Soon after moving in, we thought the best thing to do would be to just clear everything out. It was just too hard to try to figure out what to keep and what not to keep. I was sad about losing a very good grapefruit tree and fig tree, but we decided for simplicity's sake that everything must go and that we should just create a clean slate. We worked for a couple of years, slowly but surely, giving up weekends to gradually get rid of every tree, shrub, and weed. We even split all the wood from the cut-down trees for firewood and it lasted more than 5 years! In the end, we got the yard down to DIRT, and we couldn't have been happier to see only dirt. It was a beautiful sight after all that hard work.
At the time, one of our friends bought a new home in Santa Clarita and was lamenting about having a backyard of "just dirt" that he needed to plant. We found it hard not to laugh, as we worked very hard to get our yard to just dirt! His came that way!
So, I said we completely demolished everything, but there was actually one exception. The only tree that we left was an old, strange-looking orange tree that was on the side yard. It appeared to have two different types of fruit growing on it. One was a normal-looking orange, and the other was a lemon-shaped but orange-colored fruit. The second fruit was very bitter but much to our excitement we found that the normal-looking fruit was extremely sweet and juicy. Over the years, our tree trimmer has eliminated the bitter fruit branches, leaving us with a jewel of a tree. Other than that, the tree gets no care - it has no formal irrigation and we don't even fertilize it. It amazes us that a tree like that could produce the such amazing fruit. A reminder that it is God who brings the harvest!
The funny thing is, after we got our yard down to dirt and replanted it, we put in a mini-orchard with several new citrus trees. They were planted in good soil, receive regular watering, annual fertilizing, and trimming, but they do not produce anything near the quality or quantity of fruit as the other one! Go figure.
One of the things that we look forward to every winter when the tree ripens is the fresh-squeezed juice that Rich makes us all season. We are fortunate because he keeps us in constant supply. Last dimanche matin, we were treated to a fresh batch. While the rest of us were showering and getting ready for church, he was busy in the kitchen squeezing us some beautiful juice. What a feast for the eyes it is to see a pitcher of gorgeous juice on the table. Our family usually stays healthy all winter-long, and there is no doubt in my mind that we are drinking our way to health with this stuff!
If you have access to home-grown oranges (check with neighbors who rarely pick their trees - I bet they wouldn't mind you picking them!), do yourself a favor and make some wonderful, healthful juice. If not, perhaps pick up a bag at the local farmer's market. I have gotten 20# bags for $10 before - great deal. Fresh-squeezed juice lasts up to a week and un-cut oranges last several weeks under refrigeration.