I’ve just been out in the garden this morning and picked a couple of oranges to juice for breakfast.
What a lovely feeling to know that what you eat has been grown without pesticides, and hasn’t been sitting in some storage facility for months.
A glass of juice from a just picked orange is not only delicious but is so good for you. As well as being loaded with vitamin C it is also a rich source of vitamin A and B and also contains minerals like calcium, iron, sodium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and sulphur.
The white part of the peel is rich in vitamin C and pectin (dietary fibre, which is used as gelling agent).
Orange trees originally come from China but have been grown all over the world for over 100 years. Their leaves are dark green and waxy and the flowers are white and delicately scented.
The fruits can take up to six months to reach their full size and ripen, and can be left on the tree until you are ready to eat them.
Plant your tree in full sun and make sure you use plenty of organic matter to improve your soil.
As our soil is very poor I have used a mixture of homemade compost, sugar cane straw and animal manure. If you do this Citrus will grow in most soils provided it drains well.
You need to water your tree often especially during and immediately after flowering (this is typically in winter right through to spring) and apply fertiliser throughout the year. You may need to cover the tree if you are prone to frost.
I have found that there are three pests that attack my citrus – the Leaf Miner, Citrus Gall Wasp and Bronze Orange Bugs. I treat all of these with organic remedies. I have learnt to accept some markings on the skin of the fruit and don’t let this stop me from using it.
As well as fresh juice I use the oranges in a simple salad mixed with continental parsley leaves, finely sliced red onion and some kalamata olives. When I have lots of fruit I also make a simple orange marmalade.