Rare Fruits, New Trees and Heirloom Seeds

We’re just back from the California Rare Fruit Growers’ annual scion exchange in Sacramento, which is The Place To Be if you’re a tree collector! Members bring and give away cuttings from their unusual fruit trees, which can then be grafted onto an existing tree or rooted in soil, depending on the variety. The cuttings are labeled with the variety, and the names are often wonderfully evocative: Blue Celeste, Col de Dame Noir, and Igo figs; Diamond Muscat grape, Shangri-la mulberry, Rossenkya persimmon, Parfianka pomegranate… not to mention the hundreds of varieties of apples, peaches, plums and cherries. It’s a great way to preserve rare and heirloom varieties, and to add some character to your orchard!


Apricot, Fig, and Plum cuttings
If you missed the exchange but would like to start some new trees of your own, not to worry — now is the time of year to start thinking about propagation. It’s quite easy to root cuttings such as grape and fig, and local nurseries and garden clubs often hold grafting classes in the winter and spring. For information and instructions on rooting cuttings, check out our blog post from last year right here.
In other news, we’re hard at work — despite the mud — adding new Bartlett pear trees to our 90-plus-year-old orchard! With a bit of luck, these little guys will provide pears for the next 90…
Digging the planting holes took some heavy equipment:
And now, in the Discoveries department: On a recent trip to Bodega Bay, we passed through Petaluma, and happened upon a striking old bank building with the words “Heirloom Seeds” painted on the windows. Curious, we stopped to investigate — and found ourselves in the fantastic Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Bank:

I could have spent all day in this place! Hundreds, probably thousands, of heirloom seed varieties, housed in the gorgeous historic Sonoma County National Bank building, arrayed on shelves tailor-made for browsing. The company, family-run by Jere and Emilee Gettle, is based in Missouri and recently opened its first outpost — the Seed Bank — in Petaluma. Their catalogue is a delight, brimming with information and lovely photographs that will make you long for Spring. And, of course, the seeds themselves: giant “Yellow Monster” peppers, gooseberry gourds, a veritable rainbow of winter squash, antique sweet peas, Flamingo Pink Swiss chard, Japanese morning glories, Speckled Trout lettuce… you get the idea! Their catalogue is free, and available here. And, if you happen to be anywhere near Petaluma, the seed bank is definitely worth a trip!

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds can be found on the Web right here: rareseeds.com

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Filed under around the farm, orchard, propagation, Winter

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