Citrus For All Seasons

Freshly picked, home-grown citrus isn’t a luxury reserved only for the picturesque gardens in the warm and sunny climate of the Mediterranean. Short on garden space? Growing citrus in containers can deliver you lemons even indoors. All it takes is some simple citrus basics, a little human ingenuity and you’re on your way to growing your very own fruits.

Citrus plants grown in containers do best in porous pots that dry out fairly quickly since the roots do not like to remain wet for long. Make sure you remove your citrus from the plastic containers they come in when purchased as the heat from the summer sun and can cause the roots to burn. 

Envious images of potted citrus can steer you toward big pots, but starting small and steady will win this race. Extra soil around trees complicates moisture control, so work your way up in pot size as trees grow. For small trees, a 30-cm diameter container is perfect for starters. Mature trees need pots double that width and at least 50 cm deep. This gives roots growing room and prevents tippy, top-heavy trees. 

Be sure that whatever container you use has plenty of drainage holes so that water drains away freely. It is prudent to raise any container off the ground on “pot feet” to facilitate drainage and ensure good air circulation.

The soil should be sterilized, gritty, and free-draining. Some of the soil mixes especially formulated for containers work well; if they seem to hold too much moisture, add sand or gravel to the mix. Water carefully, as overwatering is a common mistake, you may feel you’re doing the plant a favour, but this smothering of love may lead to the drowning death of the plant.

Most citrus plants like to partially dry out (the top Five centimeters of soil should feel dry) before receiving more water. These plants are quite greedy and require regular feeding to do well. If you are repotting a plant, incorporate some timed-release fertilizer into the soil at planting time. Also, select a liquid fertilizer that is high in nitrogen and apply this approximately every other week.

Standard citrus trees grow too big for indoors, but dwarf varieties are grafted onto special roots that limit their size and speed up fruiting. Growing them in containers keeps them smaller, too. If you’re new to growing citrus, start with dwarf types known to flourish and fruit well indoors. Easy-to-grow favourites, such as Meyer lemon, Key limes, Kumquats and Calamondin oranges, fit the bill.

When bringing pots in from outside before a frost, giving them a nice warm, slightly soapy wash will help to remove dust and any hidden pests, like a good wash should. They will also benefit from daily spritzing with plain water throughout the winter months to help raise the humidity level. When moving citrus from one area to another, do it gradually. Temperature fluctuations will stress the plant and can cause bud and/or fruit drop.

Grow Your Own Ginger

Nothing like fresh ginger in you’re morning green juice, herbal tea or turmeric latte. Although ginger can be sometimes ridiculously expensive, its also ridiculously easy to grow if your located within the right climate and yes Ginger is brilliant for containers on a warm balcony. A must try edible plant, thats also looks fantastic!

 

Ginger is a root crop. It doesn’t produce seeds, which is fine because all you need to grow ginger are some fresh rhizomes (literally some organic ginger) with living “eyes” on them. The eyes are growth buds from which the green shoots grow.

What are the steps to planting ginger? 

Just take them and plant them right into the soil if you live in a warm area, or into a big pot if you don’t. Then, wait. It sometimes takes a long time for ginger to send up shoots. The timing depends on the warmth of the soil, so if you plant when conditions are warm, you might see ginger in a few months. The best time to plant ginger in the ground is in late spring, as the soil has just started to heat up.

Ginger does best in semi-shade in warm climates and full sun in cold climates.  Plant rhizomes with buds facing upward in loose, preferably high in organic matter moist soil that drains well, it doesn’t need to be planted deep, just 2-4 inches deep in the ground or potting mix with just enough soil to cover the surface of the ginger.

Once your ginger has been planted, make sure you keep the soil damp, and don’t allow the soil to dry out completely. You will also need to monitor for drainage and adjusting your watering so your newly planted rhizome soil doesn’t become water logged which could result in your rhizome rotting.

Once the green shoots appear and this can take up to 4 months, then it’s a matter or monitoring, watering and occasionally feeding your ginger with an organic fertiliser, your ginger will grow up to 1m tall in which case you can begin to harvest the young roots which will have a mid-flavour or wait until it reaches maturity to get a much more stronger taste.

How does one grow ginger in a pot?

Growing ginger in pots is easy and great if space is a problem, It also doesn’t require direct sunlight and it mostly takes care of itself. It likes moist soil with good drainage, so the rhizome doesn’t rot and prefers semi-shade unless you’re in cold climate in which case it does best in full sun. With just a few pots, growing a year’s worth of ginger is possible.

Can you grow ginger indoors?

Most defiantly, since ginger is a tropical plant it likes the more humid spots indoors like steamy bathrooms or kitchens, just make sure that when indoors it’s receiving as much light as possible and if you can occasionally give it a holiday outdoors, so it receives much more direct sunlight. Ginger grown indoors is much milder and this related to the amount of sunlight is receives.

How long does it take to grow ginger before you can eat it?

It takes anywhere from 3-5 months to see shots appearing from you ginger and this is subject to the warmth of the soil, and an additional 4 months for the rhizomes (ginger root) to start developing. In all your ginger will be planted in spring, grow through summer and early autumn, this is when you will start to see your plant die back just in time for late autumn to early winter harvest.

Can you grow ginger in cold weather? What about hot weather?

Ginger originated in Southeast Asia, and like most tropical plants naturally prefers warmer weather, humidity and rich soil high in organic matter. It can definitely grow in cold weather as long as it not subjected to frost which can damage the rhizome, strong winds or poorly drained soil.If this is the case and your live-in areas that reach 5 degrees during spring to autumn, then your best to grow ginger in pots so they can be moved around to make the most of sunlight availability. 

In climates with frost, ginger is normally planted in early spring so that it can be harvested by May when the foliage starts to die back. Luckily for most of us in Australia our winter is considered mild, allowing for rhizomes to be left in the ground where they stay dormant until spring.

If your climate is hot and dry then your best to plant your ginger in the shade, making sure you keep the soil moist, so the ginger doesn’t dry out.  

How do you harvest ginger and how do you know its ready?

Ginger grown in pots should also be divided or harvested when the pot is full, normally 8–10 months after planting. To harvest, remove the leaf stalks and either tip out the whole contents of the pot or dig them out with your hands.  

If planted in a garden bed or in the ground, it’s a matter of watching, as the temperature cools, the foliage dies back naturally, indicating a good time to harvest. This happens right “on schedule,” for winter, as ginger is mature for harvest about eight months after planting.