I often dream in watercolor landscapes scented with bright notes of blood oranges and Meyer lemons. In these fantasies, I grow citrus and let their juices dance the tango upon my tongue. Glasses are filled with clinking ice cubes and tawny iced tea or even Orangina. Lemon tarts, lemon squares, orange marmalade cream cake, blood orange cheesecake, beet salad with orange segments…the possibilities are endless in my reveries.
In my dreams, there are no food allergies like wheat and dairy. Even when I wake, I’m already thinking of how to make these foods gluten and casein free. I often do. Part of what makes all food good is freshness, and there’s nothing fresher than your own orange tree.
I took the beautiful photo, above at my friend, Rebecca Sweet’s house when the Garden Bloggers Fling visited California. Seeing it the other day made me sad I don’t live in a mediterranean or tropical climate. The windswept prairie is where I call home, and isn’t it always the gardener’s lament that we can’t grow certain things in our climate? Don’t we always try to stretch our hardiness zones? Sometimes, this stretching results in failure and hurt feelings, but other times, it can be a wonderful surprise.
In the center of the U.S. citrus, of course, isn’t grown as a backyard tree. Still, it can be grown successfully even here. Let me explain how.
- Find a sunny spot in your yard. Citrus likes full sun and needs at least eight hours to produce plenty of fruit.
- Use a heavy container to keep your citrus grounded even in high winds. This glazed pot is ideal.
- Protect your citrus tree from high winds that will tear its beautiful leaves and knock off fruit. Plan where you’ll overwinter your plant before cold temperatures arrive. Planning ahead is always a good idea. It will need to reside indoors, or in a lightly heated hoop house or greenhouse before winter. Keep your hand cart or dolly handy for that move too. Heavy pots aren’t fun come moving day, but this one is important to our success.
- Arrange for some type of watering. I think drip irrigation is easiest and best. You want to go on vacation don’t you?
- Use good potting soil that drains well. This and water are probably the most important aspects of this project.
One more thing . . . the book is off to the printer. Now the real fun begins. Don’t forget that many more tips, ideas and garden plans are in my guide. I hope you’ll enjoy it.