Thursday, July 22, 2010

Grow Your Own Citrus

Why should you grow your own citrus if they are so cheap and abundant at the grocery store?  Because it's easy!  You can harvest many different varieties from a few small citrus trees in your own backyard.  I'm currently growing a Bearss lime, Eureka lemon, and Calamondin orange tree in pots.  My lime tree is about 4 years old, no bigger than 3 feet tall, and is currently ripening 28 limes.  Not bad for a potted plant.

Bearss (Persian) lime.
Eureka lemon.
Young Calamondin orange tree.  These tiny citrus are good in drinks and for marinading fish and other meat.
Just a few growing tips.  Place citrus in full sun.  Keep plants well watered during warm months and make sure the pot and soil drain very well.  Provide plenty of organic citrus fertilizer for good growth and fruit.  Prune any straggling growth and branches that cross.  Bring plants indoors when frost threatens the area, keep on the cool side, and water sparingly.  Believe it or not they do very well with temps in the 40s F.  Return outdoors when weather warms again in the spring.

Additionally, the scent of citrus flowers lures people from far and wide.  Not sure if that's a good thing though if you don't want to share...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Summer of Tomatoes

I guess you could say I went tomato crazy this summer.  I grew close to 100 heirloom tomato plants from seed and ended up planting 6 different varieties in the garden.  I selected plants that could stand up to the high heat and humidity of my region (7b) -- German Johnson, German Giant, Black from Tula, Black Cherry, Eva's Purple Ball, and Virginia Sweets.  So how did they do?

The Germans, Black from Tula, and Black Cherry were without question the most productive.  Nonstop blooming and ripening from mid June continuing into August.

You just can't beat the shape, color, and flavor of heirloom tomatoes.

What about size?  I harvested three tomatoes over 2.5-pounds, and one German Giant was just 3-ounces shy of the 3-pound mark!  I saved seeds from these monsters and I'm already looking forward to planting them next spring.

Clockwise from top left: Virginia Sweets (41.0 ounces), German Johnson (42.2 ounces), and German Giant (45.1 ounces).

My wife and I have been eating freshly sliced tomatoes, tomato salad, BLTs, pasta sauce, and every other tomato recipe you can imagine for the past 3 months.  I think I'm starting to turn red...

Note the quarter placed on the top-right tomato for scale.

Enjoy the pics as much as we enjoyed the tomatoes.