The Cottage Smallholder

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Hardy orange trees: Calamondin


Photo: Hardy orange tree

Photo: Hardy orange tree

We are trying to become less dependant on imports to the UK. One key ingredient that we lack at the cottage are easily grown citrus fruits. We have a greenhouse which is chock-a-block in the winter so an ordinary citrus tree would have to live in the cottage for the winter months.  We reckoned that our tiny windows and poor light would make a citrus tree suffer and go straggly.

Ages ago I bought what can only be described as an expensive lemon twig on Ebay. It was given the affection that only a proper bountiful tree deserves. Kept in the greenhouse it remained a uniped with leaves for the entire summer. It tottered through the winter and eventually was rescued by a citrus tree lover who has a conservatory. Since then I’ve just looked at citrus trees at garden centres and dreamt of conservatory shaped future.

Browsing through Sutton’s special offers my eye fell on a Calamondin orange tree. This can withstand temperatures of -5c. It could have survived last winter’s deep freeze in our garden.

The offer was a good one. Thompson and Morgan had been selling similar ones for a lot more and only ship these until early March. A big outlay but if they produce citrus fruits for years to come – a bargain.

The tree was delivered this morning. It needs a bit of TLC to get over the journey – it was upside down in the box. I couldn’t resist sampling one of the little oranges that had dropped off in transit. The flavour was incredible, sweet and sour and bursting with a concentration of orange flavour that I’d never tasted before. Just a half of this diminutive fruit squeezed into a long glass of water the perfect refresher for a hot day in the garden.

We had planned to set it in the round border to replace the Japanese maple in the winter. It is three feet high (including pot). Any tips for orange tree care would be greatly appreciated as it needs to be at least another foot high to be seen over the box hedge.

Though I suspect that it will slip into the greenhouse come the first frosts. Having tasted the fruit I’d hate to lose it.

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  1. Helen Jones-Gill

    Hi, I have had a calamondin tree fruiting on the kitchen window sill since may.
    I live in Kent in the UK.
    It has fruited twice, with the second starting soon after the first lot of ripe fruit were cut of with scissors.
    It was poorly when I first got it but after a slow start it has produced many flowers and fruit.
    I have noticed that it only drops leaves when over watered so now I only water the saucer every other day with an egg cupful, it is heavy with fruit as I write and I am looking for recipes as I would like to try and make a liquer with the fruit or ice cream.
    I feed the calamondin and all the lemon trees in my south facing garden once a month with warm boiled water from the kettle and citrus feed.
    The lemons have about 8 lemons on each plant.
    The calamondin and the lemon trees are all in pots filled with citrus compost bought from b&q.

    I have also managed to grow 5 calamondin baby plants by cutting and drying the pips from one of the fruit, also currently growing huddled in a pot on the window sill in the kitchen. Citrus soil in the pot and grit on top of the soil.

    The scent from the flowers is the first thing you smell when you walk in the house and I have had neighbours and friends ask me if the fruit are real or plastic!
    Which is so funny.

    The lemons will overwinter back in the unheated greenhouse with bubble wrap around their pots and I don’t water them through Dec and Jan.
    The calamondin will stay where it is and it’s babies.
    I love them, such a cheerful little tree. X

  2. daisy_winnie

    unfortunately it’s long gone now although i have been less of a pushover since and now get asked before anything of mine is moved/binned/altered in anyway, shape or form, only had to stamp my feet a little bit (don’t like doing this but on this occassion it worked) they now have an understanding that my way may not be their way but seeing as though i live here and they dont, at this house, my way goes. And i’m much nicer to be around now that i’m not constantly being wound up. The broccolli that hasn’t produced any broccolli has not been pulled up because the dogs like playing in it and it keeps them off my tomatoes which have produced tomatoes. My garden may be a mess but its not the end of the world, it’s fenced in and no one can see it except us, there’s plenty of other things to be worried about. Sorry rant over now, xxx

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