As a kid I remember visiting a some folk who lived in the country, and them having an absolutely huge mandarin tree. I’ve wanted on of my own ever since, but haven’t had the space.

So… we thought we’d put this part of the yard to good use.

The Orchard

This is the very top of the property, a relatively sheltered spot that gets a heck of a lot of sun. There is already a peach tree coming along nicely, and a feijoa that doesn’t seem to want to fruit (it’s in poor soil and is needing a heck of a lot of TLC, along with another tree to mate with). Consequently we’re calling it ‘The Orchard’.

In the distance there you can see where I’ve put the tree. It’s sheltered from the Southerly, the coldest wind, is on a sloped bit of the Orchard, and has quite dry soil. This means we’re 50-50 on the needs of this particular type of tree.

Chop-chop kitty! Gotta get this dug!

The first thing to do was to dig a very large hole. Citrus, like many fruit trees, have a number of small fibrous roots they use to draw in nutrients when they being to produce. This means that soil with heavy clay is no good. It prevents the roots from extending out, and makes it hard for the tree to draw up what it needs. They also cause the deeper roots to become waterlogged.

What I’ll eventually do is box the area around this particular tree, dig down enough to break up the clay, and fill the boxing with mulch. This matter will break down into the type of soil this plant likes, and hopefully encourage it to fruit healthily. Hence the next photo. As you can see I’ve dug a keyhole shape, with the lower portion forming a ‘drain’ of sorts for water. The intention is for water to run out of this key and downhill, preventing waterlogging of the roots (hence the sloped aspect).

What my able assistance there is doing is putting river stones into the channel. I would have also added sand, but it was too expensive to buy, and salty sand wasn’t good. These should stop the channel from clogging again, and perhaps even encourage the shallow roots to grow along. Time will tell.

And here we go!

Clementine, a good all-round mandarin tree

One plant in the ground. These photos we taken a couple of weeks ago, and the tree is still doing well. I dropped it into the hole, and filled the space with the familiar mix of the original clay, some gypsum, peat moss, and compost. I’ll eventually get around to removing those sods I’ve put on top to stop the soil washing away, box the entire plant out to about 9 square metres, turn over all the captured soil, and begin about three years of mulching… seriously.

Apparently you can’t let them fruit for three years, as it inhibits root growth.

But no one ever said gardening gave immediate results, right?