Merry Christmas to ME!!! Merry Christmas to ME!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Bird Casa
Everyone knows that the best Christmas gifts in the whole wide world are those that you buy for yourself.

That's a Bill Bird rule. I just made it up. Live with it.

I always overdo it at Christmas. That's especially true when it comes to the Christmas light display outside. Like Clark Griswold -- my feeling is -- you can never have too many lights. It may take the better part of a Sunday afternoon to set it up and string out miles of extension cords -- but it's a house that Santa Claus cannot possibly ignore come Christmas Eve.

This is also the time of year to look for specific gardening "deals." I've already explained my love for all things citrus in a previous post. Although I've got two Improved Meyer Lemons and a Bearss Lime growing in the Bird Back 40 -- I'm always looking to expand upon my citrus plantings.

When it comes to citrus -- there are deals to be had in the month of December -- if you know where and when to find them.

Dancy Tangerine Tree
I figured this out -- quite by accident - three years ago. That's when I stumbled upon this gorgeous Dancy Tangerine sitting in a neglected aisle of a very wet -- and very empty I might add -- Home Depot garden section. It stood four feet high and was loaded with bright orange tangerines.

The price? $20. I couldn't buy it fast enough. Sure enough -- as I swooped in on what would be the citrus deal of that year -- so did about three other shoppers who attempted to beat me to the punch.

They weren't fast enough on that night three years ago.

Today -- that Dancy Tangerine is planted in one of my wide side yards. It's now about eight feet tall and is once again loaded with about 40-50 bright orange tangerines. They are ripening a tad quicker this year than last -- which means three or four just might be ready for harvest on Christmas Day.

Dancy Tangerines
A Mimosa for the wonderful wife that is Venus on Christmas morning? I think so! And -- perhaps her husband as well.

My point is -- this tree was a steal of a deal. I don't often shop for fruit or citrus trees at Big Box stores like Home Depot or Lowes. Not that I'm a snob or anything like that -- but you tend to get better quality fruit and citrus trees at nurseries like Don Shor's Redwood Barn or even Capital Nursery.

Are they more expensive? Of course! Better quality trees cost a few extra bucks. But they tend to be better quality fruit and citrus trees -- and don't come with the myriad of problems that the "$14.99 Big Box Deal" can bring. Trust me -- I've lost a few of those trees to disease. I've learned my lesson. From now on -- it's nursery stock and nursery stock only.

The one exception to this rule? Citrus. If you know what you're looking for -- you can get a STEAL OF A DEAL. But this is only true if you know where to shop -- what to look for -- and when to buy.

Improved Meyer Lemon
Case in point: the month of December.

I know -- from experience -- that for some odd reason -- the North Natomas Home Depot ALWAYS gets a shipment of citrus trees in from Four Winds Growers -- the premiere supplier of citrus trees to Northern California. But -- much of that stock that you find at your local Big Box store isn't worth a second look.

In other words -- it just isn't worth it. Many of them are dwarf varieties. Nothing against dwarf fruit or citrus trees mind you -- but I've come to discover that small trees = small harvests. If you do happen to find a full-size tree -- it's often priced to the point where it's better to shop for your desires at a local nursery.

Owari Satsuma Mandarin
But if you arrive at just the right time -- right after the truck has been unloaded -- you're going to find a little gem like this one to your right. That -- Ladies and Germs -- is a citrus tree that I've been trying to get into my backyard for the past two years. It's an Owari Satsuma Mandarin -- the absolute best tasting mandarin you can find anywhere on the planet. But -- I'm not alone in this opinion.

Farmer Fred Hoffman -- of KFBK Garden Show fame on NewsTalk 1530 KFBK and Get Growing on Talk 650 KSTE -- has proclaimed the Owari Satsuma as one of his personal favorites. I've been looking for the right kind of tree for a very long time now. But everything I've found just wasn't what I was looking for -- or it presented too much of a hit on ye olde wallet.

Wet North Natomas Home Depot
Until now. I spotted it yesterday during a heavy downpour in the very back of the North Natomas Home Depot. It had just been delivered the previous day. It just stood out from the rest. It was a thing of beauty. And it's now in my backyard. As I wheeled it inside (dripping wet I might add) -- many a customer asked where I'd found it. Sure enough -- despite the heavy rain falling outside -- many of them beat a path to where I had just been.

Of course -- I failed to tell them that this was the best looking tree of the lot by a MILE.

It is six feet tall. It has been meticulously pruned and cared for. This will eventually grow into a full size mandarin citrus tree that can grow to a height of 20 feet or more and will yield hundreds of tasty Satsuma Mandarins once it reaches full maturity.

Purchased at a local nursery -- a tree like this would run anywhere from $100-$125.

I didn't even come close to paying half that amount.

I feel like a kid on Christmas morning.

Merry Freaking Christmas to ME! 


"Daffodil Planter" Charlotte Germane said...

Yum! You'll have to learn to make satsuma marmalade. And who says women are the best shoppers? Well done, Bill.

P.S. Loving your blog soundtrack too.

Sacramento maid service said...

Looks like Santa came by early to your house to deliver his gifts.

Bill Bird said...

You can have that husband of yours come and talk tomato talk any day of the week Ms. Maid Service. I never get tired of talking about tomatoes!