The Garden of Domenico and Rosa Bellocci – Orangevale, California
Born in Mola di Bari, Province of Bari, Puglia, Italy.
Domenico immigrated to the United States in 1969, and Rosa immigrated in 1985.
Click on the photo to enlarge and read the caption.
TangerinesRosa shows some ready to be picked tangerines on the tree in the front garden.
TangerinesA beautiful, ripe tangerine.
orange treeThis tree was loaded with blood oranges!
Striped lemonAn unusual variety of striped lemon ripens on the tree in the front garden.
GrapefruitThese grapefruit were incredibly large!
Saint FrancisSaint Francis watches over the citrus grove.
Hanging tomatoesIn addition to canning, Rosa hangs fresh tomatoes from the rafters of the covered back porch. She will use them in their partially dry form throughout the winter.
Hanging tomatoesThese small tomatoes are cut in clusters and strung up by their stems. Rosa adds them to lots of dishes including the delicious focaccia she served us at lunch.
Fruits and veggiesRecently picked fruits and vegetables sit next to bottles of homemade wine on the Bellocci's back porch.
Long bean seedsRosa shows us the long bean seeds she has saved for next year's planting. The seeds were brought over from the Bellocci's hometown of Mola di Bari.
Basil seedsFrancesco points out the tiny black basil seeds that have been saved for planting next year. The Bellocci's save many kinds of seeds in jars on their covered back porch.
Rosa in the gardenRosa harvests cime di rapa, also known as broccoletti, from one of the smaller garden plots. In the foreground you can see that zucchini was still growing even at our mid-November visit.
BroccolettiBroccoletti, also known as rapa or rapini
Purple bell peppersPurple bell peppers, just picked from the small garden plot.
Table grapesThere are lots of grapevines planted on the Bellocci property. Most are wine grapes which had already been harvested and pressed, but these table grapes were perfectly ripe when we came to visit.
Uva fragolina - Strawberry grapesKnown in Italian as uva fragolina, or strawberry grapes, these sweet, slip skin table grapes have a distinct berry flavor.
Domenico in the gardenDomenico in the garden with one of the family dogs.
Harvesting eggplantRosa and Francesco harvest eggplant in the large garden.
Francesco in the gardenFrancesco harvests some of the last few leaves of basil in the large garden plot. From right to left you can see grapes, eggplant, two varieties of chicory, broccoletti, basil, broccoli and fava beans. Although it feels as though you're in the country when in the garden, the property actually sits in the middle of a densely populated suburban neighborhood.
Rosa in the gardenRosa points to a row of broccoli. Notice the line of fig trees at the back edge of the garden. The family grows ten fig trees of four varieties.
Rosa tends the chicoryThe soil in the Bellocci garden is very sandy and tends to be very cold at his time of year (November). Rosa scrapes the surface around the chicory plants to allow warm air to penetrate the soil.
Basket of vegetablesMuch to our surprise and delight, this basket was being filled for us to take home.
Fava blossomsThe fava were blooming and smelled wonderful!
Potato seedlingPotato seedlings emerge in the back garden.
Chestnut treeA large section of the Bellocci's property is planted with fruit and nut trees including peaches, pomegranates, pecans, olives, figs, and this chestnut tree.
Chestnut burrFrancesco carefully holds up one of the Italian marroni chestnut burrs that has fallen from the tree.
QuinceQuince, known in italian as mela cotogna, grow abundantly.
QuinceRosa holds up a ripe quince. She'll add it to the large boxfull she has already picked which she plans to turn into jams and candies.
Loquat treeThe Bellocci's also have several loquat trees, known in Italian as nespole.
Prickly PearA large prickly pear cactus, also called Fig of India, grows at the back of the property. Rosa makes a sweet liqueur from the ripe fruit. See a video of a prickly pear picker from Italy here.
Chickens, ducks and geeseThe Belloccis own and operate a small private school on the property across the street from their house. On the school grounds they keep chickens, ducks, geese, and peacocks who dine on grain and scraps from the garden.
PeacocksOne of the beautiful peacocks the children at the school are lucky enough to see everyday.
Domenico in the gardenDomenico walks up the path that separates the large garden plot (on the left) from the section planted with fruit and nut trees (on the right).
Sunset over the vineyardWe were lucky enough to catch the sun setting over this beautiful garden. Only the dark of the evening convinced us to leave such a wonderful place.
Gifts from the Bellocci'sThe Belloccis not only shared a delightful Sunday afternoon dinner with us, they send us home with armloads of gifts from the garden including fresh eggs, homemade wine, prickly pear liqueur, house-cured olives, chestnuts, cookies, herbs, fruits, and many vegetables. Grazie mille!
Prickly Pear Picker
The Bellocci’s teach us how to use the prickly pear picker that they got in Italy.