The Papaya Whisperer

IMG_3354 (3)I am so thankful to my gardener for helping me cut down these large papayas from my very tall papaya tree. I just couldn’t maneuver the fruit-picking pole between the high hedges and the electrical wires to get at these beauties. He got them easy…although a fourth papaya was accidentally knocked into the yard of my NeighborWithCameras. We weren’t able to retrieve it because there is a wall protecting their side yard from mine, not to mention the security cameras trained on us. I hope they are grateful for the tasty treat that fell out of the heavens onto their grass!

Carambola Care Package

0155636 (2)I delivered this Carambola Care Package to my nice neighbors on the left side of my home and to their housekeeper. The housekeeper used to work at my place once a week, for the prior owners. They had told me that she loves Star Fruit. Since they don’t grow any in their yard, I want to make sure to keep them all stocked up with the fresh fruit from my trees. As for my #NeighborWithCameras on the right, they are on the Naughty list so they don’t get fruit. What they get is more water thrown onto the Clusia hedge separating our two houses. The hedge has almost grown tall enough to cover their security cameras that are pointing at me!

For more information on Carambola you can check out: Star Fruit  For recipes go to: Avocado/Star Fruit SaladCarambola/Blueberry SmoothieCarambola/Papaya Smoothie.

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Ride or Write?

IMG_1286 (2)I get up and put my cycling clothes on. Feed the parrot. Drink a smoothie. I’m ready to jump on the bike for my 25-mile morning ride. Glancing out the glass-doors of my house, I notice that one of my plants needs water and there are some dead leaves that need to be picked up. So I head outside with the intention of doing those couple of things. While tending to my green friends, I see a couple of butterflies on the passion fruit vine. I get my camera phone and start chasing them around for a good picture. Oh, there are a few berries on the mulberry plant; let me pick them. Maybe I should take a picture of the berries too. I wave to the security cameras, belonging to my NeighborWithCameras, which are on the side of my house that the mulberry is. Then I get an idea for a story to write. While doing a few more gardening chores, the story begins to flesh- out in my head. Oh no! What to do?! Do I go on the bike ride, as planned, or sit down and write the story? If I write the story, I probably won’t have time to cycle before work. If I bike, I probably won’t remember the story when I have time to write it later, or the initial inspiration will be gone. Ride or write…

 
 
© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Naughty or Nice (part 2)

Carambola
Carambola

Here are the first few people on my Naughty or Nice List (for mangos):

NeighborWithCameras on the right side of my house: NAUGHTY. They keep trimming their side of the Clusia hedge that separates our yards so it is so thin that you can see through it. And their security cameras are pointing right at my yard. Enough said. NO MANGOS for them.

Neighbor on the left: NICE. They are very pleasant people; we chat every time we see each other. They take care of my mail/newspaper when I am out of town and will even water a plant or two for me. I regularly leave Mango & Carambola by their side door and text them to notify them of the care package.

Madeline: NICE. She picks up a large jar of Almond Butter at Costco for me, periodically. It’s much cheaper there than where I normally buy it. Maddie had a small potted mango tree that her rambunctious dog ripped apart and ate so she is in need of Mango offerings. I bring her a couple of Mangos whenever I see her.

Brooke: NICE. Her son loves Carambola so I give her all the Star Fruit her family can possibly consume and they are demonstrably grateful. Most people don’t know what Carambola is or what the heck to do with it so I am always happy to find someone who likes it. It wouldn’t be appropriate to denigrate another one of my fruits and then expect to receive the king of fruits. She will keep receiving Carambola and has been added to the Mango list.

Gardener & Pool Guy: A LITTLE NAUGHTY. It’s kind of silly of me to gift them fruit, because they take whatever they want when I’m not around, but I keep up the pretext that they don’t and give them small presents of fruits to add to the collection they have already pilfered.

Physical Therapist: NICE. He does something magical to my shoulder to get me out of pain. I took a whole box of Mangos to him on my last session. Being able to carry the box is proof my shoulder is getting better.

Mom: NICE. She’s my mom; it’s impossible to pay her back for all that she’s done, so she can have all the Mango she wants.

 
 
© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

See Green

IMG_1303 (2)My kitchen is on the side of the house that faces the NeighborWithCameras. Several of their security cameras point right at my yard. I’ve talked about these folks before. I believe they amuse themselves at night, with a glass of wine, playing back their security video of me doing the crazy things I do in my garden: like chasing lizards and butterflies around with my camera phone; battling the leaves that are constantly invading the pool; climbing the ladder, long pole in hand, to cut fruit from the trees; meticulously pruning and primping the plants. My NeighborWithCameras don’t have any fruit trees or edibles in their yard so they don’t understand my mania.

I’ve been nurturing the Clusia hedge –which separates our yards- watering it regularly and fertilizing it. I might take better care of it than my fruit trees, actually. Looking out of my kitchen window, I can still see a little of the second story of the neighbor’s house and 2 or 3 of their cameras. In a few more months the Clusia will have reached sufficient height to cover the sight of their house completely. Yay! It’s not that I mind my NeighborWithCameras spying on me, it’s that I prefer to look at GREEN than at their house. Sorry, they’ll have to watch TV rather than me!

 
 
© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Pool Invaders

pool sweepIn my post Leaf Invasion I talked about my battle with the large mango leaves that invaded my swimming pool and incapacitated the automatic pool sweep. This is Part 2 of the leaf conflict. I started by consulted with various experts for a resolution. They gave me a number of “solutions”:  cut down the mango trees that surround the pool (pool maintenance guy); put a retractable cover over the pool (pool supply store); install an additional pump to run a new super-duper pool vacuum (2nd pool supply store); get accustomed to netting the leaves twice-a-day, it isn’t so bad, it’s meditative (former owner of house & pool); take out the pool (my mom, who hates pools).

I wasn’t real happy with any of these choices. The mango trees are sacred; the trees stay. I enjoy using the pool and looking at it; the pool stays and the cover is not a good option. I don’t want a second pool pump. Fishing the leaves out of the pool numerous times a day and cleaning out the clogged-up vacuum has not been a Zen experience for me, like it was for the prior owner. What to do…

I talked with my good friend Gloria. She’s a practical person, who doesn’t get bogged-down with house chores. She said “talk to Jorge, he has a pool surrounded by trees and he always researches things a lot. He probably has a machine that takes care of the leaves.” So I called Jorge. Sure enough, Jorge recommended a different kind of automatic pool sweep than the one I had. It has a larger intake hole, so it can slurp-up larger objects, and it has a bag attached to it to hold the debris, rather than sucking the offending leaves through the hose to the filter. The guy at the pool supply store told me I would need an additional pump to power the gizmo, but the model I purchased (not from said store) doesn’t require a booster pump. Yay!

It is now Day 2 of the Polaris 360’s (my new machine) combat with the leaves. I am happy to report that the machine is winning. It has sucked-up the aggressive leaves and is still fighting. My neighbors on the right side, with the security cameras pointed at me, are bored because they haven’t been able to spy on me doing battle with the leaves like I used to. They’re probably wondering why I’m standing over my pool taking pictures of my pool sweep though!

 
 
© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Leaf Invasion

IMG_0763 (4)Help! Large leaves have invaded my pool, and they are winning! The poor pool sweep is constantly getting clogged-up with leaves, rendering it unable to do its job. Then I have to pull out the vacuum, open it up and take out whatever vegetative matter has incapacitated it. This I have to do just about every day.

My neighbors on the right side of my house have several security cameras pointed at my yard & pool. I don’t think they’re looking for burglars; I think they sit & watch the camera footage at night, with a glass of wine, and laugh at me–the crazy woman next door doing battle with the leaves. First I go through the ritual of scooping-up the leaves with the pool net attached to the long pole (I had to do physical therapy for my shoulder because of the strain of dragging that net thru the pool but that’s another story). Then I pick up the leaves by hand that have dropped close to the pool edge so they don’t end up IN the pool if a strong wind picks up. Oftentimes I “finish” by hosing off the patio and chasing the last remaining leaves off the patio into the yard with a stream of water. I am water-conservation conscious, of course, and only do this because the water is quenching the thirst of the mango trees, which are bordering the pool. If I punish the trees by withholding water, they’ll probably drop even more leaves. By the time I’ve finished cleaning up & have stored the pool net on the side of the house, more leaves have flown into the pool from the branches of the trees. So sometimes I even pluck yellowed leaves off the branches I can reach before they have a chance to maliciously make it into the pool. I even purchased a leaf blower/vacuum, which I use once a week or so, when I have time.  With this cumbersome, noisy machine, I slurp up every last one of the offending leaves from the entire patio & back yard, including the ones hiding in the corners. I used to feel a tremendous satisfaction after vacuuming up all the leaves, but now I don’t. Because I know that by the afternoon, the ground will again be covered with a batch of new leaves. Oh well, at least my neighbors are enjoying the spectacle.

 
 
© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.