Coffee heat rising

Oranges and Rain

At last it’s raining here, and raining steadily. Has been all day. The plants thank the gods, the ground thanks the gods, the fishes in the streams (whatever those are) thank the gods.

And especially the citrus thanks the gods.

Citrus trees are high-water plants: short them on water, and even an old and established tree will shrivel up and die. And you don’t want them to do that….

Interestingly, too, citrus trees can tell the difference between rainwater and irrigation water. They much prefer water that falls out of the heavens. You can pour the irrigation to the things, but if it doesn’t rain at least a few times during a year, they will yellow out, drop leaves, produce pathetic fruit. And…no, you don’t want them to do that.

One of the best things I did when I moved into this house lo! these many years ago — maybe the best thing — was to plant oranges, lemons, and a lime. An Arizona Sweet orange is possibly the greatest joy that a human can experience. These oranges are so sweet they’re like candy. Incredibly juicy, delicious candy.

And this is orange season. Every day I’ve been scarfing down four or five oranges at breakfast. If I happen to wander out in the yard during the day, I’ll grab another. Even a single orange tree produces so much fruit, I’d have a hard time eating all of it. Two produce twice that many.

Almost. One of the trees is suffering. I think it’s because the hateful paloverde beetles have made their way over to it — last summer I saw an emergence hole inside its dripline. The rain will help it, but whether it will revive as the days grow longer, I do not know.

The lime tree also is at risk. Luis damaged it when he hacked out a whole limb, apparently misunderstanding what I meant when I said I wanted to be able to walk around it freely. This exposed the interior branches and trunk to the blast of the summer sun. Though I tried to protect them by wrapping them in strips of shade cloth, it doesn’t seem to have done the trick.

So it was already suffering when the house had to be painted. The other side of the tree had grown over the roof, so a lot of its canopy needed to be cut back. That gave the tree a serious shock, from which I doubt it will recover.

Citrus trees do not like to be pruned. Contrary to what the roof-rat fearers will tell you, you should NOT cut their limbs up away from the ground. You shouldn’t prune them at all, except to clear out any branches that are truly dead. So I’m pretty sure the lime is a goner — we’ll know, I expect, by this time next year.

Should have fertilized them before this wonderful rain came along, but was too lazy and hurting too much from the weird hip thing to get to the Depot and haul a 40-pound sack of citrus food home. After the rain clears, I will go and do that…a day late and a dollah short, as usual.

Expect another thing I could do for those two trees is spray them with Miracle-Gro. They do absorb nutrients through their leaves, and Miracle-Gro is plant nutrients on steroids. If part of the trees’ problem is that they’re not getting enough water falling on their canopies, dousing them with water & fertilizer should help them. I hope.

The pained hip is mostly recovered…but now I can’t go walking or biking because of the rain. Nevertheless have lost weight by dint of starving myself: not eating after about 2:00 p.m. does cause the poundage to drop. It would work better if you could burn off a few calories, but on its own it will peel off a few ounces a day.

Oh well.

Since I gave up the fight and succumbed to taking the blood pressure pills, the threatening numbers have hovered pretty much in the normal range. And amazingly, this is happening without benefit of dizzy spells and disorientation!

We shall see how long this lasts: I’ve gone several days at a time before with numbers in the low one-twenties and teens. It looks like the spikes into the 140s — and, hevvin help us, the other day into the 160s — happen about once every four or five days. The headache that I thought was a migraine and then decided was maybe a sinus thing seems to have mostly cleared up. I suspect it had something to do with the 165/105 spike…but which was causative of which, I could not say.

Nor, one might add, do I wish to say.

At any rate, I’m going to choir in a couple of hours, having fled between rehearsal and the Sunday morning service, and having missed the Sunday evensong. Better to err on the side of caution when it comes to driving with these dizzying headaches: once I was flying up 7th Avenue full-out at 50 mph when suddenly I realized I could not see the street signs. Fortunately I was almost home, fortunately I was in a part of town I know so well I don’t really need to see it to navigate it, and fortunately the effect passed quickly. But it was damn scary.

Try to stay out from behind the steering wheel when you think you’re having a migraine. 😉

4 thoughts on “Oranges and Rain”

  1. Free delivery from Home Depot with a $45 purchase. Please take care of yourself. I enjoy your musings.

  2. I’d love to plant some fruit trees, but there are so many possibilities now that I just can’t decide! Meyer lemon, Bearss lime, Satsuma tangerine, fig, apricot, and nectarine are all ones I’d really like to have access to, but I could never keep up with all that fruit myself. I’m also tempted to try an avocado; there’s a nursery in the area that has some that are supposed to do well in the Bay Area, which is typically a little cooler than avocado like. So many choices!

    • Meyer lemons grow nicely in the Bay Area. My great-grandmother had one at her house in Berkeley…can you imagine? Back in the day when normal people could afford to live in Berkeley!

      I understand that fig trees grow well in California — I had one here and loved it because it was such a beautiful shade tree. They are pretty messy though, unless you like a LOT of figs… 😀 They drop their leaves in the winter, too.

      One thing you can do to cope with the fruit is donate it to charity. Some charities will send people around to pick it and carry it off. Orrrr… Get this: a scheme from The Master of Frugality, SDXB…

      SDXB discovered that if you are selling the fruit that you grow on your property, you can claim you’re farming and get some kind of crazy tax deduction. Farmers are subsidized in this country.

      All of North Central Phoenix is built in what used to be grapefruit and orange orchards. It was considered a great “plus” to buy a house up here in a tract where the developer hadn’t bladed the trees out. So most of the houses had citrus trees on the lots. His had several. So he would pick the fruit and take it out to the curb and sell it to passersby. Logging the income from the sales was proof that he was marketing his “crops” (no kidding) and he was able to extract some benefits from the government.

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