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Sunny Citrus

GROWING CITRUS IN CONTAINERS

 

Try your hand at growing citrus in containers. We’re sure you’ll find it fun and rewarding… and of course, you’ll definitely enjoy the fruits of your labor when those tasty fruits are ready to be eaten! The fragrance of the citrus flowers can fill a room and the bright colors of the fruit and the glossy foliage make handsome additions to your home. We’ve put together a few tips on maintaining citrus containers:

Citrus grown in pots are temperature sensitive and will not live through hard freezes. Plastic and foam pots are best since plants should be taken outside during the warmer months. Potted citrus are grafted and are perfectly happy to live out their lives in pots. Most citrus trees are hardy to 38°F. Lemons, oranges and kumquats can tolerate temperatures down to 32°F for brief periods (hours) without damage.

Tips for Maintaining Citrus Containers:

  • Rotate the pots weekly so light strikes all the leaves.
  • Cut back on watering. Plants in weak light, out of the wind, use less water.
  • Return citrus outdoors as soon as temperatures warm to 40°F.
  • Keep in mind that some winter leaf drop is normal.

LIGHT
All-day direct sun is the most important factor in successful citrus culture. Your citrus trees should be outside, in full sun, except when the temperature drops below 40°F. When cold-temperature warnings occur, bring your potted trees into the house and place in a south-facing window.

WATERING
Citrus in full sun and out in the wind will use considerable water. After your first thorough watering, check the weight of your new citrus tree. Lift it a few inches, feel how heavy it is. If it is too large to lift easily, push against the pot to get a sense of the resistance it gives your push. Check the weight of your pots several times the first week. If it feels dry, water again on all sides of the pot until water drains out of the bottom.

FERTILIZING
All plants in pots must be fertilized to grow to their full potential. Since fruit trees are constantly leafing, blooming, and ripening fruit, they need regular fertilization. We recommend using: McDonald’s Greenleaf, 12-4-8, slow-release, every six weeks, plus; Espoma Citrus Tone, 2-3 times per year

LIFE CYCLE:
Most citrus trees bloom heavily once a year, usually in late winter or early spring. Exceptions are Meyer Improved Lemon and Calamondin Orange, which bloom sporadically throughout the year with good care, in addition to giving you a heavy bloom in winter. You can expect a crop of ripe fruit to ripen as follows:

  • Lemons and Lime: 9 months to turn yellow, let hang another 3 weeks for tree-rippened goodness
  • Calamondin Orange: 4-6 months
  • Kumquat: 5-7 months
  • Orange/Tangerine/Tangelo: 9-10 months

Fruit is ready to harvest when it gives to pressure from your thumb. Fruit is ready to harvest when it is no longer hard and gives to pressure from your thumb. Now you can enjoy the fruits of your labor!

PRUNING:
Prune right after you have collected your main crop of fruit, and before the next blossoming period (usually mid-winter). Shorten branches to no more than half of the current length, cutting just above a healthy leaf. If branches are rubbing another healthy branch, remove branches by cutting back to a main stem.

By |January 29th, 2015|Blog, Fruit Citrus|Comments Off on Sunny Citrus

Herbs Anyone Can Grow

Guide Image

Why purchase herbs from the grocery store when you can grow your own at home? For a convenient oomph of flavor whenever your meal needs a boost, plant herbs in your own garden or containers. Home-grown herbs are less expensive and fresher than their store-bought counterparts while being surprisingly easy to grow and maintain. Study the following list for seasoning suggestions that any gardener can plant.

 

 

 

 Rosemaryrosemary

Rosemary is delicious when combined with other herbs or used on its own. A very versatile plant, rosemary enhances meats, vegetables, soups, sauces, bread, marinade, and oil. With its woody stems and needle-like leaves, rosemary may seem evergreen, but it needs to be brought indoors for the winter. Outdoors, seedlings should be planted two to three feet apart. Rosemary thrives in full sun and moist soil, as long as it’s given the chance to dry out between waterings. Dry rosemary is also very valuable, in fact. Hang the herbs upside down in bunches or use racks to dry rosemary. Because of their lovely scent, dried rosemary leaves are perfect for bouquets, wreaths, and sachets.

 

 

thymeThyme

Whether you dry, refrigerate, freeze, or preserve thyme, it will prove its usefulness. Butter, mayonnaise, meat stew, strong vegetables, dried beans, and slow-cooked foods can all benefit from a dash of thyme. Not only is thyme aromatic, it makes for an attractive groundcover. When exposed to full sun, thyme produces pretty white flowers and flavorful leaves. Lemon thyme works well with tea, seafood, and anything else that tastes especially good when given a citrus kick.

 

 

 Chiveschives

Grown for their leaves and flowers, onion and garlic chives are members of the lily family. Full sun encourages chives to flourish in clumps, which can be divided later. When harvesting chives, save half an inch of growth to preserve the plant. Chives lose their flavor when they’re cooked, so add them to dishes at the end of the process. Onion chives produce edible purple flowers, which can be floated in soup. To enjoy chives year-round, overwinter containers  or freeze the leaves.

 

Mintmint

There are many varieties of mint, including sweet mint, spearmint, peppermint, and chocolate mint. Each type spreads quickly, so limit its growth by planting mint in a container if need be. When gathering mint, pinch off the stems. The sprigs complement lamb, fish, poultry, and vegetable dishes. You can also make salads and beverages even more refreshing by adding this herb. Dried mint potpourri and sachets are also very popular.

 

 Oreganooregano

Oregano makes for a delicious herb as well as an attractive trailing container plant. Harvest oregano in mid-summer, before it’s had a chance to bloom; the herb’s aroma and flavor are strongest at that stage, especially when dried. Oregano is common in Italian and Greek cuisines. Meat, fish, eggs, cheese, tomatoes, and vegetables all taste even better when prepared with oregano. Add fresh oregano at the end of the cooking process and add dried oregano when simmering.

 

 Cilantrocilantro

Not only is cilantro tasty, it’s low-calorie, potassium-rich, and good for the digestive system. Fresh cilantro is best, which is why cooks prefer to grow it themselves. Cilantro has an easier time reseeding when it’s given space, so save room in the herb garden or the corner of a vegetable garden. To keep your crop strong, avoid harvesting more than one-third of your cilantro at once. This herb also produces coriander seeds, which make for excellent curry.

 

 

By |January 29th, 2015|Blog|Comments Off on Herbs Anyone Can Grow

Do It Yourself Composting

Composting is an affordable, environmentally-friendly way to encourage the growth of your garden and help your soil retain water.

CompostingIt prevents garden diseases and pests while encouraging the production of helpful bacteria and fungi, which nourish plants naturally as well.         Composting food scraps and yard waste not only saves you money on garden products, it keeps this waste out of landfills, where it takes up room and produces methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. 20 to 30 percent of garbage actually consists of organic material, which could be used to benefit plants!

This process requires three ingredients: browns, greens, and water.

Dead leaves, branches, and twigs are examples of brown materials.
Greens include grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds.

Ideally, compost consists of equal parts browns and greens, with alternating layers of different-sized materials. When combined, these substances react, resulting in the perfect food for plants. The browns produce the carbon, the greens produce the nitrogen, and the water breaks down the organic material.

To compost in your backyard, you might need the following tools: pitchforks, square-point shovels or machetes, and water hoses with spray heads.

First, set up a compost pile or bin in a dry, shady area next to a water source. Add browns and greens as they become available, making sure to moisten them and chop or shred the larger materials. As your pile grows, it’s a good idea to bury fruit and vegetable waste ten inches deep. You want your compost pile to maintain its moisture, so you also might want to cover it using tarp, for example.

Maintenance involves turning and watering the compost regularly. You’ll know that your compost is ready to use when the material at the bottom becomes dark in color, which can take between two months and two years.

It’s also possible to compost indoors, as long as you purchase an appropriate bin for your pile and keep it maintained. If your greens and browns are turned and watered often enough, the compost shouldn’t attract pests or produce any odor. An indoor compost pile is particularly convenient; it can even be ready for use relatively quickly, only needing to sit for two to five weeks.

Speaking of convenient, you can actually build your own indoors compost bin out of available plastic garbage cans!

Not everyone has enough yard space to compost outside, so this is a great alternative. Choose appropriate containers based on the amount of compost you want to produce. Drill holes in the bottom and sides of the larger can that are half an inch in diameter. Ground the larger can by placing a brick at the bottom of it, add a layer of wood chips or soil, and put a smaller can inside so that it rests on top of the brick. To help it retain heat, wrap insulation around the larger garbage can then cover it with a lid, and voilà! You’ll have usable compost in no time.

 

By |January 29th, 2015|Blog|Comments Off on Do It Yourself Composting

Quick Tip – Planting a Tree

planting a tree

We just came across the helpful article from the Dirt Doctor on the proper way to plant a tree. We thought it might come in handy on that next planting project!

Click here for more information >

By |March 9th, 2013|Blog|Comments Off on Quick Tip – Planting a Tree