Pomegranate: A Drought-Tolerant Option for the Arid Home Garden

Reader Contribution by Joshua Burman Thayer and Native Sun Gardens
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 In his book, Pomegranate Roads: A Soviet Botanist’s Exile from Eden, author and pomegranate expert Gregory Levin expounds upon the virtues of this splendid fruit.  Having evolved in the region between central Asia to Turkey, this member of the myrtle family is an ancient plant which has been cultivated for over 5,000 years. Juicy, rich and seductive, this fruit has inspired poetry, still lives, and beverages for celebrations. What’s more, it grows magnificently in most Bay Area locales.

By choosing plants that reflect microclimate conditions, we can create a landscape that requires much less energy to maintain. Here in the Bay Area, we can still achieve food production, but do it using less water if we choose drought-tolerant fruit trees and vines. Around each of our dwellings, we have here an opportunity to practically dry farm rugged pomegranates in the gaps of our acreage.

Levin in his vast research on the pomegranate explored the vast dry slopes all over Central Asia and brought all specimens back to his Soviet research station in Garrigala, Turkmenistan. We have Levin to thank was for the propagation from wild stock and perpetuating several of the varieties we like to now plant here in the Bay Area. For example, the ‘Parfianka’ variety is here due to a generous donation by Dr. Levin to U.C. Davis as the Soviet Union fell apart.

Care: Fall is a Great Time to Plant Pomegranates

• Pomegranates are easy to grow and only require water one time per week.
• You can manage each bush to as short as 6 feet tall and as tall as 18 feet.
• Try to find the sunniest patches on your land for the rugged pomegranate.
• Harvest: September to November. Yum!

More Information on the Pomegranate

Hodgson, Robert W. The Pomegranate. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1917.

Levin, Gregory. Pomegranate Roads: A Soviet Botanist’s Exile from Eden. Forestville, CA:  Floreant Press, 2006.

Seeram, Navinda P., Risa N. Schulman, and David Heber, eds. Pomegranates: Ancient Roots to Modeern Medicine. Boca Raton, Fla: CRC Press, 2006.

Joshua Burman Thayer is a landscape designer and permaculture consultant with Native Sun GardensHe is the Urban Agriculture Supervisor for Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation in San Francisco, Calif. Find him at Native Sun Gardens and read his other MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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