That’s right, the UPS guy brought a box yesterday, containing the three bare-root jujbe trees I bought a few weeks ago from Roger Meyer out near San Diego, a consensus expert on this not-so-well-known fruit if ever there was one.
This morning I dug three small holes behind our back garden, on semi-level spots along the slight slope running down to the river. I spread the roots over a mound of soil and filled in the rest, leaving the grafted area above the roots exposed to dry air. Tamped down the soil a little to make good root contact, and watered the little 2 to 3-foot trees in place. I was going to show you a picture of it, but the photos I took were exceedingly boring, even by my standards.
Jujube fruit vary in size depending on variety, but are generally oblong and bigger than a cherry yet smaller than an apricot. They are green at first, then some varieties turn yellowish, and then develop reddish splotches. They have been cultivated into perfection for about forever in China, where many varieties were developed that produce fruit for drying, like dates, which the Chinese pretty much love.
According to a history of the jujube in the U.S., over at Texas Gardener, a U.S. Department of Agriculture official imported several varieties from China at the turn of the last century, excited because he thought they’d catch on like gangbusters, apparently. However, USDA didn’t realize they’d imported pretty much all jujube drying varieties, instead of fresh-eating varieties. But they’d allowed the American public to believe these were for fresh eating. At the time, the public was not impressed.
Fast forward to the 1990s and we’d begun developing and importing some of the better fresh-eating varieties, which some have described as tasting like a very sweet apple. I believe I’ve purchased three of those, but I’ll probably have to wait three years or so for proof, because they might take that long to fruit. (When you plant a fruit tree, you are taking a positive action for the future – yours or someone else’s or both.)
Here are the descriptions of the varieties I just planted, from Roger’s tree list:
→ SO: A tree of most beautiful shape. At each node of the stem the branch decides to go off in a different direction. Hence, very zig zag branching. Tree seems to be somewhat dwarfed. Fruit is early.
→ GI 7-62: From the Chico Research Program. Fruit is round but flattened to an unusual shape. Excellent, sweet taste. A real surprise! It was named “Chico” by Paul Thompson of the California Rare Fruit Growers.
→ SHANXI LI: NEW! First time offered in US. Extremely large fruit with great flavor.
Jujube trees really need full sun to do their thing, and the only place left here on the One Acre Ranch was the narrow strip of land running from the back garden down to the river. Only 100 feet or so at the upper end of this strip was available for planting, because any lower than that and we risk the odd river flood. You can supposedly plant these trees as close as 4 or 5 feet apart, but I spaced ours closer to 20 feet. They stay fairly small, and probably will stay less than 15 feet tall for some time. Some varieties do better with another type growing nearby to serve as a pollinator, so we should be good in that department.
Our main fig crops pretty much run heavy through the month of July, and one reason I wanted to try to grow jujubes is that they generally provide ripe fruit from the end of July through September. My three varieties include one each of an early, mid-season and late variety, so I’m hoping for a long harvest season. Eventually.