Rob and I are up to our ears these days in homegrown citrus. We've got 19 trees, and just about every one is covered in glowing, golden, sunny fruit. We've got a Cara Cara orange, a Roble orange, a Hamlin orange, two Ambersweet oranges, two Kimbrough satsumas, two Owari satsumas, a Rangpur lime, two Meyer lemons, a Changsha tangerine, two Ponkan tangerines, a King Mandarin, a Nippon orangequat, a Nagami kumquat, and a Meiwa kumquat. We can't believe the bounty! We've got citrus fruit piling up on our counters, sitting on the breezeway in baskets, weighing down the trees, and riding around in my car.
Our trees seem to produce like magic. They don't require much maintenance at all. Rob sprays them with neem oil (for whiteflies) sometimes, and I fertilize them three times a year, in March, May, and July, with copious amounts of Holly-tone or Citrus-tone (24 cups for trees over 9 feet tall). But other than that, we just let them be.
We don't even have our trees planted in really choice spots. No, we've got them crammed into weird places around the house, mixed in with our camellias and wax myrtles and such—in shade and clay. I honestly don't know how they're doing so well.
Right now, we've got so much ripe citrus rolling in that we can't possibly eat it all. As a result, Rob spends most of his waking hours scheming about how to give it away. See, he's a very conscientious person, and he would never want any of our delicious citrus to go to waste. Plus, he's very friendly and kind and enjoys giving bags of homegrown citrus to people he barely knows.
"Next year we should buy some nice brown paper bags with handles so we can hand out our citrus in cute little gift bags," he said the other day. "When you give your citrus away in old plastic grocery bags, it just seems like trash. But if it comes in a nice gift bag, it seems more like a thing. We can even have a stamp made up so we can personalize the bags."
"What should the stamp say?" I asked.
"Spruce Pine Cottage Citrus," Rob suggested.
"How about Spruce Pine Cottage Citrus and Sundries?" I said.
"Hmm," Rob said. "I'm skeptical about the sundries. What are the sundries?"
I could tell he was worried I might be tempted to quit my full-time job with benefits and start my own small sundries business, so I decided to tease him a little. Rob is always concerned that I'm about to launch an ill-conceived business venture.
"Oh, I don't know," I smiled. "Waxed camellias . . . artisan bread . . ." (Rob has recently gotten into bread making, and I would love to learn how to wax camellias.)
"I don't think I want to get into sundries," Rob said.
"Citrus and Sundries does have a nice ring to it though, you've got to admit," I said, still teasing. "Maybe we could just tell people the sundries are sold out. . . ."
"Or we could just use plain bags," Rob said. "Yeah, on second thought, plain bags seems like the safest bet."
|Baskets of ripe Rangpur limes|