Backyard Progress Report: May 2015

Spring has sprung and it shows in my sore back and dirty fingernails. Everything has been properly fertilized and fresh compost and mulch has been added to all the beds. After last Summer’s record heat wave and the on-going drought, I simply must be prepared for yet another year of gardening on the surface of the sun. A full check on all the micro-irrigation lines as well as a thick layer of mulch should help out.

I’ve also made an attempt to reduce the water usage for my evil lawn. The house-flippers added that before I bought the house and I’ve been cursing it ever since. Like a giant fattened screaming baby with a diaper rash, this lawn demands so much and just screams out for more. It goes against everything I stand for to have such a thirsty and needy thing. But then I see Sasha rolling around in it with a goofy smile and I melt.

Sasha in the Grass
Sasha in the Grass

How could I take this simple joy away from her? This year, I’m trying to cut back irrigation by an additional 30%. Which is huge because I’m already down 40% on my general water usage. My plan this year was to fertilize heavily, add some Epsom salt and then a nice layer of peat moss for water retention. I’ll let you know how that goes. Typically, I try not to use peat moss because it is a non-renewable resource but I’m desperate in this drought. Desperate I say! I’m one shitty hot-ass season away from going full on Mad Max over here. Who runs Barter Town? Master Blaster!

I’ve added another addition to my citrus “grove” last weekend. I already had a well established mature Satsuma orange and last year I planted a Meyer lemon, which is doing great. But I had a dream in the early hours of last Saturday. I was in front of the lemon tree and decided to pick a ripe lemon and bite into it. I thought to myself, “damn, I wish this was a grapefruit”. I woke up and decided it was a sign. Normally, I don’t have such fruity dreams.

So I headed out to City Farmers Nursery and picked up a semi-dwarf cocktail grapefruit. After a lovely breakfast at Nate’s Garden Grill of course.

The Citrus Grove:

All I need now is a lime tree and I can create my own version of Five Alive juice! Citrus does so well in my zone. Plenty of warm sunny days means a bounty for yours truly. Plus, we never get a frost, so there’s little danger all year round.

Right next door to the citrus grove is the pomegranate tree I planted for Nury.  My lady gets whatever her heart desires. Especially when it means a new plant species for me to discover. Well, after establishing itself for the last year, it’s finally blossoming. Here’s some photos that are about a week apart to show you the flowers opening up.

Pomegranate Blossom
Pomegranate Blossom week one
Pomegranate Blossom 2
Pomegranate Blossom week two
Pomegranate Blossom 3
Pomegranate Blossom week three

I haven’t a clue as to what to expect from this tree, so it’s exciting watching it transform from week to week. Soon I’ll be able to serve up fresh pomegranates to m’lady while she slumbers upon the hammock.

I also have a beast of a passion fruit vine that I planted last year as a natural privacy fence which is once again exploding with flowers! There are buds and blooms all over the place. The passion flower may very well be the most beautiful flower I’ve ever seen.

Passion fruit flower
Passion fruit Flower
Passion fruit buds
Passion Fruit Flower Buds

Speaking of flowers, they are popping up all over the place. Here’s a sample of just a few.

I’ve also been playing around with an idea as to what to do with my Sago Palm. As you know, the big sago palm is under a strict quarantine due to its toxic nature. Despite this restriction, she tenaciously pops out new pups every year. So I’m playing with the idea of creating teeny tiny itsy bitsy mini bonsai out of these pups. Maybe I can sell them or give them away as gifts. I don’t know. Regardless, here’s what they look like in their full cuteness. A palm in my palm.

Mini little Sago Palm
Teeny Tiny Itsy Bitsy Sago Palm. In my palm.

Oh, and I saved the best for last. This is the year for my grapes to come into full swing! After being in the ground for two years, they’ve finally decided to wake up and begin full production. I have been getting a little bit of shattering due to a lack of pollinators, but there are still plenty of bunches growing like mad. Bunches of bunches in other words. Sorry.

The Mind Your Dirt Vineyards:

I’m mostly excited about the Concords coming in so strong. Those are my all time favorite grape and they are not easy to grow in a zone 10.5. It’s a nostalgic grape for me left over from my East coast days. The chardonnay grapes are far more aggressively growing and I have designated them to providing shade for my makeshift and cheap patio covering that I fashioned from an unused clothesline last year.

I imagine that I’ll be opening the Mind Your Dirt Vineyards any day now. I just need a barrel to squish the grapes with my bare feet and I’m golden! How many bottles can I put you down for? I promise, I’ll wash my feet first. Wait, where are you going…

6 Replies to “Backyard Progress Report: May 2015”

  1. What a gorgeous color explosion of living things. Sounds like a summer Fruit Fiesta is in order! With everything made from the fruits of your labor: passionfruit lemonade, chardonnay, orange juice, strawberry-watermelon fruit salad, lemon bars. And me eating pomegranates in the hammock.

    Sasha looks as happy as a dog rolling on the lawn. Er…

    1. It’ll be a regular fruitopia! I also think I’ve officially run out of room for any more trees. I need more land! This is how it begins. As a German, I find myself eyeing the neighbors yard with ill intent…

  2. Ohhh Sasha looks so happy James. Your photos are very inspiring especially your grape trees. Once we finish the retaining walls, we will have more space for fruit trees.

What's on your mind?