Paul Brewer was kind enough to welcome this blog to the ‘sphere. But he also made the following observation about Fruits and Votes:
So far, the votes seem to be winning over the fruits
Well, he is quite right. I had envisioned this blog (and actually still do) as a nexus between my fruit-growing interests here at Ladera Frutal, and my interests in constitutional design and elections. (They are not as unrelated as they might seem, but that is a topic for a future post, if you can take the suspense.) [UPDATE: The suspense is no more! See “The Mission of F&V” link beneath the blog’s banner for an overview. Also the “I like hybrids” post that I linked below. More coming later, no doubt.]
Sure enough, events have focused my mind on the institutions (“votes”) side of things. No posts on fruits, unless one counts my post on lambic, which maybe one should.
So, here is the fruit post you have been waiting for.
Yesterday I harvested the season’s last pluot:
If you do not know what a pluot is, well, you are missing one of the real fruit sensations of our time. These are quite new hybrids by Floyd Zaiger, who is a modern-day Luther Burbank of fruit hybridization. And, yes, he does it the old fashioned way, as did Burbank; these are not gentically modified. This is painstaking controlled transfer of pollen from one variety’s flower to that of another, plant the seed, and see what you get. In fact, pluots are such complex hybrids that it takes generations of waiting for your seedlings to mature to fruiting age, and then repeating the cycle, in order to get the desired hybrid.
A pluot is roughly 3/4 plum and 1/4 apricot. There are now several crosses in the nursery trade, and some of them are having commercial success as well.
The fruit pictured above is a ‘Dapple Dandy.’ It was the last fruit on the tree, and you can see here the lengths I go to in order to protect fruit on the trees. Notice the netting around the fruit (keep birds and, less reliably, mice, away), and the silvery tape haning on the left side of the picture (scares birds, though it does best when it is windy so the thing twists and flashes).
And here is the beautiful 2.5-year-old tree from which that pluot came.
If you look closely at the base of the trunk, you will see yet another layer of defenseâ€”sheet metal. This makes it harder (nothing would ever make it impossible) for squirrels to climb the tree and steal the fruit. (Squirrels can easily rip right through that bird netting.)
This tree has four different varieties of pluot grafted on to it. Only two of them have fruited so far: The ‘Flavor King’ as well as the ‘Dapple Dandy.’
Both are incredibly richly flavored. These are fruits that, especially when tree-ripened, have the kind of complex layering of flavors that can be described by the kinds of phrases wine-tasters (or should I say, tasters of the finest ales, like lambics) use. In fact, the ‘Flavor King’ does almost taste like a wine!
Because the fruits are so complex and sweet, they can be harvested well before fully ripe and still be acceptable. In fact, eventually they may largely replace plums in the supermarkets for exactly that reason. But tree-ripened, they are in a league of their own.
Now, I wonder, when Paul wrote
…but the avocados have not yet begun to fight
did he know that Ladera Frutal includes a couple of acres of Hass avocados? Or was that just a lucky guess?