bougainvillea inspiration

In Southern California, you can see bougainvillea in abundance. Lots of people use it in their landscaping; it looks so gorgeous cascading over walls. Our neighbor has it arched over their front door, and every time I go over, I love to look up and see the contrast between the hot pink florals and the blue sky. We used to have a couple bougainvillea plants in our backyard, but we took them out to put more fruit trees (Ben doesn’t like them because they’re sharp). One of the plants got transplanted to the front yard, but we haven’t really taken care of it, so it hasn’t grown much. These images have me wanting to nurse it back to life in hopes that it will grow over our front brick wall and spill over into the back. If we weren’t into fruit trees, I think I would love a backyard brick wall completely lined with bougainvillea.

image credits from top to bottom: greg fink, potsris (anyone know correct source for this?), tigmi trading, jessica comingore

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collecting water in our rainwater tanks

Hello, it’s Ben here to share about our rainwater tanks. We’ve not only started to harvest fruit, but water as well. My inspiration came from some of the speakers at the CRFG’s Festival of Fruit in 2015 (the theme was “The Year of the Drought-Tolerant Fruits”). After doing further research, I decided to move forward with rainwater tanks. So, what went into the decision?

PROS:
- Conserve water
- Save money:
- Receive a rebate for purchasing a rainwater tank
- Lower our water bill (perhaps prevent us from increasing to a more costly tier)
- Rain water is high quality water for plants because it doesn’t contain minerals that can harm root growth.
- Rain gutters are needed to help channel the rain water from the roof and we already have them
- Easy enough to “hide” in your landscape because of color options and the “slim” options

CONS:
- You won’t get a return on your investment. Learning this really helped me to temper my expectations regarding savings.
- You go through the water much more rapidly than you might think. One speaker’s estimate was an average of 25 gallons per week per tree. A 100 gallon tank would only last a month for one tree! What a rude awakening for my daydreams of kissing our water bill goodbye.
- Additional investment, and assembly, of a first flush diverter is required. The water from the gutters needs to be filtered as the first flush of water from the roof can contain bacteria from decomposed insects and droppings from birds and other animals.
- While I felt our local rebate for a single, larger tank was indeed generous, the rebates don’t allow for those interested in multiple tanks.
- It’s not potable water, so if there was a natural disaster, purification steps would be needed prior to drinking.

Thankfully, with the uncharacteristic amount of rain we’ve been receiving, all 3 of our tanks filled up quickly. While the rain was welcomed, I look forward to “test driving” the tanks and seeing how much mileage I will get out of them.

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tree-mendous!

I mentioned the article in this huzzah post, but we finally got our hands on a copy of the newspaper Ben and our backyard orchard is featured in. The article, which can be read here, shares tiny tidbits about our yard (though it got the sizing wrong) and how to create a backyard orchard culture of your own. I’m proud of all the work Ben has put into it, and I’m very happy to reap all the benefits of it. The girls especially love being able to go the backyard to pick out their own fruit.

If you want to see other gardening posts, check here. This week, Ben has a post coming up that shares all about our rainwater tanks, so be sure to check back if you might be interested.

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our valentine pummelos

Hello all! It’s Ben here… citrus is my favorite fruit and Valentine pummelos give me more confidence in my declaration.

One type of citrus I don’t like is grapefruit. I wish I did; I just can’t stand the bitter taste. Ruby likes them, but whenever I’ve brought one home, she’s rarely eaten it. For these reasons, we don’t grow grapefruit.

Pummelos, on the other hand, while having some grapefruit-like flavors, are balanced with a lot more sweetness. The Valentine pummelo is a cross of a pummelo, a mandarin and a blood orange, according to the Citrus Variety Collection at UC Riverside. So you can see where the genetics come from.

This large fruit is called a Valentine pummelo because: (1) it’s typically ready to be harvested around Valentine’s Day (although we’ve been enjoying them since mid-December); and (2) because of its red pigmentation, it resembles a heart when halved length-wise, tapered end down.

While it’s easy to be spoiled by other seedless, easy-to-peel citrus varieties, the low acid, sweet (yet slightly tart) and floral flavors of a Valentine pummelo make it totally worth it!

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the beginning of citrus season

We’re super excited that we’re now being able to enjoy some of our first citrus of the season! We have a number of varieties of citrus, and the ones that are ready for harvest now are the Page mandarins and the Kishu mandarins. True went out into our garden and picked a big basket full of them. The basket is from here; it’s perfect for fruit picking in our garden (it gets many uses as seen here and in this video). The Page have a balance of tart/sweet, are the size of a small orange, and the skin holds uncharacteristically tight to the flesh (might be better for juicing). The Kishus, on the other hand, are sweet, are about the size of a golf ball (on average), and have the characteristic, loose, “zipper” skin. Citrus season is… the most wonderful time of the year!

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there’s a six foot tree in our car

We’ve done some funny maneuvering to get trees to fit in our car with the four kids. But when you only have two kids in the car, you go for an even bigger tree than ever before, and that tree ends up in everyone’s business. On our way home from our mini vacation this weekend, Ben stopped by Exotica Rare Fruit Nursery to pick up a few trees, and this large pineapple guava one ended up coming home with us too.

Soul said, “I don’t like this tree because it’s in my face.” LOL

We are at 70+ fruit trees in our backyard, and we just got approved for the water-wise rebate for our front yard (to remove all the grass and put drought tolerant plants), so we will be planting lots of drought tolerant fruit trees there too. There’s always some gardening adventure going on over here.

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