery up in Orleans, California can’t help being struck by the amazing number of persimmon varieties on offer (69 by  today’s count!) and the grafting knowledge – not to  mention kindness & helpfulness – of Fruitwood’s owners Corrina Cohen and Marc Robbi.  So when chapter members started clamoring for a speaker on persimmons, thoughts immediately turned to Fruitwood.  And now, despite the terror of the over-9000-acre Pearch Creek fire that has threatened Corrina and Marc for more than a month, Marc has agreed (the fire gods willing) to speak to us via Zoom on October 14th.

A little background from the Fruitwood website: “We have been propagating and growing perennial plants for over 40 years and are the former owners of Rolling River Nursery.com, which is now under the new ownership of Planting Justice in Oakland, CA. We are now offering nursery wood and divisions of all the same great plants we sold previously, taken from our mother plantings here at Rolling River Farm in Orleans, CA. Our huge selection of cuttings wood, scionwood, liners, seeds, rootstocks and divisions are available and shipped throughout the lower 48 states, and by special request beyond.  We supply everything the do-it- your- selfer needs to grow your own true to type quality starts of many popular fruiting plants. Growing your own is both fun and also an economical way to create your own edible landscape, orchards and other plantings large or small.

We are also offering custom propagation services such as bench grafting varieties of your choice for growing on by you, and contracting for the production of larger lots of certain varieties that we grow to size for commercial and other plantings. Let us know your needs and we will see how we may help. We can grow starts of most fruiting plants and also contract out to produce many native plants for restoration projects.

As always our growing practices are organic and sustainability oriented, motivated by the desire to contribute to a healthy, diverse and beautiful world for the future generations. We maintain our diverse collection of varieties as an effort to keep the rich genetic heritage inherited from humanity’s past fruit explorers and breeders available to the public and safe from extinction. All sales help to keep these plantings maintained, enlarged and going strong.”

Obviously we could have as easily asked Marc to speak on Apples (of which he sells 251 varieties of scion wood!) or figs (63 varieties!) or pomegranates (59!).  Persimmons however are among the fussiest fruit trees to graft not to mention the most beautiful and most reliable fruiters for us in Southern California, so we are just thrilled to have an expert guide us through the selection of varieties, rootstock, and grafting technique.

So tune in on October 14th at 10 am.  Zoom links will be sent out with member’s newsletters. If you are not a member but wish to participate, please Contact Us.

BTW, do not be deterred by the fact that almost all scion wood is currently listed as Out of Stock on the Fruitwood site.  They have not  yet begun cutting which – per the website – will begin in November.





Photo by Yoonbae Cho on Unsplash

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!

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