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Many of us are far more familiar with pomegranates as a drink than we are as a fruit to eat. We rarely see fresh pomegranates in the produce aisle of the supermarket or even at farmers’ markets. However, it is one of the oldest cultivated fruits in the world, dating back several millennia.

It would lead one to think they must be difficult to grow or require unusual climatic conditions. But, that just isn’t the case. Pomegranates love hot weather, but there are also cold-tolerant varieties. They are at home in desert climates, so they have great drought resistance. Plus, they can work in pots.

Pomegranate fruits are considered extraordinarily healthy, with lots of anti-oxidants and medicinal qualities. The juice-laden seeds are delicious as a fresh snack, or they can be enjoyed in all sorts of recipes, in everything from pomegranate sweet and sour tempeh to pomegranate oatmeal burst.

In other words, these can be a great addition to your edible home garden.

Pomegranate History

Pomegranate trees (Punica granatum) are native to Iran and grew naturally throughout the Middle East, all the way to India and the Himalayas. From there, they became a regular feature in Mediterranean gardens and orchards. They were brought to California in the late 1700s, and they are cultivated in the Central Valley of California and Arizona.

Pomegranates were celebrated in Persia, ancient Egyptians view pomegranates as symbols of prosperity, and ancient Greeks referred to them as “food of the dead.” It is also included in the Bible, Torah, and Quran. It even features in Ancient Chinese culture and long-held Hindu traditions.

In short, pomegranates make the rounds and have enjoyed a full life.

Pomegranate Trees

Pomegranate trees can grow up to about thirty feet, but they are generally kept much shorter than that, around 12-16 feet. They can also be cultivated as bushes, allowing sprouts to pop up from the ground. It is deciduous, with leaves that arrive late in the spring and fruit that ripens late in the fall. They can live over 100 years, but most of the fruit production occurs in the first couple of decades.

Having been cultivated for thousands of years, there are over 500 different cultivators of pomegranates, including dwarf varieties that only grow a couple of feet high and cold-hardy varieties that stretch the tree growing range. Depending on the pomegranate, trees can be grown outdoors in climates as frigid as USDA Zone 6. Heat is not an issue.

Pomegranate Cultivation

In general pomegranate trees prefer warm, drier climates (or, at least, well-draining soils), akin to California and Mediterranean countries. They can withstand areas with relatively mild winter (no lower than 12 degrees Fahrenheit) but they do well in full sun. They can be grown in containers in colder climates so that they can be brought indoors during winter.

While pomegranate trees can be grown from seeds, like apples and many other fruits, to get fruit like the parent plant, growers should propagate from cuttings. Pomegranate trees need light pruning, removing suckers and dead wood each year. Heavy pruning will decrease fruit harvests.

Pomegranate Fruits

Pomegranate trees will begin bearing fruit about three years after planting, and they’ll hold their fruit better after about five years. For ideal harvesting, young pomegranate fruits should be thinned to one for every six inches of limb. This will allow the fruit to get larger, and it will also prevent heavy harvests from damaging limbs.

Pomegranate fruits ripen in the autumn, at which time they’ll easily twist off of the tree or they’ll fall off. Fruits left on the tree are prone to splitting from too much moisture, so it’s important to be timely with harvesting. A good tip for knowing a pomegranate is ripening is it changes from its round shape due to the seeds swelling inside it.

Using Your Pomegranates

Those first harvests of pomegranates will be so exciting. They’ll be a delicious snack of the tree. They can be used for a healthy juice. They can be tossed into fun recipes. They can even be used for skincare!

Pomegranate Recipes:

Learn How to Cook Plant-Based Meals at Home

Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammationheart healthmental wellbeingfitness goalsnutritional needsallergiesgut health, and more! Unfortunately, dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acnehormonal imbalancecancerprostate cancer, and has many side effects.

For those interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend purchasing one of our many plant-based cookbooks or downloading the Food Monster App which has thousands of delicious recipes making it the largest vegan recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.

Here are some resources to get you started:

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