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Growing Pomegranates In Alabama

 
shane jennings
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I wanted to see if anybody else is growing pomegranate trees in Alabama? I started collecting pomegranate varieties to see what varieties will grow and produce fruit in our climate. So if you are growing pomegranates in Alabama, I want to hear from you? What variety are you growing? Or is your tree variety an heirloom? I have started the Alabama Pomegranate Association to help Alabamians learn about growing pomegranates. Like my Facebook page for Alabama Pomegranate Association to which I post something helpful each week. Also website Alabamapomegranateassociation.com. Come to the first annual meeting October 14, 2016. Taste test with 20+ varieties. If you have questions about pomegranates please ask? Also, I want to know if your growing pomegranates and what part of the state of Alabama your growing them in?

Thanks,

Shane Jennings
Alabama Pomegranate Association
 
Ned Pepper
Posts: 13
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Hey i'm in Mississippi but from Alabama. No one i know of in or around my hometown is growing pomegranate but i'm planning to try here at my home in the future. What's the name of your facebook page and where is the meeting in October? If it's within decent driving distance i'd like to be there.
 
shane jennings
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Hello Ned,

Here is my Facebook URL
https://www.facebook.com/alabamapomegranateassociation/

Thank you so much for contacting me. Last year I had 67 varieties testing here in Alabama. I just found 5 heirloom varieties, some 100+ year old trees. My brother in law says as a boy growing up in Mississippi his neighbor had a big sweet yellow pomegranate. So they are scattered throughout Mississippi as well. A guy from Arizona just sent me cuttings & another guy is sending me an Iranian black pomegranate from North Carolina this week. Plus the Clonal Germplasm Respository just sent me 18 varieties last week. I'm now up to 91 varieties to be tested in Alabama in which Mississippi climate should be almost identical.

The Alabama Pomegranate Association annual meeting is October 14, 2016. The location will be at the Gulf Coast Research & Extension Center with the address being 8300 Al - 104, Fairhope, Al. 36532. The cost will be members $25 pre-registration; $35 registration including lunch. Non-Members $40 Pre-registration; $50 Registration including Lunch.

Speakers
Jeff MOERSFELDER
National Clonal Germplasm

Cindy Weinstein
President of Florida Pomegranate Association

Will Lovett
University of Georgia/president GPA

Dr Gary Vallad
Associate Professor, Plant Pathologist

Time: 9:30am - 3:30pm
 
Ned Pepper
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That's fantastic! I wish you well on your testing and hope to make it to the meeting!
 
shane jennings
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That's great! Just let me know if you have any more questions about pomegranates. I will be glad to help.
 
Frank fank
Posts: 10
Location: Indian River County FL
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Hello Shane,

I am not currently in your area Florida zone 9b but I found this topic while searching here on permies.com. I am starting a food forest for my family which will be shared with my local community. So I am always on the hunt for nutritious plants that can easily be propagated and shared with others. I am looking for cuttings of different varieties of pomegranates to grow on my farm. If you have any varieties in which you are able to share/sell cuttings from I would greatly appreciate it. If not I would appreciate if you could direct me to any other sources of cuttings that I may procure. Thank you for your time and all the best in your endeavors.

Frank
 
shane jennings
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Hello Frank,

It sounds like a wonderful project to start a community garden. Pomegranate varieties are great healthy additions for this. I will be glad to help in anyway I can. First, I would ask what are you looking for in a pomegranate? Is color important? Seed hardness-hard/medium/soft seeded? Taste/flavor? Sweetness-sweet/sour or sweet? Fresh eating or juice variety? How many varieties do you have room for? Second, I would contact Cindy with the "Florida Pomegranate Association". Cindy also owns Green Sea Farms that has over 100 varieties of pomegranates. I can advise you on pomegranate varieties for your area, but she actually grows them I believe in the same usda zone as you giving better advice for your area. I hope I have given enough information to help you. Feel free to write back with any additional questions and I will help.
 
Frank fank
Posts: 10
Location: Indian River County FL
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Shane,

Thank you for your prompt response and I appreciate the information I will try contacting Cindy since her farm is located directly west of me and see if she has any advice. Honestly I haven't given much thought to texture, taste, flavor, or seed hardness since my exposure to pomegranates has been limited to store bought Wonderful variety. My criteria was simply edible. I have 5 acres of land on my farm but due to the planting style (permaculture food forest) I am able better utilize space as opposed to conventional rows. Not really looking to grow hundreds of pomegranates though but am always open minded. I currently have 4 varieties planted and growing that I grew from cuttings last Summer. About 20 plants total. The only variety that I can name is Wonderful that I grew from a family tree in Orlando. The other three varieties I purchased through ebay. The only thing I was told was that one has and orange flower, the other a white flower with sweet fruit, and the third a multi colored flower red or pink with white highlights. Not much to go on I realize but they are all growing well so if they produce maybe I'll find out.

The community where my farm is located has been around since the early 1900's surrounded by nature preserves. Mostly a rural community. So in one way or another most people are looking to grow or raise their own food. I am currently growing different varieties of perennial foods/fruits to see which ones are best suited to my area. My criteria is that they grow well here utilizing natural resources that can easily be found/grown and used here. It is also a big plus if they can be easily propagated and shared with others. Since pomegranates easily fit that criteria here we are. For me personally I am looking for taste and multi purpose use. Whether its for juice, food, nutrition, medicine, or even animal feed. I believe though that the ability tolerate moisture will be a big factor due to Florida rain and all the canals and ponds in the area.

As far as advice I am open to any that you may give on the topic. If you have any cuttings of any varieties that you think/know will grow well here I would be glad to pay for them. Also any heirloom or interesting varieties that you think might be worth preserving are welcome too. Basically any assistance you can give is a blessing to me and I am thankful just for a simple response.

Thank you for your time once again.

Frank
 
shane jennings
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Hello Frank,

Since you are not opposed to trying heirloom pomegranate varieties, let me make a recommendation for you. A friend of mine Richard owns Pom-Natural from steinhatchee Florida. He has a large collection of heirloom pomegranate varieties. He would also be a great connection for you for Florida pomegranate varieties. In addition I would be glad to send you some Alabama pomegranate heirloom varieties as well. I would need to contact the original tree owner and pick up some cuttings to send to you. If you are interested in this let me know. The best time to root pomegranate cuttings is when they are dormant.
 
Frank fank
Posts: 10
Location: Indian River County FL
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Hello Shane,

I responded to you several weeks ago via purple moosage to give you my email address. I have not heard from you so I am responding here again just in case you did not receive it. Yes, I am interested in the heirloom variety cuttings or any other cuttings of varieties you may think will grow here. I am thinking that if I can get 10 or 20 different varieties to grow and produce well here that I may plant them intermixed with the potential heirloom varieties to let them cross pollinate so that I can try growing from seed some of the potential crosses. Would be nice to come up with a few useful varieties more native to my area. Am currently growing 14 varieties of figs several from the LSU breeding program from cuttings this year to be planted out next Spring. Will see how that goes would like to interplant with the pomegranates and other more semi-tropical fruits am trying to grow. Am growing several mulberry and elderberry varieties as well. Just mentioning plants in case you or anyone you know will need cuttings or information on how these plants grow in these areas. I believe in passing blessings along as they are given to me. Will take me a year or two to have cuttings to share though. No point in sharing something that won't grow. Any way, all the best and thank you for all of your help.

Sincerely,

Frank
 
shane jennings
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Frank,

Yes I did! Unfortunately, I am very busy this time of year. During the summer I work 80-90 hours a week with my route being in a tourist area. The heirloom pomegranate varieties are within a 3 hour drive around me in every direction. It's not so simple to coordinate with all the people that own the trees to get all the cuttings in one day. Not good to collect green cuttings when it would take so long to get them. i made the offer to get some heirloom cuttings for you, but not until dormant season is here. Not sure why you want heirloom varieties when Green Sea Farms down by you has over a hundred varieties that only cost $15 a tree. Now if your heart is set on getting heirloom varieties from me, I will be glad to help you this winter. In addition, a friend of mine Richard owns Pom-Natural. He is a heirloom pomegranate collector too. He has heirloom pomegranate varieties he could sell you. Most of his heirloom pomegranate varieties came from Florida. Let me know if I can further assist you. If your willing to wait, I can help, but buying a tree verses getting cuttings will put you in position sooner to eating homegrown pomegranates.

Thanks,

Shane Jennings
 
Frank fank
Posts: 10
Location: Indian River County FL
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Shane,

Apparently I've given you the wrong impression or have been completely misunderstood. I apologize let's just call it the disadvantage of electronic communication. In no way did I expect you to send me cuttings in a day nor was I looking for a hand out. Being a father of three boys, working full time as a nurse in Miami, and trying to establish a working farm in Indian River County 3 hours away in my spare time I understand people are busy.
I am interested in the heirloom varieties because they have proven themselves genetically hardy. I prefer to grow my plants from cuttings because one I enjoy it and two I find that they are hardier than most nursery varieties that use artificial fertilizers and focus on quantity of product as opposed to quality. I also have a year or so before I am moving permanently to my farm so as you can imagine if I grow 200 plants at $2 a cutting as opposed to 200 at $15-30 there is a cost factor as well. I will be contacting Richard at Pom-Natural since his operation seems to focus on organic growing which I prefer. I appreciate all of the advice and contact information that you have given me and I thank you for your kindness and time. Best of luck on your future endeavors. I have been planning my move from the city to the country for over 15 years. So perhaps I may be a bit overzealous or can at least be perceived so as my dreams come to fruition. But if at least half of my ambition becomes reality...I will be a very blessed man indeed.

Frank
 
shane jennings
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I can understand overzealous. That's me too. I value the heirloom for one main reason. They need to be saved before they disappear. I will be glad to help you with your project this dormant season. Best of luck with your project.

Thanks,

Shane Jennings
 
shane jennings
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Hello Frank,

Here are some helpful hints to help you find heirloom pomegranate varieties by you. They are around you, but most people don't realize it. For starters, go to a local print shop and order some business cards. The ones I ordered are extra thick paper with plenty of color. Mine are two sided. One side is a picture with beautiful red arils and the other side has a picture of a beautiful red pomegranate with my contact information on it. The business card serves three purposes. 1) It is a great conversation starter. 2) They have a way to contact you when they ask their friends if they know of an heirloom pomegranate. 3) It keeps talking after you leave. What I mean by this is after you leave it on a counter of a business like a gas station or feed store, it starts conversations and your reach is broader.

The next thing to do when looking for heirloom pomegranates is to drive. I take different travel roots and stop in small towns and communities. You need to get a map and gradually plan on little road trips to different areas on your map and place an X on that spot so you know the places you have been.

The next question you are probably asking is how do I find them. The first thing to do is watch for pomegranate trees while you are driving. The best time to spot them is in the spring when they are blooming because a blooming pomegranate tree is hard to miss. The next best time is in the fall when fruit is big and ready. It's just easier to spot when those fruits are big.

The next item to think about is where are the best places to ask if any knows where a heirloom pomegranate tree is. When you are in a small rural community usually there is a feed store. Feed stores are a great place to ask for heirloom pomegranates because people that typically have pomegranates frequent them a lot to buy fertilizer. Usually the local owner knows them and can help you. Never forget to leave your business card especially on the counter for customers to see. Also the local gas station is a good place if it is owned by a local mom & pops. Another good source is a local farmer on the side of the road selling produce

When you meet someone with an heirloom, here is some advice. Remember you are a guest. This valuable heirloom is a treasure that has family ties and is very important to them. It is very important to show respect for their gift of cuttings. One of the greatest curtesies you can show them is spending time talking to them. Like last week about 3 hours from my house I found an heirloom pomegranate and spent 1 hour & a 1/2 talking to them. If they want to visit, visit. Showing them appreciation for the gift they give you is key.

Finding heirloom pomegranate varieties takes a lot of time, money, and driving. The reward is you are saving history. Without saving history, it has a way of disappearing. You can find heirloom pomegranate varieties near you. I challenge you to go looking in your area.

Have a fantastic time,

Shane Jennings
 
Cl Robinson
Posts: 25
Location: SW Alabama zone 8a & 8b
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Shane,

I am about halfway between Mobile and Montgomery.  I have one pomegranate tree that is in rather pitiful shape.  My late father-in-law planted it about 7 years ago  They do grow here with proper care,  I just moved back to this land and am trying to make a go out of a small acre in the midst of family.  I am also sandwiched between 2 cotton fields (not organic) so I am torn about planting anything else.  I am working on a greenhouse and when that happens I would love to have cuttings/seeds/whatever.  I also think I will try to attend the conference if my schedule and budget allow.  Nice to know there are other permies closer than half a country away.
 
shane jennings
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Hello CI,

     It is so great to hear from you! I will glad to help you with your pomegranate tree. Can you send a picture of your tree? Also, how much sun does your tree receive each day? What type of soil is your pomegranate planted in, such as sandy loam or heavy soil?
 
Cl Robinson
Posts: 25
Location: SW Alabama zone 8a & 8b
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Shane,

Pics attached.  I have 2 blooms and 1 fruit.  Sorry for the crappy pics, my optics fogged as soon as I hit the yard.  What do you think about planting more beside the cotton field?
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pom tree
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dif angle pom
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pom fruit
 
Cl Robinson
Posts: 25
Location: SW Alabama zone 8a & 8b
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Full sun and clay soil.
 
Frank fank
Posts: 10
Location: Indian River County FL
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@Cl Robinson,

I am not an expert in pomegranates but I can suggest a few simple things that may help the trees.  Trim the grass and weeds around them to the ground keeping green material there, cover with cardboard around tree at least 4ft. diameter.  Cover the area with mulch.  That alone may help.  Go to a healthy forest area and collect some mushrooms that you may find blend them up with some water or just smash and pour on the mulch to inoculate the area.  Adding some soil from the forest area may also be beneficial.  The point of this is to inoculate the soil with fungi and potentially beneficial microbes.  For a simple fertilizer you can even use urine mixed 15:1 with non chlorinated water as long as you are not on any medication that may be eliminated with it.  Good luck on your endeavors.  If all that doesn't help take some cuttings, grow them for a season and plant them somewhere else.  That way you can at least preserve the trees. 



@ Shane Jennings,

Thank you Shane for the time you've spent sharing information and all of your suggestions.  I really appreciate the detailed information.   I will search my area for any pomegranate varieties once I get established there permanently.  If I find anything interesting I will be sure let you know.  Good luck on your endeavors and all the best.
 
shane jennings
Posts: 63
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Some other helpful suggestions would be to train your tree. What I mean by that is to train your tree as tree form or bush form. Here's a link. https://www.facebook.com/alabamapomegranateassociation/posts/1199049666807062:0 To many suckers can take away energy from fruit production. Please keep me informed about your progress. Not sure where you are located, but I just found an heirloom near Union Spring Alabama 100+ year old tree. Keep me posted on how things are going. Once you get to the point of planting, let me know I will help you. There many varieties that will work for you. Thank you for the updates! Be sure to read Alabama Pomegranate Association Facebook page. There so much educational material I post. It will really help you. https://m.facebook.com/alabamapomegranateassociation/
 
Cl Robinson
Posts: 25
Location: SW Alabama zone 8a & 8b
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Frank fank,

Thanks for the suggestions, I am not sure we have mushrooms this time of year as we are in the 90's.  I just moved back here onto family land and the fruit trees have not been cared for in my absence.  The pem is the worst looking one and I intend to work on it.


Shane,

I am about halfway between Montgomery and Mobile (north of Atmore), and I would like to plant another pomegranate, but I wonder at the advisability of planting fruit trees next to a cotton field.  The family used to plant the gardens and everything else right next to the cotton, and many have passed on from cancer.  I cant help but wonder about that.
 
shane jennings
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Hello CI,

     I wish I could give you advice about your cotton field dilemma. Unfortunately, I don't know enough about the effects of living near a cotton field. But there are numerous articles written about the health benefits of consuming pomegranates. Many of these articles even say that eating pomegranates can reduce your chances of getting cancer. If I were in your shoes, and worried about getting cancer. I would buy several pomegranate trees. The benefits of of consuming pomegranates far outweigh the results of not having pomegranates planted in your yard. Plant several varieties. Pomegranates are very good for you.
 
Cl Robinson
Posts: 25
Location: SW Alabama zone 8a & 8b
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Shane,

I think I am going to go ahead and plant some more pomegranate and other fruit trees.  Who knows maybe one day the cotton field will be gone but if not, I dont think growing here would be any worse than conventionally grown fruit. 

Thanks evveryone for your encouragement!

CL
 
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