Gardening Articles for week
23rd February 2008
Written by Wally Richards. Sorry about the
Citrus trees are still the very popular fruiting tree today,
as they were in our grandparents time.
It is great to be able to pop outside and pick a few ripe
oranges or lemons for the table.
There is little reason that all New Zealanders cannot do so,
if they have a few citrus trees.
Growing up in Palmerston North I had an uncle (Jack Franks)
who lived in the Awapuni area and on his returned servicemans
quarter acre, he had a wonderful citrus orchard. I think he
had just about every type of citrus fruit and variety available
in those days. Big, beautiful, rounded trees about 10 foot
tall, with a never ending selection of ripe fruit to choose
from. The really amazing thing about the whole orchard was
that he had grown every tree himself, from pips!
I remember one time when my mother took me to the movies and
during the shorts was Movietone news where we
saw a feature about oranges being grown on one of the Pacific
Islands for export to New Zealand. The film showed a cart
full of oranges been taken to the packing house and on the
cart, sitting on the oranges, were a couple of native children
with bare bums.
After that my mum washed the skins of every orange she purchased,
as soon as she got home.
Citrus trees are easy to grow as long as you give them the
conditions that suit them best.
They are shallow rooting and resent wet feet, which means
the soil needs to be free draining or that a good amount of
their roots are above the water table.
If you have a heavy soil such as clay, that is prone to water
logging in wet times, then that is not a good place to plant
a citrus tree. You can however overcome the problem of wet
feet by making a good size mound and planting the tree on
Another way around the problem is to plant the tree into a
large container (50 to 100 litres) and bury the container
halfway into the soil in the wet area. Using either method
means that much of the root system will be above the wet soil
and the tree will thrive.
I have several citrus trees growing in both size containers,
50 litres and 100 litres and have found that the larger container
produces a bigger tree faster.
By the way if you have access to 200 litre plastic drums then
these cut in half and with some drainage holes drilled, are
ideal and cheap too. (often free from places that have to
dispose of them)
Citrus trees need sunlight and will do poorly in shaded situations
so the more open and sunny a spot the better. While the tree
is establishing it is best to provide some wind protection
such as a screen of windbreak cloth on the prevailing wind
If planting into a large container for either partly burying
in the ground or sitting on top of the soil, use a mixture
of purchased compost with a little soil or vermicast (worm
Citrus trees require a good amount of natural food and it
is best not to use Citrus Fertiliser, which harms the soil
life and worms. Instead make up your own citrus feed using
sheep manure pellets and blood & bone. Another excellent
food is Bio Boost which is also available as Break Through.
A monthly sprinkle of Fruit and Flower Power for the magnesium
and potash that the citrus require and a small amount of BioPhos
(natural phosphate) occasionally caters for their basic needs.
I use old chicken mature around the root zone of my trees
and find that it works well also.
Any Problems ring me at 0800 466464 (Palmerston
Web site www.gardenews.co.nz