Oranges, lemons, limes, tangerines … all citrus fruits are delicious and high in valuable vitamin C and other nutrients. If you live in a moderately temperate area where winter temperatures rarely drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, one or more citrus trees are good additions to your property. Attractive evergreens, citrus trees also produce sweet-smelling blossoms in early spring and later in the season reward you with their juicy fruit. Keeping citrus trees healthy and producing well is easy—all you need is a little organic fertilizer, which you can make yourself.
Making Organic Citrus Fertilizer
Give your tree plenty of nitrogen in spring, such as lawn clippings and composted chicken manure. Because citrus trees are not fond of heavy mulch, hoe or spade your lawn clippings or manure lightly into the soil around the tree’s trunk, but be careful not to dig into the root system.
Apply phosphorus, which citrus trees also need in order to produce plentiful flowers and, later, lots of fruit. You can purchase phosphate rock at your garden center. Sprinkle it around the tree’s drip line (for mature trees, 1 to 2 feet from the trunk in a doughnut pattern). Then water it in well. Phosphate rock also provides calcium to the soil.
Make compost from fallen leaves, last summer’s old tomato plants, other remnants from your garden and other organic materials. Also in spring, lightly dig this compost into the soil around the tree’s drip line.
Make compost tea from worm castings, chicken manure or compost and water your tree with this mixture several times during its growing season in the spring and summer months. To make compost tea, fill any size bucket half full with water and half full with your fertilizer material. Add 2 tbsp. of molasses for each gallon of tea and then let the mixture steep for up to one week. Strain it through cheesecloth or panty hose and then water your tree with it.
Spray the tree’s leaves with your compost tea. Foliar feeding is a good technique for getting nutrition to the plant through its leaves. You can use a small hand-spray bottle or a larger sprayer if you need to reach the top of taller trees. Compost tea that you apply in this manner can also help the plant to fight off insect pests.