Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Chanukah with Pomegranates

Today is the third day of Chanukah, the eight day Jewish festival of lights and what better way to honor this holiday than with pomegranates? Pomegranates are a symbol of abundance and fertility in many faiths and mythologies but they figure very prominently in Judaism. Legend has it that each pomegranate has 613 seeds, the same as the number of laws in the Torah. I don't know if this is true or not and I can't imagine someone tediously counting out the seeds in several pomegranates to make sure the number is accurate, but I think some suspension of disbelief is necessary when it comes to most religious lore. Another reason why pomegranates are big in Judaism is their shape. The top of each fruit is crowned with a Star of David, which you can see in the picture above.

We planted a pomegranate tree outside our bedroom window a few months ago and it's doing magnificently so far. Two weeks ago it exploded in the most brilliant red orange blossoms. After a few days the petals fall off leaving the baby fruit behind to grow, and that also looks like a flower, but has a firmer texture like the peel of the mature fruit. It's such a beautiful tree and I really hope it makes out ok in this climate. Two of our baby poms fell off their branches and I had to incorporate them into our Christmas decor, and I hope the rest don't suffer the same fate. I'd love to pick and eat a pomegranate that I grew myself, though I have no desire to count the seeds!

Pomegranates have become so popular in the last few years due to their health benefits (lots of antioxidants in that ruby juice). They've really been kind of faddish and you can find pomegranate in everything now, even shampoo. They've always been an expensive fruit, but I think their popularity has made them more costly, so I'm hoping to have at least a few free pomegranates every year from now on, but we'll see. As a beginning gardener here, I tend to err on the side of pessimism and hope to be pleasantly surprised when the things I plant don't die. In the meantime, I'm enjoying the tree as a gorgeous ornamental. It's so pretty.

Here is a site where I find information about how to keep my pomegranate tree alive.

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