In today’s article we talk about how to grow pomegranate and the properties of the fruit, also known as garnet or pomegranate ). It is one of the most important fruits that ripen in the autumn period. An ancient fruit, known and appreciated not only for its sweet taste but also for its countless healing properties.
Therefore, today we know not only the organic cultivation methods of the pomegranate , but also the history of the fruit and its legend. We also see the beneficial properties of its pulp.
Pomegranate cultivation is very hard and requires limited care. For this reason, it can be easily made in vegetable gardens and domestic gardens.
The cultivation of the pomegranate between history and legend
The cultivation of pomegranate has been known since ancient times and is believed to originate in southwestern Asia. The Phoenicians were the first to appreciate pomegranate juice and to spread the plant in the Mediterranean. And the Romans began to import it already in the period of the Punic Wars.
The scientific name is of Roman origin, from the Latin punicum (Carthaginian), and from the composition of the word malum (apple) and granatum (rich in seeds).
The myth of Persephone
Even before the Romans, who classified and spread it, the cultivation of pomegranate was widely known among the Greeks. In fact, the legend of Persephone, a very important figure in Greek mythology, is linked to this fruit.
Persephone was the daughter of Demeter and Zeus. She was kidnapped by Hades, god of the underworld, who fell in love with her. The cunning Hades gave Persephone the pomegranate fruit to eat. The young woman ate only six seeds, not knowing that by eating the fruits of the Underworld she would be forced to stay there for eternity.
This unleashed the wrath of Demeter, the goddess of agriculture. Until then, the goddess gave farmers whole years of good weather and productive harvests. Instead, her anger gave way to a long and continuous winter period.
Eventually, the winter only ceased thanks to the intercession of Zeus. The deal was that Persephone would remain in the underworld for the number of months equal to the pomegranate seeds she ate, hence the cold six months. The rest of the year, that is, the warm seasons, she would instead spend next to her mother.
Persephone became the wife of Hades. In the six months that she remained in the afterlife, she fulfilled the function of the minor goddess of the underworld. In spring and summer, when she returned to her mother, she made the earth bloom again as she passed her.
Thanks to this legend, the juicy pomegranate has become the fruit of the god’s par excellence.
The main varieties of pomegranate
There are several varieties of pomegranate cultivation, which differ mainly in the quality of the fruit. Depending on the type, in fact, pomegranate juice can be more or less sweet (and acidic). The consistency of garnets also varies, some harder, others softer.
At a food level, the varieties whose pomegranate juice is not very acidic, and the sweeter and softer seeds are favored. In our country the main types with these characteristics are:
- the Horse’s Tooth,
- the Neirana,
- the Prophet Partanna,
- the Selinunte,
- the Ragana,
- the Racamulto,
the Wonderful, of American origin, is characterized by very large fruits and a very sweet juice. The cultivation of the Wonderful pomegranate has been gaining ground in recent years especially in Sicily.
Pomegranate pulp and juice: nutritional properties and beneficial virtues
The latter represent the edible part of the fruit and in the varieties we have indicated above they are very fleshy and with a typical red color.
It must be said that, in reality, as regards some varieties, the color of the latter can be even lighter.
The seed is composed of this pulpy and juicy part, which contains woody integuments, white in color.
As can be seen in the table contained here , the edible part, that is the seeds, represents only 60% of the entire berry.
The pulp and pomegranate juice provide a good supply of carbohydrates, in the form of sugars (15.9 gr. For every 100 gr. Of edible part). The fruit also contains 63 kcal per 100 gr., Therefore it has a high energy power.
Pomegranate is rich in potassium 290 mg, vitamins A and retinol eq. (µg) 15 and vitamin C 8 mg.
Pomegranate juice is added to the main elements, pomegranate pulp and juice (or pomegranate more properly referring to the fruit) contain 100 other substances. These include tannins, polyphenols, anthocyanins, flavonoids, and organic acids, all of which are antioxidant elements. In short, it is rich in beneficial properties.
These characteristics, in fact, make it for example an ideal food for those with intestinal problems, such as inflammation of the mucosa, generally due to a malfunction of the immune system.
The antioxidant elements contained in pomegranate pulp and juice resist the acidic environment of the stomach. In this way, they reach the intestine intact. Once here, they activate molecular mechanisms that reduce the presence of substances that cause the inflammatory state. Basically: pomegranate is a real natural antibacterial.
The small woody integuments contained within the arils, on the other hand, have diuretic and astringent properties.
The pomegranate is generally consumed fresh, but the consumption of its juice, or other derivatives of the processing, such as syrups and jams, has been very widespread in recent times.
The juice, in particular, is obtained from the juice of crushed pomegranate seeds. Through a filtering operation, the woody integuments should be eliminated if possible. The juice obtained is particularly concentrated, and therefore, all the characteristics indicated above are enhanced. Finally, the pomegranate liqueur has excellent digestive properties.
Characteristics of the pomegranate
As we have mentioned, this plant can grow in a different way: either with a bushy shrub or tree-like habit. This will depend on how we decide to carry out the pruning interventions.
Since pomegranate tends to form a shrub bush naturally, it is usually left to grow this way.
This trend depends on its intrinsic characteristics. The roots of the tree, for example, are very strong, extend both deep and horizontally, and develop many suckers, which grow rapidly, forming the bush. A pomegranate bush can reach up to 5 meters in height, while if grown as a tree it can reach up to 7 meters.
The leaves instead are of different sizes, from 2 to 7 cm. They are very small and numerous during the vegetative period, they are wavy and have an oblong-lanceolate shape. Their color is variable, from the intense green of early spring they tend to lighten during the summer, and then turn yellow with the approach of the autumn harvest. From November onwards, the tree remains completely bare of leaves.
Pomegranate flowers are very beautiful and showy, 3 to 5 cm long. They have a fleshy and persistent red color. The corolla is made up of five to eight orange-red petals, with a rounded and slightly wavy shape.
We have already talked about pomegranate pulp and juice in the previous paragraph. More generally, the fruit looks like a large globose berry. It is usually about the size of an apple and has very hard, dark skin, green at first, then tending to red as it ripens. Such a hard peel, of course, serves to protect the delicate seeds.
Ripening and harvesting of pomegranates
The ripening of the pomegranate typically takes place in October. Generally not all fruits on the same plant ripen at the same time, their development is in this sense scalar. The tree usually favors the fruits of the outermost and shifting branches. Therefore, the harvest can also continue until the middle of November.
In the photo below we see the tree we have in the garden (the same as the photo taken in July), loaded with juicy pomegranates, almost ready for harvesting.
Note how the appearance of the tree is completely changed.
The heavy fruits have lowered the branches, the size seems to have almost doubled. Also note the yellowing of the leaves in the branches where there are more fruits.
As mentioned, the shells of the external branches will be the first to be collected. We can first notice their ripeness from the brighter color of the berries.
Another indicator of the right ripeness is the splitting of the fruit on the tree. This indicates that the ripening is complete and therefore it is necessary to hurry in the harvest.
It should be emphasized, however, that sometimes the fruits break before they are completely ripe. This very common problem is due to the irregular climatic trend. For example, after a very dry season, abundant rainfall in September causes the grains to suddenly swell and then crack before full ripeness. Also in this case it is better to harvest as soon as possible, perhaps contenting yourself with having whiter grains.
For the harvest, it should be noted that the pomegranate is very well attached to the vegetative apexes of the plant. It is, therefore, necessary to use pruning shears, which we have talked about in this article, and avoid tearing the fruit, with the risk of damaging the branches.
Open pomegranate Proper cleaning of pomegranates, once harvested, is slow and meticulous.
You need to proceed by following these steps:
- Open the fruit in two
- Gradually remove the hard outer cuticle as well
- Shell it, that is, separate the seeds well compacted from each other.
- The more the fruit is ripe, the easier the operation will be.
- Pay attention to the stains that this operation can cause: pomegranate juice is able to dye a lot.
- Therefore, use wooden shelves or old tablecloths as support.
The cultivation of pomegranate
We now come to the cultivation of pomegranate. This ancient plant, of which it is necessary to rediscover beauty and value, has always been used to growing in our lands.
How to grow a pomegranate, the steps to follow
To grow the pomegranate in the best way you need to follow the following steps:
- Plant the tree in a sheltered place,
- Avoid clayey soils,
- Irrigate only in the first two years of life,
- Feed the soil with the right fertilization,
- Choose an adequate pruning,
- Preventively use macerates for biological defense against parasites.
Climate and soil for the cultivation of pomegranate
Pomegranates The cultivation of the pomegranate is very rustic. The plant adapts to almost any climate. Even if it prefers a mild climate it is able to resist well even in the northernmost latitudes. The only precaution is to cultivate the plant in a sheltered area, which protects it from frost in case of prolonged cold. This tree species do not need support irrigation, except in the first two years of growth. Moreover, it resists very well to periods of drought, indeed, the dry climate allows a more balanced ripening. For this reason it is good to avoid clayey soils that give rise to water stagnation.
Ideal for growing pomegranates would be nutrient-rich and deep soil. In this way, the root system would have more room for propagation. However, in the absence of these characteristics, the plant is able to adapt well even to dry and hard soils.
Pomegranate pruning varies depending on whether you choose to grow the bush or tree plant.
In the first case, the usual one, the interventions must be limited to shortening the longer and external branches. However, it must be borne in mind that the formation of the fruits takes place in the vegetative apexes, so it is necessary to go very light. Another necessary pruning, in this first case, is the elimination of dry branches, broken or otherwise damaged by time.
If you opt instead for a pomegranate tree, pruning is training and begins in the early years. It is in fact necessary, from the beginning, to identify one or more main trunks, from which all the basal suckers that will naturally emerge over time must be eliminated.
In both cases, the flavor of pomegranate juice remains unchanged.
Honestly, given the natural tendency of the pomegranate to develop into a bush, the best option, in our opinion, is to go along with the nature of the plant and then let it develop like a bushy shrub.
This type of posture can also perform a secondary function in the garden, placing the pomegranate in a border area, outside, to delimit or close an area.
The pruning period, whatever technique is chosen, runs from November to January, when the plant is in vegetative rest.
The propagation of pomegranate can occur in several ways. The most common is the cutting using well developed branches that are at least one year old.
Another widely used system for propagation, which allows the bush to be enlarged, is the burying of suckers. In this case, it is sufficient to choose a young sucker in spring, fold it to the ground and bury it slightly. In this way, the buried sucker will give life to new branches that will further enlarge the bush.
Biological defense against parasites
The cultivation of pomegranate is very rustic and resistant. It is not easy for common pests to attack the plant and gain the upper hand. The fruits, in particular, protected by the thick external cuticle, are practically immune to their attacks. However, the plant can suffer from attacks by aphids in the spring. However, these can be counteracted in a biological way thanks to the use of various natural preparations, including nettle macerate and garlic infusion.
The pomegranate juice, with its thousand virtues, therefore brings us back to an ancient period, also made of mythology. The plant, rustic, resistant, and decorative, is easy to manage even for inexperienced gardeners and is absolutely recommended in every garden. For family consumption, even a single shrub is enough, which from a production point of view can give many fruits.
At this point, we just have to wish you good pomegranate cultivation!