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A Citrus Success Story
by Carla Allen
by Carla Allen



Greetings from Nova Scotia!

Carla Allen has been gardening for the past 25 years, co-owned a nursery in southwestern Nova Scotia for 16 years.

Carla has an extensive image library and nurtures a network of horticulture in the region. She was the first president of the Yarmouth Garden Club.


September 21, 2003

Few people in Nova Scotia can say they've made marmalade from their orange tree as gifts for friends and family. Joan Jenkins of Yarmouth still marvels at the abundant harvest her little fruit tree has provided her with annually over the past thirty years. Several years ago this Calamondin orange tree produced such an exceptionally heavy crop, she filled a small pail with the ripe fruit and cooked up a batch of marmalade. ‘I thought it was terribly fun," she conceded.

The four foot high, multi-branched tree has grown considerably from the 8" high potted plant given to Joan by her Aunt Nonia back in the 1970's. Joan was living in Wayzeta, Minnesota at the time and enjoyed nurturing the plant over the years as it grew steadily larger. Seven years ago she decided to move to Canada and during one of her preparatory visits, she questioned Canadian Custom officials on the possibility of importing her orange tree. They agreed the plant could be classified as a houseplant and no restrictions would apply.

The plant grew well as a new Canadian resident and continued with its typical behavior. When it blooms, the flowers are incredibly sweet smelling, "the whole house smells like oranges" describes Joan. This is followed by the development of oranges, which sometimes appear on the branches alongside other blossoms simultaneously. After this performance, the Calamondin seems to go into a resting mode, with leaf drop and general despondency.

"Every once in awhile, it thinks it's going to die," said Joan. "I set it back in a corner and tell it to think about itself and let it get itself back together." Away from the bright light, the tree is able to rest for awhile and recover. Joan's house is full of natural light and faces south on John's Cove. She has lettuce growing in the front window and parsley and basil in pots by the sink. "This house is almost like living in a greenhouse," she explains.

She reduces watering and fertilizing during the orange tree's "sulking period" but after approximately a month it usually starts to "come around" and weekly fertilization is resumed with a bit of Miracle Grow. "After awhile, it begins blooming wildly", she said.

In the thirty years she's been caring for this miniature orange tree, Joan has only pruned the roots once. "When it had a really bad fit", she confided. "That's the only time I had to do anything desperate to it." She has hardly ever changed the potting soil in the pot and says once in a great while, she will just add more soil to it. Occasionally she shakes the dust off the leaves. "I think the least care is the best care for it", she recommended.

Calamondin fruit may be small (about 1" in diameter), but these tiny squirts do contain Vitamin C like their other citrus counterparts. One Calamondin is about 12 calories, with a very small trace of fat. It contains approximately 1.2 g fiber, 37 mg potassium, 7.3 mg vitamin C, 57.4 mg IU vitamin A, 8.4 mg calcium, 15.5 g water and 3.1 g carbohydrates. The peel is thin and smooth, yellow to yellow-orange and easily separable. Each miniature orange divides into 5 to 9 segments around a small semi-hollow axis. The skin can take up to one year to turn orange and fully ripen. These miniature fruit trees can sometimes be found for sale on your local grocery store florist shelves. For those lucky enough to already have their own Calamondin tree, here's a recipe you may want to try for your next heavy harvest.

Calamondin Pie

1 1/4 cups sugar, 3 well beaten eggs,
2 tablespoons flour
7-10 thinly sliced Calamondins
1/8 teaspoon salt
cup water
1/4 cup soft butter

Combine sugar, flour and salt. Blend in butter. Add beaten eggs. Add sliced Calamondins and water. Blend well and turn into pie shell. Place top crust over filling, seal and flute. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 30 to 35 minutes.

 

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