Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Swap 'Til You Drop

Do you think the squirrels will come back later to finish these half-eaten apricots?

It's that time of year again when my back lawn becomes littered with the carcasses of half-eaten apricots. The squirrels are experts at picking the freshest fruits, taking a few nibbles and then throwing the partially eaten apricots on the ground. (Except for the Oscar Madison squirrel, who lined up his fruits on a limb.)

Last year I joined a community crop sharing group, so I have lots of help in picking and eating the fruit. (If you'd like to read more about the group, see the story I wrote for the LA Times Home & Garden Section.) In a nutshell, we share and swap our surplus produce with other members in the group.

In an effort to distract the squirrels from the apricots, I put up a bird feeder. Unfortunately, the word has gotten out that the Carriers are hosting a back-yard smorgasbord.

I feel lucky to have a yard with plenty of fruit trees (apricot, pomello, lemon, orange, grapefruit, avocado, persimmon, fig) and enough room for a vegetable plot.

For those not fortunate enough to have their own piece of dirt, the good news is that LA County has more than 4,000 community garden plots. The bad news is that hundreds of wannabe gardeners are on the waiting lists.

One creative solution that's being explored in Southern California is yard swapping or share cropping, where landowners share their plot of land and part of the harvest in exchange for a little sweat equity. (You can read my LA Times story about modern day share cropping here.)

How green is my garden? The peas just sprouted and the green zebra tomatoes are almost ripe.

The fruits of someone else's labor: donut peaches and Swiss chard in exchange for apricots

Do you live in Los Angeles and want to explore a yard sharing arrangement? Check out www.growfriend.org.

If you aren't in LA, check out www.hyperlocavore.com, a national group that's facilitating yard sharing arrangements.

After all, in these recessionary times, swapping is better than shopping.


Mrs. Myers @ Eat Move Write said...

Wow. I absolutely love that picture of the half eaten apricots. Those little devils! My parents have tried for years to stop the squirrels in their backyard. So far, nothing works. They're SMART little guys.

Have a great day!


Life As I Know It said...

I'm so jealous of your garden and plethora of trees. It's probably for the best though, as I would probably never tend to my family seeing as though I would be so busy eating! Thanks for all of the info!

Chrissy said...

Last time I left my feeders out 2 raccoons tried to make off w/it... Now I have to bring them in at night.. I do have alot of finches, sparrows and robins in my yard due to those feeders and hummers...I've got apples that have fallen and I suffer from the same half eaten fruit as well.

Margaret said...

Lucky squirrels! Loved your article in the LA Times this weekend.

Chow and Chatter said...

what a great idea and love your garden

Janelle said...

You're so fortunate to have a yard full of goodness in So Cal! I LOVE pomellos...mmmm!!!

Jean Spitzer said...

I say that the squirrels come to our yard for the all-you-can-eat buffet. Looks like you've been hosting their relatives.

Anonymous said...

Just found your blog, and love it! Following!

pasadenapio said...

I share an apricot tree with my neighbor to the east and an avocado tree with my neighbor to the west. The neighbor across the street has a wonderful fig tree and the family at the end of the block has a huge lemon tree. All of these neighbors encourage everyone to share and share alike.

Cafe Pasadena said...

I read your times article last year. Did another just come out last weekend?

"Please Don't Feed The Animals!"

Bec said...

You know how when you hear about something one place, you suddenly hear about it everywhere? I didn't know there was an exchange in Altadena but this morning I was reading a flyer about the new once-a-month one in Monrovia. I only have food to barter when the citrus is ripe and dripping off the trees. The rest of the year is pretty barren.

MenuManiac said...

First of all, donut peaches might be my favourite fruit. Second of all, I live in Southern Ontario and my neighbours (psychos) have been feeding the squirrels peanuts. Now I have half eaten peanuts all over the place. Probably not as unsightly as half eaten fruit but equally annoying! Love your blog and started following.

Deb said...

Ok, if it wasn't for the anonymity of the net and living half a world away I might not ask... but please tell me! What is a pomello?? Obviously fruit challenged in Finland. ;-) Love your blog.

Susan C said...

Mrs. Myers, I couldn't believe that either when I saw the work of those "little devils." I wish they all lined up their fruit.

Life, The garden (and the food) IS a huge distraction.

Chrissy, Wow! I don't know which are smarter (or more aggressive) - the squirrels or the raccoons.

Margaret, Thanks! It's been fun to see the swapping trend develop.

Chow and Chatter, I hope the idea keeps catching on.

Janelle, Too bad you don't live nearby. I don't care for the pomellos, so you could come over and pick as many as you like.

Jean, Who can turn away a good all-you-can-eat buffet?

Jaki, Thanks for following!

PIO, That's the spirit!

Cafe Pas, Yes, I had another article in Saturday's H&G section.

Bec, I'm very excited to hear that folks in Monrovia are holding a swap and share. I wonder who is sponsoring it?

Menu Maniac, Is that Southern Ontario as in Canada or Southern Ontario as in the LA suburb? Thanks for following.

Deb, Don't feel bad. I had never heard of or seen a pomello until we moved into this house. It looks like a grapefruit on steroids, but has a thicker skin and more bitter taste than a grapefruit. It's frequently used in Vietnamese dishes.

Anonymous said...

Highland Park recently put in an urban garden behind the old theater on Figuroa.

So when are you going to bring in a hive of bees? Is honey part of the trade among the Alta gardeners?

altadenahiker said...

I think bees must be making a comeback because it seems half the posts on the fruit exchange are how to get rid of the hives.

(I have a hive and doesn't bother me.)

Jessica said...

Apricots. It reminds me of being six in the San Fernando Valley, tossing the extra, rotten ones from our yard at passing cars. My throws were mostly benign save for the one that cartwheeled off the windshield of a white VW bug, of which my father happened to witness.

Piper Robert said...

Hey, don't let all the tomatoes ripen. Remember Grandma's fried green tomatoes? 3 little words to describe them.....dee lee shush.

Pyzahn said...

Argh, those pesky squirrels. I have the same problems. I pick up all the half eaten apples and line them on the window ledge, encouraging them to finish what they started.

A couple weeks ago I had a cake just out of the oven cooling in the kitchen window. When I returned from walking the dog the squirrel had eaten a huge hole in the screen going after the chocolaty goodness. It's all documented on my blog.

I the only one on my blog who grows flowers and has a fruit tree, to like you I am the neighborhood buffet for rabbits, squirrels, birds, etc.

I feed the rabbits carrots and give the squirrels/birds all my left over bread, crackers, etc. to keep them full but it doesn't work.


Susan C said...

Pasadena Adjacent, As AH points out, we all have a lot more bees and many hives in our yards, but I don't know anyone locally raising honey. I hope that changes. LOVE fresh honey.

Jessica, My - weren't YOU the naughty little girl!

Robert, Thanks for reminding me of Grandma's fried green tomatoes. Man, those were good. I'm also growing several kinds of peppers this year. I wish I knew how to make mother's hot mixed peppers.

Pyzahn, Does it work when you line up the half-eaten fruit on your window ledge? A friend with chickens came by yesterday to harvest all the half-eaten fruit yesterday. That made me feel better knowing that the poultry would enjoy the fruit.

marinik said...

love having fruit trees... some of those organizations sound great I dad no idea they existed... thanks for the info.. hope all is well with you :)

AlixmeOne said...

wow....it's good to have a barter system like that, it gimme an idea to stard one in our area here in Malysia. Thanx

Marcy said...

I LOVE apricots! That's really cool that they have programs there such as the "swap", and the land programs for gardeners! Another wonderful post, thank you for sharing, love the photography captures as well! xo~

JCK said...

Such wonderful bounty in these photos. I love the crop swap ideas. Congrats on all of your L.A. Times articles!!

Trish said...

I swear, the network of rodents and scoundrels must have a newsletter!

When we had a place with tons of fruit trees in the yard, we decided to portion them out---1/2 to the rodents who would eat the side not facing the house and leave it on the tree, 1/4 for ourselves and friends and 1/4 to give away to 2nd Harvest Food Bank. Sometimes, the rodents and scoundrels took more than their fair share! We had the cousin to your line-up guy...he'd leave them like a trail---hahaha, I ate some more tonight, loooook!

We had Vector Control out who basically told us---you have fruits and veggies, you're going to have a major problem. Unless you can portion out an area and block it off with chicken wire completely or have enough space between launching points (if they don't crawl up or scamper over, they launch off things to get to the tree), they are going to get some of your crop.

Enjoy what you can and put a sign out for them---all you can eat, just line them up so it is easier for me to toss out your leftovers! Please? Thank you--Management!

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