Grow Waterwise Edibles
Many fruit trees and veggies need substantial water to thrive – but not all. David Yetz, horticulturist for the Water Conservation Garden, tends a 4-acre home orchard in Alpine where he specializes in waterwise edibles. The former president of the California Rare Fruit Growers’ San Diego chapter now teaches a class to help other fans of homegrown produce have their fruits and veggies – and a low water bill too. Here are some of his favorites:
- Jujube or Chinese date (Zizyphus jujube) – This handsome deciduous tree bears sweet apple-flavored fruit that can be eaten off the tree or dried, when they resemble dates. Grows to 30 feet tall, but can be pruned to maintain a height of 8 to 10 feet.
- Mulberry – Blackberry-like fruit without the seeds on a tree with no thorns – yum. Look for 7-inch long fruit on ‘Pakistani’ (Murus sp. ‘Pakistani’); smaller spicy berries on Black Persian (Murus nigra). These deciduous trees have expansive canopies and roots and the fruit can stain hardscape. Plant in an open area..
- Pineapple Guava (Acca sellowiana or Feijoa sellowiana) – This versatile South American native can be grown as an espalier, tree or privacy hedge. Silver-backed glossy green leaves highlight white flowers with red stamens and gray-green fruits that follow. Both fruits and flowers are edible. Evergreen.
- Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) - Delicious flower buds are the edible part of this Mediterranean native. If not picked, the buds open into purple thistle-like flowers, handsome complements to the dramatic silvery foliage below. Grows to 3 feet or more, tall and wide. Self-seeds.
- Pomegranate (Punica granatum) – Yetz grows more than 2 dozen varieties of these showy deciduous trees for their attractive tasty fruits. One favorite is ‘Pink Ice’ with softer seeds and sweeter pulp than found in the popular ‘Wonderful.’ Emerging foliage is bronzy; in fall, leaves turn gold. Prune to keep height around 10 to 15 feet.
- Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) - Yetz loves to eat the nuts from this California native roasted and salted. Evergreen with silvery green leaves, this shrub grow to 5 feet tall. Heat loving. Nuts are easy to shell.
- Goji berry (Lycium barbarum ‘Goji’) – One of the new “power-fruit” sources of anti-oxidants, goji berries thrive here. Sprawling shrub with slender gray-green leaves bears red berries that are “sweeter than a cranberry but not as sweet as a cherry,” Yetz says. Grow to 5 feet tall; prune to keep compact.
More information on many of these plants is available on the CRFG web site, www.crfg.org.