Taken from California Rare Fruit Growers:Volume 8 Number 1 February,1976 :::::::Fruits The Year Around::::::: Paul H. Thomson one of the CRFG 's founders In February 1952 this piece of Bonsall real estate was purchased. At that time it was under a 3 year lease for farming. They were good farmers and filled and leveled the land,made contour furrows so the soil would not erode and plowed the weeds and crop residues back into the soil to provide some humus for the next crop. After plowing the soil was disced up and down hill, cross ways and then diagonally so they almost were out the soil. The organic matter was pulverized and exposed to the elements so it oxidixed to the point where it simply disappered leaving a seedbed of almost pure mineral granitic soil. Here was planted the crop for that season, irrigated copiously and heavily fertilized with chemicals. Large crops of vegetables and fruits were produced that looked beautiful and sold like the proverbial hot cakes, but had about as much flavor as chewing on a peace of paper. Each year it was necessary to add more chemicals to get the same results in their intensive cropping of two crops a year. By the end of the third year the last crop planted wasn't growing very well so it was reasoned that there was not enough fertilizer so more was added. The poor plants couldn't take it. They turned yellow for a while and finally died. They gambled and lost on that last crop. The following winter was a wet one and every seed that had failed to germinate for the last 3 years must have germinated.
The excessive amount of fertilizer caused the weeds to grow rampant. Mustard grew 8' tall with stems 1 1/2" thick; malva was 5' tall and 1" thick and other weeds grew in similar gigantic proportions. A heavy set of discs run over the field failed to do more than barely knock the weeds down, so dense was the growth. The next year was a different story. All the fertilizer had been used up and the next crop of weeds were quite stunted and sick looking with the spots of thin soil having no weed cover to speak of.
And so it continued for the next 15yr. until gradually native legumes and grasses finally gained a foothold and restored the soil to a healthy condition. Around the edges of the cultivated fields were gullies 4' to 8' deep which were filled and trees planted to hold the soil. As the trees grew nesting places were provided for the birds and now large flocks annually migrate here and clean the bushes and trees of any excess fruit. The first few years different types of scale insects were a problem but now the tiny birds keep the trees clean so there is no scale buildup. Weeds have been mowed to provide a cover of humus and today a visitor to the pLace may remark as to how springy the soil is as they walk upon it. No pesticides,sprays or chemical fertilizers have been used and nature's is being restored. There has been a steady progression in the weed cover from the broad leafed weeds at first to the present dominance of the grasses. Where formerly it was very difficult to get young seedlings started now they spring up voluntarily, sown by the birds and nurtured by the layer of humus on top the soil.
Twenty years ago it was necessary to use a pick and crowbar to dig holes in which to plant trees,now it is easier to dig a hole in dry ground than in wet ground before, and in damp ground holes can be dug quickly and easily. Earthworms have appeared in substantial numbers,adding to the fertility of the soil as they tunnel through it and leave their castings. So what? What does this have to do with growing Rare Fruits? Perhaps a whole lot and on the other hand maybe very little. One of the chief joys of growing fruit is to be able to wander at will and pick tree ripened fruit of high quality and delicious flavor and eat it on the spot. No worries as to whether it has been sprayed and therefore must be washed first or if it has been long enough since it was sprayed for the residue to be gone so it can be safely eaten. Maybe they aren't as big and beautiful as the "puffed up " fruits you buy in the market but they sure have a much finer flavor. Of course there may be some bird pecks to mar the surface of the fruit, and you will lose a certain amount to our furry and feathered friends but they have to live too. And if you ever want to determine just which are the finest fruits, watch which ones the birds eat and invariably that will be the one. It may not be the biggest or most colorful but it will have the best quality. When the best is gone only then will they eat the fruit of inferior quality.
After savoring the fruits of my labor for a short time during the summer and early fall I decided it sure would be nice to have some kind of tasty fruit to pick and eat throughout the year instead of only part of the year when there was a glut of fruits and since the stomach is only so large could not do justice to the quantity. To do this successfully does present some problems. Tropical fruits such as mango,cherimoya,tropical guava,lychee and longan bear their crops during the late fall and winter for the most part and some years carry fruit into early spring. These fruits were selectied as they filled the gap after the fall fruits were gone. The problem was that at best these tropicals are rather marginal here in southern California and needed a much warmer location in which to grow than is found here on the home place in Bonsall where winter frost is the rule rather than the exception. Freezing temperatures occur as early as 4 november and as late as 16 April with the first frost averaging 16 November and the last frost averaging the end of February. the coldest period is from mid-December to mid-January with severe frosts occurring around Christmas and New Years.
After several years of searching a location in Vista was found where the frost hazard is very low as there were several bearing mango trees on the property which were estimated to be around 60 or more years old. The coldest temperature since I have owned the property occurred on 13 January 1963 when it dipped briefly to 28* F and froze the mango trees back to 3/4 " limbs on the lowest parts of the trees.
This "Edgehill" property in Vista lies at an elevation of about 775' or 500' higher than the Bonsall location. The air drainage is good and mangos can be grwon at the top of the slop and guavas,lyches,longans and cherimoyas on down the hill in that order. These trees were planted in April 1963 after the freeze and most years have suffered little damage. Only 4 or 5 nights have dropped to 30*F since the 1963 freeze and in 1968 some 125 young mango trees were killed outright, one longan was killed and three others damaged, and one guava was severely frozen, all at 30* at the top of the hill. Estimated temperatures were the longan was killed and the guava damaged were 26* and 27* F respectively. Lychees have never sufferd any damaged as they were planted higher on the slop than the longans. Several cherimoyas at the bottom of the planting were frozen back. These were grafted to the hardy variety 'Spain' and since that time have received no damgage. During the 1968 freeze 4 mango trees survived at the lower end of the planting. One had no damage whatsoever at an estimated 26* F while the other 3 were only lightly jdamaged. Some 5 or 6 mangos that were frozen to the ground put up growth from the roots the next spring and as the next winter was mild one came through without any damage. In June 1970 these tender trees were cut off at ground level, the soil removed to a 3" depth and grafted with scions of the hardiest mango. They all grew the next winter the soil was mounded up around the graft union. Since that time the trees have grown well at no time have they had any cold damage. The idea is to get a hardy interstock near the ground where the cold air settles and once it is 18" to 24" tall graft it ot the variety of choice which may be too tender to grow if grafted low in the usual manner but which will survive and grow when grafted on the hardy interstock 24" above ground level. This idea has not been thoroughly tested as yet since two of the trees with this combination were lost to gophers and the others have never been grafted. I believe this method will permit mangos to be grown in areas normally too cold for the mango In winter but were summer temperatures are ware enough to successfully set and mature fruit.
To get back to the main subject, here is a list of the fruits I am growing on the two places and their season of maturity. Where listed in two or more colums the early varieties mature in the first column and late varieties extend the season to the next column.
January-March =Casrissa,Cherimoya,Guava, Longan,Mango,Sapote(white),Casimiroa edulis
April-June= Apricot Capulin cherry,Carissa,Cherimoya,Cherry of the Rio Grande Guava,Loquat,Mulberry,Peach,Plum,Sapote(white)
July-September = Almond, Apricot, Blueberry, Capulin Cherry, Carob, Che, Cherry of the Rio Grande, Green Sapote, Jujube, Loquat, Lychee, Mulberry(black), Opuntia cactus,Peach, Plum, Quince, Sapote (white) Apple
Oct-Dec. = Apple Carissa Carob,Che,jujube,Longan, Macadamia, Mango,Opuntia cactus, Pdistachio,Sapote(white),Walnut.
As can be seen you can not only have a fruit but most of the time a choice of fruits and nuts. Not all can be eaten fresh from the tree. Many must be picked and ripened off the tree to be edible. Anyway it's great to have Fruits The Year Around.

Back to Noah's Ark Homepage