Archive | 4:33 pm

My Struggles with Citrus

13 Mar

Garden Glut posted on Sunday about her citrus trees. She has a huge glut of lemons, which is my dream ‘problem’. She also has this amazing tahitian lime that she espaliered against the fence – I’m in awe!

I on the other hand, can’t take a trick with citrus.

As one of my first (clearly enlightened) gardening acts I killed my kaffir lime tree by overwatering it. I then took custody of my friend Sarah’s Eureka lemon tree, which despite the appearance of early success, I have since failed to induce to produce a single fruit.

Satsuma mandarin, eureka lemon and navelina orange trees - all on dwarfing root stock.

I thought I’d hedge my bets by planting a dwarf Eureka lemon of my own in the ground in the front yard, along with a Navelina orange and a Satsuma mandarin. The mandarin was a replacement for my dwarf Imperial mandarin that I also managed to kill by overwatering.

So far, I have had a few unripe mandarins, no oranges, very little growth or even flower activity from the dwarf Eureka. In pots on the back deck I have had my dwarf tahitian lime and Sarah’s lemon, but these have both suffered terribly from bronze orange bugs (stink bugs) that love to chew on all the new growth. These are rampant out the back, because our rear neighbours have a large neglected orange tree that is covered in them.

At the moment my stonefruit trees are living in the chicken coop in an attempt to get the girls to eat all the fruit fly larvae that may be in the soil. So I thought it was time to give the potted lime and lemon some time in the sun (so to speak) and put them where the stonefruit normally live.

P lugged them through the house for me out to the front yard and placed them in the corners. In these locations they will get full sun from dawn till dusk, although they are not at all protected from wind, so I hope that’s not a problem.

Looking at my lime, I’m pretty sure it hasn’t grown at all since I bought it. In fact, I think it just looks more sickly. Every time it puts on new growth the stink bugs would attack it and the flowers always just dropped off. Hopefully in the front yard it will be out of harm’s way.

The lemon, on the other side of the yard is much the same. It has actually set its first (single) fruit at the moment, but the rest of the young fruit that set dropped off very early and there is almost no new growth on the poor tree due to stink bugs. Like the lime tree I have fertilised it fairly regularly with dynamic lifter and mulched with lucerne, but the leaves always look a bit sick. I also occasionally give it a foliar feed with trace elements, but I must have the concentrations wrong, because it always leaves burn marks on the leaves and I think I do more harm than good.

So any tips and comments would be warmly received. It’s probably all pretty obvious stuff – what am I doing wrong, and is the move to the front yard in full sun likely to improve things?