Quote of the Month

There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.

~Mirabel Osler

Friday, 12 October 2012

October Visit : Report

We were pleased to be able to hold this month's meeting at Viveros Florena, with Lorraine giving us a very informative and interesting talk on growing and maintaining citrus trees.
 She had 3 specimens - a 2 year old, 5 year old and an 8 year old tree to show us.  

All trees are grafted.  

The 2-year old orange tree (about 1m tall in its pot) - she advised not to let the plant fruit for the first two years to allow the tree to grow in structure and strength.  
The 8 year old tree needed to have its centre stem reduced in size to encourage side branching.  
The older trees can be allowed to fruit and must be pruned after fruiting to allow light and air to get into the centre branches of the tree; the plant only produces fruit if the sun can get to the branches.  
Citrus trees do best in full sun and fruiting can be limited if grown in some shade.  

To improve the quality of the fruit you can remove some fruit.  
Sometimes the trees do this naturally but after natural shedding there may still be too many fruits and these should be removed.

 Leaf miner insects can burrow into the soft young leaf growth but, unless the tree is more than 25% infested, these insects do not damage the trees nor limit fruiting.  

Scale insects cause a different problem but systemic insecticides are expensive and commercial growers don't use them.  
If ants are present in great numbers around the tree, this is an indication of scale insect infestation as the ants "milk" the honeydew and also attack the natural predators of the scale insect.   Deterring ants with ant powder or sticky bands round tree trunks will help alleviate the problem and a weekly Neem spray, which is a natural preventative, will help with against both pest and disease. 
Citrus trees, in the ground, need feeding with a balanced fertiliser (not too much nitrogen which produces soft leafy growth) every 6 weeks.  

Those in pots need feeding monthly.   
Though citrus trees are quite drought tolerant they do require twice weekly, deep watering during the summer and continuing into the winter if there is little rainfall.
 Good news for those living at least 600m above sea level:  they will flower and fruit.
 The meeting ended with coffee and home made cakes plus plenty of discussion.
Best wishes,

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