Creating a Citrus Tree Sub-Climate: Planting lots o’ trees

Introduction

Phew, its been a long and busy weekend. My aunt came up to spend the weekend with us, and we went to this place down the road that was selling trees. I had stopped by there before and saw they had mayhaws so we wanted to see what else they had. Well it turns out that on Saturday they were having a 5 dollar off all Trees sale, so since we knew we were in the market for trees, we backed the truck up (literally). We walked out with 11 trees; A lemon, a key lime, 3 apples, 2 peaches, 3 mayhaws and another Fig. I should note that we have had 5 Citrus trees sitting around here waiting for us to be 100% sure of where we were going to plant them. Well we went with the plan that we had came up with and it looks great.

Design

The over arching design requirements was to place our citrus trees so they receive the most amount of sun all year long and are protected as much as possible, as well as being quite close to the house, compared to other tree varieties. Since many citrus varieties can stay on the trees for quite a while, they can be harvested as needed from the house. Also some citrus varieties such as Lime, require a good bit of time feeling them for the right time to harvest them, and they don’t all ripen at once, this makes them pretty much a zone 1-2 plant. I have wanted to start treeing up the front yard and starting to make it more private, so placing them in the front yard was the first choice. It gets the most intense sun in the mid day to afternoon and receives zero shade, even with the large trees on our Southern Border.

So the design was to place the trees on the outer edges of the circling front yard, creating effectively a sun trap where no tree would be shaded, however, still protected from winds via the house.

Tree List

Improved Meyer Lemon
Klementine Madarine
Key Lime
Blood Orange
LA Early Satsuma
St Ann Satsuma
Amber Sweet Orange

Pictures Galore

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Here are some of the addons that we put in. Some of my compost (in the bucket), egg shells, root innoculant, a cover crop (for around the base of the tree) of a winter rye, vetch combo, and i’m trying out some Pintoy Peanut.

 

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First we laid out the trees where we wanted them.

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I would then come in and do some scalpel work of clearing off the grass, then getting as much of the top soil off leaving the contractors leveling clay.

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I would break up some of the top of the leveling clay because it was extremely compacted.

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Christine digging out the hole past the contractors clay, past a grey clay getting to the better sandy loam.

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Bella and Christine did most of the work clearing the holes.

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This is what happened when we didn’t dig deep enough to get through the contractor clay and even past the grey clay. This was a soaking wet mess that just wouldn’t drain.

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Us redeciding exactly where to put the Key Lime. Unlike all the other trees it said it was a 15-20 foot tall tree. (The others said 10). So I think we’ll be pruning it to size if it is that tall.

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Instead of using a shovel, Bella thought it would be a good idea to use her hands in the rabbit poo. Just look at that face.

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Spreading it by hand.

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The dogs having a blast.

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Here it is all completed. 2 half day work. Hopefully the few plants we did do well. The latter ones we got the hang of it, and really improved the soil with some top soil and compost/peat moss we got at the store. The others didn’t have that treatment.

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From the front.

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These dogs just looooove to play.

Conclusions and Future Plans

Here in a year or two I’ll have to take another picture of what it all looks like, and hopefully we cleared up the soil enough for the roots to really take off. This isn’t the only thing we’re doing to this yard. We’ll be taking out as much of this grass as possible putting in all sorts of small bushes and adding a lot more blueberry bushes. (The ones that look dead in the pictures, are actually recovering quite well and finally putting on some good solid new growth.) I will be looking to establish pinto peanut and comfrey at the base of the trees and eventually tucking in some other things like elder berries and what not. Perhaps some perennial flowers as well. We also talked about making a small sitting patio in the middle of circle for a nice place to sit down and enjoy the scenery.

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