View Full Version : me and my orange tree - turning shitrus into citrus
09-04-2004, 06:42 PM
hi all - yes, more questions. one day i'll have answers but everyone will just have to be patient.
how do i get back on talking terms with my orange tree? apart from desperately needing a feed, a few other problems have arisen. black leaf for starters. what's the best way to prune citrus so as to promote growth and fruit, whilst not stunting the poor thing? what/when to feed?
also, i'm currently making a no-dig around the tree. i haven't laid newspaper around the base just in case this cuts off the water. there are weeds and grass below the tree, will clearing and heavy mulching be the best option, or will the newspaper be fine? i understand the citrus roots are generally rather shallow out to around the drip-line. what, if anything, will share well around the base of citrus? i think someone mentioned chicory, or the lovely comfrey.
12-04-2004, 03:03 PM
I don't have lots of experience in this field, so I didn't jump in the other day when I first read this but noone else has offered any advice so...
Citrus are pretty heavy feeders from what I know, so although I would think that your no dig garden idea around the base wouldn't be a bad idea, you would probably want to add lots of organic matter and nitrogenous material as fertiliser for both your orange tree and the plants that grow under it...
I don't think that newspaper would cause too many problems, as long as the ground under the newspaper is nice and moist when you lay the newspaper down, and the newspaper itself is thoroughly moistened, and that you totally cover the newspaper with other mulches and then keep the whole lot regularly watered so that the paper doesn't dry out and wick moisture away from the ground and the roots of your tree.
Then again, I have heard that citrus do respond to water stress and provide good crops if they are denied water at the right time, and probably the fruit would tend to the sweeter side than the watery side I'm guessing, but then you would want to have a healthy tree in the first place before trying this wouldn't you? (So, I would sheet mulch away like crazy if I were you).
As for companions for citrus trees, I seem to remember Geoff expounding an observation that had been going around on the sunshine coast that young citrus trees were benefiting from an underplanting of some fleshy succulent type plant, the actual species I can't remember but it was maybe agapanthus or day lillies or something like that. I can't remember what the function might have been either, sorry. Maybe it was just something like the succulent leaves created a certain amount of humidity that the trees liked, or provided habitat for beneficial insects or deterred gall wasps, I don't know. Perhaps Geoff will read his own message board again one of these days, know what I'm trying to tell you about and let us all know...
14-04-2004, 07:23 PM
thanx mutta, been trying to scour every perma website and related book on the subject. actually, i've come across a rather big division on the whole newspaper mulching topic, not just concerning citrus. so, as i've laid newspaper almost everywhere else, i'm not going to use it on one spot. instead, i'll just mulch like crazy with hay and cut-n-drop material.
see what the weeds think of that!
gonna try some comfrey and chicory around the base as they're deep-rooted, and draw up nutrients for use by the shallow-rooted citrus.
thanx for your help as well.......
14-04-2004, 10:42 PM
Were the articles generally negative on newspaper mulching. I've been saving and collecting newspapers for months with the view to launching a major attack on weeds on my 1 acre place. Plan to lay newspaper and cover with sugar cane mulch. Just waiting till I get a bigger supply of paper so I can do large areas at a time.
16-04-2004, 09:36 PM
hi veggie boy. reports on newspaper use were mixed. i've used it anyway, as my gardens now sit on top of what was a useless mixed "couch and everything thing else lawn."
basically, try not to use coloured or glossy insert pages, for toxicity reasons. standard black and white is safe as far as i've found. whilst you don't want to keep it too thin, too thick will also cause problems as it will form an inpenetrable barrier blocking water going down and worms and other goodies coming up. i've found 6-8 pages thick is a good compromise. just make sure the ground is very wet before laying, as well as in between each layer of mulch/compost on top. i used rosemary morrow's book "earth user's guide to permaculture" as a rough guide. first, trim/mow surface. then wet area well. i sprinkled some lime to "sweeten" the soil, and some good organic fertiliser pellets made with everything from worm castings to blood and bone and other nutrients. then lay down wet paper, overlapping well. wet surface again. hay went down first, then organic mushroom compost, then more hay, then some straw mulch. be generous with each layer as they will settle and lower over time. be sure to wet each layer well whilst building.
only use cardboard on pathways (if at all) not under food beds due to the risk of boron leaching. whilst it is an essential mineral, for us too, we don't want that much of it.
so far, no unwanted plants have surfaced, and two-weeks of no rain or watering later, the body of the new garden below the top layer is still very nicely moist but not waterlogged.
the "other side" reckon mulching like crazy nice and thick will do just as good a job, without putting any kind of barrier (even though temporary) between bed and ground.
so, since i've run out of newspaper, now seems like a good time to try out both sides of the argument.
let's hope it works, or else i'm gonna learn some couch grass recipes.
18-04-2004, 09:49 PM
Comfrey is a great weed/grass barrier, plus will help draw up minerals otherwise hard to access which would be great for most plants, but is kind of a permanent planting(hard to get rid of). At my last place i used many herbs and flowering plants that would attract beneficial insects. Here, i am using mainly Pintos Peanut which fixes nitrogen as well as providing a living mulch which out competes the grass and weeds. I am also using Pidgeon Pea to help my trees establish and provide nitrogen and some feed for my chooks who get to roam these areas for grubs.
The Permaculture design manual recommends a selection of herbs and perennials around that drip line that will achieve the outcome you are looking for. This is adaptable for most fruit trees. The thing i like about that is the layering effect, achieving multiple yields from the same land area. eg. herbs, groundcovers, rootcrops and vines etc!
No simple answer here, the mulch is always a winner and i also use the manured bedding material from my chook pens where i dont have other things planted.
Good luck.... Dave
19-04-2004, 07:52 PM
thanx dave. i am trying both the pidgeon pea and pinto's peanut. the pidgeon pea is booming, almost ready to cut and drop, though the pinto is struggling a little. i think i'll need to sheet mulch an area first to help it get established, as there seems to be too much competition with the other grasses and weeds at the moment. from what of seen of other people's results, pinto does seem to do a fantastic job.
finally mulched/mushroom composted around and under the citrus the other day (no newspaper), and planted a whole heap of comfrey around the base out to the edge of the drip line. let's see what happens next.........
20-04-2004, 03:01 PM
I found it best to clear the ground as well b4 doing the pintos.... it does take a while to establish but now its pretty well much going on its own....
The Pidgeon pea is great b/c of how quick it grows.... dead simple to save your own seed too! My rule with Pidgeon pea is the more the merrier :)
Am making some nice Comfrey tea for trees now that it is well established.... it will respond well to giving it a haircut.
I am also using Arrowroot at the moment.... the chooks like it too.
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