- Author: Ann Dozier
Could you give an idea of what’s available? Judith Cadigan, Los Osos
By Ann Dozier Master Gardener
Spring is a fine time to plant citrus, and there are some interesting varieties available. It’s easy to stick by old favorites such as Eureka or Meyer lemons and Navel or Valencia oranges. Many gardeners also want a lime tree – either Bearss or Mexican (Key) lime and some sort of mandarin, perhaps a Satsuma (good for cold areas) or Clementine (choose a variety that does not require another citrus as pollinator.) The Gold Nugget mandarin is a new easy-peeler notable for its long harvest period.
As for really new varieties available, how about an Australian finger lime? The petite, elongated fruits ripen in fall or winter in California, and have a flavor reminiscent of true limes. The fruit is sometimes referred to as "citrus caviar" because the small round interior vesicles pop in your mouth with tart lime flavor. Or try something really different, cold-hardy Yuzu, now inspiring fusion chefs throughout the world. Long cultivated in Japan and Korea it is an essential ingredient of ‘ponzu’ sauce. These unusual citrus choices may need to be specially ordered here.
Lovers of marmalade might look for an old favorite, the sour Seville orange. Thorny Sevilles are good patio trees and can even be clipped into a hedge. Or perhaps try a blood orange with reddish flesh such as the Moro, which might be called a “gourmet orange” with distinctive raspberry overtones to its taste. However, inland heat is required to develop the darkest red rind and flesh.
Still looking for ideas? Think of kumquats, tangelos, grapefruit, pummelos, sour mandarins – the choices are nearly endless, but gardeners in cool coastal climates do need to consider how much heat varieties need to perform well. The University of California at Riverside has a website with pictures and descriptions of many citrus varieties: http://www.citrusvariety.ucr.edu/ The citrus featured in this article should be available at your local nursery that carry citrus from Four Winds Growers and/or Monrovia, while supplies last.