APRIL Yard Clean-Up Part Four: Orange Blossom Special… and Limes- think of the Gimlets!

Have you ever smelled a fresh orange? I mean really fresh- right off of the tree. It smells like California, the fresh outdoors, even the remnants of the orange blossom. If you want to taste something that comes close to how an orange blossom smells, find a jasmine tea (one of the green teas) and brew a cup. I had a small orange tree in a pot as a houseplant when I lived in Seattle. One whiff of that tree in bloom and in my mind I was back at my parents’ home, which was surrounded by citrus groves back in the day.

So pretty!
18 months ago. So pretty!
I should be stopped. Rally.
Today :o(

Now, with my struggling trees in my own yard, when the onshore breeze blows just right, I recognize not only my parents’ but grandparents’ home, too. For most of my youth they lived in either Ventura or Saticoy, California, with grove after grove of the most fragrant trees.

Voilà- future Gimlet
Voilà- future Gimlet
A few holes...
A few holes…
pot, soil, drill and tree- check
pot, soil, drill and tree- check

Today I planted a small lime tree- Costco is selling citrus trees and pots at great prices. After buying citrus/palm/cactus potting soil the grand total was under $45 and with a few holes in the pot, I had a new patio gem to join my potted Meyer Lemon… the only way I am keeping citrus alive, ugh. Usually, The Husband will do my potting and planting for me, especially if digging holes is involved, but I did all of this myself. Not a grand feat, except for lugging the 50b bag of citrus soil.

I’m about ready to rip out the last ornamental vegetation around my home and replant nothing but edibles- with citrus in pots, strictly. Maybe throw in some avocado and banana trees?

APRIL- Project of the Month, Yard Clean-Up Prickly Part 3

Today I planted  some starts for Prickly Pear Cactus. If you like any Mexican dishes made with Nopales, this is the cactus that it comes from. Oops… did you not know that you were eating cactus? Well, now you do.

I’ve always wanted to grow one of my own, and The Brother-In-Law had paddles falling off his big ol’ cactus in his back yard that were already starting to set down roots. The last time we came up to visit family he went out and shoved at least ten starts into a paper bag for me to tackle eventually… three weeks later I am finally setting them in the ground. I think I transplanted some of the ants from his back yard, too.

Side yard where the cactus will go...
Side yard where the cactus will go…
Bag o' Cactus Starts
Bag o’ Cactus Starts

All I did to prepare the ground was to dig out a few invasive ice plants and loosen the dirt where the paddles would sit. They break off the main plant, fall to the ground and take root all on their own, so this is a pretty easy project, really. My Fine Cactus Benefactor said to just keep the ground watered until they take root, and I will water them every few days for about a week.

Prickly Pear Starts
Prickly Pear Starts
...another patch of starts...
…another patch of starts…
...and the third patch of starts.
…and the third patch of starts.

Half an hour later I had three patches of cactus! I wonder how long it will take before I’m slicing off my own new paddles, cursing the spines I missed, and preparing my own Nopales Con Chile Colorado? Nopales, when simply cooked, taste like a mild green vegetable- I’ve always thought of it as a cross between asparagus and a green bean. They are quite mucilaginous, like okra, and I was taught to parboil them once or twice to get rid of this sliminess. Works like a charm. They can also be frozen after this parboiling. Remember the Mom-In-Law and her recipe for Enchiladas from an earlier post? Well, she also taught me how to make Nopales with Chile Colorado, and I’ll share that recipe… eventually. Maybe when I pick my own!

Part Two- My Yard “Cleans Up Good” more of APRIL Project of the Month

Out with the old, in with the new.

Went back to Walter Anderson nursery today, found Leslie and she helped me pick out more semi-drought tolerant container loving plants. These should last longer and hold up to our dry weather better than the ubiquitous annuals that I have planted in the past.

We found…

Salvia (taller)
Salvia (taller)
Salvia (medium-ish)
Salvia (medium-ish)
Yellow Portulaca
White portulaca
White portulaca

Into the pots they went. The portulaca is nifty- I’d never noticed it before and hope that this succulent-ish flower really can take the heat. The salvia should bloom for quite a while when it gets going, but I have no clue how the celosia will do- it sure is a bright red and it looked really nice with the white portulaca. White with red and blue with yellow kind of pops, so that’s how these got planted.


I still have three or four more yard projects to tackle that involve trying something different or doing the job on my own for the first time… “NEXT!” she yells out to no one in particular.

APRIL Project- Do You Clean Up Good? Part One…

My yard “cleans up good.”

I hd never heard that phrase until my early 20s when a neighbor paid me the compliment. I may not recall what special event The Boyfriend/Husband was taking me out for that evening, but the “You clean up good, kid!” I remember like it was yesterday.

Yeah, I'm hanging my head.
Yeah, I’m hanging my head.

This is the sorry state of affairs that I am working with. Just this very day I am learning that this desiccated disaster is not entirely my fault. It seems that The Husband had turned of the water… for the last three weeks! Now, April has been a rotten month for me so far, but usually my entryway doesn’t fall apart to this extent. I’m glad to know that I had help in this mess.

Leslie knows her stuff.
Leslie knows her stuff.

To help prettify my window boxes, the dead alyssum, pansies and geraniums are headed to the compost pile and being replaced with less thirsty flowers.They aren’t natives or succulents, but with help from Leslie at Walter Anderson Nursery I learned that succulents wouldn’t take the heat and the local plants that would, get way too big. Trust your Garden Center Gurus. They know all.

Here are the replacements (you can click on the small photos to see their detail and names):


And here is the lovely finished project. Sorry kitty lovers, but both cats had jumped down from the window by the time I took this photo:


If I remember, I’ll post an update in a month or so when these little guys fill in more. In the meantime, this is what gets replaced tomorrow: IMG_6199

APRIL Project- Stop being *Those* Neighbors…

you know who they are. Their lawn could use a trim. They have some bushes that are half dead. And are they ever going to do something about that spot with weeds? Yeah… that’s us.

Smart people who can maintain their yard...
Smart people who can maintain their yard…

I have four spots in the front and back yard that need work that I keep saying I will do something about-

  1. Put another citrus tree in a pot in my backyard- do the work myself this time instead of making The Husband do it all
  2. Find a water-wise plant and rocks for the front of our walk
  3. Also, more water-wise plants for my window boxes instead of committing plant abuse and killing off a bunch of flowers again 
  4. Plant the cactus The B-I-L has so generously offered to share from his plant many times- fresh nopales in my future!
Potted tree- fine.
Potted tree- fine.

I don’t know why our citrus trees are dying slow deaths. Yes I do. I don’t fertilize them, the snails are eating up the new leaves. and then there is the entire North American population of Whiteflies living on one little Meyer Lemon tree/bush in my backyard, struggling to overcome these pests.

It isn't arborcide if your tree has blossoms, I tell you!
Unpotted tree… It isn’t arborcide if your tree has blossoms, I tell you!

Hopefully, by the end of the month I’ll have gotten out there and made our incredibly nice neighbors proud, and turn over the job of being THOSE neighbors to someone else.