Every winter, we are the lucky recipients of a bounty of citrus from both family and neighbors.
 
 
My fruit bowls and pantry are full of blood oranges, grapefruit, and lemons.
 
Citrus generally ripens during the winter and the cold snap that we had last week had many people picking the citrus fruit from their trees so that the fruit wouldn’t be damaged by the frost.
 
The problem arises that either I have too many lemons in winter and none in the summer unless I want to spend a ridiculous amount of money on lemons.
 
So, what do you do?
 
Well, I juiced them a week ago and made “lemon ice-cubes.”
 
Then, I promptly forgot about them until I was searching in the freezer for the chicken to thaw out for dinner.
So, I took them out and put my lemon ice cubes into freezer bags.
 
 
I have three freezer bags full of lemon ice cubes, which will last me through the coming year.
 
What do I use them for?  Well, many of my favorite dinner recipes call for a tablespoon or two of lemon juice, and they are great for making ice tea.
 
You can also save the lemon zest, (just before you juice them), and freeze the zest too.
 
 
My kids love grapefruit (I don’t) and have been eating some for both breakfasts and a snack.  They have also been taking the blood oranges to school in their lunch boxes.


My friend, Becky, from Tucson, made ‘Orange Peel Vinegar’ which she uses as a cleaner with her extra oranges.
 
What do you do with an overabundance of citrus?

In the Desert Southwest, we are fortunate to be able to grow citrus.  In early fall, your citrus tree probably looks like the one pictured, with green fruit that is getting ready to ripen in this winter.

 
It is time for the third fertilizer application to your citrus trees if you have not already done so.  Mature citrus trees require three applications of fertilizer – around Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day.
 
Citrus trees require nitrogen more than any other nutrient.  I recommend using a granular fertilizer specially formulated for citrus because, in addition to nitrogen, they also contain micronutrients, (iron, zinc, manganese), that are vital to the health of your citrus tree.  Citrus fertilizer spikes are also an option.
 
If you choose to use only organic fertilizer for your citrus, there are some natural products available, or you can use composted cow manure, working it into the top few inches of soil and watering it in afterward.
 
GENERAL GUIDELINES:
 
– Fertilizer should not be applied to newly planted trees – wait until they have been in the ground for one year.
 
– Water the soil around the tree before and after you apply fertilizer.
 
– Follow the directions on the fertilizer bag.  Be sure that you divide by three the annual amount of fertilizer needed by your tree – do not apply all at once!
 
– When in doubt, apply slightly less fertilizer then you think you need.  You don’t want to over-fertilize and end up with fertilizer burn.  Smaller trees require less fertilizer than larger trees.
 
– Apply granular fertilizer around the perimeter of the tree, extending just past the drip line.  Work into the top few inches of soil.
 
– Do not apply a foliar fertilizer when air temperatures are 85 degrees F or above because there is a danger of burning the foliage.
 
– For mature Grapefruit trees, (over six years old), apply only 1/2 the amount of fertilizer recommended on the fertilizer label because high amounts of nitrogen promote a thick rind (peel).
 
Get ready to enjoy the fruits of your labors this winter and get ready for March when we will discuss the correct way to prune and plant citrus.