Tuesday, January 6, 2009

First planting/entry

We live in the city and we have a huge backyard.

By huge, I mean an acre and a half.

In a city of this size - about a half million, not counting outlying suburbs - a yard that size is unusual. We're not on the edge of town. We're five blocks from the main library and ten blocks from State Police headquarters.

In the 11 years we've had this place we've made many changes. This place has changed me too.

Before we bought this place I had no interest in gardening or landscaping. I have evolved, along with our yard. I've learned about composting, vegetables, fruit trees, lawn care, irises, mulch, gardening tools ... the list goes on but you get the idea.

In the last few months, my wife and I began taking a new look at the yard and realized we can make it more productive. Where there are two citrus trees, we see an orchard of a dozen or more. Where there is shade, we see sunshine. Where there is an unused playhouse, we see a hen house. Where there is a weed-choked vegetable garden, we see beds bringing forth a bounty.

This change in perspective began in September as we cleaned up after Hurricane Gustav. That storm hit our city hard. There were only two deaths but falling trees destroyed hundreds of homes and damaged many thousands more.

Four months later, some neighborhoods remain damaged and friends are still coping with repairs and rebuilding. We were lucky. A couple of trees down, a few fences damaged and the yard trashed.

Big yard + hurricane = huge mess.

Downed trees -- once they are cut up and cleaned up -- meant more sunshine and more possibilities. Gustav opened up the back corner of our yard, out behind the vegetable garden and our two satsuma trees. We looked around and realized we had room for more trees.

Our seven-year-old satsumas had been prolific producers for the last four years. Satsumas are a smallish fruit like a tangerine, clementine or mandarin orange. They are native to Japan and thrive in South Louisiana.

They taste great.

Sweet citrus in fall and winter. For free. We love that combination.

In the past, we'd toyed with the idea of planting more trees. Now, after Gustav we're doing it. Or fixin' to do it. Really, we're working on it.

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