Calamondin Orange: Sunshine in a Pot

December 9th, 2017 § 3 comments § permalink

Calamondin Orange Tree in the Kitchen

As we move closer to the shortest day of the year, and the long, dark nights of winter, sunlight begins to feel like a rare and precious commodity. During the cold, colorless months, I find myself seeking out warm hues —bright yellow, orange, lime green— and all things tropical. Something tells me I’m not the only northern gardener dreaming of a far-away paradise.

Last year, my sister and my nephew surprised me with a beautiful Calamondin Orange tree (Citrofortunella mitis), for my birthday. With its glossy-green foliage and abundant, golden fruit, this tree is a total knock-out. But the real surprise? Insect and disease resistance. Not a single battle has been waged with scale or spider mites. Of the three citrus trees growing in my home —which include an Improved Meyer Lemon and a Lime Tree— the Calamondin Orange has proven easiest and most productive, by far.

Calamondin Orange Tree in the Kitchen Today, with River Stone Mulch

If you’re new to growing citrus trees as houseplants, I highly recommend starting with an indoor-tolerant Calamondin Orange. And if you happen to be looking for the perfect gift for the gardening gourmet in your life, this tree could be it!

Small but abundant, bright-orange fruits appear at regular intervals on this cross between a Kumquat and Mandarin Orange. Calamondin oranges are quite tart and a good substitute for Persian limes in most recipes. Their tangy juice and sweet zest is delicious in many drinks, desserts, savory dishes and condiments; including salad dressings, marmalades, salsas, chutneys and pickled preserves. I love adding tart Calamondin juice to cocktails and spicing up a simple crème brulée with a bit of the sweet & tangy zest. Imagine the creative, culinary possibilities!

Freshly Harvested Calamondin Oranges

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Tips for Selection & Care of Indoor Citrus Trees

Selecting: Ready to begin growing your own crop of tiny, golden oranges? Choose a two to three-year-old specimen from a reputable nursery for the earliest showing of blossoms and fruit. Look for healthy, green foliage and a well-pruned, full framework. Avoid trees with spindly growth, curled or yellowing foliage, and suckers at the base. Online, you can find beautiful Calamondin Orange Trees at White Flower Farm and Four Winds Growers.

Potting: When potting your newly acquired citrus tree, choose a ceramic, clay or plastic pot with adequate drainage. Ensure that the selected container has several holes at the bottom, and fill the drainage dish with gravel or stone to allow good moisture release and airflow. Well-drained soil is also critical. Buy pre-mixed potting soil specifically blended for citrus, or choose a slightly acidic, loamy potting mix with a pH of 6-7.

Placement: Citrus trees need 8-12 hours of sunlight per day. During the fall and winter months, place your Calamondin in a draft-free, south-facing window with even temperatures (55-85°F is ideal). Avoid locating the tree where temperatures fluctuate radically: such as near wood stoves, ovens, radiators or exterior doors. Calamondin Orange Trees may be moved outside in late spring (after the last frost date in your area). Be sure to slowly acclimate your tree to outdoor conditions by placing it in a protected spot. Try to find a dappled nook, shielded from high wind. After a couple of weeks have passed, the pot can migrate to its summer home in full sun.

Watering: Water your tree regularly (using a meter helps tremendously), and cover the soil with decorative river stone, moss or other mulch mulch to help reduce evaporation and temperature fluctuation at the root zone. Soil should be kept on the drier side during winter months to avoid root rot and fungal infections. Like most tropical beauties, Calamondins enjoy humidifiers and/or regular misting as well.

Feeding: Citrus are heavy feeders. Fertilize your tree every three weeks using a citrus-specific fertilizer, like this one from Jobe’s Organics, throughout the spring and summer months. During the fall and winter months, fertilize once every six weeks.

Harvesting Calamondin Oranges from My Tree

Harvesting: Calamondin oranges take about one year to ripen from the time blossoms appear. However, because the tree will produce flowers and fruit at the same time, harvests can happen over a period of weeks or months. Snip bright orange fruit from branches with sharp pruners (I use Felco 8s) to avoid tearing the tender skin. You’ll know the oranges are ripe when they are just soft enough to give slightly under the pressure of your fingertips.

Pest Management: Calamondins do seem to resist insects and disease, however all houseplants are vulnerable to infestations and stress increases the risk, so be sure to meet your tree’s needs as listed above. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, tiny insect pests hitch a ride on newly acquired plants or on fresh produce and flowers from the grocery store. Insects will also set up camp while potted plants are living outside during the summer months. Once the trees come inside, away from predatory insects —boom— bug explosion. Should your citrus tree become host to spider mites, scale, mealy bugs or aphids, try treating organically with insecticidal soap and horticultural oil, or neem oil for tougher pests like spider mites and scale. The key to success is repeated treatment at regularly scheduled intervals (see manufacturer’s recommendation by pest), until the infestation is under control.

With proper attention and care, a Calamondin Orange Tree will provide many golden harvests of fruit and years of beauty, inside and out.


Article & Photography copyright Michaela Harlow at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Indoor Gardening Gifts to Inspire & Delight …

December 10th, 2011 § Comments Off on Indoor Gardening Gifts to Inspire & Delight … § permalink

I own and love many of Terrain’s terrariums. And this modern take on the garden-beneath glass (above) is my current obsession: Terrain’s Glass Drop Tillandsia Kit

December 10th —what— already? Have you started your holiday shopping yet? I confess that I haven’t wrapped a single present. However, I have been doing a bit of late-night, browser-window shopping, and I’ll definitely be heading out to my local shops this weekend to pick out a few special gifts for friends and family as well. Of course there are plenty of practical gifts to give gardeners, which I recently discussed in a guest post for Blogher, “Dirty Girl Christmas: Holiday Gifts for the Gardener”. But, sometimes you want something really special; magical, beautiful and delightful.

I love sharing the gift of nature, even with my not-so-green-thumbed friends — don’t you?  Here are some inspirational indoor garden ideas; lovely little presents to bring a bit of lush life inside throughout the long, cold, winter season …

This Copper Watering Can from Terrain is just one example of the beautiful and useful garden tools available through the company’s website

Want to introduce a favorite cook to the pleasures of homegrown herbs? This Mediterranean Trio of Herbs is an attractive and simple place to start

With proper care, Meyer lemon trees make wonderful houseplants. A lemon topiary is a beautiful & unusual holiday gift that keeps on giving. Here’s one good source: Organic Meyer Lemon Topiary from VivaTerra. Trees from this company are sent priority, in pretty clay pots. And if you hop to it, there’s still time to order before Christmas (order by 12/20 for Christmas delivery)

Whether snipping sprigs of fresh herbs or disciplining my over-eager ivy, I find my Okubo Shears get near-daily use. And with such attractive looks, it’s perfectly reasonable to leave these pruners displayed on my desktop or table.

Cerulean Blue Stoneware Planter by Vermont Artist Virginia Wyoming – Available at Etsy Here

Gardens-beneath-glass are great, low-maintenance choices for busy friends. And this apothecary-inspired Canister Terrarium by Terrain, is a real beauty

Publisher Timber Press recently released this beautiful & inspirational book: Terrarium Craft – Amy Bryant Aiello

And there’s always this modern-cloche-head classic: The New Terrarium – Tovah Martin

Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photos in this article are courtesy of linked websites. All content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

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Marking Time’s Passage in the Garden: Beautiful & Practical Journals…

December 2nd, 2010 § 3 comments § permalink

Keeping a permanent record of your garden is one of the keys to horticultural success! I keep records for both my vegetable plot and my ornamental gardens

December 2010. It’s hard to believe that another year is drawing to a close, isn’t it? While flipping through my garden journal last week, I couldn’t help but marvel at how different the weather and crops were in 2010, compared to 2009. I just started a new section in my blank book to record observations on my winter vegetable garden (crops grown beneath hoop houses as well as horticultural pursuits indoors), and to make plans for spring 2011 planting.

Keeping a permanent record of your garden is one of the keys to horticultural success -and it’s also fun! I have a practical garden calendar/record (day-runner type with 3-ring binder and handy pockets for seeds and tags) where I keep dated notes on seed sowing and vegetable/fruit harvests, crop rotation maps, location records/photos, pest notes, fertilizing reminders and so on. But I also have a more traditional free-form journal (pictured above and just below) for thoughts, observations and sketches. This is the time of year when I usually order new inserts for my three-ring binder garden calendar/record and replace my free-form journal if necessary. Sure, I keep notes on my laptop and iPhone too, but I enjoy the process of sketching and writing with pen on paper.  And over time, I have learned the hard way that electronics, mud and water aren’t really the best of companions.

Planning 2011 Seed Order (Botanical Interests 2011 Seed Catalog)

In addition to laying out next year’s vegetable garden —rotating crops helps prevent repeat insect infestations and diseases— I’m also planning what varieties to plant based on past seasons. I have limited space in my potager, and I want to get a head start on orders before companies sell out of the choicest seeds. The Botanical Interests 2011 seed catalog arrived in my mailbox last week, and I have been circling items to order both for holiday gifts and for my own spring garden. My journal is helpful with this planning and ordering process, because I have written down which varieties of vegetables and herbs performed well in my garden, which did not, and which varieties I would like to try based on friends’ success. Every year, some companies discontinue seeds and others offer new varieties. So, as seed catalogs arrive, I scan lists to see where I can find and order my favorites (or, make a note to save my own seed when possible).

Garden Journal, Leather Cover Exterior (refill annually with a separate 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ calendar/journal)

A durable and beautiful garden journal makes a great gift for a new gardener —or any gardener not currently keeping one— particularly if it’s personalized with a few favorite seed packets, photos, notes, web-links, or even a gift certificate to a local garden center or online retailer, like Gardener’s Supply Company. If you —or the gardener you are shopping for— have a large garden, then consider a 3-ring binder type of journal cover and fill it with a calendar/notebook. A beautiful leather journal cover can be re-used from year to year, and makes a great gift. There are literally hundreds of notebooks, calendars and covers to choose from, but when you are shopping for a horticultural journal, keep in mind that for most serious gardeners, an easy-to-clean cover in leather or vinyl is really essential. Replaceable annual-calendar inserts make sense, as do extra plastic pockets. I like the day-timer style garden journals because they are flexible and can be used/filled anyway you like. Mine is the ring-binder type with plastic pockets and zip-lock pouches for seeds, tags, business cards, etc.

Garden Journal, Leather Cover Interior (free form style will fit any kind of notebook within the size constraints. This one has useful pockets for plant tags and seed packets)

This Garden Journal Leather Cover is nearly identical to the one directly above it, but it has a handy metal binder for loose leaf paper, calendar inserts and additional plastic pockets. I prefer this kind of journal for my day-to-day record keeping in the garden, because it keeps everything together. If I need to add more plastic pockets, I just swing by a local office supply store and match the stock to my binder.

Pretty, Simple and Inexpensive: Blossom Journal (Magnetic Closure). I’d choose this type of journal for a more meditative garden-writer or someonealready in possession of a task-oriented horticultural binder.

If the gardener you are shopping for tends more toward free-form record keeping or simple journaling, then a blank book would be a good choice. This type of journal is usually less expensive than zippered, three-ring-binder calendar/journals. A good, heavy cover is still important, although choosing a blank book with a pretty botanical theme seems right. I just ordered two journals (the one just above and below) as gifts. Will I keep one for myself? Hmmmmmmm….

Tree of Life Leather Journal (lined)

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Please note: The Gardener’s Eden is not an affiliate of Botanical Interest Seeds, but Michaela is a long-time, happy customer!

Article and Photos (Excepting Linked Product Photos) are ⓒ Michaela at TGE

All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without prior written consent. Inspired by something you see here? Great! Please give credit where credit is due. It’s a small world and link-love makes for fond friendships. Stealing makes for bad dreams…

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The Calming Echoes of Nature – Soothing Sounds During a Sometimes Hectic Holiday Season…

December 14th, 2009 § 5 comments § permalink

Echoes of Nature Morning Songbirds

Echoes of Nature: Morning Songbirds

I am about to head out to do a bit of holiday shopping this evening, which unfortunately means that I will be confronted with relentlessly loud music and overbearing crowds. And you know, as much as I enjoy this season of giving, I sometimes find all the bright lights and chaos unnerving. Just thinking about this sensory overload and potential unpleasantness was giving me a bit of a headache, when all of a sudden I remembered the great CD set I received as a holiday gift last year. Oh what relief. I am taking this with me in the car! The sounds of bird song, frogs, thunderstorms, crickets, wolves and more, (recorded by various naturalists), were collected by Delta Music and packaged as a set of 5 CDs. I loaded them onto my computer, and into my ipod, and then I listened to them all winter when I was writing or painting. I am so glad I remembered those CDs – what a pleasure soft, natural sounds will be when I exit noisy Target !

I am most familiar with the “Echoes of Nature” series, which I have pictured and linked here. But there are several other collections, including “Sounds of the Earth”. My favorite from this company is the collection “Morning Birds” pictured and linked below. All of these recordings are without human voice or music – just pure natural sounds…

Morning Birds

Sounds of the Earth: Morning Birds

Thinking about the bird song and natural sound sets reminded me of an interesting gift I gave to my dad last year. My father loves birds and gardening. I was excited when I found The Backyard Birdsong Guide books, pictured below, to help him learn to identify various birds by song as well as by visual cues. These books are very easy and fun to use. You simply dial in the corresponding number to the species on the page, and push a button to listen. My father loves these books, (he liked them so much that I picked up the bird-song calendar for him later).

Almost all gardeners are bird lovers, so these books and CDs make great holiday gifts. I should also mention that these audio field guide books are produced by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, so they are also fantastic teaching tools for nature lovers and gardeners of all ages. One of the keys to preserving and protecting nature is learning about it; something I feel very strongly about. But beyond the educational and relaxation value, I have to be honest – these books are also a good time. I won’t go into all of the kooky things I do with mine, (OK, so they involve the cat), but let’s just say they are an awful lot of fun over the long, long, winter…

Backyard Birdsong Central and Western NA

The Backyard Birdsong Guide: Western North America

Backyard Birdsong Book Eastern and Central

The Backyard Birdsong Guide: Eastern and Central North America (Backyard Birdsong Guides)

Birdsong from Around the World

Bird Songs From Around the World: Featuring Songs of 200 Birds from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Push and Listen)

These other non-bird centered CDs feature the sounds of the forest, (“American Wilds” has rain showers, frogs, crickets, wolves, cicadas and ambient forest sounds), frogs and thunderstorms. I noticed when I looked my titles up online, that many others get great reviews as well – but I have only heard the ones listed here. If you are curious, you can sample the sounds online through the links, and if you enjoy them, you can always download a few for yourself as a mid-winter pick-me-up when things get really cold and silent outside…

Echoes of Nature American Wilds

Echoes of Nature: American Wilds

Echoes of Nature Frog Chorus

Echoes of Nature: Frog Chorus

Thunderstorms

Echoes of Nature: Thunderstorm

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