This is a Live Oak leaning on its’ elbows on a hill near my wild loquat orchard. There are many kinds of oks in the world. The Live Oak lives in Northern California and does not lose its’ leaves in the winter.

Masanobu Fukuoka advocated natural farming. He proposed and experimented with ways to revegetate infertile land, even deserts. In his view, the land had been damaged by bad agricultural practices and had lost its productiveness. When land has been drastically altered, such as by the fires in California or over farming, then extreme measures are required to bring it back to fertility. He suggested planting a mix of seeds in scarred areas and then letting nature decide what should grow. He cared little whether the seeds were native or not because he said man has carried seeds around the world for thousands of years and there is almost no such thing as a native species anymore. I use some of his techniques on our very small fruit orchard, although his way to grow mandarins involves no pruning. I do prune our fruit trees as I have seen how vigorously mandarins respond after pruning.

Lately I have been planting loquat trees (nispero in Spanish) on some of the erosion damaged hills that I walk through. I now have a small orchard of 40 trees in the wild growing on steep land no one can use. I envision these trees preventing mudslides and also keeping the cliffs near the oceans from falling into the sea. This is my guerrilla gardening tribute to Fukuoka and I think he would have approved. 

The loquat is a native of China and Japan but it has grown in California commercially for quite some time. The fruit bruises easily and that may be why growers do not like it. Growers want fruit that is rock hard, lasts for weeks and can survive shipping by truck for thousands of miles. The loquat trees adapt well to California because they require no water which is perfect for here as it only rains half the year in Northern California. In Spain there are usually a couple of loquat trees planted by the house on small fincas that are used for fresh eating but not for sale. It is falling out of favor in Spain and few people buy them anymore. One of my favorite memories of Malaga was walking by a small 50 tree loquat orchard blooming in the early Spring. The flowers infused the air with a light scent of baby powder. If I had not known what kind of trees they were I might have missed the fragrance as it is very subtle.

I grow loquats to help restore the damaged land but also because I like the sweet, tangy tropical taste of the fruit.

Published by Rod

I love walking and riding in the hills.

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