Dwarf Citrus Trees

By Tracy Wu / Photography By Tracy Wu | January 18, 2017
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Small Package, Big Benefits

Ever dreamed of picking oranges from your very own dwarf citrus tree and squeezing them for breakfast? Well, you’re in luck! We have one of the nation’s largest dwarf citrus tree producers right here in Northern California.

Four Winds Growers specializes in growing dwarf citrus trees—which are compact enough to suit apartment dwellers, urbanites and suburbanites, maxing out at six to eight feet tall. They’re little trees but bear standard-sized fruit. Planted in a container of roughly 20 inches diameter, a dwarf citrus tree is easily transferrable between office foyer and outdoor lunch area, living room and backyard porch. Dwarf citrus trees are low maintenance to suit busy lifestyles, and these evergreen shrubs will add pop and color to your surroundings all year round.

Four Winds Growers operates a seven-acre nursery in a pleasant little valley a few miles past Winters’ century-old Main Street. Down a meandering gravelly dirt road through stone fruit orchards and over a narrow one-vehicle bridge the vista opens up to large open-air greenhouses and citrus fruit of all shapes, sizes and flavors. Work on the farm starts at 6am, and by mid-morning large trucks are pulling up at the loading dock to begin delivering dwarf citrus trees all through the United States and Canada.

You’ll know that your dwarf citrus tree is happy if it’s showing new growth and looking healthy overall. Don’t stress over occasional fruit drop during summer heat spikes or a few yellow leaves—that’s all normal. To get your dwarf citrus tree situated comfortably Four Winds Growers’ sales and marketing director and fruit specialist Ed Laivo advises you to let your tree acclimatize for a few days upon arrival before repotting. Use an acid-based potting soil and avoid potting soils that contain plastic polymers. If you like the look of a ceramic pot make sure you use a plastic liner inside to allow heat to escape, and elevate the plastic liner to ensure excellent drainage.

Even if your porch is seldom drenched with sunlight there’s a dwarf citrus tree suitable to call your place home. Tart citrus fruits like lemons and limes will flourish in partial shade. Recommended varieties include the Improved Meyer lemon and Bearss Seedless lime. Keep your dwarf citrus tree in the living room or out on the front porch, according to your whims or to take advantage of good weather. Outdoor dwarf citrus trees will need to be watered at least once a day, while indoor trees only need to be watered twice a week. As Laivo told me, “Sugar is brought out by the sunlight and heat,” so just remember not to place a sweet citrus like a Pixie mandarin or a Shamouti Sweet orange in a shady corner!

Four Winds Growers offers exciting, fun varieties like the Cocktail grapefruit—a hybrid of the Siamese Sweet pummelo and the Frua mandarin—and the wildly pronged, fragrant Buddha’s Hand, and the judaically significant Etrog citron. You can also find the Calamondin, a prolific sweet-and-sour citrus handy for cooking Indonesian and Filipino cuisines. Or pick up the Kaffir lime, used heavily in Thai cooking for its essence and skin, and aesthetically pleasing with its glossy red spring foliage.

Four Winds Growers even has on hand the petite Australian finger lime—currently the belle of the ball with its burst of tangy-flavored caviar-size vesicles featured prominently at upscale restaurants and trendy drinking spots. They also carry in stock perennial favorites like mandarins including Gold Nuggets, Kishu, Satsuma and Page, among other varieties. Currently in the developmental pipeline at Four Winds Growers is a lemon-lime tree that will produce both little dark-green limes and their bright yellow chromosomal cousins, the handy-dandy lemons.

Once you’ve got your dwarf citrus tree installed get ready to enjoy conveniently homegrown citrus flavors. Citrus fruit will stay fresh even if you leave it on the tree up to four months after the fruit first ripens. In fact, if you allow the citrus fruit to linger on the tree its sugar content will rise and its acid content will drop. Use citrus zest to flavor poultry and fish dishes. Make a weekend project of candying citrus peel and baking a truly from scratch lemon meringue pie. Pick the fruit off your dwarf citrus tree and impress friends on the weekend by assembling cocktails such as a Screwdriver, Lemon Drop or Greyhound (orange/lemon/grapefruit + vodka).

Find Four Winds dwarf citrus trees online or at nurseries near you.

Article from Edible Silicon Valley at http://ediblesiliconvalley.ediblecommunities.com/shop/dwarf-citrus-trees
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