The Home Growers Circle: Real people with a passion to grow real food

Ethel & Bill Robert Charmaine & Brian Brandon Nancy Lewis & Tara Malika & Donny Andy & Susanna Craig & Gary Warren & Lovejoy

Lewis & Tara / Santa Monica

Citrus Incantations from Santa Monica


Tuesday, October 19, 2010 at 8:56PM

For those of you who need some activity before your next mat pilates class and who enjoyed the playground jungle gym as a child, try this calisthenic in your favorite citrus tree. Look carefully for a sturdy foothold at the intersection of a large branch with the trunk. If it’s above where you can lift your foot and pull yourself up, reach by holding onto other strong footholds or get a footstool. In your ascent, be careful not to scratch yourself with other dead or inner growth branches long hidden from the light of day. Perhaps use plastic goggles to protect your eyes and a mask for those who would be sensitive to dust, crumpled leaves and dead bugs.

As you’re standing now, perhaps three to five feet off the ground, look to the major skeletal structure of your citrus tree. Imagine how you would create a giant circle where you could see the blue of the sky coming down the middle of the tree. Begin cutting small branches perhaps up to one inch in diameter. With a clipper with arms of at least a foot and a half, here’s where you do the turning of your body like an owl’s head as you try to get 180 degrees of the circle to the branches at the other side. Then hugging the tree and utilizing your best monkey skills, rotate about 180 degrees, or incrementally go around clipping as you go.

Now if the tree is still taller try to find the next higher foot location elevates you that two feet and repeat the process. Once you get to the top you may find the last fork in the tree is blocking the light. Don’t be afraid. The tree will be happy. Remove that last central top branch. Now you can see the light and continue pruning to level off the tree like a giant inner tube. Now as you look back down, clip any branches that are still protruding into the center. With a hand clipper remove any stragglers you see. Carefully descend back to earth.

Now, lest you think your work is done, go get a hose with a fairly strong controllable nozzle. Dial into a fairly strong spray. Remember to shelter your eyes. Spray around the inside, 360 degrees, inside your circle to get rid of dust half as old as you are. At least annually or bi-annually depending on your area, re-prune and keep your circle clear, repeating the project which you’ve undertaken. The benefit of this process is that light will penetrate and grow fruit not only on the outside but on the inside too with better oxygenation and reduced chance for disease.

Lewis Perkins lives in Santa Monica, nestled in a semi-tropical paradise, growing exotic edibles in Southern California. When not working with Tara in the garden, Lewis is a Certified Financial Planning Professional® spending time with clients as a real estate, insurance, and securities broker. His websites are and

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We know how much everyone in this city loves the movies. Have you seen this one? The Garden is an Academy Award nominated documentary that tells the story of urban farmers who struggle against land developers to keep their community farm in South Central Los Angeles alive. This film offers a revealing look at the challenges of urban farming in a megacity once known for its agricultural output. The director of the film, Scott Hamilton Kennedy, is a Silver Lake resident and he has offered to not only sell DVDs of the film at a 10% discount, but also grant 10% of proceeds to support the certification fees of future participants of the Home Growers Circle. Buy a DVD and help us build support for an eleventh urban microfarmer. Maybe we'll have to ask one of the microfarmers to raise some corn so that we can make some home-grown movie popcorn. Click here to order a DVD and support the Home Growers Circle. Remember to use promotional code FORAGE.