Welcome to our Etrog Harvest of 5773 - 2012.
My husband, Israel, is a first-generation etrog grower. He's been growing etrogim since our third son Natah was 13 years old. He's 27 now. :)
Actually you can read the story and watch a movie right here:
Harvest in Efrat
Every year, B"H since the trees had been planted for more than four years, we've been blessed with etrogim (citron fruits). Sometimes our harvests are very large. It's difficult to believe that we can B"H grow so many gorgeous etrogim in Efrat, Gush Etzion, with its changeable and wintery-cold climate. This year the harvest was modest. Our yield was small, but there quality was big, B"H. And there are still a few on the tree that might grow big enough to qualify before Sukkot next week, BE"H.
This year, we had a boutique harvest, and we thank Hashem that we've got just enough for our children, plus possibly a few late bloomers.
It's also been the year of the funny-shaped etrogim. We've had quite a few on the tree.
Usually etrogim are oblong (shaped sort of like a fat spinning top) with a point at the end. Many varieties have a pitom, which is a protrusion at the end, but our etrogim are Yemenite and them are pitom-less.
This year, we had more than our usual amount of Gonzo-shaped etrogim with funny noses. While we can't use the uniquely shaped etrogim for the holiday, as part of the four species - the long shake-able lulav (date palm frond), etrog (citron), hadassim (myrtle branches) and aravot (willow branches) - we'll probably eat them or make them into yummy etrog jam.
We read in Vayikra (Leviticus 23:40), "You shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of a citron tree, the branches of date palms, twigs of a plaited tree, and brook willows; and you shall rejoice before Hashem, your G-d, for a seven-day period."
So, we've now harvested our etrogim, we've begun building our Sukkah, and BE"H, next week we'll find the other species that will join our etrog for a perfect Four Species Combo.
We feel very grateful that we have the merit to use etrogim, which we (royal we, as in my husband) babied and tended and grew himself in the soil of Eretz Yisrael.
B"H, it just doesn't get better than this. Shana tova.
You can watch this year's harvest here: