Sweet citrus |Trisha Shirey |Central Texas Gardener

Sweet citrus |Trisha Shirey |Central Texas Gardener

One of my favorite plants is my meyer lemon collection. Now the meyer lemon is not a
true lemon comes from China and it’s less acidic than regular
lemons, the the skin is a lot deeper in color and they’ll be soft when they’re ripe.
They do last for a long time on the tree and after a few years you start to
get a lot of lemons from your tree but you can freeze the juice and you can zest the rind and make
citrus sugar. and also one of my favorite things to do with
them is to make a limoncello from the rind and then you can still squeeze the
juice. Now they can be grown outdoors in
Central Texas but you will have to protect them on extremely cold nights. Now the
ponderosa lemon is a cross between a citron and dwarf
lemon and they tend to produce about
grapefruit-size fruit. They don’t produce a lot of fruit but
you’ll get to quite a few very large and very juicy
lemons. They’re quite cold sensitive so these are best left in containers. It’s a small tree and it flowers all year
and produces fruit fairly continuously. It has a thick peel
that’s very good for zest and it’s also very good for making limoncello and that makes a great lemonade and cakes, all sorts of things. Now another one of
my favorite citrus are the Mexican limes or key limes. They can be grown in the ground, they’ll get to be 6 to 12 feet tall but they are usually grafted onto dwarf
rootstock so they don’t get quite as tall. They’ll be a very pale yellow green and
very soft when they’re ripe, they might fall from the tree when they
become ripe but they’re very sweet and very juicy, just much better than the
Persian limes once you get used to these. You can freeze the juice on these also
and the zest and their hearty to about 40 so they
really should be grown in pots and taken indoors or into a greenhouse. Now another really wonderful one is the
lemonquat, it’s a cross between the lemon and the kumquat and it’s a smaller tree– it’s a little
bit more cold hardy but it has a very sweet juice and peel.
You actually can eat the entire lemon peel in all. Now all of
your citrus need about four to eight hours of sun daily. Filtered sun in the summertime is okay
for them and I like to keep mine outdoors and
nice weather or I open up the greenhouse on warm days to allow bees to pollinate the blooms. You can pollinate with a soft paintbrush if you’re keeping your plants indoors
though. You wanna watch citrus for scale insects, mealy bugs aphids and sometimes spider mites. Do allow your citrus to dry out between waterings– let the top two inches of the
soil get dry because over watering can really kill the trees. Mist the plants when they’re indoors to increase the humidity and letting the plants go too dry can actually
cause the blooms to drop so watch that. Avoid planting them in too large of a
container. Citrus trees are heavy feeders, you’ll
need to plan on feeding them through the growing season every two to three weeks. I like Citrus-tone for some of my feedings but I also alternate
earthworm castings, compost tea– coffee grounds are an excellent source
of nitrogen for them and tea grounds, seaweed, fish emulsion.. For Backyard Basics, I’m Trisha Shirey.

Randy Schultz

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