During the unusually cold weather of the past week, I was visiting family and friends in San Diego so I couldn’t watch nighttime temperatures fall to the twenties and sometimes the teens. Instead, I was anxious from a distance, reading the weather report and hoping that the extra layers of mulch and the final cover of lumber wrap I’d added before we left were protecting the kitchen garden winter vegetables from damaging cold.
I’m home now and grateful to find that the roots and kale, leeks and Brussels sprouts, mache and even some of the arugula and mustard are OK, all a bit battered but OK.
We can continue to enjoy roasted rutabagas, turnips, carrots and parsnips, roasted leeks, sautéed Brussels sprouts, braised kale and celery root salads with hardy greens. And I do enjoy all of them, but I keep thinking of the salad that our friend Mary served us one lunchtime in San Diego: sweet, crisp slices of bright orange Fuyu persimmons scattered with ruby red pomegranate seeds, walnuts and fresh cilantro, dressed with lime vinaigrette. It was gorgeous and incredibly delicious. I can’t get it out of my mind. This is local winter food in Hardiness Zone 10B. It’s hard not to be envious.
Of course a salad of mache with bits of roasted rutabaga and red apple is pretty and delicious too, a nice winter salad for Hardiness Zone 7B, but those persimmons were special. Mary gave me a couple to take home and add to my own salad. Mine was tasty but not so delicious as hers was.
“Could I grow persimmons here on Lopez?” I asked my “I’ll-try-to-grow-anything” friend Carol and of course her answer was yes, qualified by the requirements of variety and south-facing wall microclimate. Or, she teased me, faced with the choice between rutabaga and persimmon I could simply say “Don’t worry about me, I’ll just have the rutabaga.”
So I’ve gone to the Raintree Nursery site to see what persimmon varieties they offer for the northwest. There are one or two that might work. We are entering that dreamy time of seed ordering and the New Year’s garden planning so why not imagine it? And if I don’t get a persimmon tree or two, there are always rutabagas or even better another winter visit with Mary.
I enjoy reading your blog, which I started following after your post a year or two ago on beans; we are bean fanatics and grow/have grown many of the varieties you wrote about. I have to chime in here on persimmons. My husband grows many varieties, astringent and non-astringent in our Northern California garden. Typically, we have winter lows in the 20’s, this year in the teens, but are probably warmer in summer and fall than you are. Anyway, I highly recommend the Japanese variety ‘Saijo’, it is our favorite astringent variety. The fruit are smaller than a Haychiya (perhaps by a half or a quarter), so they might ripen for you. I’d have to be very hungry to choose a rutabaga over a ‘Saijo’.
A persimmon is just so beautiful they require some days of just gazing at before eating. I discovered a tree in our neighborhood, down on Lytle, about a half block from Rich Passage, and then friend Suellen also grows them in the center of the island. If anyone can be successful with growing persimmons you would be the one to do it. I trust they’ll thrive in your nurturing hands on Lopez as well as those I’ve seen here on Bainbridge. Happy Happy Holidays and enjoy Sadie when she lands!!