Photo Wiki Commons - Courtesy Augustus Binu
The Pomegranate is officially classified as a berry which originated in Iran. Pomegranate seeds provide 12% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin C and 16% DV for vitamin K per 100 g serving, and contain polyphenols, such as ellagitannins and flavonoids. Pomegranate seeds are excellent sources of dietary fiber
The ancient Ayurveda system of medicine has used various parts of this plant as a source for many of its traditional remedies for centuries. For example, the rind of the fruit and the bark of the tree have been used as remedy against diarrhea, dysentery and intestinal parasites. The seeds and juices are considered a tonic for the throat and heart. But most of all: pomegranates taste great. If you don't like the seeds, try the juice. By the way, once you develop a taste for pomegranates, that will be an incentive to grow your own as the fresh fruit as well as its juice and other food derivatives are quite pricey.
Inspired this morning by an article in March/April issue of Texas Gardener (as well as my own success at keeping two pomegranate bushes alive in my yard over the harsh winter fo 2013-2014) I've decided that it's time for Loving Garland Green to begin the establshment of our woodland garden section of the Garland Community Garden.
The article, written by Suzanne Larry, is titled Richard Ashton, a Fruitful Life. Richard Ashton lives in Brownwood Texas--a stone's throw from where I grew up out in west Texas. In 2004 he started his Oak Creek Orchard in Brownwood --a mixed orchard with room for experimental species.
In 2012 he and two partners purchased 549 acres in Fort Stockton (out near the Big Bend country). They are in the process of planting 32,000 pomegranate trees there. Now that's a vision. If they are successful in these endeavors, they will transform the local economy of that area to a plant-based economy (my prediction). As more folks become educated regarding the nutritional and health benefits of the pomegranate, its market demand will soar.
Mr. Ashton is best known for his work with pomegranates. His book, The Incredible Pomegranate, Plant and Fruit, published in 2006 is still in print--a testimony to the interest in pomegranates and Richard Ashton. He has pioneered many of the techniques for propagating pomegranates in Texas.
It is my firm conviction the fastest paths to knowledge and success are people who have "been there done that." Thus this morning I dashed off an email to Mr. Ashton requesting his advice regarding a project I plan to propose to Loving Garland Green members tomorrow night. Here is an excerpt:
About a Proposed Pomegranate Experiment
I realize the conditions in west Texas are not the same as those here in the DFW area; however, I do know that pomegranate trees can survive and even thrive here. Last year I planted two in an area in my yard where I am in the process of establishing a woodland garden. They both survived the unusually harsh winter we had here in Garland, Texas and today are green and healthy.
I would like to experiment with pomegranates in our garden by creating a grove of about 10 of them at the edge of the canopy of one of the mature (about 50 years old) pecan trees at our site. Like Brownwood, we also have our issues with the drought and water restrictions. As part of our experiment, I would like to install two, one-foot diameter, 2.5 feet tall chicken wire cylinders per tree. Our trees would be planted in mulch/compost/garden soil piles as we do not till the earth at our site.
The chicken wire baskets would be placed about one foot out from either side of each tree. They are inserted into the soil to about 1.5 feet of the cylinder. Wet cardboard is placed in the bottom of the cylinder and then vegetable table scraps are added. It is topped off with layers of crumpled newspaper to mask any odor. These cylinders are watered weekly. Unless conditions get extremely dry, once the plants are established, the cylinders only get water. The roots of the tree are attracted to the cylinder for water and nutrients.
The cylinders are replenished at 10 day cycles with cardboard, vegetable matter and newspaper.
Request for Assistance
We would like to obtain plants from you, Mr. Ashton--after all you are decidedly the best and most reliable source for pomegranates. I'm sure you could advise on the heartiest varieties for our area. In addition, we would like to obtain your expert advice on how best to proceed with our proposed experiment.
Our members will keep detailed records of this experiment as we would like to encourage others to grow pomegranates in our area as well. Please send me information regarding cost of sending 10 to 15 pomegranates: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE TO MY READERS
I'll keep you posted on this. In the meantime I will order a copy of Mr. Ashton's book. If I don't hear from him, the knowledge I glean from his book may be sufficient to guide me and other members of Loving Garland Green in undertaking this experiment to establish pomegranate shrubs in our community garden.