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A black olive tree similar to this one has taken root in the seating area near Baba Coffee and Carruth Cellars on State Street in Carlsbad. File photo
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Jano’s Garden: An olive tree grows in Carlsbad

It all started with an olive tree. While sitting at Baba Coffee, my favorite coffee shop on State Street in Carlsbad, I noticed black stains on the sidewalk. On further inspection, I realized that the 20-foot tree in front of me was indeed an olive and was filled with ripe black fruit.

Owner Rob Pastor and I discussed the potential of the three fruiting trees that decorated the seating area of Baba Coffee and Carruth Cellars, and enlisted the help of Chris Bany, Carlsbad landscape designer. Bany’s flower and vegetable gardens have beautified the front and side yards of numerous commercial sites on State Street, and he was happy to take on the task of harvesting.

The olive harvest became a communal event, much like a grape harvest in wine country, and netted over five pounds of olives.

Now, the challenge will be to brine the black fruit for a few months, just in time to serve with Baba Coffee’s hand-crafted coffee, tea, nutritional juices, freshly baked pastry and sandwiches.

Baba Coffee is located at 2727 State Street; for information, call 760-994-0666. Chris’s gardens are on Instagram @californiafoodscapes, and can be reached at 760-421-9855.

Grow fruit in your yard

Although full-grown olive trees are high maintenance, I wanted to share with my fellow gardeners the myriad possibilities of growing citrus in North County, which is fairly trouble-free.

My horticultural colleagues at Anderson’s La Costa Nursery gave me a tour of the multitude of citrus trees available for planting during the fall season.

Stephen Froess explained, “The semi-dwarf varieties keep the plant more compact and at a reasonable size that allows for year-round fruit production. There is a misconception regarding the amount of water that citrus trees require. When grown in large containers, the trees can dry out between waterings, but be certain to check on a weekly basis.”

Stephen has a helpful video on the website, and the staff is always available to answer questions about transplanting the citrus trees.

“After purchasing a 10- or 15-gallon tree, the gardener should transplant into a container that is up to twice the original pot size. We use a combination of E.B. Stone Organic Mix and Palm and Citrus Soil Mix, and worm castings. Once transplanted, the tree can remain as is for years, or re-planted in the ground.”

Citrus varieties

The most popular varieties include Meyer Lemon, Eureka, Pink Lemonade, Mexican Lime, Washington Navel and an all-time favorite, the Blood Orange.

According the Stephen, “The limes and lemons will produce intermittently all year, the oranges in fall and winter, and the winter surprise is the tangerine which produces in cooler weather.”

Along with citrus, Anderson’s also carries avocado, passionflower, berries and a wide selection of vegetables, flowers, trees and perennials, along with hardscape, soil, pottery and fountains. They are located at 400 La Costa Ave., in Encinitas; phone 760-753-3153.

Free information

Since I always suffer from too much information and too little space, I would recommend that all gardeners check out the UC San Diego Master Gardeners website. There, you can check out USDA Hardiness Zones, free garden classes and a comprehensive list of the 15 types of fruit that can be grown in the North County area.

As a former Upstate New York gardener, I was amazed to know what can be grown here, and I now taste fruit that I have never had before. But what is a Pluot?

Please contact me regarding questions, garden ideas and community projects. Happy gardening! Contact me at: [email protected]

Jano Nightingale is a horticulturist and former Director of the Cornell University Master Gardener Program in Cooperstown, New York. She works on community gardens in North County.