Growing Citrus in Temperate Zones

We are blessed with mild winters where we rarely get frost.  We also have hot dry summers.  We live in what is known as a Mediterranean climate or Temperate zone.  These are pretty good conditions for growing citrus fruit, especially due to a couple of amazing micro climates that I have in our yard that help during winter.

We have four trees against a east/west facing brick wall that provides the trees with extra heat, and five trees in the pool area where they receive abundant reflected light and full sun in winter.

This year we have been rewarded with a bumper crop of all types that we grow organically on our suburban food farm!

Just a note to remember.  All of our citrus trees are grown in pots as the soil is a heavy clay which not particularly good for establishing this type of fruit tree.  Citrus likes well-drained soil and hates wet feet.  Check out this post titled Tips for Growing Citrus in Pots.

Meyer Lemons

Meyer Lemon

This is a Meyer lemon which is growing in the pool area of the garden.  It gets a lot of reflected sunlight and is a heavy feeder.  The fruit is almost seedless, and it ripens in late April.  We just pick the fruit as we need it for hot lemon drinks or meals, and they are great preserved in jars or as a pickle.

Navel Oranges

Navel Orange

I have two navel orange trees, but only one of them has ever set fruit.  I feed them well with organic fertiliser, and make sure that they are always moist.  They should ripen by the end of July.  You can still see a little bit of green skin, which will turn orange when ripe.

During winter you will always notice yellowing of the leaves.  As long as your citrus trees are well fed every month and kept moist, it is nothing to worry about, because this is just the tree renewing leaves.  The older ones yellow and drop off, with new green shoots appearing soon after.

Lemonade

Lemonade

This is one of my favourites, the Lemonade.  It kind of looks like a lemon, but it is sweet and can be eaten straight from the tree.  It grows large fruit and the tree is always loaded in the colder months.  Great for making juice as well.

Mandarins

Mandarin

We also have two Mandarin trees, with only one fruiting this year.  The other decided to drop all its leaves and regrow just as it was in flower.  Anyway, the Mandarin fruit is nearly ready to pick.  It’s still a little sour and has a little green skin on the bottom, so it should be ready in a few weeks time.  When ripe, they are very sweet and delicious straight off the tree.

Eureka Lemons

Eureka Lemons

Eureka lemons are our general purpose citrus used for juicing, cooking and cleaning.  The tree fruits abundantly and flowers for about three months of the year.  We even use them for making Paneer!

Tahitian Limes

Tahitian Limes

Our Tahitian Lime tree always has a few fruit on it most of the year round.  Great in Key Lime Pie, Lime pickles, and in Cerveza.  We do use them for refreshing drinks in late Spring as they do last on the tree for quite a while.  They do eventually turn yellow, but it the colour does not affect the flavour.  The fruit are mostly seedless.

Blood Oranges

Blood Oranges

This is the first year we have had a decent crop of Blood Oranges, but I may have picked them too early.  They are just beginning to turn crimson inside as you can see from the cut fruit.  They are a combination of sweet and sour, so probably should have stayed on the tree for another couple of weeks.  Not to worry though, as they are very edible and will juice well.

Grow Some Now!

Anytime is the right time to plant citrus trees, especially if you have some large pots spare.  If you have loamy soil then you should have no problems growing them straight in the ground.  If your place is frost prone, you will have to protect them for the first few years until they get a bit of height especially if growing citrus in temperate zones or cooler mountain climates.

So, not only is citrus fruit delicious and versatile, it provides you with loads of Vitamin C, which when deficient in your diet, can cause scurvy.

I cannot recommend this easy to grow fruit variety highly enough.  Just make sure that you fertilise regularly and keep the soil moist and you should have no issues setting fruit in a few year.

When all other fruit is a distant memory, citrus come through in abundance during the winter months.  Love it!

TGoG 115 – Bek’s Backyard with Bek Stiegler

Listen to the Episode Below (00:34:34)

Bek Stiegler went pretty much went from the average consumer (supermarket shopping, buying stuff she didn’t need, buying the cheapest and not caring where it came from etc) to growing pretty much all her own food (except meat and dairy), reusing and recycling, and being an extremely conscious consumer.  She lives in Melbourne on a 750m² suburban block.

She writes about her own sustainable living journey over at Bek’s Backyard, a popular gardening and lifestyle blog.

Bek Stiegler

Bek Stiegler

During the show we talk about how she went from a barren backyard to building a fruitful and abundant suburban food farm!  She loves fruit trees and eating fruit that is in season.  If there is a glut she preserves via dehydration or water bath.

Her passion and enthusiasm about growing her own food is clearly evident as you listen to the episode.  Please thank Bek for sharing her story and journey with us all.


Don’t forget that this show is financially supported by you, the listener, via our Patreon page.  If you believe the show adds value to the sustainable living community and you would like to support the show, please pledge your support at http://www.patreon.com/greeningofgavin.  Any pledge small or large is most welcome, as it keeps the show going and growing week by week.

Become my patreon!

And finally, do you think this podcast episode will help someone you know?  If so, help them out by sharing it using the social media buttons below.  And if you are super excited about what you have heard during this episode, pop on over to iTunes using the button under the player and leave a rating and review.

It helps the podcast get noticed in the charts and makes it more visible for others who may be interested in living a more sustainable lifestyle in the ‘burbs.  Thanks!

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A Brilliant Winter Solstice Day

What a day!  Normally I would say that if I had worked my behind off in the patch, but today was a little different.

It was the Winter Solstice and I make a point of just enjoying this special day of the year.  Not only is it the shortest day of the year here in the Southern Hemisphere, it also indicates that each day for most of the remainder of the year only gets longer and the nights get shorter.  Great news for gardeners as more light usually means more growth.

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice – Sun low in the northern sky.

Anyway, enjoy it I did.  After my normal chores of feeding the chooks, I watched a documentary about Going Medieval which was eye-opening to see how a world made by hand operated.  Then I proceeded outside to relax and soak in my garden.

I didn’t do any weeding, no planting, and no watering.  I just let it all be and watched it all in its gardeness.

Winter Solstice 2015

My Garden – Winter Solstice 2015

I sat on an old rug, and listened to music, watching the dogs run up and down the garden path.  I watched the newly sprouted broad beans soak up the sun’s rays.

Broad Bean seedlings

Broad Bean shoots

I watched the citrus fruit sway in the slight northerly breeze.  All these four trees are heavily laden with Lemonade, Mandarins, Eureka Lemons, and Tahitian limes.

Winter solstice - citrus trees

My citrus trees

Kim and I have been eating at least two mandarins every day!  They are simply delicious, with half the segments being seedless.  Always a treat.

The lemons and limes have been used in cooking, and the lemonade will soon be ready to pick to make into juice.  I love fresh citrus off the tree.  It reminds me of where I grew up in the Riverland of South Australia, where there was abundant oranges and mandarins at this time of year.

So that’s what I did for about three hours today.  Just sat, soaked up the warmth, and observed my garden and its abundant insect life in action.  I don’t take enough time to rest and enjoy the fruits of my labour, but today I was totally relaxed and free in my own little patch.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a sunny winters day!

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