Posts Tagged ‘ delicious ’

Celebrating Citrus Landscaping and decorating with citrus

Posted on: July 18th, 2022 by Loyiso Mamahlodi No Comments
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Topic: Celebrating Citrus
Theme:
Landscaping and decorating with citrus
Industry Expert:
Dane Montana
Garden Centre:
Montana Nurseries - https://www.montananurseries.co.za/

 

If you are looking to begin a citrus growing journey, come and learn some trade secrets, exclusively shared by our industry expert, Dane from Montana Nurseries. Incorporating these vibrant and versatile fruit trees as part of your landscaping design is easier than you may think. Check out Dane’s recommendations for which trees to grow in your province and get the best head start on your juicy journey.

1. What made you first fall in love with citrus growing? Why are citrus trees so special?

My dad, Alan Ross, started Montana Nurseries and began growing and farming citrus trees in our nursery. I have grown up with citrus and have always loved the variety of lemons, oranges, naartjies, and limes. Citrus trees are very rewarding and there’s always something happening, whether it be a new flush of sweet flowers or delicious fruit.

 

2. What are some of the reasons why gardeners should be growing citrus at home? Are there any benefits/advantages?

The main benefit is their juicy produce that’s loaded with vitamins. Citrus can be eaten as is or used in cooking or oils. The leaves of some varieties, such as the Thai lime, are used to create many fragrant and zesty dishes. The flowers are wonderfully scented too.

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3. Besides utilising citrus trees for their produce, how could gardeners incorporate trees as part of their backyard landscaping design?

Citrus trees make great feature plants, either in the ground or in containers. There is a wide variety of cultivars with different coloured leaves, flowers and fruit. The ornamental types such as calamondins and chinotto are more of a shrub, whereas the commercial types such as lemon eureka and navels grow more like trees. Citrus also make great container plants. Pots should be about twice the size of the container it was bought in.

 

4. What are some of the most common pests and how can gardeners protect and treat their trees?

The three most common citrus pests are thrips, mealybug, and citrus psylla. Regular monitoring of new flush for any type of insect damage will be the best for early detection and treatment. Treat with the correct registered pesticide, available at your local garden centre.

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5. Are there any general citrus hacks that you could share with a beginner citrus grower?

Do not overwater your plants. Overwatering is the biggest killer of citrus. At the end of winter, hold back water as much as possible. This will cause plants to stress and produce more flowers, resulting in more fruit.

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6. Are there any citrus trees that grow particularly well in certain regions compared to others?

Northern Cape: Grapefruits

Eastern Cape: Lemons, oranges, and naartjies

Western Cape: Naartjies

Mpumalanga: Oranges, lemons, and naartjies

North West: Lemons and naartjies

Gauteng: Lemons and oranges

Limpopo: Lemons, oranges, and naartjies

KwaZulu Natal: Limes, lemons, and oranges

 

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7. Do you have any advice on what to do with excess produce?

Excess produce can be used in preserves or for oils. In the garden, fruit can be added to the compost heap but it is recommended to cut up the fruit before doing so, to prevent secondary infestations of insects such as fruit flies, fungus, and citrus black spot. Citrus does not harm worms in a worm farm but does not get eaten very quickly. Spoiled or excess fruit should not be used as a mulch and should be chopped up or shredded when added to a compost heap.

 

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There you have it, citrus gardeners! Enjoy an outing with the family to one of our quality approved GCA Garden Centres where you can find trees, compost, fertilisers, and pest control solutions that have been specially formulated for your new fruitful babies. Remember to grab some compost starter and accelerator to ensure the necessary biology is all set and ready to receive your citrus leftovers.

 

Lemonade super-boost juice July DIY

Posted on: June 26th, 2022 by Loyiso Mamahlodi No Comments
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With so much citrus in season now, you may be looking for some inspiration on what to do with your harvest. Life is a Garden invites you to get seriously super with your lemons this July and juice up a nutritious storm in your kitchen. Re-invent the lemonade with this zesty booster juice DIY. 

Lemonade super-boost juice recipe

Aren’t we lucky to have Mother Nature on our side as we enter the last stretch of winter! Your lemon harvest, herbs, and spices are talking – do you know what they say?

Ingredients

- 2x peeled lemons for a flush of Vitamin C and multiple essential minerals and plant proteins

- Half a finger of fresh, peeled ginger for respiratory system clearing and protection

- 1x celery stalk for detoxification and opening of the toxin release pathways of the body

- Half a teaspoon of raw, organic turmeric to reduce inflammation 

- A quarter cucumber for rehydration and cholesterol-lowering properties

- A handful of parsley as a systemic anti-fungal and gland health ally

- 2x tablespoons of raw honey for holistic antibacterial support (place your honey in lukewarm water before juicing to ensure it will dissolve well inside your juice)

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Method

There is a difference between a smoothie and a juice: a smoothie contains all the pulp and fibres of the chosen ingredients whereas a juice contains only the liquid gold. You can use the recipe above as a smoothie if you’re looking for something more meal-like, or you can extract the liquid from the ingredients as a potent super shot or juice for the family. Juices are generally gentler on the digestive system as the absence of plant fibres allows for easier absorption of all the goodness. 

Option 1: Nut milk bag

A bit of effort will go a long way when using a hand-operated nut milk bag, which you can purchase at almost any health store. Simply place each solid ingredient inside the bag and squeeze the juice out into a large bowl. The result will be a velvet, smooth elixir that may well blow your mind. Stir in your honey and turmeric after all the solids have been pressed. 

 

Top tip: Use the leftover fibres and pulp for the ingredients as an elixir for your compost heap – it’s a boost juice win for the garden too! 

 

- Option 2: Juicer appliance 

The advantage of using a juicer is that you don’t have to get your hands as involved as with a nut bag, however, you may also lose a bit of the goodness along the way. As such, we recommend using a bit more of each ingredient to compensate. There are a variety of juicers on the market, just be sure to choose one that separates the liquidfrom the pulp. 

 

Follow the instructions on how to feed your ingredients into your chosen juicer and then stir in your turmeric and warmed up honey afterwards. Enjoy the lip-smacking sensation and a surge of revitalised energy that will soar through your body. 

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Try this: Freeze your harvest

Squeeze your citrus into a bowl, ensuring you have a nice clear liquid-sunshine consistency. Then, pour your happiness into ice trays and pop them into the freezer for later. Enjoy your frozen fruit cubes in a drink or pop them into the blender for a refreshing crusher. Top it all off with some fresh herbs from the garden and perhaps a little sweetener for the kids or a dash of gin for the grown-ups. 

 

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Top tip: Visit your GCA Garden Centre to see which other fresh herbs are in stock now. Purchase a seedling tray to harvest from and then transplant them into cute containers to use as a kitchen windowsill garden. 

 

When this one body is all we’ve got, let’s make lemonade to boost it good! Enjoy this flavour adventure and send your taste buds into salivation haven. Life is a Garden, and we need our health to tend to it. 

 

The Secret To Citrus Success Botanical Boss

Posted on: June 26th, 2022 by Loyiso Mamahlodi No Comments
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If you are reading this, somewhere inside you there is a special place that longs to uncover the secrets of the mighty citrus. Life is a Garden invites you on a juicy journey to the epicentre of this stunning fruit. Learn about ornamental varieties, decorating, utilising leftovers, citrus for your province, and gossip-worthy growing hacks. Let’s go! 

 

What’s so great about growing your own? 

  • Health wealth: The high quantity of Vitamin C boosts the immune system and keeps skin smooth and elastic. Citrus are also loaded with B vitamins, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, and copper. Tending to your trees is a super stress reliver and a chance to get active in the sunshine. 
  • Year-round food: Growing a variety of cultivars that fruit at different times of the year allow you to spread out and extend your harvest window. With the right cultivars and planning, you can grow citrus almost all year round! 
  • Organic & eco-friendly: Growing your own has the added benefit of product control. If organic produce and eco-friendly growing is top on your list, a citrus plantation is definitely for you. 
  • More money, more C power: Most citrus trees begin producing fruit even as adolescent plants. Once established, their large yields will save your family and the community a significant amount of money, while also providing possible forms of income, depending on what you choose to do with your harvest (resell or jam making, for example).  

 

Garden jargon check: The word ‘cultivar’ refers to a plant within that specie that has been specifically developed through controlled plant breeding. A citrus cultivar is therefor a specifically bred variation of this plant ‘created’ to deliver a special purpose, such as to produce more fruit or grow smaller. 

 

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Ornamentals on the patio

These sweet trees are the ideal patio décor asset! As long as they receive good direct sunlight throughout the day with correct feeding, watering, and soil – you can’t go wrong (maintenance hacks shared below). Add a pop of colour to your patio or show off your topiary skills with some funky pruning designs (read more about pruning styles in our Tiptop Topiary article here: https://www.lifeisagarden.co.za/topiary/). Citrus can also be espaliered along a wall or fence to hide or screen and area.

Top tip: Avoid using fertiliser for trees in containers as this may well burn or kill your plants.

Claim to fame: Masses of white, pungently citrus-fragranced flowers that develop into cute little orange fruit throughout most of the year. These three lovelies have a compact, bush-like growth habit, making them simply perfect additions for container planting and small space gardening. 

A handy hack: When transplanting your tree into it’s forever home, pick a container that is twice the size of the one you purchased it in, 

 

Garden jargon check: Ornamental plants are those which are specifically grown for their beauty factor, and not for their by-products, for example. Ornamental citrus trees are bread and grown for their unique decorative qualities, such as scented flowers or extra bright fruit. 

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Suited citrus for your province 

Northern Cape: Grapefruits

Eastern Cape: Lemons, oranges, and naartjies

Western Cape: Naartjies

Mpumalanga: Oranges, lemons, and naartjies

North West: Lemons and naartjies

Gauteng: Lemons and oranges

Limpopo: Lemons, oranges, and naartjies

KwaZulu Natal: Limes, lemons, and oranges

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Love your leftovers 

To successfully utilise your leftover citrus, check out these zesty tips:  

  • Never add whole fruit to your compost. Cut up any fruit before adding it to the heap to prevent a secondary infestation of pesky pests such as fruit flies, fungus, and citrus black spot.
  • Avoid using spoiled fruit as mulch – this will also attract unwanted insects. 
  • Citrus will not harm your worms in the worm farm, they just take a long time to be eaten. 
  • Experiment with making oils and preserves to share with your family and the community. Why not donate some of your harvest to those in need who can either fill their own tummies or their corner spaza shop, which in turn will fill even more tummies! 

 

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Gossip-worthy growing hacks

We’ve consulted our industry experts and they’ve shared these awesome trade secrets with us:

  • Overwatering is the biggest citrus killer. At the end of winter, restrict watering as much as possible, which will cause plants to stress and produce more flowers, resulting in more fruit for the next season. 
  • Pick the flowers off your tree for the first year or two. This will allow the plant to put its energy into becoming a bigger and stronger tree with larger crops in the years that follow.
  • Always remember to plant your citrus tree at the same level as it was planted in the nursery container. 
  • Drainage is also very important. Make sure that all trees (in the ground or containers) have well-draining soil. If planting in the open ground, avoid soils that have a high clay content in them. Citrus trees can suffer from root diseases, and this is normally brought on by a combination of overwatering and poor drainage. Before potting your citrus, add a layer of coarse gravel or rock to the bottom of the container to prevent the holes from clogging up.
  • On older trees, thin out the old branches in the centre of the tree. This will help bring in light and air movement to the inner part of the tree.
  • Feed your citrus with a balanced fertiliser every month from August to November (available at your GCA Garden Centre).

 

Grab a ready-to-go tree: Lemon eureka and lemon navels are just two top citrus trees that you can find at Montana Nurseries. The friendly staff will help you choose the right container, soil, and fertiliser for your new citrus – it’s go on and grow from there! 

 

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Pest alert

Your GCA Garden Centre has both chemical and eco-friendly pest control products to choose from. If you are unsure about which insect is causing the infection, take a close up photo of your plant and show it to your knowledgeable nursery staff member. The chances are that of these are the culprit: 

  • Red spider mite
  • Leaf miner
  • Scale 
  • Psylla 
  • Mealybug

 

With so much information at your green fingertips, we hope that your citrus adventure brings you so much joy and lots of juice! Join our seasonal gardening group on Facebook and share your progress and challenges with other citrus enthusiast: https://www.facebook.com/groups/lifeisagarden.co.za 

 

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Landscaping and decorating with citrus INDUSTRY EXPERT Q&A

Posted on: June 1st, 2022 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
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Topic: Citrus
Theme: Mini citrus trees for the patio
Industry Expert: David Seewald
Garden Centre/Grower: Heuers - www.heuers.co.za 

Are you ready to be inspired and educated? Our Life is a Garden readers are in for a zesty treat this month! David from Heuers Nursery has juiced out the full scoop on everything you need to know about growing a citrus tree on your patio. Check out his dwarf recommendations, maintenance hacks, grow guide, and personal journey with these special fruits.

1. What made you first fall in love with citrus growing? Why are citrus trees so special?

I always had an interest in citrus from since I joined the family business. In early 2017 I had a chance to visit some citrus growers in the Cape region and that’s when I decided to actively pursue my dream of growing citrus. In 2019 I had the good fortune to visit the top grower of dwarf citrus in the world. This opened my eyes to what could be done with citrus trees grown on a dwarfing rootstock.

What makes citrus trees so special is the wide range of citrus fruits. They each have their own flavour characteristics and uses, be it in the garden or the commercial sector. Citrus trees are also special because they have a global appeal and are grown almost everywhere.

2. What are some of the reasons why gardeners should be growing citrus at home? Are there any benefits/advantages?
Besides the satisfaction of growing and harvesting citrus from your own trees, there are other benefits related to growing your own citrus namely:

- Citrus fruit has many health benefits and is filled with vitamins, minerals, and essential fibre.

- You have control over which method of pest control to use on your trees. Many people have concerns around chemicals being used on the fruit they buy.

- There are several good quality eco-friendly pesticides on the market and they are readily available at your local garden centre.

- Growing your own fruit is super cost-effective. Even from a young age, your tree can produce some fruit. Once it is established you will be rewarded with a bountiful crop for you and your family to enjoy.

- You can also grow different cultivars that fruit at different times of the year to extend and spread out your harvest window.

- Gardening overall is good for your physical and mental well being and is a great stress reliever.

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3. Besides utilising citrus trees for their produce, how could gardeners incorporate trees as part of their patio décor?

Citrus make beautiful ornamental trees in the garden and on the patio. They can be espaliered along a wall or fence to hide or screen and area. They can also be pruned into a lollipop shape in a pot or the open ground. The two best known ornamental citrus varieties are the Calamondin and the Kumquat. What makes these varieties attractive are the masses of white citrus-scented flowers, which develop into small orange round fruit that can be found almost throughout the year on the tree. Their small and compact growth habit makes them ideal for the patio or small garden.

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4. Is there a difference between a mini (or dwarf) citrus tree and a citrus bonsai?

Yes, there is. Bonsai is the art of growing a miniature tree by restricting the growth of a normal-sized tree through pruning and training techniques. In dwarf citrus, a rootstock is selected which has dwarfing characteristics. These characteristics get passed onto the cultivar, which you graft onto it. The benefit of growing dwarf citrus is that you have a smaller tree that bears the same size fruit as a standard citrus tree. This allows people with limited space to grow citrus.

5. How would gardeners go about growing a mini citrus tree? Could you please guide us through the process and advise on which citrus are best suited?

Growing a mini or dwarf citrus tree requires the scion (bud) of the tree you want to produce to be grafted onto a dwarfing rootstock. Once the graft union has taken, the dwarf citrus tree can be treated like any normal citrus. The only difference will be the growth habit of the tree. Dwarf citrus trees will grow to roughly half the size of a standard citrus tree, depending on the cultivar. The same rules apply for growing dwarf citrus as for normal citrus.
These being:

- Do not overwater your trees. Monitor your watering with the weather. Water less when it is cool or wet and water more when it is dry and hot.

- Do regular checks on your citrus trees for pests.

- Cut away any growth below the graft union (joint).

- Prune your tree to keep it in the desired shape. On older trees, you can thin out the old branches in the centre of the tree. This will help bring in light and air movement to the inner part of the tree.

- Feed with a balanced fertiliser every month from August to November.

- If growing in a container, be sure to check that the container has adequate drainage holes at its base. Also, use a good quality, well-drained potting soil. Before potting your citrus, add a layer of coarse gravel or rock to the bottom of the container to prevent the holes from clogging up.

Most citrus varieties are compatible with the dwarfing rootstock. However, the Eureka lemon is not compatible, but fortunately you can choose from the other varieties of lemons such as:

- Lisbon
- Rough skin
- Meyer

For the moment, there are no dwarf citrus trees being produced on any large scale for the retail market in South Africa.However, we at Heuers Nursery will be releasing our range of dwarf citrus to the market in the next year.

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6. What are some of the most common pests and how can gardeners protect and treat their trees?
The most common pests we see on citrus are the following:

- Red spider mite
- Leaf miner
- Scale
- Psylla
- Mealybug

Fortunately, there are several chemical and biological products on the market that can protect and treat your trees. Visit your local garden centre for guidance on which products to use.

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7. Are there any general citrus hacks that you could share with a beginner citrus grower?

If you have the patience, pick the flowers off the tree for the first year or two. This will allow the plant to put its energy into becoming a bigger and stronger tree with bigger crops in the years that follow. Always remember to plant your citrus tree at the same level as it was planted in the nursery container. Drainage is also very important. Make sure that all trees (in the ground or containers) have well-draining soil. If planting in the open ground, avoid soils that have a high clay content in them. Citrus trees can suffer from root diseases, and this is normally brought on by a combination of overwatering and poor drainage.

Enjoy your fruitful journey and patio decorating with these bold edibles. Remember that citrus trees prefer subtropical climates and grow well in areas where there is no heavy frost or extreme cold. Dash down to your local garden centre for advice on which trees will flourish in your area.

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