Pomegranates do well in Sacramento. I grew up in the Sacramento River Delta, and we had a pomegranate tree that never disappointed us when it came to bearing fruit.
In my opinion, the color of ripe pomegranates is the color of lipstick that I should be wearing. Simply stunning. At our home, we planted “His and Her” pomegranate trees. Mister Jack has the six-year-old bush in the backyard, and I have the two-year-old tree in the front yard. In the right climate, pomegranates are so easy to grow. Depending on how you prune them, you can either have a bush or a tree.
Varmints in Suburbia
I live in what it supposed to be “tame suburbia”. Last year, I snapped out of denial when the birds, squirrels, voles, rats, and possum stripped our bush of every pomegranate. I blame all of these creatures because I could not catch any of them in the act. To make things worse, they started with a good, healthy bite of each pomegranate, then came back to finish the job.
I’ve talked with other suburban home gardeners since then. I feel a lot better that I am not alone when it comes to suburban varmints.
This year, the last thing I wanted to do was look out my kitchen window and see our pomegranate bush–violently stripped of its gorgeous fruit. Strangely enough, my tree in the front yard gave me one pomegranate this year. Usually, you need to wait three or more years before you get fruit. Squirrels come into the front yard all the time, and I know they want my only pomegranate. So I “baggged” it with a mesh bag once used to hold lemons. The varmints have left it alone.
How long can I fool them?
Somehow, I cannot imagine bagging each pomegranate with recycled kitchen mesh. On the Internet, I’ve actually seen little “cages” made of wire mesh. Like the plastic mesh bags, I would need to make at least 40 of those in different sizes.
Here are some pomegranate harvesting tips that I have ignored:
- Tap the fruit. If it sounds like hollow metal, it’s ready for harvest. I don’t even thump melons.
- The fruit should be two to five inches in length. Those are awfully small pomegranates!
- Wait for the pomegranate to split before harvesting. Don’t wait that long. The seeds are exposed, so they lose their flavor. Split fruit will also tempt the varmints to come over and share the harvest.
Harvesting after the First Rain
All day Saturday, Sacramento experienced its first rain and thunder. Which was rare when you consider that fall had not officially started. On Sunday, we were admiring the rich, reddish color of our pomegranates as we stood in the clean, crisp air that only comes after a storm. We also noticed that something had stripped the fruit off our cactus.
Were our pomegranates next?
This was no time to get sentimental. Last year’s harvest by the varmints still haunted us. Now that I had some canning experience, I was determined to make pomegranate jelly this year. Of course, I was going to use our pomegranates from our bush.
Without any encouragement (or nagging), Mister Jack sampled one small pomegranate, then harvested the remaining pomegranates in record time. After placing a box of pomegranates in the kitchen, he returned to his football game.