April Fools

Even though we don’t experience winter snow and frigid temperatures where we live in Southern California, I still get excited when the calendar flips over from March to April. I know that spring officially started a couple of weeks ago, but April has always felt like the true beginning of the season. The weather noticeably warms, the exuberant, bright-yellow orioles return from their winter sojourn in Mexico, and the rich, heady fragrance of budding citrus trees perfumes the air.

Where we live, citrus trees are ubiquitous, and they often bear fruit year-round. So many people have them growing in their yards that, if an unexpected need arises for a lemon or an orange, a quick call to a neighbor will often result in an offer to pick one from their tree.

So, we really didn’t need to plant citrus trees of our own. If we couldn’t get what we needed from a neighbor, our local grocery stores always have a good supply… and they are usually fairly inexpensive. Unlike some other homegrown crops, like tomatoes or corn, a store-bought lemon doesn’t taste all that different than one freshly picked from a tree.

But here we are, two April Fools. We purchased dwarf Meyer Lemon and Bearss Lime tree(lets), bought a couple of large pots, and loaded up several bags of the perfect combination of potting and cactus mix. Then, we spent most of the day preparing the trees’ new home. Going forward, of course, we will provide lots of water and fertilize them regularly.

All told, I can imagine a per-fruit cost of about $5.25.

Yes, we are April Fools… now. But maybe we won’t feel so foolish one future summer day, when we are sitting on our deck enjoying the fruits of our labors… perhaps in the form of freshly-baked lemon bars and a pitcher of mojitos.

I guess I had better plant some mint.

Author: Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged.com

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

78 thoughts on “April Fools”

  1. From my memory, in California, once a lemon tree begins to really take-off you won’t have enough time to handle the fruit. I hope you enjoy those lemon bars and mojitos!

  2. Oh, the smell of citrus! I absolutely love the fragrance. I have planted a lemon tree in a pot on our balcony so we shall have many hours enjoying the blossoms and hopefully a few lemons. Enjoy the beginning of spring Janis.

    1. Thank you! Citrus experts (what do they know?) say that during the tree’s first season, I should remove all the budding fruit so it can concentrate its energy on its growth. That will be hard to do, but if that means more production later, I guess I may have to do it.

  3. You are so right about April being the climactic turning point for spring, Janis! The weather is warmer, no need for the heater (even though we are getting a little rain this afternoon). Even here in Sacramento, citrus is pretty happy! We have a Meyer lemon, another one that grew huge grapefruit-sized lemons (mostly rind, but fun to see) and a guava tree. I’d wish you luck with your citrus and pear, Janis, but you won’t need it! I’m begging for a Queen palm tree in our backyard, but Hans thinks the avocado will grow there (me shaking head). Now that you mention it, I planted a lovely bougainvillea in our front yard, but it is too shady, and sadly, not thriving. Hopefully I can salvage it and get it into the back yard where we mostly have full sun.

    1. Funny, our rain just stopped coming a couple of weeks ago… I miss it. Now I actually have to water our plants. I’d love to have a guava tree… does yours produce yummy fruit? Sorry, I have to side with Hans on the Avocado tree. If they didn’t take so much water, we’d definitely have one too. Bougainvilleas have very tender root systems so best of luck with your re-plant.

      1. The guava actually produces a few small ones. I don’t think it likes the extreme heat and cold though. I know avocados grow well in SD, but I rarely see them here, again, too much extreme temps!

  4. I’d kill for a citrus tree in my yard! Sadly they don’t like the freezing temps in our brutal winters. Ok, maybe brutal is a strong word but it does get damn cold! Enjoy your spring. We will have to wait another week or two to get up beyond 60 but we’re headed in the right direction!

  5. Hi Janis! Happy April! And yes, my most favorite scent in the world are blooming citrus trees. And with all the rain we’ve had they are just full of blossoms and it smells incredible. I also wish you lived closer because we have a lemon tree and it exploded with lemons this season. We are bagging them up and handing them out to everyone because we can’t keep up. Good luck taking care of your new babies. Just watching them grow is reward enough. ~Kathy

    1. We planted ours in pots to (hopefully) cut down on the eventual harvest. You are right, there is only so many lemons and limes two people can use. And, if we don’t get fruit for a while, we can enjoy the blossoms.

  6. It was in California, many many years ago, that I first saw a lemon on a tree. This amazed Northerner took a LOT of photos … and that was before digital 😏 To be honest, I would still be impressed!

    … and now we still and wait for the harvest!

  7. Janis, very cool. We have some mint on our deck. We had some basil and rosemary as well, but it died off. It was cool to make caprese salad with fresh basil. Good luck with fruit trees. Keith

  8. That’s a great way to celebrate flipping the calendar page over to April Janis. We can’t get any citrus fruit trees here – they’d be lucky to make it to October. We had a hard freeze the tail end of September last year. Highly unusual, so I’ll just vicariously enjoy yours.

      1. Peonies are beautiful – a former neighbor had them and would cut me a bouquet to take to work sometimes. I took them on the bus a few times and they had ants and everyone on the bus got upset. I took lilacs in one day as well – same thing. They are beautiful – his peony bushes would be so full of peonies they would be bending over.

  9. Hi, Janis – I was just about to write to you to ask when your next post was coming out. This was well worth the wait. Richard and I now need to set a date to visit you. We look forward to sampling your lemon bards and mojitos. 🙂
    BTW – Very clever title!

  10. Such a lovely description of Spring coming, that I hope we get to experience it when we visit our family in May in Chicago… as Spring really is my favorite season and of course here in Sri Lanka there is no such thing. Only the dry season and the wet season and the always hot and humid season.. haha.

    What we DO get is yellow Orioles… in our garden! They are so pretty. Enjoy the scent of the citrus…. I remember that most from Seville in Spain where orange trees grow EVERYWHERE in the city.


  11. Ahhh, spring is flirting with us in Maine, but we are far from growing a lemon tree! The way I become an ‘April Fool’ is believing that winter has left town. But I have lived here too long to fall for its tricks. Snow predicted for tomorrow!

  12. April fools indeed! Hope springs eternal. Good luck on your new purchases even if the price is a little steep for the results- they will taste better. They look great – cheers!

  13. Citrus trees are exotic and magical to me, a midwestern woman. They have a scent? I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am a little bit. Such a lovely place you have there, it seems almost dreamy.

  14. There’s nothing foolish about planting your own citrus trees! Believe me, if they thrived in the St. Louis climate, I’d plant them too!

    1. I remember a picture of my mother standing next to our lemon tree in the backyard of my childhood home. The tree had tons of fruit on it and she was holding a calendar showing that it was November. She had the picture taken to send to our relatives in St. Louis… I think she was encouraging them to come for a visit.

  15. The one thing I do miss about California are the farmers markets. They always had such amazing fresh vegetables and fruits. I thought it would be the same here in Florida but it’s really not. California is still king for produce. – Marty

  16. I finally gave up growing tomatoes and basil when hubby told me 1) he was tired of remembering to water when I forgot (regularly) and 2) the tomato cost was about $10 per if the squirrels didn’t get them. That was his estimate for his time and effort. Now it’s farmers markets for me!

    1. We finally had to build a cage around our blueberry bushes to keep the birds out. I don’t mind sharing a bit, but they were very greedy. Our citrus trees are on the patio so, hopefully, I won’t forget to water them.

  17. Hope your new trees appreciate your effort!
    We have a grapefruit tree and an orange tree in our Arizona yard. There is nothing better than picking a fruit off your own tree and then eating it right away!

  18. Hi Janis
    I love Meyers lemons, but have not tried Bearss Lemons. There’s nothing better than enjoying the “fruits” of your labors. Last fall when everyone was tossing their Romaine lettuce I was harvesting from my home garden.
    Enjoy your mojitos

  19. My garden is just flourishing right now, Janis, after all this wonderful rain! I am like you, though, already finding that watering is back on the schedule and I’m missing the rain. I’m fascinated with your citrus! I went to our local Armstrong garden center (Pasadena area) and was told that citrus isn’t available right now because of a pest brought over from China! I was going to buy a lime and a lemon. This was less than a month ago. Now I have to wonder if that’s just a San Gabriel Valley thing or what’s the deal! Anyway….good for you! I’ll be over for some mojitos! 🙂

  20. What a fun post, Janis! I remember you mentioning something about citrus trees in the past. You bit the bullet. Time for returning the favor to the neighbors. Wait a minute… Maybe you should have planted a different crop, so you could trade with the neighbors!? 🙂

    If you plant some mint (which is cheap and grows very quickly), you will get your money’s worth in mojitos! I’d love to become your neighbor, just for those!

    We had a very special April Fool’s Day as well. I hope to blog about that one of these weeks.

    1. I know we probably should have planted different trees… but I really love Meyer lemons and there aren’t many lime trees in the hood. Now you have me curious about your April Fools day… do tell!

  21. I adore Meyer lemons, and when I lived in the SF bay area, I grew a Meyer lemon tree on our deck, which got so big we had to replant it out in the yard. When I moved to the Boston area, my friend saved up her Meyer lemons for when I visited her, and I loaded a bunch in my suitcase for the trip home. Now SHE’S moved to TX, so I pay a lot (I won’t tell you how much) for a Meyer lemon in my grocery store. Enjoy your budding plant!

    1. I hope we have the same green thumb luck that you did! I think it would be hard to have to pay a lot of money for something that I used to get for free. But, I’m guessing where you live probably has items that are much less expensive then we get them here.

  22. Congratulations on your new citrus orchard, Janis. Given the climate in your beautiful area of the world, you should have more fruit than you can handle in no time. Be careful planting mint. We had some in our yard in Reno and it nearly took over. It sure smells good though.

    1. Haha! Orchard… I like that! I bet you are seeing/smelling/tasting a lot of citrus where you are in Spain. I know that mint can be very invasive so, if I decide to plant it, I will definitely put it in a pot (and hope it doesn’t escape).

  23. I am in awe of how lemons and oranges grow on your trees. I have never experienced citrus trees perfuming the air. I love lemon everything.

    I do picture you enjoying the fruits of your labours in a few short years. Home grown is priceless, Janis.

    1. I have pretty much lived in this area all my life so it’s hard to imagine not having citrus trees growing everywhere. I’m a big fan of lemons too and I’m really looking forward to having an ongoing supply.

  24. We often talk about where we would like to ‘drop anchor’ for an extended period. While New York seems like a logical choice (good place to find work, lots of friends there, miss the old stomping ground) California is one of those places that seems to beckon to me louder. The place of dreams with its sunshine and citrus. We haven’t decided to give up our rambling ways just yet, but we might be headed your way someday, even if to just say ‘Ahoy’.

  25. Where I live, we can only grow citrus trees as houseplants. I’m trying to get a lemon tree started right now. One of my favourite memories from our first trip to Portugal was picking oranges off a tree. They were so huge and juicy, we had to eat them over a sink!


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