Seville Oranges

If you love the idea of spreading tangy homemade marmalade on hot buttered toast, it’s time to grow a Seville orange.

Sometimes called a bitter or sour orange, Seville oranges (Citrus x aurantium) produce aromatic, intensely flavoured sour fruit with a thick rind. They’re ideal for making marmalade as well as zesting and juicing for use in both sweet and savoury dishes.

Seville oranges are hardy trees that will grow in all but the coldest areas. Reaching 2-4 m tall they prefer a warm sunny location with well-drained soil. They’re fast growing attractive trees with deep green leaves, fragrant white flowers in spring and decorative vibrant fruit that ripens in winter.

When planting a new Seville orange tree into the ground, mix some Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food into the bottom of the planting hole. Yates Dynamic Lifter improves the quality of the soil and supplies the newly planted orange with gentle, organic nutrients as it establishes.

Oranges, like other citrus, are heavy feeders and require lots of nutrients to support all the foliage, flowers and developing fruit. Feed orange trees from spring until the end of harvest every 1 – 2 weeks with Yates Thrive Citrus Liquid Plant Food. It is a complete plant food that contains a special combination of nutrients to encourage healthy green leaf growth and is high in flower and fruit promoting potassium.

Keep Seville orange trees well-watered and apply a layer of mulch around the root zone to help retain soil moisture. Keep mulch 5-10 cm away from the trunk itself to promote good air flow and reduce the chance of disease.

 

Navel gazing

Navel oranges are so named because they have what looks like a strange little belly-button on the base of the fruit. There are a few varieties of navel oranges, including Washington, Lane’s Late, Cara Cara and Navelina, and different varieties ripen during different months, predominantly in winter and spring.

Brightly coloured Washington Navel oranges are dripping from trees during winter. They’re sweet, juicy, easy to peel and seedless and make a fantastic citrus to grow at home.

Dwarf varieties of navels grow to around 1.5 m tall, so they’re easy to maintain (and you don’t need a ladder to harvest!) as well as being perfect for growing in a container.

Here’s how to get the best out of navel oranges:

  • Find a sunny spot that receives at least 6 hours of sunshine a day with well-drained soil.

  • Navel oranges prefer growing in a temperate or sub-tropical climate, though will also handle cooler locations.

  • If you’re growing a navel orange in a container, choose a dwarf variety, use a pot that’s at least 40 cm in diameter and fill with good quality potting mix like Yates Premium Potting Mix.

  • Feeding citrus regularly is the key to promoting the best possible harvest. Citrus are very hungry plants! Yates Thrive Natural Citrus Fruit Plant Food Concentrate is a complete plant food that has been specially formulated to provide citrus with the nutrients they need.

  • Apply Yates Thrive Citrus Liquid Plant Food every week while oranges are still on the tree and then start feeding again in early spring when new foliage and flower buds start to emerge.

  • When planting a new navel orange tree into the ground, mix some Yates Thrive Natural Blood Bone with Seaweed into the bottom of the planting hole. Yates Thrive Natural Blood & Bone improves the quality of the soil and supplies the newly planted orange with gentle, organic nutrients as it establishes.

Skeletonising citrus

Most citrus trees, particularly compact varieties, thankfully don’t require much pruning. However sometimes a large, older tree can start to become congested with dead branches and stems, leading to poor plant health and a reduced harvest. If this sounds like a tree at your place, it might be time to take a deep breath and do some serious pruning.

‘Skeletonising’ trees is a process where much of the canopy and main branches are removed. It sounds (and will look) quite drastic however it can encourage a fresh flush of new, healthy growth and rejuvenate a tree that might otherwise remain unhealthy and unproductive. It can take around 2 years for the tree to recover and start producing fruit again, so it’s a process that requires some patience.

Skeletonising is best done in late winter or early spring. In cold areas, wait until the chance of frost has passed.

Here’s the citrus revival process:

  • Using sharp tools (loppers, secateurs or a pruning saw) cut off any dead branches near the main trunk. Don’t cut flush with the trunk, instead pruning just outside the branch ‘collar’, which is a bump that grows on the trunk around the base of the branch.

  • Check for any stems growing from below the graft (they may have significant spines, so be careful!) and cut these off as well.

  • Cut all remaining healthy branches back to where they are around 3 cm in diameter. Warning – the tree will look awful (hence the term ‘skeletonising’).

  • Now time for some serious TLC. Apply some Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food around the root zone. It contains a rich source of organic matter to promote improved soil health and structure. Thoroughly and deeply water (and re-water each week) and in a fortnight start feeding with Yates Thrive Citrus Liquid Plant Food every week until autumn. This will encourage fresh new growth, help grow a lush, healthy canopy and give your old tired citrus tree and new lease on life.

Mango Time

Mangoes are a divine, sweet and juicy fruit that grow best in warm temperate to tropical climates, though some varieties will tolerate cooler zones in the warmest spots in New Zealand, that are protected from frost.

Mango trees are self-fertile, so don’t need another tree to produce fruit. However, mango addicts could consider growing several different varieties to extend the harvest season over several months.

Mangoes do best in moist but well-drained soil. They can be planted during spring, after any chance of frost has passed, in temperate areas.

When planting a new mango tree, enrich the soil in the planting hole with some Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food and keep the new tree well-watered while it establishes.


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