This week, I bought a new mandarin tree. I try buy a fruit tree (or three…) each winter to continue building our collection. I (usually) take the year to consider my choices for these purchases. This year’s citrus addition was a Silverhill mandarin.
It joins the Miho mandarin I purchased just after we left the first Lockdown, and the variety I chose is strategic.
You see, the Miho mandarin is just coming ripe now. The fruit is generally ready May-June, and we gobble it down pretty much as soon as it’s fully orange – just grab and go. But we really like mandarins. Over the last couple of years I’ve noticed we still want more when our tree runs out.
The Silverhill is a similar type of mandarin (a satsuma) and – at least in theory – should be coming ripe in June-July. This should extend our season, and our stock of mandarins further into the winter months.
As I went to re-pot and find a place for our new tree, I realised the citrus and coffee area needed a mow. And it was a good time to take some progress photos, as well as make some notes on what’s going on with our little citrus grove.
Kat, all your trees are in pots!
I know. I have 15ha of land, and yet so many of my trees are still in pots. What the heck?
Well, part of it is I have 15ha of exposed land and very little space that is protected and sunny. Part of it is the fact we haven’t built a house yet and until that’s done, I need to leave some options open.
And they do well in pots. They’d probably do even better in the ground, but the pots are a good middle-option for now. Generally, I buy them small (and cheap) and start them in 18 litre pots.
After a couple of years they go to 30l pots, then a couple of years after that they go into 50l pots. Hopefully I’ll actually get around to planting them relatively soon after that. I’m running out of pot sizes.
My plant obsessions confuse even myself, but last year I noted that I seemed to really like limes. Since then, I added another lime – a key lime.
The key lime came from the garden centre I worked at for a while. I walked in one day, saw it, squirreled it away, and made it mine at the end of my shift. I was rolling my eyes at myself the entire time because it’s my third lime tree, and we do not need another lime tree.
It has a hitch-hiker. When we rinse out our worm farm buckets, we chuck the water in one of the pots. A capsicum decided to grow with the key limes this year.
It’s in an 18l pot at the moment, and will go up to the 30l pot next year. It grew 7 limes this year. They are small compared to the other lime varieties and have ripened first.
That yellow colour of the fruit is them begging me to pick them. So I made the Chelsea Key Lime Pie recipe this week (read the comments if you’re going to try it).
The limes were small and fairly dry. I got maybe 3 tablespoons of juice from the 7 fruit, but the pie was yum! I might try the Good Food one next year.
The Tahitian lime is going great guns, and is now dripping with fruit. This was one I picked up for about $12 at The Warehouse back in 2018. It’s in a 30l pot at the moment and is due to go up to a 50l this winter.
It’s been reshuffled to a slightly more exposed spot as it’s getting too big for its usual position in the ‘pot garden’.
The Bearrs lime is perhaps a little less vigorous than the other limes, but going quite well with a couple of limes this year.
It’s currently in an 18l pot and due to go to a 30l pot this year. I’ve reshuffled it to the position the Tahitian lime was in an attempt to get it growing.
Last year when I repotted the bigger finger lime, I royally screwed up and nearly killed it. Either it got some pretty wicked frost damage, or I went overboard with the nutrients. Whatever it was, it lost about 18 months of growth.
You can still see some dead stems, but I’m happy to say that my trick of whispering “I still believe in you” every time I walked past worked, and thankfully she bounced back this season. It’ll be a couple of years before I’m brave enough to try moving this one up a pot again.
You’ll notice there’s a real difference the the growth habit of these trees. I have no idea what I have, but I’m quite convinced they’re different.
The smaller one I’d recently purchased in my last blog. It’s put on a lot of growth this year. It didn’t get much taller, but it did get very bushy! It even had a couple of flowers!
No fruit set, but there’s always next year. It’s currently in an 18l pot and due to go to a 30l this year, but I’ll probably wait until spring this time!
In the last blog, I also had a third finger lime, that I ended up gifting to my father. It’s doing really well in it’s new home, so hopefully he’s seeing some finger limes soon himself.
I’ve got two lemon trees: a meyer, and one I think might be a Eureka.
This little Meyer lemon tree was on clearance at work one day. I snagged it because a Meyer lemon is quite different to a regular lemon. It’s a cross between a mandarin and a citron, so it’s less acidic than a true lemon.
I probably shouldn’t have let it grow fruit this year, but I did. And now I’m searching a fun way to use them. This gingersnap Meyer lemon meringue tart looks like a goodie!
It’s currently in a 18l pot, and due to go to a 30l next year. The ‘hitch-hiker’ plant is a tomato. I believe it’s a Black Krim, but they haven’t ripened yet.
Eureka lemon tree in February 2020.
Eureka lemon tree in May 2022.
The Eureka lemon is probably my oldest plant. It’s about 10 years old now and for the first half of it’s life it was neglected and treated poorly in a number of ways. It’s still the plant most badly affected by scale.
But when we moved here, it also told us where our citrus would do well, and since we planted it, we’ve had nearly year-round lemons, with more and more coming off the tree each year. In fact, it will be getting a good prune this winter once the threat of citrus borer has passed!
Quite the collection
Things are moving in the background here at The Outpost, and I’m hoping to have a good place to permanently situate these trees in the next couple of years.
But before then, there’s some resource consents to gain, some earthworks to do, and some windbreaks to plant. It might take a while before we’re fully ready to give them a permanent home, and I might have discovered more ways to add citrus to our diet by then. I’m currently pondering an orange tree.
The collection will no doubt grow. I’m looking to provide a little of a lot. To extend the seasons and provide a range of flavors and textures that we like. Now I have a few of them, I’ve certainly become better at caring for them. They get regular fertilisers, water, and (somewhat irregular) sprays with Conqueror Oil.
Looking back at my previous blogs, it’s incredible to see the growth so far. I can’t wait to be looking back at this blog in a year or two and think ‘geez! They sure got huge!’