Thursday, September 24, 2015

Borghese Gardens and the Pines of Rome

Stone Pine Trees in the Villa Borghese Gardens: "A species of pine native to Southern Europe in the Mediterranean region, the Italian Stone Pine, commonly called the Umbrella Pine, has been cultivated for its edible pine nuts since prehistoric times. It has a widespread use as a horticultural tree, too. The Umbrella Pine can grow to heights exceeding 82 feet; but the average is height is 35 to 65 feet.

The reason for its more popular name is clear; the characteristic smooth, round, umbrella-like crown is made up of flexible, needle-like leaves that have a mid-green color. Its edible seeds have been the chief reason for its cultivation for at least 6,000 years, even being used for trade since early-recorded history.

This tree has been celebrated in music. Pini di Roma, the Pines of Rome, is a 1924 symphonic tone poem by Italian composer Ottorino Respighi. It is one work in Respighi’s Roman Trilogy, which includes Feste Romane and Fontane di Roma. Each movement portrays the location of pine trees in the city during different parts of the day. First performed under the baton of Bernardino Molinari in the Augusteo, Rome, on 14.December.1924."

Via:Virtual Tourist : Villa Borgheae

Scientific classification—Kingdom: Plantae; Division: Pinophyta; Class: Pinopsida; Order: Pinales; Family: Pinaceae; Genus: Pinus; Subgenus: Pinus; Species: P. pinea

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Happy Sukkot ! Chag Sameach, the Borghese Gardens Etrog from Calabria, Italy

Caravaggio: Still Life with Flowers, Fruits, and Vegetables in the Galleria Borghese in Rome, contains a large citron (Citron medica / etrog). 
The citron is considered a sacred tree to Jews who know the fruit as the etrog, still used for the celebration of Sukkot, the Feast of the Tabernacles.
The Borghese Gardens Etrog: A few interesting things about Etrogs. The word Etrog is Aramaic, which means "delightful." 

The English equivalent word, Citron, is derived from the Greek word "Kedros" -- the same as "Hadar" in Hebrew -- which also means Citrus. Kedros was Latinized as Cedrus, which evolved into Citrus, and then Citron. 

In Second Temple times, the Etrog was the only known Citrus fruit, according to Eliezer Goldschmidt, a horticulture professor at Hebrew University. As such, it was the only choice for the Sukkot ritual, as the Talmud states that every Jew should take the fruit of the Hadar tree. 
Most Citrus species arrived in the Middle East from China and India, with the Citron first, followed by the Lemon and other Citrus species. The Etrog is still grown in Morocco and Italy. The Italian varieties are mostly Yanaverim types, and there are those who prefer the Italian Yanaver species of Etrog to the typical Israeli Etrog. "Some people believe that the Italian Etrog is the ultimate Etrog," Israeli grower Yaakov Charlap says.

The citron in Calabria was celebrated by poets like Byron and D'Annunzio, but is only saved from extinction, thanks to the Jewish tradition of Sukkot. 

A Jewish delegation comes from Israel to Santa Maria del Cedro every year between July and August to choose the best fruit to be used in the holiday for the Jewish community. The selection of the best fruit is a virtual ritual. 

The mashgichim, each followed by a peasant carrying a box and a pair of scissors, go to the citron farms at five in the morning. The mashgiach proceeds slowly looking left and right. Then he stops and looks at the base of the tree, right where the trunk comes up from the ground. A smooth trunk means the tree has not been grafted and the fruit can be picked. The mashgiach lies down on the ground to examine better the lower branches between the leaves. 

Once the good fruit is found, the mashgiach shows it to the peasant who cuts it off leaving a piece of the stalk. Then the mashgiach analyses the picked citron one more time and if he decides it is worthy he wraps it in oakum and puts it in the box. 

The farmer receives the agreed sum for each picked fruit. Then the boxes are sealed and sent to the Lamezia Terme airport with a final destination Tel Aviv 

Most adherent to the Diamante variety of Calabria are still the Chabad's who's late Rabbi's were always in support for this traditional variety. Among the other Hasidic sects it is most used by the Satmars. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Citrus, Lime Dwarf

Citrus, Lime Dwarf
Dwarf Lime trees grow to about two feet in height and produce full-size, bright green juicy limes. They have a delicious, tangy taste. Use in key-lime pies and in cold drinks. Miniature trees add color and fragrance to your home. These Dwarf Lime trees are fun, and the requirements for growing them are few: they need a humid environment and may require misting several times a week. They need direct sunlight and frequent watering. The growing instructions that we send you tell you how to pollinate the trees to help the blossoms turn into fruit. We ship only well-established plants which will set fruit within 12 months. This tree is also available in the Citrus Tree Collection.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Roma Tomato , from Direct Gardening

Tomato, Roma
 These tomatoes have oblong fruits with dry meaty flesh. Skins are smooth and peel easily. They have more intense color and flavor than other tomatoes. One other tomato that fits this same description is the San Marzano. Planting guide: Start indoors 8 weeks before time to set in open ground. Cover thinly, then pack firmly and water. When plants are about 2 inches high, transplant to 3 inches apart in flat or pot. After danger of frost, set 2 to 3 feet apart in garden, but before doing so, harden the plants by gradually exposing them to the outdoor air for about a week.