You Can Grow Your Own Delicious Citrus!
photograph by Jennifer Shetrom
There's nothing quite like the taste of fresh-squeezed orange juice, or eating a naturally-sweet ruby red grapefruit! And growing your own citrus is really quite simple. It just takes a little effort and a lot of patience. It may take as many as five years or more from the time you plant your seeds until you first pick your own home-grown fruit. But some of the best things in life are worth waiting for. On this page I will document my own efforts to grow my own lemon, orange and grapefruit trees. You can follow along with my progress on this web page and learn with me. Maybe you'll get inspired to do the same!
The first step, of course, is to find a few good seeds. Best place to do that
is in some really good, fresh fruit. I've planted lemon, orange, and grapefruit seeds this year. Wish me luck!
    The important thing to remember about growing from seeds is to keep the seeds moist and fresh, by storing them in clean, wet send in a container in your refrigerator. Unlike other seed crops, you don't use dry seeds.
I kept my seeds in wet sand in the fridge until I was ready to plant them.
This is a small orange tree I started from seed a few years back. It's about two years old in this picture. The trick is to start them growing in the Spring in your garden, and then, as it begins to get cold in the fall, put them into pots and move them indoors near a window over the winter. Then move them back out for the summer. You'll need to keep doing this for a few years until they get big enough to eventually transplant to a permanent location outdoors. This was a couple feet tall two years ago (in the picture at the right).
And here it is, at the left, just last year, another foot or so taller, pruned back a bit for vertical growth, and looking quite healthy. (I've got no formal training in gardening, by the way... just a "green thumb." So this is what has worked for me.) If you want to get really serious about this "hobby" you may no doubt want to look for more info on growing citrus than I offer here. I'm just trying to show how easy it is... and to get you inspired to give it a try!
Fast forward to this Spring! This is me, at right, after my orange tree spent yet another winter indoors. Yes... it's now as tall as I am. After another summer of growing outdoors in its container, I think it will be ready to transplant (in late Fall) to its permanent outdoor home.
    By transplanting in the Fall it will have time to develop a nice root system before next Spring arrives.
(I'm holding a grapefruit in my hand. Last one of the season! It was hiding in my tree. What a nice surprise!)
I guess you really have
                       to love your citrus to go
                       to this much trouble and
                       to make such a big fuss
                       over growing your own...
but, to me, there's nothing much better than enjoying a ruby red fresh off your tree, or a glass of fresh-squeezed OJ.
(And, yes, the photo at left is of the "last half" of that "last" grapefruit of the season that I'd found on my tree.)
("Celebrate the moment," right?) I'm the kind of person who just loves to, as I call it, "document." I love to garden and I love photography, so I guess it's not so unusual to take lots of pictures of those things I enjoy most.
My orange tree seeds have come from my stepdaughter Jana's trees. And the photo at right is of my first orange of this past Winter season from one of her trees. (It was scrumptious!)
If you're going to grow your own, be sure to remember that the best seeds come from the best oranges! But then also remember that not all oranges have seeds. (Don't ask me why.) So I
am considering trying my hand at some tree grafting this Fall. I've read that it's pretty easy with citrus, and the species are comfortable being "inter-grafted" ... in other words, I can try grafting one of Jana's tasty seedless orange branches onto my grapefruit tree. (Yes, it works!)
This year I've run a drip line to my four-year-old potted orange tree to be sure it gets more consistent watering. It's now about the same size that our ruby red grapefruit tree was when we bought it back in 2004. Seven years later we had a "bumper crop" of more than 5 dozen grapefruit. So I'm hopeful with my little orange tree. I've read that it takes about five years from seed before you get any fruit on your tree. Takes some patience!
Our "Octo Mom" grapefruit tree, at left.
And, above, there's nothing in the world like the fragrance of citrus blossoms in the Spring. Absolutely intoxicating.
Followed by the joy of seeing the little baby fruits forming on the tree, and then watching them grow and ripen through the course of their rather long growing season.
So, I hope this has inspired you, if not to try your hand at growing citrus, to at least get out there and dig in the dirt and do some gardening. I'll update this site from time to time as my seeds push through the soil and begin to grow.
Meanwhile, here's to your health!
photograph by Skip Treaster
A Photo Essay
by Skip Treaster
Planning on growing your own? Be sure to start with the very best viable seed from the best fruit you can find.
It may take you a few years 'til your tree will bear fruit... but it's worth all the effort! Enjoy!
photograph by Skip Treaster
Finally! November 2011. Our orange tree
is planted in the ground. (Wish me luck!)
"Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in winter. Looking at its sad appearance who would think that those stiff branches, those jagged twigs would turn green again and blossom and bear fruit next spring; but we hope they will, we know they will."
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe