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Citrus in a food forest

 
Paula Edwards
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Citrus don't really need a lot of sun. How would they do in a forest like situation?
 
Jordan Lowery
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just so you know, your forest garden should not be 100% shade. that = lack of diversity. we have citrus planted in our forest garden in key spots where they are under a parent tree for winter protection, but also out enough to get morning and afternoon sun. morning sun is key.
 
Jonathan Byron
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Yeah, I wouldn't plant them in deep shade / under a solid canopy of other trees. But they can be the second or third canopy provided the taller trees are not so dense. Or in suburban permaculture, they can be the top canopy, with shrubs, herbs, vines, etc.  This year, I am letting passionflower grow over a meyer lemon.
 
Paula Edwards
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I'll give  it a go. I have a small area with huge trees but this is more of a row. And there I creat something foodforest like which at the same time must serve as a windbreak, and there I need non decidious trees. However, citrus have the disadvantage of being high in volatile oil, that means in a bush fire they're not great.
 
Jonathan Byron
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True, but around here, the native vegetation is even higher in volatile oils (turpentine pine and palmettos).

My concern is for the sustainability of citrus in Florida - with HLB/citrus greening disease now introduced, it is just a matter of time until citrus starts a deep decline. Citrus is hard to beat for its productivity (my 1 grapefruit tree on a 10x10 spacing provides roughly 1000 grapefruit over a 6 month period, enough for a family of 4 to eat it daily for 1/2 year!). But permaculture is about diversifying, about building food ecosystems that are resilient in the face of introduced pests and other disruptions.
 
Cris Bessette
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I have read that planting citrus under other trees such as pines is common in some areas. This provides protection from snow, ice and wind, but also helps trap radiated ground heat. This is a very good idea for citrus in marginal areas.

I've been studying up on cold hardy citrus varieties for the last few years.
I live in the North Georgia mountains where there is snow and temps in the teens in the winter but I love citrus fruit.

I know your question was specific to citrus in a food forest, but you might find it handy to know about some more cold hardy varieties if you are not exactly in sunny Florida.
I am currently growing two Owari Satsuma mandarin trees in my front yard.
I have to put a small greenhouse over them in the winter, but besides that, they are thriving on their own.
I also put in a Citrangequat tree this Spring which are said to survive close to freezing temperatures without damage.

 
Jordan Lowery
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crispy critter have you heard of a calomondin citrus? they are cold hardy and delicious. they produce fruit like crazy too. small, extra tart, used in cooking and to make iced drinks, eatable straight for those who like tartness.

kumquats are also good hardy citrus. there is a wild one growing out in pretty much the open not far from here that takes the full force of winter. we get lows into the teens and some snow as well.

all citrus get planted on the south east side of trees to get that early morning sun to fight frost and snow. any thermal mass from rock helps when they are young, when they are older, they can handle much colder temps.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Hubert, where do you live, Imean what is your climate or region.  I brought the dream of citrus with me to  western colorado.  I had thought of building a south facing curved heat sink kind of wall, the tree as shelter never occurred to me.  I am wondering how far outside of citrus climate you are.

I have grown a passion vine here, and had it come back after 2 winters.  But it was a maypop, a very cold tolerant species.

Thanks

Thekla
 
Cris Bessette
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hubert cumberdale wrote:
crispy critter have you heard of a calomondin citrus? they are cold hardy and delicious. they produce fruit like crazy too. small, extra tart, used in cooking and to make iced drinks, eatable straight for those who like tartness.

kumquats are also good hardy citrus. there is a wild one growing out in pretty much the open not far from here that takes the full force of winter. we get lows into the teens and some snow as well.

all citrus get planted on the south east side of trees to get that early morning sun to fight frost and snow. any thermal mass from rock helps when they are young, when they are older, they can handle much colder temps.


Yes, I have heard of calamondin, but I have never tried them. I have about 6 or 7 kumquat trees I started from seed about a year ago to experiment with. In a year or two I will plant some out in the yard and give them some protection the first handful of years. Where exactly are you located? I would love to hear more about that Kumquat, what type of surroundings it is in, if it is damaged in the winter,etc.

My Satsuma mandarins have thrived for 3 years with protection in the winter and they are covered with fruit right now.

Any citrus I have outside are on the South side of my house and have large stones around them. I wish there was more information on what sepp holzer is doing with citrus in the alps.I know he uses large boulders for heat retention and protection of his citrus, but would like to know which varieties of citrus and any other info on care he gives.

In any case citrus is my favorite type of fruit and I am enjoying growing them, as much for the fruit as for the challenge and the fun of shocking people by growing things that are not supposed to grow here.
 
Cris Bessette
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happycobber wrote:
.....  I had thought of building a south facing curved heat sink kind of wall, the tree as shelter never occurred to me.  I am wondering how far outside of citrus climate you are.


I have my two Satsuma trees about 8 feet from each other and they have a short wall of stacked rock on the North, East and West sides.
In late fall I put a little A-frame wood and plastic structure over the two trees.
On nights with temps in the 20s (-2C) and lower the greenhouse thermostat inside turns on a 40 watt reflector lamp over each tree.

The first year I had them planted the setup was the same except the rock wall.  I noticed with the addition of the wall that the supplementary heat of the lamps was needed much less last winter (IE the wall was storing enough heat to offset the need for electric assistance)
 
George Collins
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In South Central Mississippi we have a citrus tree that is so hardy it has become a pest in many areas.  We always called it a prairie lemon but The Book says that a more recognizable common name is hardy orange or trifoliate orange.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trifoliate_orange

Pay no attention to wiki-reports that says that it isn't edible - my kids eat em all the time albeit with considerable lip-puckering. Other uses include making hardyorangeaid (which tastes remarkably like lemonaid) and batting practice for baseball. (It would probably work well for golf practice as well if you're into that sort of thing.)

One thing I would like to highlight for any that may consider planting hardy orange - them thorns ain't no joke. A fellow I know owns a tire shop and he told me once that the hardy orange produces the only thorn he has ever pulled out of a skidder tire.
 
Paula Edwards
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There are two different conditions a citrus needs:
First this is cold hardiness and i.e. an orange is quite cold hardy.
Second it needs a long and hot enough summer to ripen the fruit and the orange don't ripen in our climate, but meyer lemons do even when they are less cold hardy. Kumquats are great, however you must get the right variety with a nice sweet rind. Some are awfully sour.
 
Cris Bessette
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George Collins wrote:
In South Central Mississippi we have a citrus tree that is so hardy it has become a pest in many areas.  We always called it a prairie lemon but The Book says that a more recognizable common name is hardy orange or trifoliate orange.


Pay no attention to wiki-reports that says that it isn't edible - my kids eat em all the time albeit with considerable lip-puckering. Other uses include making hardyorangeaid (which tastes remarkably like lemonaid) and batting practice for baseball. (It would probably work well for golf practice as well if you're into that sort of thing.)



I've been fascinated with trifoliate orange (poncirus/citrus trifoliata) since I heard of it a few years ago.  I even ordered seeds and grew my own.
Currently I have about 7 of them planted in my yard, but they are still too young to fruit so I was happy to read your report that they are at least semi edible. I've never seen one in real life.
I've always read though that there is a real sticky goo in the rind that sticks to knives and cooking implements in general.

 
George Collins
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Crispy,

The goo that sticks to your knife is a real, but it ain't like it won't wash off. As far as cookin utensils go, I never put the rinds in anything other than a trashcan. To date we have only used them for one thing and that is to squeeze the juice for use as a substitute for lemon juice. And the goo hasn't seemed to hold back my 8 year old daughter as she used the Pampered Chef lemon squeezer thingie to make a few gallons of lemonish-aide.

The only real difference I see to using the fruits is that they are mighty seedy little bastages and because of their small size you must squeeze more of them to obtain a given amount of juice.
 
Cris Bessette
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George,

Strange coincidence this weekend. I found a 10 foot tall trifoliate orange tree on a street corner right in the middle of the city where I live!

I have no idea how I never saw it before, I've passed by it hundreds of times!

In any case, I stopped my car and grabbed a few fruit off the ground.



At home I cut a few up and checked them out.
At an average of 30 or so seeds per fruit, they were jam packed!
As for the taste- not as bad as I imagined, still very sour/bitter. Reminds me of a strong grapefruit.
A fresh, firm fruit had the most "citrusy" smell, the older ones were leaning to a floral musky scent.

My opinion is that these would make a decent lemon substitute, some sugar would help a lot!
The discouraging bits is the scant flesh/juice compared to number of seeds per fruit, the giant thorns on the plant, and also the gummy stuff in the peel which is somewhat hard to clean off.


 
George Collins
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CrispyCritter wrote:
My opinion is that these would make a decent lemon substitute, some sugar would help a lot!
The discouraging bits is the scant flesh/juice compared to number of seeds per fruit, the giant thorns on the plant, and also the gummy stuff in the peel which is somewhat hard to clean off.


Nailed it!
 
Cris Bessette
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Update:

One of the trifoliate orange trees I started from seed 4 years ago flowered and fruited the first time this year.

Four years from seed to fruiting is pretty unusual, but in any case, I tried one of the fruit and was pleasantly surprised that it was edible.
Like a strong lemon with a hint of grapefruit, but without the skunky bitterness they usually have.
I actually ate all the flesh out of one without the urge to vomit.

Still had the same resiny stickiness to the peel, and it had 37 seeds in a fruit the size of a pingpong ball, but still, it was not bad.

I think there are some good reasons to consider these in a food forest in a wide range of environments.

 
Dee Ann Reed
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I am planning on using trifolate orange as part of an edge of property hedge I am planning. It will be the outside of the hedge closest to the road. My intent it to create a 30' wide hedge of fruiting trees and shrubs outside of my goat pasture. My hope is that it will be a deterrent to human trespassers. I also, of course, plan to use the fruit.
 
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