Harvesting Pomegranates

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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.

Harvesting Tips

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.

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4 comments

  1. marlenebertrand · September 24, 2013

    I am so glad I read this. I guess I have a pomegranate tree right now. I was just going to go on the internet to determine whether a pomegranate was a tree or bush. I see it can be whatever I want. Since you have both, I’m just curious to know which you prefer. My bush/tree was purchased as a planting from Lowe’s in the Spring. All I knew at the time was that I wanted to grow pomegranates. I figure I have three or more years before I see a single fruit. And, you can be sure I’ll take your advice about the mesh.

    • Arlene Poma · September 24, 2013

      Hi, Marlene! To be honest, I love pomegranate trees in any form. I would have an orchard of them if I had the room. My husband did not decide right away if he wanted a bush or a tree. But once his started to bear fruit, he wanted it pruned into a tree. Well, good luck with that. I tried, but the tree-turned-bush already made up its mind. When you have a pomegranate in bush form, the fruit is all over the place (as you can see). He does nothing to his pomegranate. Sometimes, he’ll remember to water it, but he has no interest in babying it. I soak my tree once a week. Maybe two or three times a week when there’s valley heat. I also fertilize. Yes, I do love my pomegranate tree. I have enclosed a photo of my “bagged” pomegranate. Doesn’t it look silly? Don’t take my advice, though. The suburban varmints around here are very vicious. I am told that if you have anything in your garden to offer, they may ignore the pomegranates. I guess it depends on their mood. This year, they seemed more interested in our cactus. And it is the first year it produced fruit!

  2. The Belmont Rooster · September 24, 2013

    I haven’t eaten Pomegranate in YEARS! There were a few trees in Leland, Mississippi and the fruit was HUGE!

    • Arlene Poma · September 24, 2013

      I love growing pomegranates because they are so easy to grow. Attractive fruit. And those crimson seeds. But they take too long to eat! I’m not going to take one apart by dunking it in water. I’m not going to sit in front of the TV and pick at the seeds. You won’t see me eating a pomegranate because I’m too lazy. But making pomegranate jelly is a different story.

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