Fruits & Votes is the Web-log of Matthew S. Shugart ("MSS"), Professor of Political Science, University of California, Davis.
Perspectives on electoral systems, constitutional design, and policy around the world, based primarily on my research interests.
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11 July 2011
Planted by MSS
Planted in: Around the finca
22 April 2011
It is great to have bees around. Without them, life would be fruitless.
However, not all places where bees congregate are to my liking.
25 February 2011
The forecast says the snow level will drop to as low as 2000 feet Saturday evening, locally 1000. We are at 1500.
It has been a really cold week, by local standards, especially for late February.
Too bad all this chill is basically useless for the deciduous fruit trees, coming this late. We surpassed 500 chill hours earlier this month. However, we really won’t get more useful chill, as almost everything is leafing out or blooming by now. And getting snow, or freezing temperatures on the buds and blooms is not a good thing.
But some snow would certainly be interesting…
24 December 2010
Thursday, early in the morning, one of the most incredible storms this region has seen finally moved out. We had 6.25 inches in just over six days, 2.76 of which fell on Wednesday; many areas to the north had a good deal more.
It rained heavily enough for a time on Wednesday that we had a little river running through the property, not to be deterred by fresh prunings off one of the apple trees (which has several varieties that were grafted on to it last spring).
The main event of the rain lasted about 72.5 hours. During that time, only near the end were there as many as five straight half-hour increments (the archive time on my weather data-logger) in which no rain was recorded. At one time on 20-21 December, rain was recorded in 42 consecutive half-hour periods. That was part of a run of 123 of 132 half-hour periods in which rain was recorded. So, it rained rather persistently.
I can recall some phases of rain over a week or so long in the past that were impressive. As recently as January of 2010, for example. And no one who lived in Southern California at the time will forget “epic” rainy periods in 1983 and 1969. But usually these involve a series of discrete heavy storms, punctuated by several hours of some sunshine and no rain. This time, as the stats above reveal, it just kept raining. And raining. There were not even any breaks in the clouds, at least during daylight hours (and the record suggests not at night, either) from Saturday afternoon till Wednesday afternoon.
Today it was sunny and relatively warm (first time over 60 since 14 Dec.). But more rain is forecast for Saturday night and at some point during the coming week.
It’s a bit saturated around here.
We won’t have to irrigate for a while. And, thanks to that cold snap in late November, and more than a week of cool days (albeit fairly warm nights for the time of year) during the rain, we are almost to 250 chill hours already, which is good for the stone fruits.
21 December 2010
In late November, we had a couple of mornings with temperatures just below freezing.
This photo shows a hedge with some frost damage a few days later (3 Dec.), along with two other signs of the season: a Hachiya persimmon laden with fruit, and a navel orange tree with fruit just starting to color up. (The orange also shows the results of some major limb breakage from fruit weight and high winds back in October; yes that’s one orange tree).
Fall/winter season is well underway.
The most recent evidence of that is four straight days of essentially uninterrupted rain.
Some more seasonal shots (all from late November or early December):
08 September 2010
In ancient Israel, an indicator that an extra, “leap,” month was needed to realign the lunar calendar with the solar in time for Pesach in spring was when the almond trees were not yet blooming by Tu Bi-Shvat–the second full moon after the winter solstice. However, I have a leading indicator right now: no pomegranates!
Tonight is the new moon closest to the autumnal equinox. So it is Rosh HaShannah. But pomegranates, a fruit often associated with the holiday, are not in the stores yet. Our own trees, moved from the former finca and pitcured below, are just getting established. That one fruit you see has since fallen and likely would not have been ripe by now anyway.
So while it feels like fall, it is not. In fact, with about two weeks before the autumnal equinox, this is about as early as Rosh HaShannah can be. It seems this new year will need an extra month to keep the lunar and solar in alignment.
In any case, here’s wishing everyone a sweet and fruitful leap year, 5771!
31 August 2010
25 May 2010
Being away from the finca, I have not had opportunities to tend the FRUIT side of the virtual orchard (let alone the real one). So, for now, this will have to do.
Citrus juice vendor in Old City.
12 January 2010
We have been on the move. To Ramona.
Naturally, some of the most important items to be moved were fruit trees. Here are seven of them loaded up and ready to go. (more…)
27 November 2009
We had a good crop of persimmons this year at Ladera Frutal.
These are the ‘Tamopans.’ The heaviest crop we have had. The fruit has a unique shape and looks great hanging from the otherwise bare tree. No persimmon is as much fun to eat, and few are as tasty.
The ‘Coffeecake’ (a.k.a. ‘Nishimura Wase’) also had a heavy crop this year. Unlike last year, they were also good to eat. For some reason, last year’s crop never lost its astringency and was mostly inedible. This year, we saw why the variety has been so touted for its exceptional flavor.
For the second time in the last three years, almost the entire ‘Chocolate’ crop set on one branch, requiring some delicate bracing with wires and netting. This may be the very best persimmon, in my experience. Last year, we had few (none?) of these fall treats.
The crop was also heavy this year on the ‘Matsumoto Wase’ (a superior ‘Fuyu’ type). And there was a good crop on ‘Maru’ (though I found the fruit itself a bit disappointing).
All in all, a very good year for the persimmon orchardist!
Propagation: Seeds & scions (4)
18 September 2009
The first jujubes have started to ripen. Just in time.
About three years ago we developed a Ladera Frutal tradition of using the jujube (also known as the Chinese date) as the Rosh ha-Shanah “first fruit.” It is perfect, in many ways. The fruit has some apple-like qualities, but in my estimation, is even better dipped in honey (which really should be date honey) than an apple is.
But more to the point, it always ripens right around the autumnal equinox, and Rosh ha-Shanah (literally “Head of the Year”) is the new moon closest to the equinox. Apples, on the other hand, go practically year around here.
As the photo above makes clear, jujubes grow on trees, and therefore there need be no worries about which bracha is valid.
The crop, of GA866 variety, is a bit light this year, though not quite as light as it appears in the photo. For some reason I took the photo after I had harvested. You can see one ripe fruit (brown) way up high in the tree. There are some light green fruit hanging on other branches; these will ripen into the new year.
Of course, we won’t eat any till after sundown on the first of Tishri!
May the new year be fruitful and sweet!
31 July 2009
Planted by MSS
Planted in: Stone fruits
The ‘Earli Autumn’ apricots are quite large this year, and already close to ripe.
The ‘Earli Autumn’ is the trunk at the right of the photo, while the one to the left is another late-ripening apricot, known as ‘Autumn Glo.’ This latter variety has only a few fruits this year, and they are going to ripen somewhat later, is obvious from their lack of any ‘glo’ thus far.
Finally, in the category of late-ripening apricots we have the ‘Autumn Royal.’
This fruit always has a tendency to crack before it can ripen, and the fruit has also attracted considerable interest from snails. I am not confident that I’ll get to harvest any of these. From past experience, it is by far the tastiest of the three late varieties. Oh well.
15 July 2009
Planted by MSS
Planted in: Avocados
Soon it will all be chips, but not the kind for guacamole.
For background on how we got to this point, see this year’s Sukkot planting.
I am often asked what I will do with the land.
If I had the resources, maybe wine grapes, or olive trees. Both were once common in these parts, before cheap water and protected markets led to the “green gold” boom (and the fruit of the vine is making a notable comeback, even very nearby). Both crops are much more adaptable to this climate, for sure. But I do not have the resources. So, for now, think of it as a (very) late start to shmitah.
Or maybe I should plant pinyon pine trees. Pine nuts are twenty dollars a pound at a local market.
25 June 2009
The set on the Geo-Pride pluot is ridiculously heavy this year!
24 June 2009
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F&V time: This blog's date function is so set as to start a new day at approximately local sunset. (Why, if we have "day" and "night," should a new "day" start in the middle of the night?)
FRUITS: Support your local, organic growers; and, plant vines and fig trees and pomegranates for the generations to come...
VOTES: For democratization and full representation, for environmental sustainability, social justice, and peace, always sincerely...
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