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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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!