GARDENING : THREE DECADES LATER, LOVE STORY CONTINUES TO BLOOM.
Byline: Joshua Siskin
One afternoon 33 years ago, a young lady named Tina was working in her mother's pension in Valencia, Spain. An American student named David, who was traveling through Europe at the time and, on that fateful afternoon happened to be in Tina's part of town, was looking for Looking for
In the context of general equities, this describing a buy interest in which a dealer is asked to offer stock, often involving a capital commitment. Antithesis of in touch with. a room to rent. David knocked on the door of the pension and Tina opened it.
Within days, David would persuade Tina to go out with him. Not long after that he would ask her a most important question. Tina did not know any English but David, nevertheless, decided to throw caution to the wind and, in his halting Spanish, made the following inquiry: ``Se gustera crecer verduras?'' (Do you like to grow vegetables?) Tina answered in the affirmative and, that significant issue being resolved, David would soon make a proposal to which Tina also assented, with the result that they would now be growing vegetables together - happily ever after The term happily ever after is used in association with many works of children’s fiction and romantic fiction. It describes a happy ending, often a cliché in which all the good characters have emerged victorious and all the evil characters have been punished. .
In the 33 years since, David and Tina Siber have, in fact, argued frequently, but it's usually about the best techniques for growing plants of one kind or another. When they moved to their current residence in Granada Hills, in 1980, they were still passionate growers of vegetables. Then, one day, a neighbor presented them with a delicious tropical fruit called cherimoya cher·i·moy·a also chir·i·moy·a
1. A tropical American tree (Annona cherimola) having heart-shaped, edible fruits with green skin and white aromatic flesh.
2. The fruit of this plant. ; not long after, they planted their first cherimoya tree. ``Ever since,'' Tina confessed, ``Both of us have been crazy about growing tropical fruit.''
The Sibers have invested their all - time, money, energy and imagination - in their tropical fruit obsession. In the process, they have created an exotic tropical oasis, with over 60 different species planted and flourishing in front, back and on both sides of their house. Even though trees are sold from a backyard nursery, Tina emphasizes that this is a hobby. Having visited the Sibers many times over the last decade or so, I can vouch for their increased devotion to what is, in fact, an avocational av·o·ca·tion
1. An activity taken up in addition to one's regular work or profession, usually for enjoyment; a hobby.
2. One's regular work or profession.
3. Archaic A distraction or diversion. mission. It is obvious they have an altruistic desire to make people aware of the large variety of tropical fruits that can be grown in this part of the world.
David's love for growing tropical fruit trees is expressed in the fact that he retired from his career as an electrical engineer at the age of 52. Only in this way could he spend the time needed to properly research the various species he wanted to cultivate. ``Before he quit his last job,'' Tina remembered, ``he would call home every hour to ask how the trees were growing.''
``God must have put us together,'' Tina continued. ``We're both eccentric, different from the herd and fanatic about what we do. You have to grow in life, and we have both done so in a way that has made this hobby the center of our lives. A fancy house is not important to me. What makes me happy is to go outside and look at the banana blossoms and fruit, to see how they change from one pastel color to another, to see their yellow, green and magenta colors against the blue sky. That is what makes me happy. That is what I get up for each morning.''
Money isn't everything
How about making money? How important is that? ``Well, money won't make you happy,'' she assures me. ``Still, being rich and miserable is probably better than being poor and miserable,'' she adds with a laugh.
``As you grow in life, your priorities change.'' She pauses for a moment to make sure I appreciate this thought, and then points to an armoire with glass windows in her sparsely furnished living room. ``Do you know anyone who wants to buy a Lladro collection?'' She smiles. I notice several tall figurines in that familiar style - call it quaint kitsch - that offers an absolute contrast to the comfortable earthiness which otherwise imbues the Siber household. Ironically, the Lladro factory is situated in a Spanish village not far from where Tina grew up.
Tina Siber exults in nearly everything she and David grow, but she is especially exuberant about the pitahaya (Hylocereus undatus), a neotropical fruit. The pitahaya is about the size of a baseball with tight red or yellow skin and distinctive scales. Its flesh is either red or white and it has hundreds of dot-size black seeds inside, much like kiwi. Its taste is also similar to that of a kiwi, only a little sweeter and with a hint of lime. Its texture is somewhat crispier than a kiwi's.
I learned that the red-skinned pitahaya is self-sterile, which means that its red-fleshed cultivars must be cross-pollinated with its white-fleshed cultivars in order to bear fruit. David Siber hand-pollinates these pitahayas with a small paintbrush (graphics, tool) Paintbrush - A Microsoft Windows tool for creating bitmap graphics. ; this is done toward evening when their breathtaking flowers open up. Yellow-skinned pitahayas are self-fruitful and require no assistance in pollination pollination, transfer of pollen from the male reproductive organ (stamen or staminate cone) to the female reproductive organ (pistil or pistillate cone) of the same or of another flower or cone. .
The pitahaya is an epiphytic ep·i·phyte
A plant, such as a tropical orchid or a staghorn fern, that grows on another plant upon which it depends for mechanical support but not for nutrients. Also called aerophyte, air plant. - a tree-dwelling or vining - cactus. It produces flowers once a year on drab green jointed stem-leaves that grow up a tree like an arboreal arboreal
pertaining to trees, treelike, tree-dwelling. snake. This cactus will also attach itself to a trellis 1. Trellis - An object-oriented language from the University of Karlsruhe(?) with static type-checking and encapsulation.
2. Trellis - An object-oriented application development system from DEC, based on the Trellis language. (Formerly named Owl). or even the side of a house. At the Siber home, several pitahayas have serpentined their way up the branches of an olive tree.
The pitahaya has an international price tag of around $30 a pound, with fruit selling for $4 to $10 apiece.
Giving Valley a gift
Growing up in Spain, there was one Mediterranean plant that Tina Siber saw everywhere. When she began growing unusual fruits, she thought it would be perfect for Valley gardens. It was. Today, her caper bushes (Capparis spinosa Capparis spinosa,
n See caper plant. ), facing full sun, flower and fruit during our hottest summer weather. Capers do need perfect drainage, so don't compromise their health by planting them in heavy soil.
The unopened, pickled flower buds of this plant are what people think of when they hear the word ``caper caper, common name for members of the Capparidaceae, a family of tropical plants found chiefly in the Old World and closely related to the family Cruciferae (mustard family). .'' Yet, the fruits of the caper, which are formed in the wake of glorious, long-stamened flowers, are just as tasty if not more so. These berries, which are about the size of olives (without the pits), may be used, after brining, in salads, sandwiches and pasta dishes. Caper berries sell for about $12 a pound but, according to Tina Siber, they store ``forever.''
Other plants the Sibers are particularly interested in spreading the word about include allspice allspice: see pimento.
Tropical evergreen tree (Pimenta dioica) of the myrtle family, native to the West Indies and Central America and valued for its berries, the source of a highly aromatic spice. from Jamaica, an ideal plant for our climate and one whose leaves make an excellent hot or cold tea; the ``panache'' fig, produced on a dwarf fig tree from Italy, whose skin has yellow and green stripes and whose flesh is scarlet red scarlet red
An azo dye used as an agent to promote the healing of wounds and as a histological stain.
an azo dye used for demonstrating sex chromatin, basic protein and connective tissue in histology, and as a ; mangoes, several species of which can be grown in protected Valley locations; the litchi litchi (lē`chē), Chinese tree (Litchi chinensis) of the family Sapindaceae (soapberry family), having a small, aromatic, pulpy fruit in a thin, rough shell. , a white-pulped, red-skinned fruit, with the texture and sweetness of a very rich grape; starfruit Starfruit could refer to:
Siber is also proud of his success in growing the sapodilla sapodilla, the edible fruit of Manilkara zapota (formerly Achras zapota), of the family Sapotaceae. The fleshy, brown fruit is the size of a small tomato, and has the flavor and texture of cinnamon, apple, and pear. , known in the Filipino community as ``Chico'' and, among Thais, as ``Lamut.'' He has learned to grow the cherimoya, but prefers its relative, the atimoya or sugar apple, for hot Valley conditions.
To procure any of the plants described here, call Tina and David Siber's Papaya papaya (pəpī`ə), soft-stemmed tree (Carica papaya) of tropical America resembling a palm with a crown of palmately lobed leaves. Tree Nursery, which is open to the public by appointment only, at (818) 363-3680.
Tip of the week: David Siber recommends foliar foliar
pertaining to or having the quality of leaves. fertilization for healthy growth of citrus and other tropical trees. He is especially keen on an organic foliar fertilizer called Citrastim. Siber has found this product to be effective in stimulating both flowering and fruit set.