Skip to comments.Jerry Dimitman Dies at 91; Professor Grew Prized Asian Fruit
Posted on 01/03/2012 7:17:36 PM PST by nickcarraway
Jerry Dimitman, a retired professor of plant pathology at Cal Poly Pomona who regularly caused an uproar when he showed up to sell his exotic fruit at the Alhambra farmers market, died Dec. 14 of a stroke at his home overlooking the San Gabriel Valley. He was 91.
Such was the mystique that he cultivated, along with some of the state's oldest, largest and rarest exotic Asian fruit trees, that he and his family always insisted that his home's location remain unspecified to deter intrusions by overzealous fruit lovers.
Many of his crops, such as lychees, longans, pummelos and mandarins, are available commercially, often from imports, but Dimitman offered ultrafresh, locally grown fruits at a modest price. Some were special varieties cherished in Asia but unknown or rare here, such as his huge, pear-shaped Wong and Chong pummelos, aromatic ponkan mandarins, and wampees, from a citrus relative with small, tan, tangy fruits. Eventually he and his children sought the assistance of Chinese friends who helped to conduct farmers market sales and maintain order among the long lines of customers who feared that he would sell out.
"He loved the Chinese people, he loved the fruit he was selling, and he loved that they loved what he was selling," said his fourth wife, Emma Urueta-Ruiz of Fallbrook, where they planted a second orchard together.
His son Robert, who lived with him at the original grove, said he intends to continue selling his father's fruits at the Alhambra farmers market, including his prized pummelos on the Sundays leading up to Chinese New Year on Jan. 23.
Dimitman bought his property in 1953, after carefully investigating the suitability of its microclimate for growing Asian fruits. In addition to tending the grove with great skill, he often waited decades for slow-growing exotic trees to
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That’s a great story. Love hearing about people who care about things.. particularly those you can eat.
I can connect with his passion for growing exotic fruit and his years of patience as his efforts bloomed and blossomed.
I’m hooked on asian pears myself. Cold weather is good for them, something we have had quite a bit of here lately.. sets their buds up for next season, should be a good one.
He grew Mr Sulu?
I’ve considered buying land to grow truffles, the dark brown fungus that the chocolate treat is made to resemble.
I love growing exotic fruits too. So much so that when I was designing my house, the attached greenhouse was non-negotiable.
There’s one that I’m hoping to add to my collection next year that supposedly has fruit with the taste and texture of chocolate pudding!
Do you think the black sapote will grow and bear in WI, even in a greenhouse? They are a tropical or subtropical and need the heat.
I’ve looked at it for indoor container growing, but it needs a 25-qt container and can easily outgrow an 8’ ceiling. Needs a lot of water and is slow to bear, from what I’ve read. Plus, you need a male and a female to get fruit.
I’m wondering if anyone has a dwarf variety?
Another caveat: it is really a persimmon and my experience with some I received in a fruit box was that they had little flavor compared with wild-grown ones.
If you do grow this, please post to the Gardeners’ list on your results!
I do plan on posting it to the gardener’s thread, but it might be a year or two before I get one. There’s a few things that need sorted out first, namely the fact that both house and greenhouse are still in the early stages of construction :)
The greenhouse is going to have 2 layers of glass with a few inches in between, with a accordian-style insulation that can be expanded at night to slow the heat loss, and folded up during the day to let light through. There’s also a door leading directly to the house near where the woodstove sits, so in winter that door can be left open and the woodstove will help heat the greenhouse.
I’ve kept citruses and a palm tree going for several years, so once my house is finished I’ll be looking for new challenges.
I have a 40-year-old Calimundum orange that does great in the house, mostly wood heat/southern window. It is good down to 40 degrees. Bears well and flowers indoors every Spring and Fall. It spends the summer outside. My hibiscus also does well in the same spot and only goes dormant for a few months each winter. It also spends the summer outside. I have lost track, but I think it must be around 9 years old or so.
Would adore a greenhouse, but really do not have the $$ or the ideal place for one.
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