Sunday, December 26, 2021

Graft quality matters

In this post I describe how to identify good and bad graft joint unions, and why joint quality matters. 

As we select plants in nurseries, it is important to inspect the graft joint.  This is the place where the scion meets rootstock.  Unfortunately, even some commercially produced plants from reputable suppliers may have problems with the graft quality. The performance of such plants will suffer and they may be short lived.  In the picture below is my Moro blood orange that I purchased years ago.  This tree never grew well. A couple of years ago after noticing sprouts from the rootstock, I grafted the scions from this tree onto the sprouts. The green portion of the tree (on the right) is from my new graft, and the yellowish part is the original tree.

The lower bulbous joint is what the tree came with. There is some structural problem which affects (most likely) the vascular transport in this part of the plant. The higher graft (left) that I made, seems to be more solid structurally and its vascular system supports the flow of nutrients to keep this part of the tree green. In the coming spring, I will remove the original graft and will leave only my grafts to form this tree.

Persimmon grafts seem to be very sensitive to infections, if not properly healed. Below is a joint on a two year old, commercially purchased persimmon tree.  I do not think this tree can live for much longer.  I will need to re-graft it on new rootstock. 

An example of properly healed peach graft below:

An excellent avocado graft (2.5 years old), where the joint has almost disappeared:

An excellent plum graft (2.5 years old):

A 2 years old mulberry graft with almost disappeared joint:

The smother and the straighter the graft joint, the higher the chance that the tree will become a great performer.  

When choosing trees at nurseries, we should pay attention to the graft joint and select the best one.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Meyer and New Zealand Lemonade lemons

 These were picked from pretty young trees, ~2 years in the ground only. I wanted to evaluate NZ Lemonade, and the Meyer lemon seemed to be a good comparison candidate.  I heard the NZ lemonade is a low acid one. Meyer is also not the most sour lemon. 

In this comparison, Meyer seems to be pretty sour, as NZ Lemonade is almost acidless. It can be eaten like an orange.  It is actually very pleasant to eat, my family and I enjoyed it.

White sapotes Vernon, Suebelle, and Lemon Gold

 Out of these three cultivars, Lemon Gold tasted the best, followed by Vernon and then Suebelle. The Lemon Gold skin should be peeled as it is bitter. Lemon Gold has the most intense flavor with some caramel in it. It also seemed to be denser, in the texture. Vernon is mild and soft, but also very nice. Suebelle had some notes of not pleasant flavor.  The fruit could be past its prime time. 

Check our sales site if we have the cuttings available

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Shirokolistvennyi satsuma mandarin

 I got this cultivar from CCPP only because it had Russian name.  "Shirokolistvennyi" means "Wide leafed".  The CCPP page says that it originated in the USSR. I wasn't impressed with the flavor last year, when it fruited the first time for me. However, it is different this year. I can taste the exact flavor of the mandarins, which we had in our New Year presents distributed through the Soviet schools in the 1970s (sponsored by the parents).  Those who grew there would know what I'm talking about, a mixed bag of candies, walnuts and a couple of mandarins.  Unfortunately, no photos of those bags are online, and if I would manage to find any, they would be black and white. Below are mine from today's tasting. The flavor is very nice, but the membranes are pretty hard now.  Maybe I should be tasting them earlier in the season.  I only had a few fruits from the graft on my Algerian Clementine.


Sunday, November 28, 2021

Tasting persimmons in November 2021

Five out of the six fruits described here are PVNA (Pollination Variant Non Astringent) type, meaning they need to be pollinated and have seeds to be non-astringent at the hard stage.  The non-pollinated fruits of this type are astringent until completely soft. 

Mike's seedling is always astringent regardless of pollination.  It should be completely soft before consumption.

Watermelon (top left corner) - The pollinated brown fleshed fruit were tasted when crunchy.  These are sweet and chocolate-watermelon flavored. The non-pollinated (the top left fruit) was not completely soft and mostly astringent.  I found this tree a few years ago in Coloma and started propagating it.  The fruits are from my graft.

Zenji Maru (top middle) - very sweet and crunchy, sweet apple flavored.

Wind Machine Chocolate (top right) - These are usually larger in size.  These fruits were exceptionally small, but very sweet and date flavored.  The origin of this accession is a seedling tree at the Otow orchard.

Mike's seedling (bottom left) - This is a seedling of Gosho fruit started by a friend. The fully soft fruits are very sweet.  The fruits tasted today still had a little astringency as they were not completely soft.

Hyakume (bottom middle) - This was a crunchy pollinated fruit. Slightly sweet and complex in flavor with nectarine notes.

Rye Bread (bottom right) - Pollinated crunchy sweet fruits with chocolate-peach flavor.  I found this tree a few years ago in Coloma and started propagating it.  The fruits are from my graft.

Check our sales site if we have the cuttings available

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Cherimoya selection experiment in Vacaville, open ground.


Back in the spring of 2015 I started with 150 cherimoya seedlings in 1 gallon bags. Ninety one plants survived their first summer. About half were up-potted to 5 G pots to go into their first winter. The remaining plants were left in 1 gallon bags.

A couple dozens survivors were planted in ground (by the building wall) in the following spring (2016). More trees died in the following years. Now there are only one strong vigorous tree that bloomed and fruited in 2021. The tree experienced the range of temperatures between 23F - 114F. It grows by the Southern wall and does have some protection from the building.

The first fruit was produced in fall of 2021 without hand pollination. There is another small fruit developing on the tree. The ripe fruit was very pleasant in flavor and sweet, medium in size. I collected all seeds and started germinating them.

I plan to start propagating this tree in spring of 2022.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Tagan II feijoa

 Now on November 12, I still do not see Tagan II forming gel in the middle of the fruits. It might be specific to this cultivar. My tree fruits the first time ever, and the fruits might develop in a different way in the following years.

The fruit form is unusual, irregular with depressed bottom. The flavor is sweet - sour, well balanced but gritty. The ripening period seems to be late. The skin is tough.

Check our sales site if we have the cuttings available

Sunday, November 7, 2021

A tasting of ten white sapote cultivars

 These white sapote fruits were collected from a friend’s orchard on November 6 and tasted on November 7, 2021.

Top rows on both pictures, left to right: 4H4, Fournoy, Lemon Gold, Walton, Santa Cruz.
Bottom row on both pictures, left to right: Malibu #3, Suebelle, Fiesta, 3C2, Rainbow.

4H4 - excellent and complex flavor, very sweet, caramel flavored with a hint of acidity. The skin is very thin but bitter.

Fournoy - pretty good, sweet, soft fleshed, thin skinned. The skin is not bitter.

Lemon Gold - very nice, creamy, caramel flavored, no lemon flavor in this fruit and the skin is not bitter.

Walton - excellent and intense flavored, sweet, custardy, baked milk flavored, the skin is not bitter.

Santa Cruz - the flesh is very soft and melting, sweet and creamy. The skin is very thin but bitter.

Malibu #3 - intense flavor, very sweet and creamy, the skin is not bitter. Very good to excellent fruit.

Suebelle - the flavor is just ok with some funky note in it. The skin is not bitter. 

Fiesta - not particularly sweet, but soft and melting flesh. The skin is bitter. Just an ok fruit for this sample.

3C2 - the flavor is intense and sweet but also has some bitterness in it. The flesh structure is firm and very creamy. The skin is bitter.

Rainbow - excellent flavor, the flesh is firm, very sweet, caramel flavored. The skin is not bitter.

My picks from this tasting are 4H4, Walton, Malibu #3, and Rainbow. 

I suspect that Santa Cruz should be very good too, but the fruits sampled here were overripe and affected by mealybugs. The Fiesta fruit was probably underripe in this sample.

The scions of white sapote cultivars are usually available during the late winter - early spring sale at

Friday, November 5, 2021

Early White Sapote cultivars

 This year, my earliest fruiting cultivar was Redland, I picked two fruits on October 4. I greatly disliked Redland fruits.  They have some very unpleasant medicinal flavor.  I tasted the same flavor in the fruits collected from a friend's tree a couple of weeks later.

On October 30, I harvested a few fruits of Delta Gold (earlier known as Harvey B3, picture below).  These turned out to be excellent fruits. They have a very pleasant intense creamy caramel flavor with thick, but not bitter skin.

On November 4 and 5, I harvested more of Delta Gold and four additional cultivars, see the pictures and descriptions below. These five cultivars are all good to excellent and definitely worth growing. I don't want to give exact scores as these would be based on a few fruits from single trees or grafts. 

The skin is not significant and can be consumed, but I still peel it. Very creamy caramel/milk flavored. 

Lemon Gold
The skin is bitter. More intense than Vernon. Sweet caramel with a hint of lemon.

False Suebelle 
The skin is not bitter. Very soft sweet melting flesh with a hint of acidity.

Delta Gold
The skin is very thick, but not bitter. The flavor is excellent, It is creamy, custardy, caramel flavored, very sweet.

The skin is not bitter, The flavor is pretty intense, sweet creamy caramel. 

The scions of white sapote are usually available during our late winter- early spring sale at

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Gilroy Mall feijoas

 Back in December of 2016, I tasted feijoa fruits from the plants at Gilroy Mall. A couple of bushes were still abundantly producing tasty fruits. 

Two photos below are from December 10, 2016,

I collected the scions from these in the following spring, grafted onto seedlings and planted them in ground in Vacaville. I named them Gilroy Corner and Gilroy End. These year I have fruits on both plants and they just started dropping the fruits on October 30.

The tasting is from October 31, 2021.

Gilroy End - very juicy, sweet and nicely flavored with a little acidity. Insignificant grit. Very good fruit overall.

Gilroy Corner - does not seem to be ready yet, but it seems to have good potential. I will retaste it later in the season.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Feijoa tasting on October 23, 2021

Candy - Juicy, little grit, good balance of very sweet and some sour, very good fruit.

White Goose - Mostly smooth, little grit, melting flesh, sweet with little acidity, good fruit.

Lickver's Pride - Very sweet, lots of aromatics, very little acidity, little grit, very good fruit.

Den's Choice - Very sweet, lots of aromatics, very smooth, no grit, excellent fruit.

Marion - Very sweet, aromatic, smooth, excellent fruit.

Marjane - Extremely sweet with some acidity, aromatic and smooth, excellent fruit.

Tagan II - Sweet-sour, aromatic, smooth and creamy, very good fruit.

Edenvale Late - Sweet-sour, some grit, good fruit, needs more time.

The grafting material is occasionally available at

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Feijoa tasting on October 17, 2021

Albert's Pride - Very nice flavor, little grit, dense flesh
Flavia - Good flavor, low acid, gritty, soft flesh
8 Ball - Juice, good flavor, some grit, may need more time on the tree
Triumph - Low acid, dense flesh, gritty
Apollo - Lots of jelly, sweet, low acid, juicy, low grit, nice flavor
Abbadabba - Not fully ready, low flavor, low sugar, low acid, high grit

Den's Choice - Excellent flavor, sweet, lots of jelly, juicy, no grit
White Goose - Very good, sweet-sour, soft flesh, no grit
Edenvale Late - Excellent flavor, sweet-sour, gritty, may need more time to ripen
Chesterwoody - Very sweet, dense flesh, no grit, overripe by now (this is my earliest cultivar)
Tagan II - Excellent flavor, sweet-sour, creamy flesh with little grit

The grafting material is occasionally available at

Friday, October 15, 2021

Den's Choice Feijoa

 Den's Choice feijoa just started dropping fruits this year on October 15. This is one of the best mid season cultivars. The flesh is smooth, lots of jelly, sweet with some acidity and very pleasant flavor.

Check our sales site if we have the cuttings available

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Purple guava makes excellent tea

 Purple guava, Psidium myrtoides makes small purple fruits with large seeds and low sugar content. I almost removed the tree as I didn't particulary liked fresh fruits. They taste very healthy and have a high amount of flavonoids, but not enjoyable to eat. 

The fruits are usually formed in small clusters.

Before digging the tree out, I decided to make a tea out of the fruits, and this saved the tree. The tea flavor reminded me the black currant fruit flavor. They should share similar compounds responsible for this flavor. Purple guava is definitely worth growing for making drinks.

Frost tolerance of Himalayan Mulberries

 The past winter of 2023-2024 was the second test for my Himalayan mulberries frost tolerance. I have five two-years old trees of four culti...