Home Is Where Your Trees Are

Citrus Fruits

All the citrus fruits came from the Orient by way of Asia Minor, the Mediterranean, and Spain-Portugal. Columbus took them to the West Indies whence munching Indians spread them wild, and sweating settlers cultivated them, clear across the warm zones of the Americas. Crossbreeding has evolved many hybrids with exotic names and characteristics, some of them hardy enough to be grown as far north as Wilmington, Delaware; Memphis, Tennessee; and Riverside, California. Home owners south of these points and in Hawaii have a wide range of species to experiment with, and vast stores of local lore to draw on for advice.

Growing one's own oranges, limes, lemons, and grapefruit (so called because they grow in clusters) is a pastime throughout the sunshine belt almost as popular as golf, shuffleboard, and girl-watching. Embraced in the modern citrus spectrum are such surprise fruits as the "tangelo," a cross combining the tangerine's loose skin with much of the grapefruit's size, and the tastes of both. The "lime-quat" is a lime-kumquat mongrel that is delicious raw or in marmalade.

As a group, the citrus fruits are easy to plant and cultivate under average conditions of soil moisture and fertility. Once shaped as youngsters, they require little pruning throughout their lives which can outrun their owners'. The bacteria, fungi, and insects which attack the citrus families are more easily controlled by spraying than is the case with pomes and stones. Fumigation with hydrocyanic gas (under tents, at night) can give protection for up to three years, but this had best be done by professional operators, and supplemented by sprays to combat certain insects ordinarily controlled by beneficent agents which the fumigant wipes out.