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Pomegranates’ color signals their ripeness

The Molto Vegas Farmers Market is now opening its doors at 10 a.m. on Thursdays to help handle the crowds. The farmers market is located at 7485 Dean Martin Drive, Suite 106.

Q: How can I tell when my pomegranates are ready to pick?

A: The first sign that pomegranates are ready is when they have begun to develop good color and the first fruits begin splitting. Normally pomegranates, depending on the variety, will be ready starting in mid-to-late September through the end of October.

The fruits can hang on the tree longer than this provided they do not split. Once they are mature, they should easily separate from the tree by pulling down and lifting or twisting the fruit at the same time. Otherwise cut them off the tree with a pruning shears leaving little to no stem attached.

They will develop even more flavor if left in the refrigerator for one week or longer.

Q: We planted a privet tree two years ago. It was doing well until this summer. We increased the water and fertilized it, but the new growth died and the leaves seemed to curl. We are sending you pictures . We would appreciate your input.

A: I could not tell from the pictures you sent, but they appear to be growing in a rock landscape. This may be the problem. Japanese privet is a small, evergreen tree frequently used in our Southern Nevada landscapes.

They were much more common when our landscapes were dominated by grass and we frequently found them growing successfully there. Our natural inclination was to plant them into our rock or desert landscapes since they worked so well in the past.

They will not do well in rock landscapes. They do not tolerate any kind of drying soil and the heat reflected from the rock will not do them any favors. Any kind of drought will cause their leaves to curl, yellow and drop.

I am sorry to say that if they are growing in a rock landscape in a hot part of the yard, they may never do well . You can try planting several more succulent and higher-water-use smaller plants around the base of the tree so that the roots are kept in moist soil. That may help. Otherwise you may be forced to replace the plant with something more appropriate.

Q: This is the first year my concord grapes produced any fruit. When I lived in Connecticut, my concord grapes were always a deep purple with a strong concord taste. These concords have a lighter color and barely any flavor. I’m not sure if I need to wait longer, or is this all I can expect until next year.

A: Concord is out of its climate zone here so how the fruit will do is questionable. I would have expected a lack of color in the fruit due to high temperatures or too much shade on the berries. The poor flavor development is most likely due to our climate.

In our climate we can produce very high sugars, but acidity is tougher for us to get so we usually develop grapes low in acidity. The acid-sugar balance gives us fruit flavors, not just sugar.

There is a chance that it might be better next year. Get the grape vines as healthy as possible. Add compost around the grapes and use wood mulch. From your picture, the leaves on your vines did not look particularly healthy. Add iron chelate EDDHA to resist iron chlorosis. Fertilize in February. The vines should be receiving a minimum of six to eight hours of sunlight each day.

Bob Morris is an associate professor with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Direct gardening questions to the master gardener hot line at 257-5555 or contact Morris by e-mail at morrisr@unce.unr.edu.

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