I was invited to be the Guest Speaker at the Tucson Rare Fruit Growers. Interesting issues which arose were that their County which is the equivalent of our Shire would not let them grow Mulberries or Olives as the Russian non-fruiting Olive is a pest and the pollen from the male Mulberry gives many people allergies. I also attended the San Diego Chapter meeting of the California Rare Fruit Growers. (refer notes in last issue) The other difference that amazed them was the fact that we can’t get our hands on varieties that are under PBR (Plant Breeders Rights). All they have to do if they want a certain cultivar is go to the centre that has them and pay US$2.00 royalty for budwood. Both groups operate their Clubs more or less along the lines as we do. Guest Speaker/Fantastic Fruit Suppers/Raffle/Sales. Roger & Shirley Meyer hosted Bob & I and this time we were able to visit their farm which is approx. 1½ hours south of Los Angeles. Roger has invited you all to visit whenever you are over there so email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I was able to taste my first Jujubes and Asimina triloba whilst there and just loved them. The Jujube I tried was just like a tiny crunchy apple. Roger has for sale “Jujube Primer & Source Book” put out by himself and Robert R. Chambers. He has given us some seed of Asimina triloba to share around so if you haven’t received any as yet, then let me know and I’ll post some out to you. When they were over staying with us last year, Roger left us a CD which Noel Ramos from Florida put together of the many Annona varieties. It’s wonderfully colourful so those of you who were at the December meeting will have seen it. Tasted the Valencia Pride Mango; very large, elongated and just delicious. They are able to acquire dozens of varieties of Mango and Oro is polyembryonic as is Nam doc Mai. They have a yellow Cashew, Praying Hands Banana – two hands together! Fiji Longan which is 5 times bigger! and the Emporer Lychee which is very large. Don’t bother with the Bael they said. I came across a couple of books I hadn’t seen before: Uncommon Fruit Worthy of Attention by Lee Reich and the excellent Fruits in Colour – Brunei Darussalam by Haji Serudin Datu and Setiawan Haji Tinggal who was Senior Lecturer in Biology at the University of Brunei Darussalam. 1992
Pinon Pine Tasted them both raw and roasted while I was there. They only come in their shell and, due to their small size, although they are tasty like a Pine Nut, they’re very fiddly to get a decent feed from.
They also have Date Milkshakes & Cactus Shakes!
Sweet Potato Leaves – they cut up the stems and sauté in garlic/soy and sesame.
Travelling through Canyonlands in Utah we saw a large Potash Mine. Potash was first discovered in Germany in 1839 and deposits are found within the USA in New Mexico, California, Utah and Canada. One of the largest deposits of potash in the world lies in the Paradox Basin which extends from Green River, Utah to the Four Corners Area in Colorado. This vast basin covering 11,000 billion tons of Potash and that’s enough to supply the entire world for 500 years. The Cane Creek mine we saw is located 20 miles west of Moab Utah and is unique because of the method used to extract the Potash ore. The mine began as a conventional underground excavation in 1964 but was converted in 1970 to a system combining solution mining and solar evaporation. The process is summarized as follows: Water from the nearby Colorado River is pumped through injection wells into the underground mine. The water dissolves the potash salts in the walls and pillars of the 340 miles of underground headings. The brine-laden water is then brought to the surface and piped to 400 acres of shallow ponds about th3 ½ miles southwest of the mine. There the water evaporates, aided by 300 days of sunshine a year and an average of 5% relative humidity. A blue dye similar to food colouring is added to assist with the evaporation process. It has been estimated that if electric power were used to evaporate the brine, it would require power burning 400,000 tonnes of coal each year. The solar ponds are completely lined with heavy vinyl to prevent the valuable brine from leaking into the ground and the river. A series of holding ponds have been constructed to catch any spills and return the potassium-rich brine to the ponds. The crystals remaining after evaporation are scooped by giant 25 ton scrapers which take about 7-10 minutes per load and are laser guided from the edges of the ponds so they do not dip too low and tear the vinyl pond linings. The crystals from the ponds are returned to the mill where the potash is separated by flotation method. They are then dried and screened into premium grades of white potash. Around 1000 to 1500 tons of potash per day are produced by the mill. In the US it is used to supply nutrients to potato, corn alfalfa wheat and soybean crops as well as fruit and nut trees. (to be continued!)