Sunday, 11 March 2012

Citrus celebration

Collete the finger lime
  •  mint
I confess, I love all sorts of citrus and if I had more space I'd grow more types.  Sydney is apparently a great climate for citrus, that's what I am told anyway.  I have a lemon, two espaliered Tahitian limes and my newly acquired 'Collete' the finger lime -  an Australian native plant that is becoming a bit of a feature in some restaurants because of their pearly citrus bubbles that pop out when you score their rind. That feature, along with the crazy colours they come in, have made them a bit of a sensation. 'Collette' has a shiny black skinned fruit and dark lime green bubbles. I can't wait till she starts producing although I have been told it can take some time.

As well as her fashionable status, I kind of like the idea that I am growing a tiny little bit of bush tucker...

Here are my citrus.

Here is 'Collette' -  I am enjoying her new growth which is a lovely dark red. She has tiny leaves and monstrous spikes and lives in a pot. She's only little.

Lemon tree, very pretty

This is my lemon, planted in this spot as one of my first gardening acts when we moved here in 2005. I am ashamed to say that I don't know if it is a Lisbon, or Meyer or anything else. It's one of those things I need to pay attention to - varieties.  It doesn't have spikes, if anyone knows what it is I'd be grateful.

It has a bit of a bad case of citrus leaf miner but its doing fine and I can put up with curly leaves.  I have a glue trap hanging up inside the tree in case you were wondering if I grew square lemons!  I have had a few of my fruit stung with fruit fly this year but most of the fruit is completely usable so again it's of little concern and better than spraying. My basil stash is growing beneath it and it (the lemon that is) gets a regular mulch of grass clippings.

I sometimes make this lamb meatball on skewers that uses lemon leaves as the main seasoning, it is just fantastic, you can't imagine how much the citrus flavour goes thru the meat.  I'll put it up here when I next make it.

Tahitian lime

Here is one of my espaliered Tahitian limes - this is the older one. It is currently fruiting quite well despite a stink bug attack earlier this season. I have fruit about to ripen and some babies on the way and  flowers just starting out so I should have a couple of crops to come if I can keep the stink bugs away.

Nearly ready to pick

The leaves are looking like they need a bit of a feed.  It has been such a wet summer I guess they could all do with some iron.

What does everyone else do when their citrus leaves look a little anemic like these ones here?

If I had more space I'd definitely grow a really tart mandarin, and a ruby grapefruit... one day.

Lemon, lime and mint cordial

I have to thank 500m2 and Suburban Tomato for their cordial suggestions for dealing with my lemon glut. I made about 1 litre of cordial using Suburban Tomato's recipe for Lemon and mint cordial, I added a few limes to it as I had some shop bought limes in the fruit basket that needed using up seeing as I will soon have my own crop, otherwise I used the recipe. I love it -  much better than Bickford's! I thought it looked nice in front of my citrus coloured glass that is a feature of our back veranda.

Yesterday's lemon tart and the cordial have reduced my lemon glut to manageable levels now, but more ripen every day.


  1. Oh my! I'm preparing a citrus/fruit tree post today too, but mine's about my struggles - yours is a triumph!

    Your lemon tree looks wonderful, and that lime tree is a sight to be seen! Did you espalier it yourself?

    1. Funny - citrus coincidence! Oh I think I am being quite positive... I have had my struggles this year with stink bugs, leaf miner and the fruit fly, but in the end there is still lots to eat and that is the important thing - getting the fruit anyway (the perfect and the imperfect) without spraying.

      Yes, I did the espalier myself, it is my first go and I just got on with it. But it is a great way to get more fruit into your patch and I think citrus are easier to espalier than most other fruit trees cause you don't have to worry to much about which part of the tree is going to fruit. I am sure an espalier expert would go 'tisk, tisk', but it has worked for me.

    2. Another gorgeous post. Stop me if you have heard this before but here is what i do in one of my clients gardens (she has 20 citrus!!).

      I really rate Manutec fruit and citrus feed. The directions are quite confusing and it takes heaps per tree esp. once they are mature. But 4 feeds in Spring and 4 in autumn really make them look amazing.

      On top of that I use power feed (sister product to seasol) which I tend to spray on as it goes further (although my colleague disagrees with me and he waters it directly into the roots). We have also set up an old fashioned plastic rubbish bin dumped cow manure in it filled it with water. Then after it has diluted I would use half a bucket then top again with water and pour over the roots. I also have to say that with all this rain I have also put in the worm wee into the mix as well as they are always full.

      As for the fruit fly... If you put those fruit fly pots (the name escapes me right now...daco pots?) in your tree they lure the males which means they can't get the ladies pregnant so if they do sting your fruit there will only be a small mark. I also love the eco range which are not petroleum based but biologically based.

      As for the Bronze Orange Bugs (bob or stink bugs) the most organic is to arm up with long gloves, protective eye wear and a bucket of water to pick off and drop in.

      Hope that helps. Love the Espalier, I vote if it looks good and fruits then you are doing a great job

    3. Thanks SO much for this expert knowledge, I am very grateful! Any time you want to bring your expertise in, I am very grateful. I am going to go to the nursery armed with your suggestions. Late last year, before I started the blog, I actually got sprayed in the eye by a stink bug. It was incredibly painful, but a irrigated the eye straight away and the optometrist says I (luckily) did no permanent damage, but BOY did I learn my lesson, when you go to your lemon tree (hunting stink bugs), go protected (there is a Nietsche quote in there somewhere...).

      And thanks for the very practical vote of confidence with the espalier. I am at heart a pragmatist and so like you believe that if it is works its fine!

      Thanks again.

  2. I'm really glad you enjoyed the cordial. I feed my citrus whenever it gets yellow. It takes awhile for the leaves to come back but they tend to. I'm having problems with citrus gall wasp on some of my plants - over the past couple of years I have bought about 6 dwarf citrus and I have these annoying wasps on at least 3 of them. Really annoying. Glad I don't have stink bugs though.

    1. Oh the cordial is great - not even to minty as you suggested it might be.

      Ah we all have our own pests!

      I hate those gall wasps. When we lived in Melbourne I too had so much trouble with them. When we lived in Coburg we inherited a tree that had been left alone for many years and was completely devistated by gall waps. The only option was to cut off all the parts where the swellings were that hadn't already had the pests leave via holes. But that was treating the problem when it was already a big problem, I dont know what you do to prevent them. Perhaps Digging up the Dirt can offer some advice? See her comments above.



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