Californians (and Hawaiians, Idahoans and Arizonans), you have until November 16 to special order fruit trees, vines and shrubs through Dave Wilson Nursery (DWN) and pick them up at local participating nurseries. For the last two years, I've missed the deadline and searched local nurseries for particular fruit tree varieties to no avail.
You can check the DWN website to see what your local nursery ordered (a very thoughtful service on DWN's part, I might add). If they haven't ordered that succulent pluot or plumcot or cherrot or plapple (ok, the last two were made up) you've been fancying to try, you can fill out the special order form, phone, fax or hand-deliver it to your participating nursery, and pick up your order in January-February!
The participating nursery for greater Sacramento is Capital and in El Dorado County it's The Golden Gecko Garden Center. Elsewhere in California, click here.
Since I ended up ordering three dwarf plums and a cherry through Stark Bros. last year (a great experience, by the way), this year I'm thinking about blueberries. For years, I've wanted to try growing them and Dave Wilson Nursery provides a recipe for success, including the right container mix and the fact that the Southern highbush varieties do best in low-chill parts of California. Pretty sure Carmichael is medium chill... around 600-800 hours, but I believe I still want to be looking at low-chill varieties because they tend to be more heat-tolerant. DWN says 500 hours and under is considered low chill.
Nov. 6 update: Foiled again! So, this time I remembered to special order in time, but it turns out blueberries aren't on the the list! I wonder what BDC (Blueberry Defense Council) will have to say about that... Oh, nevermind.
Guess I'll have to hit my local nurseries and see which blueberry varieties they carry. Grumble, grumble. I'll look at mail order too. Still, if you're looking for fruit trees (apples, plums, peaches, cherries, etc.) or nut trees, try the DWN special order program.
For current and historical chilling data for different parts of California, click here. To give you an idea of how many chilling hours we typically receive, the Fair Oaks weather station recorded a total of 655, 1101 and 647 hours from 1997-1999 and 617, 819, 717, 647, 698 and 1103 between 2001-2005. So all you gotta do is get a ballpark figure for chill hours in your area and then pay attention to the minimum chill hours listed for each variety on the DWN website.
The other Sacramento weather station is at Twitchell Island. Anybody know where that is? Sounds Delta-ish. Hours are measured November 1 through February 28/29 and so far this season, the Fair Oaks station has accumulated, um, 0 hours. Go team! The point is, you can see there's variability from year to year and judging from the last few years, the Sacramento suburb of Fair Oaks can count on at least 600 hours and some years they'll even break a thousand. We Sunset Zone 14'ers closer to downtown may not experience quite as much chill.
I'm always a little confused about my burb because Sunset has placed it, in different editions of the Western Garden Book, in both chillier Zone 8 and more temperate Zone 14. With the upcoming edition, who knows? All I do know is that I want it to get cold enough for my plums but not too cold for my citrus. That's not too much to ask for, is it?
For those of you experiencing California envy, you'll be happy to know you can buy Dave Wilson Nursery offerings by mail order.