Sunday, September 27, 2009

Citrus fertiliser, wine and swimming

After Avocados, Citrus would be my next favourite fruit tree to grow. So trouble free and so bountiful. We were lucky in that we had 3 orange trees, 1 lemon, 1 tangelo, 1 mandarin and a huge grapefruit tree on the property when we brought it two years ago. We've added another lemon, a lime and a couple of mandarins since then. The trees were in reasonable condition, but were starting to suffer from a lack of attention.

This is pretty typical of many trees in back yards, as most people don't really give these the treatment they deserve. Trees that are showing yellowed leaves, crops of small acidic fruit with thick skins and weeds or long grass right up to the trunk are sure signs that the trees are not being looked after.

Our trees were very productive this year, except the grapefruit which I hacked back hard last winter. One Tangelo tree gave more than 60kg of fruit this season; juicy, sweet, gorgeous fruit. The secret? Clearing all the grass from around the base of the tree, out to the drip line. Citrus hate competition around the roots.

Trim the skirts off to about knee height so you can get underneath easily. Then fertilise with equal parts of dolomite, potash and blood & bone. This gives the trees an ideal nutrient ratio of nutrients, particularly for our soil which is very low in potassium. I throw about 3-4 handfuls of each fertiliser around each medium size tree. Then, cover with a 5cm+ layer of woody mulch.

Although commercial growers fertilise several times each year, in the home garden a good dose of fert and a mulch in early to mid spring will do the trick. The result, kilos and kilos of juicy sweet fruit that the kids can tuck into from late winter to late spring, just when they need that vitamin C. And seeing the kids were down at the point today for their first swim of the season they'll probably need it. What is it about getting older that results in adults hitting the water about two months after the kids have started swimming? Surely the extra padding should give us more insulation against the cold?

Anyway, the clearing. mulching and fertilising only took a couple of hours this afternoon, not much work for all the fruit these trees give. I would have done it in the morning, but was a bit seedy from the bottling of my new batch of feijoa dessert wine Saturday afternoon. This always involves a fair bit of tasting with friends and relatives, and usually includes breaking out some samples of previous wines for scientific comparison purposes. In this case a nice sweet red plum wine and a slightly drier yellow plum wine that my brother-out-law said should be called "CD cleaner 2009". Ingrate.

This is a damn good spring though. One out of the bag. About 6 weeks ago I planted my first spuds of the season, just after the full moon when its the best time for planting root crops. These have gone into tyre rings, and the stacks are already 3 high, with another one overdue to go on. That's about 10cm of growth a week!


  1. Hi, it's a great blog.
    I could tell how much efforts you've taken on it.
    Keep doing!

  2. Thankyou, its great to get a comment like this so early on.