Using Citrus Seeds to Grow Your Own Citrus Fruit

May 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Gardening, Lifestyle, Living

Closeup of Citrus Seeds

Closeup of Citrus Seeds

Have you thought about growing citrus by planting your own citrus seeds?

Citrus plants are very fragrant, have beautiful flowers, and usually grow very well indoors. Citrus fruits are a healthy and delicious snack and can also add a lot of flavor to various gourmet dishes. But if you live in an area where citrus fruits aren’t in season all year round, or if you want to have control over what fertilizers and chemicals are used on the fruit that you eat, you can grow your fruit indoors at home using citrus seeds. Make sure that the seeds you use to start your plants are from a high quality supplier so that they have a better chance of growing properly. 

You don’t have to have a green thumb in order to successfully grow your own citrus at home.  If you are diligent about protecting the seeds and later the plants from drafts, direct sunlight, and other things that can kill or hurt newly grown plants then you should be able to successfully grow your own citrus fruit all year round. The first thing that you will need to start growing your own citrus fruit is seeds.  You can get seeds from a piece of fruit that you’ve eaten, or you can buy seeds from a nursery or home and garden center.

Once you have some high quality seeds you can start the seeds growing by planting them in a small pot using a mixture of potting soil and mulch.  To help the growth process of the plants place a cover of clear plastic wrap over the plants when they are not being watered. This helps to protect the growing plant from the cold and will make the citrus seeds germinate faster. The plants should be kept in a room where the temperature is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  It will take a few weeks for the plants to really start growing but after about three weeks you should start to see leaves growing.  When the plants are well established it’s time to transplant. 

Move the plants to bigger pots and use a good quality potting soil to make sure the plants get the nutrients they need.  Place the plants in a location where they can get plenty of sunlight but make sure it’s not direct sunlight.  Direct sunlight can be too harsh for young plants and can burn the newly developed leaves.  As the plant grows you will need to keep repotting it into bigger containers but the plant should always be kept in an area with bright sunlight and a temperature of about 70 degrees in order to get the best fruit.

The quality of the potting soil and even the water that you use can make a difference in whether or not the citrus seeds that were planted grow properly and eventually bear fruit.  Remember that because the plant is being grown indoors all the nutrients it needs have to come from the potting soil and choose a potting soil that is recommended for citrus plants. It’s best to use distilled water to water the plants so that the leaves aren’t harmed by any of the chemicals that are usually in tap water.

Tips on Growing Organic Citrus Fruit

May 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Fitness, Health, Lifestyle, Living

Over the last decade more and more consumers have demanded organically produce meat, dairy, produce and citrus products.  Organic products are healthier for consumers, and better for the environment. Most people who eat a lot of organic food swear that organic food, especially product like citrus fruit and dairy products, taste much better than other food.  Because of these benefits most customers who want organic citrus products are willing to pay a premium price for items that have been certified organic. But what does “organic” really mean? 

When a food item is certified organic it means that an overseeing FDA agency has looked at the farmer’s farming methods, checked out the pest control methods that were used on the item, made sure that no chemical fertilizers were used on the item, and that the item was grown in accordance with the rules and regulations that govern organic farming. Some famers claim their fruit is grown organically but have not been certified as organic farms which means that no outside agency has verified their claims of using only natural products to produce the fruit.

When it comes to citrus fruits “organic” refers to how the fruit is grown.  Organic farming uses only natural pest control and fertilizers and never uses chemical weedkillers or pest killers on the citrus trees as they are growing.  Fertilizers are usually mixed right on the premises and consist of potting soil, compost, hay, and other natural materials.  Growing citrus organically presents some unique challenges to citrus farmers because of the processes that they need to use in order to control pests and fertilize their citrus trees.

When people think of a citrus grove they usually think of a commercially managed grove full of well manicured citrus trees, but an organic citrus grove is a little more chaotic looking than a traditional commercial grove.  An organic citrus grove will usually have some type of ground cover plant hovering near the trees and there will be weeds everywhere. Weeds and ground cover encourage insects which are the natural predators of insects that destroy citrus trees to make their homes in the grove. Then those insects keep the pests that would ruin the citrus trees under control which eliminates the need for commercial pest control.  The ground cover plants also help insulate the citrus trees in case there is a cold snap or some other inclement weather that could damage the trees.

Another problem that organic citrus farmers face is the issue of how their final products look.  Commercially grown fruit is treated with preservatives and often covered with a thin layer of wax to prevent damage and to make it look more attractive. Organic fruit doesn’t have those cosmetic touches. Some buyers are put off by citrus fruit that can have dents or minor cosmetic flaws even though the organic fruit is healthier for consumers to eat.  Without preservatives organic fruit also must be rushed from the field to the market, which increases the cost of the fruit.  Even though organic farming is more time intensive and more expensive, which means the final product is more expensive, many farmers are switching to organic farming methods.

Understanding Organic Citrus

Citrus blossoms in bloom

Organic Citrus is gaining in popularity among today's consumers.

When it comes to citrus fruits “organic” refers to how the fruit is grown.  Organic farming uses only natural pest control and fertilizers and never uses chemical weedkillers or pest killers on the citrus trees as they are growing. 

Fertilizers are usually mixed right on the premises and consist of potting soil, compost, hay, and other natural materials.  Growing citrus organically presents some unique challenges to citrus farmers because of the processes that they need to use in order to control pests and fertilize their citrus trees.

When people think of a citrus grove they usually think of a commercially managed grove full of well manicured citrus trees, but an organic citrus grove is a little more chaotic looking than a traditional commercial grove. 

An organic citrus grove will usually have some type of ground cover plant hovering near the trees and there will be weeds everywhere. Weeds and ground cover encourage insects which are the natural predators of insects that destroy citrus trees to make their homes in the grove. Then those insects keep the pests that would ruin the citrus trees under control which eliminates the need for commercial pest control.  The ground cover plants also help insulate the citrus trees in case there is a cold snap or some other inclement weather that could damage the trees.
Another problem that organic citrus farmers face is the issue of how their final products look. 

Commercially grown fruit is treated with preservatives and often covered with a thin layer of wax to prevent damage and to make it look more attractive. Organic fruit doesn’t have those cosmetic touches. Some buyers are put off by citrus fruit that can have dents or minor cosmetic flaws even though the organic fruit is healthier for consumers to eat.  Without preservatives organic fruit also must be rushed from the field to the market, which increases the cost of the fruit.  Even though organic farming is more time intensive and more expensive, which means the final product is more expensive, many farmers are switching to organic farming methods.

The Tangerine is a Healthy Seasonal Delight With a Global History

The ever popular little fruit known as the tangerine is rich in history and tradition as well as being one of the tastiest, most nutritional and convenient-to-eat foods around.  The tangerine is actually a member of the mandarin family of oranges and is known to have been cultivated in China and Japan more than 3,000 years before being introduced to the West two centuries ago.  The tangerine is an important food source which contains essential nutrients and minerals such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium and many others.  Tangerine oil, which is extracted from the peel, is used for both cooking and for medicinal purposes. 

Tangerines are smaller than oranges, have a deeper orange skin, and the flesh inside is very juicy, usually with a mild, sweet taste.  Most varieties of tangerines have few or no seeds.  In the United States, the best time to eat tangerines is November through January, although when juiced at the right time, tangerine juice holds up to freezing very well.  Otherwise, they should stay in the refrigerator no longer than seven days to maintain their great taste and nutritional value.  The best tangerine to buy will be soft and puffy with a loose-fitting skin and feel heavy for its size.  It should also be glossy and pebbly-skinned, but don’t worry if there are small green patches near the stem.

To get the most of its nutritional value, the best way to eat a tangerine is to peel it raw and eat its luscious juicy wedges right off the skin.  Fresh tangerine wedges are also important ingredients to many healthful, nutritious recipes for meals and snacks at any time of day or night.  The tangerine peel is also used not only as a decorative garnish or grating, but when dried and cured properly can also be eaten as a glaze or preserve, like marmalade or jelly.  Many great recipes like tangerine peel beef or chicken or radish soup with dried tangerine peel can found with an easy online search.

Tangerine oil is extracted by a process of cold-pressing tangerine peel.  The use of the tangerine oil for medicinal applications came from China and is now used the world over for natural healing of all sorts of conditions, both internal and external.  It is perhaps most popular in the United States for aromatherapy benefits in cream, bath lotion or vapor form as the fragrance of tangerine oil has been shown to help soothe the nervous system and reduce tension and stress at the same time it boosts the digestive system.

The Little Tangerine Is One of Nature’s Most Versatile Foods

The orange is known as one of nature’s most perfect foods, and the tangerine, which is a hybrid in the mandarin family of oranges, is one of nature’s juiciest, most sweet-tasting delicacies. 

tangerineTangerines were first cultivated in China more than 3,000 years ago and didn’t reach Europe or the United States until the 1800s.  Now, in addition to East Asia, tangerines are abundant on the Mediterranean, Australia, India and the East Indies, as well as in California, Arizona, Texas and Florida.

The best months for tangerines are November through January in the United States and North America.  They are smaller than most oranges and tangerines of good quality will be glossy with deep orange, loose-fitting skins, heavy for their size and feel soft and puffy.  Tangerines can be safely stored in the refrigerator for up to seven days but also freezes well after juicing.  Most people like to peel them and eat them right off the skin, although fresh tangerine juice as well as frozen juice concentrate are easily available and very popular in the United States.  There are also many delicious and healthful recipes which use fresh tangerine wedges in main dishes, salads and desserts.

In addition to its uniquely sweet and mild, refreshing taste, the tangerine is an excellent source of nutrition, containing vitamins C, B1, B2 and B3, as well as potassium, magnesium, beta-carotene and folate.  The properties of tangerine oil have been used for centuries in medicinal applications to help relieve stress and tension, as well as digestive problems such as flatulence, diarrhea and constipation.  However, the most popular use for tangerine oil is for increasing circulation to the skin, preventing stretch marks and to reduce fluid retention.

The tangerine has spawned its own numerous tasty varieties of fruit from around the world as well as holiday tradition.  The Dancy tangerine is often referred to as the Christmas Orange since it is a tradition in many places for children to receive them in Christmas stockings.

Other hybrids include the popular Clementine, which comes from Spain and North Africa and is a small, sweet-tasting tangerine with no seeds.  Also known as the temple orange or royal mandarin, the tangor is a cross between a tangerine and an orange.  The cross between a tangerine and a pomelo (a large citrus fruit related to the grapefruit) resulted in the tangelo.  Of the tangelos, the Minneola is easily recognized by a little knob formation at its stem end and is one of the most popular tangerine varieties because of its juiciness and sweet, mild flavor.

The Tangerine Is A Delicious Little Fruit That Has Come A Long Way

May 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Citrus Varieties, Tangerines

The Tangerine is one of the most popular varieties of the citrus fruit commonly known as the orange. What many people may not realize is that the tangerine is actually an offshoot of the mandarin family of oranges.

Tangerines are grown in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, and their best seasons are November through January in the United States and North America. Tangerines are smaller than most oranges, peel more easily and are usually less tart or sour in taste than the average orange. In fact, most people love tangerines for their uniquely sweet taste.

The tangerine has a long history. Its name comes from Tangiers in Morocco, the port where the fruit was first shipped to Europe and Florida in the United States in the 1800s. But prior to that, tangerines had been cultivated in China and Japan for over 3,000 years. Tangerines on the Italian Mediterranean are very popular, but the fruit also grows abundantly in Japan, southern China, India, the East Indies and in Australia.

There are also many different varieties and hybrids of the tangerine. The tangelo is a cross between a tangerine and grapefruit or pomelo (a large citrus fruit related to the grapefruit), and its name is a combination of tangerine and pomelo. The Minneola tangelo is one of the most popular tangerine varieties, known for its juiciness and mild, sweet flavor and easily recognized by the little knob formation at its stem end. The Clementine, which is also known as the Algerian tangerine, is a small, sweet-tasting and seedless tangerine that comes from North Africa and Spain. The tangor is a cross between a tangerine and an orange and is also known as a temple orange or royal mandarin. While it is no longer as widely grown, the Dancy tangerine, whose peak season is December, is commonly known as the Christmas Orange since children would often receive them in their Christmas stockings.

The tangerine is a great source of vitamin C, beta-carotene and folate and also contains vitamins B1, B2 and B3, as well as potassium and magnesium. Tangerines are most popularly consumed by peeling and eating out of hand, but it can also be juiced or used in salads, main dishes or desserts. Tangerines can be stored in the refrigerator for up to seven days.

When going to the market to shop for tangerines, be sure to choose the fruit with glossy, deep orange skins. They should be firm to slightly soft and heavy for their size with pebbly skins and no deep grooves, although small green patches near the stems can be disregarded.

Have You Ever Heard of a Robinson Tangerine?

May 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Citrus Varieties, Tangerines

Pictured: Robinson Tangerine

Pictured: Robinson Tangerine

Robinson Tangerines

are one of the most popular of the citrus fruits on the market today. The hybrid mix that created them contains ¾ of the tangerine and ¼ of the grapefruit.

It was created in 1959 by Reece Gardner. The average size for the Robinson looks more like a tangerine, averaging in sizes between 2 ½ to 3 inches in diameter. The shape of it is flattened and has a small neck at the stem. The skin of Robinson tangerines is quite thin, making it an easy fruit to peel.

On average, the tangerine has up to 20+ seeds per fruit.. Cross pollination is used to cultivate these tangerines, so pollenizer trees are used, such as the Orlando, Temple, Sunburst or Lee. Those that aren’t planted through this method produce fewer seeds, fewer amounts of tangerines and are smaller in size. Cross pollination is used to increase productivity of the crops.

You will find Robinson tangerines harvesting between the months of October and December, so you can find them fresh during the fall and early winter. After sitting in the sun for a while, they tend to crack and the skin splits, which is a major problem farmers have.

The tree of Robinson tangerines grows upright and spreads and has brittle wood and dense foliage. The tree can withstand cold temperatures, but the tangerines cannot because they have thin skin. They perform well on most commercial rootstocks.

Why a Navel Orange is a Citrus Fruit For Many Choices

Fresh Navel Oranges from Florida

Fresh Navel Oranges from Florida

The Navel Orange is one of the most popular of the orange tree varietals and also one of the most unique and versatile.  Most people know that oranges have many important health benefits to humans.  Millions of people drink orange juice from navel oranges daily as a source of vitamin C, a main nutritional ingredient of navel oranges.  Vitamin C helps keep the human immune system strong, works to absorb iron in the body, helps heal wounds, and can even aid in preventing heart disease. 

Other important nutrients in navel oranges are beta-carotene, which prevents cell damage, calcium for strong, healthy bones, magnesium to maintain healthy blood pressure and potassium for cell electrolytes in balance.  The high fiber content in navel oranges can help improve cholesterol ratios in the body, which is important in controlling diabetes.  Other nutrients in navel oranges are also known to help to prevent other types of cancer as well, including stomach and esophagus cancer.  One of the best ways to get the right amount of these essential nutrients and others is to drink a fresh squeezed juice from a navel orange or to eat it right off the peel!

The navel orange is also a favorite addition to fruit salads or is used to make preserves or jams, such as the ever popular orange marmalade.  Orange oil from naval oranges is a byproduct of the orange peel which is used to flavor food and drink as well as an important ingredient for fragrance in perfumes and aromatherapy.  Orange blossoms can be dried and then used to make a delicious, aromatic tea.  Gardeners often use orange peels to repel slugs and other garden pests. 

Navel oranges are seedless, and the flesh inside is naturally very sweet and juicy, and its taste is very refreshing.  The blossom end of a navel orange looks like a human navel from the outside, which is how the fruit acquired its name.  When a neval orange is peeled, on the inside of the blossom end there is a partially formed, undeveloped conjoined “twin” fruit.  Although navel oranges are clones of a tree originally from Brazil, today they are a very important industry in the United States and grown primarily in Florida, Arizona and California.  Depending on your region of the country, fresh navel oranges are available from winter through late spring.  The kind of navel orange you should buy at the market is one that feels heavy for its size and has no soft spots, outward pitting or mold.

Health Benefits: The Fascinating History of Navel Oranges

Pictured: Oranges Preparing to Be Processed for Fresh Squeezed Florida Orange Juice

Pictured: Oranges Preparing to Be Processed for Fresh Squeezed Florida Orange Juice

Oranges are among the most popular fruits worldwide because of their unique, sweet and refreshing taste.  Also, because not only can they be found in great abundance and varieties, oranges have many important health benefits to the human body.  The navel orange, also known by its scientific term citrus sinensis, is one of the most popular of the orange tree varietals and also one of the most unique. 

Navel oranges are seedless, and once the peel is broken, the flesh inside is naturally very sweet and juicy.  From the outside, the blossom end of a navel orange looks like a human navel, which is how it acquired its name.  Inside, when a naval orange is broken or peeled, you can see a partially formed, undeveloped conjoined “twin” fruit on the blossom end. 

The antioxidant vitamin C is a main nutritional ingredient of navel oranges.  Millions of people drink orange juice from navel oranges daily as a source of vitamin C.  Vitamin C not only helps keep the human immune system strong, but it also helps the body absorb iron, works to heal wounds, and can even help prevent heart disease.  The human body does not naturally produce vitamin C on its own, so one of the best ways to get the right amount of this essential nutrient is to drink a fresh squeezed juice from a navel orange or to eat it right off the peel.

Other nutrients in navel oranges are also known to help to prevent cancer as well, such as stomach and esophagus cancer.  The high fiber content in navel oranges can help improve cholesterol ratios in the body, which is important in controlling diabetes. 

Beta-carotene is another antioxidant found in navel oranges which helps prevent cell damage.  Navel oranges also contain calcium, which promotes strong, healthy bones and vitamin B6 to boost production of hemoglobin in the bloodstream. The high potassium content in navel oranges helps maintain the balance of electrolytes in cells, and its magnesium helps keep blood pressure at an acceptable level.

But one of the most unique things about the naval orange is its history.  To this day, all navel oranges are clones which still originate from a tree in Brazil from almost 200 years ago.  This single tree propagated spontaneous clones and led to being grown in other regions. 

These mutations can only be cultivated through tree cuttings and being grafted onto other trees.  Producing navel oranges is considered a very big industry in the United States and economically important to California, Florida and Arizona where they are primarily grown.

Essential Nutrients Make Navel Oranges One of Nature’s Most Important Foods

Red Navel Oranges, often called "Ravels"

Red Navel Oranges, often called "Ravels"

The citrus sinesis, also known as the Navel Orange, is one of the most popular, unique and versatile of the orange tree varietals.  The navel orange can be cut open and eaten right off the peel, squeezed and drunk as a juice, a favorite addition to fruit salads, or even turned into preserves or jams, such as the ever popular orange marmalade.  Orange oil from naval oranges is a byproduct of the orange peel which is used to flavor food and drink as well as for fragrance in perfumes and aromatherapy.  Gardeners often use orange peels as a slug repellent.  Orange blossoms can be dried and then used to make a delicious, aromatic tea.

Fresh navel oranges are available from winter through late spring, depending on your region of the country.  When you go to the market, the kind of navel orange you should look for is one that feels heavy for its size and has no soft spots, outward pitting or mold. 

Navel oranges are seedless, and the flesh inside is naturally very sweet and juicy.  From the outside, the blossom end looks like a human navel.  When a naval orange is peeled, there is a partially formed, undeveloped conjoined “twin” fruit on the blossom end on the inside. 

Although navel oranges originally came from Brazil, today they are grown primarily in Florida, Arizona and California, and the navel orange cultivation industry is very important in the United States.

In addition to their sweet, refreshing taste, navel oranges are also well known and considered very important for their health benefits, especially the antioxidant vitamin C, their main nutritional ingredient.  Every morning millions of people drink orange juice from navel oranges as a source of vitamin C. 

The human body does not naturally produce vitamin C on its own.  Vitamin C not only helps boost the human immune system, but it also prevents heart disease, aids in healing wounds, and helps the body absorb iron.  One of the best ways to get the right amount of vitamin C is to drink a fresh squeezed juice from a navel orange or to eat it right off the peel.

There are other health advantages to consuming navel oranges as well.  The fiber content in navel oranges can help improve cholesterol ratios in the body.  Beta-carotene is an antioxidant found in navel oranges which helps prevent cell damage.  Other nutrients in navel oranges are also known to help to prevent other types of cancer as well, including stomach and esophagus cancer.