Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Indoor Citrus

Mid-winter in Wisconsin can be dreary. As an urban farmer, I spend my winter perusing seed catalogs, planning next summer's veggie beds, mapping out crop rotation, and baking lots of pies and tarts with last summer's fruit harvest. 

Last winter I began indoor citrus. I purchased a bag of Meyer lemons from Trader Joe's in January 2015 and saved all the seeds from the lemons. (I also bought a bag of organic limes, only to discover they were seedless. Buyer beware!) I germinated the seeds in a small plastic bag with damp paper towels. It was easy. Then I transplanted the little seedlings into light soil and watched them take off.

To add variety to my indoor citrus grove, I purchased four trees from an online vendor---a Meyer Lemon, a Venous Orange, a Key Lime and a Mediterranean Olive tree. These trees were more mature than the seedlings I had started myself. The Meyer Lemon produced two blossoms and eventually two beautiful lemons. One of them we harvested over the weekend, which you see in the photo at the top of this blog post.

All the citrus seedlings grew rapidly over the summer. In November I transplanted them into slightly larger pots. It's been a challenging winter for my citrus trees. They have dropped nearly all their leaves and generally expressed their displeasure at my care. Nevertheless, these sturdy trees are producing tiny new shoots and leaves where the old ones fell off.

Watering citrus trees is tricky. They prefer dry soil, but not parched. It's taken me months of guessing to ascertain if I'm over- or under-watering. Finally, I purchased a moisture meter with a long probe to help me determine when to water.

This isn't an instant gratification project, but one taste of that sweet lemon juice (yes, Meyer Lemons are sweet, not sour) has motivated me to keep my citrus grove growing. It gives me hope in the winter months.