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Lisa, those of us who are not in zone 9 are so envious!


enjil alludes to what I was going to say: Is this not just a normal California thing to do? The fruit trees, that is, not the eating local, Gen-X part (although that fits, too). All the trees in my neighborhood have been around for a long time, including the kumquat and fig trees in my yard. I guess maybe the trend might be more for the non-zone-9 residents?

Lisa S.

Enjil, I'm impressed you know the USDA zone off the bat! It took me a moment because I'm used to the Sunset zones and I was like, "But I'm in zone 17!"

Jecca, I think you're right in that my region is coloring my thinking somewhat. The local-eating thing is such the no-big-deal thing and it's practically a state law to have a citrus tree in your yard. In the article, there was one Los Angeleno, but perhaps it would have been better to focus on the east coast folks who have a shorter growing season.

(However, we did turn the back yard over to edibles when I was a girl (a strawberry patch, a vegetable garden, blueberry bushes) and the dudes in the neighborhood used to compete to see who had the best tomatoes.)


My neighborhood is part of an area that was called "Fruitland" early in Cleveland history, because it was all truck farms and there are still very old apple trees around that bear fruit year after year. I had to cut one of my apple trees down because it was planted too close to the house and as it matured it was a problem.

In terms of the post-war abandonment issue, I think it's related to the less work/affluence boom time way of thinking and also a desire to get away from immigrant ways. That's my take on it.


We grew strawberries right outside our front door when I was a child in Arkansas. Yummm. Also we picked dewberries from the side of the road. Plus the huge garden in our back yard. All of that pretty much stopped when we moved to California but mainly because we have no land here. Enough for a tree or two, but I'm pretty sure my parents' current back yard is smaller than the garden we had in AR (which took up less than 1/4 of our total yard there). And of course our more wll-to-do neighbors in AR didn't have gardens. Their back yard was taken up by a large swimming pool.

As for tastes in the 1950s - that is right about when convenience foods were first introduced. Bland dinners in aluminum trays were new! Exciting! Technological! The future! They were also more expensive. Poorer people couldn't afford individual TV dinners so they became a status symbol for the well-off despite the difference in taste. I can see that type of reasoning ("it's more expensive and therefore must be better, or at lest will make us look better") extending to all sorts of things.


My parents are in central California and grow all kinds of stuff--fruit and herbs, mostly. As someone who was forced to weed and pick fruit in the desert heat, I'll point out that it can be a lot of work--the supermarket was at least air-conditioned, and there weren't any skeletonizers. (I remember in college my roommates were delighted by the fabulous opportunity to pick the house master's grapes for him--I just laughed and laughed.) I do plan to grow food in my garden eventually, but it took me a long time to get over viewing that kind of work as utterly miserable (the moral: don't treat your children as garden slaves).


I miss eating fresh oranges off the tree! Growing up in Arizona, we had a lemon, lime, orange, and olive trees. Loved the fresh citrus and miss it today. The olives are another story. In order to eat them, they must be cured. To cure them, you need to use lye. I never trusted my father's abilities enough to eat his cured olives, which he never tried either because we made him paranoid.

I also know Polly's pain of "forced labor". To this day, I must have a gun put to my head to do any yard work, even when there isn't any cactus to attack me! My husband feel this way about mowing a lawn. We pretty much agreed we will never have a lawn...just bricks/concrete and fruit trees.


Ha, well moving from Detroit to NYC gave me enough of an unexpected zone bump (3 -> 5!) that I spent a bit of time staring at the map, trying to understand what would cause the variation across longitude.

Not that I can plant anything in NYC yet, but just in case. I have been jonesing to move to California so I can plant an avocado tree, lemon tree, lime tree, and cilantro, tomato, and onion plants. Insta-guacamole!


Molly, I bought olives last fall for the express purpose of dunking them in lye and curing them (North Texas = no olive trees, as far as I know). It was a little wary at first, but eventually got over my fear of horrible alkaline death by olive. They came out really well--you and your dad missed out.

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