On the East Coast I was an avid gardener. I knew my zone, understood the soil, weather, pruning expectations and least of all, I could identify plants and trees. None of my East Coast knowledge translates in California. Plants that are annuals in New Jersey are perennials here. Plants with full sun instructions cannot tolerate full midday sun. Shady spots come with funguses that require Googling.
I find one of the most fascinating parts of living here is all of the fruit trees in everyone’s yard. I am used to going to orchards to find fruit trees. There are no less than 10 different varieties on my block. Lemon-lime, persimmon, avocado, and that acorn shaped bright orange one. What is that? I asked the person coming on the sidewalk, they didn’t know. I took friends to see the tree, they didn’t know. I asked the neighboring home renter, they didn’t know.
A mystery fruit, how exciting! It could be an amazingly delicious fruit full of antioxidants and other goodness just right there on my block, and no one knows it. After conducting some research I discover that it is a Hachiya tree, a type of persimmon. There are four different kinds of persimmons, and in addition to the Hachiya, there is a Fuyu version overhanging the fence in my yard.
To me, having fruit trees everywhere is an incredible luxury. Need a lemon? Lemons grow all year long here and they are everywhere. The trees are overflowing and waiting to be picked. I have never had anyone tell me no when I have asked to pick a piece of fruit. Now that I am starting to be able to identify the foliage around me I am seeing even more I do not know. Here’s a list of fruit trees you can expect to see during this time of year: Apples, Asian pears, avacados, cacus pear, cherimoyas, citron, dates, feijoas, figs, jujubes, kiwi, kumquats, lemons, limes, mandarins, nectarines, oranges, peaches, pears, persimmons, plums, pluots, pomegranates, pomelos and quince. Amazing! I am not familiar with seven of those on the list.
At first I was frustrated at not knowing how to garden in Northern California. Now I am looking at it like an adventure and it’s fun. The organization Cuesa, has an incredibly helpful website that helps me take advantage of all CA has to offer each season in regards to fruits, vegetables, flowers, and even seafood. So instead of feeling like an outsider or a stranger, I’m feeling like an explorer, maybe even a little bit like a kid.
Who else is interested in going outside to play in the dirt?