Citrus are in full bloom now and its no wonder the sweet scented orange blossom was chosen as Florida’s state flower! The most popular orange variety is the seedless Navel – but don’t count out the Hamlin orange that is another tried and true favorite. Hamlin is the most popular juice orange, but, it is also a very sweet orange for hand eating. Ruby Red is the red grapefruit of choice, but again, don’t count out some the newer red varieties, Flame and Star Ruby, that are a deeper red and sweeter but the fruit is not quite as large as the Ruby Red. The best tangerine varieties for our area are the sweet Dancy (one of the oldest tangerine varieties that have the easy ‘zipper’ peel), the sweet Honey Murcott and the cold hardiest of the citrus, Satsuma tangerine. Minneola Tangelo ‘Honeybell’ is the tangelo of choice. Lemons and limes are ever bearing and produce fruit and flowers almost year round. For lemons the Meyer is favored over all others.
Limes are the most cold sensitive of the citrus and risk of freeze damage was certain until the Limequat was developed for its cold hardiness by crossing a Key Lime with a Kumquat, thus the name Limequat. The fruit is the size of limes, turns yellow when ripe and when cut open is the greenish-white color with a lime flavor.
We are often asked if you have to have two citrus for pollination – the answer is NO. You do NOT have to have two citrus for a tree to bear fruit.
Peach, Nectarine and Pears, Plums are all starting to bloom and will set fruit once the flower drops. Fruit will mature and ripen early to late summer.
Blueberries, Apples, Pears and Plums do REQUIRE TWO plants for pollination and fruiting. Fruits -Peach, Nectarine, Persimmon, Pomegranate and Fig do NOT require two plants. Some grape vine varieties do need two plants, but, the Muscadine varieties are self pollinating and only one is needed.
Here is a recommended spraying guide for the deciduous fruit trees:
Green Tip Stage: when branch tips show green tissue- spray
Pre bloom – when blossoms are present but not open-spray
Full Bloom – DO NOT apply any product
Petal Fall Stage: when the last petals have fallen off blossoms
1st Cover – 7-10 days after petal drop
For vegetable gardeners, green beans, lima beans, corn, cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, southern peas, peppers, squash and tomatoes can all be planted outside around the second week in March. For our northern areas, always be on alert for a late season bit of frost that may require you to cover your young plants. Watch for vegetable plants in both store locations. Container vegetable gardens can be grown almost anytime.
The best vegetable and herb growing container is without a doubt the EarthBox that comes with its own fertilizer and dolomite. The container has wheels that make it easy to move and not only grows vegetables and herbs but can be used for flowers as well. If you already have an Earth Box from the fall planting season simply dump the old soil and wash container well. Get one bag of potting soil and one EarthBox replant kit and you’re set to go another healthy, fruitful season!
Herbs are one of the easiest plants to grow and fill the air with their spicy fragrance.
Fresh chives, rosemary, fennel, oregano, marjoram, mints, parsley, sage, tarragon, and thyme will not only taste better in your recipes, but, are a lot less expensive to grow than the dried store-bought herbs. Mix them in the landscape, in your vegetable garden or plant them in pots. And don’t rule out creeping Rosemary for a beautiful, fragrant, evergreen, cold hardy ground cover!