Citrus Hedge

This weekend, we planted a hedge of citrus trees. Ever since I was little, the idea of semi self-sufficiency has appealed to me.  Now that I have children, the desire is even stronger.  

The plan is to try to get all the fruit trees in over the next couple of months so that they can get established before summer hits.  So we started with a row of various citrus trees along the Northern boundary.

The soil in this particular spot isn't great.  It's quite compacted as it was a driveway into the neighbouring property when the two were adjoined and it's pretty dense clay. We had some large holes drilled with a bobcat, however, since the ground is such heavy clay, the holes may act like a large pot, trapping water and causing the roots to go around and around rather than spreading out into the ground. 

This is the ground we are working with.  The hole is actually much deeper but a heap of dirt fell back in.

This is the ground we are working with.  The hole is actually much deeper but a heap of dirt fell back in.

Lynette from 'Have a Dig' Nursery who I bought the trees from, suggested that we use a pick axe around the edges of the holes to loosen the dirt and encourage the roots to spread. To combat the drainage issue, we have built the soil up above the ground in a mound and have begun work to improve the surrounding soil. We are hoping that in time, continual composting, fertilising and mulching will help break down the clay and create a rich growing environment for our trees.

Here's how we did it...

We used a pick axe to loosen the dirt around the edge of the hole.  We also put in a good handful of gypsum and then mixed some fertiliser and good soil in with the existing dirt.

We used a pick axe to loosen the dirt around the edge of the hole.  We also put in a good handful of gypsum and then mixed some fertiliser and good soil in with the existing dirt.

I used gypsum to break the clay and Dynamic Lifter for fertiliser.

I used gypsum to break the clay and Dynamic Lifter for fertiliser.

We mixed the clay soil and good soil from near our creek in together to fill the holes 3/4 of the way.  Then we planted the trees partially above the ground and made a mound around them to allow for better drainage.

We mixed the clay soil and good soil from near our creek in together to fill the holes 3/4 of the way.  Then we planted the trees partially above the ground and made a mound around them to allow for better drainage.

Millie, my off-sider/horse manure stealer.

Millie, my off-sider/horse manure stealer.

Once all the trees were planted, we sprinkled gypsum and dynamic lifter on the ground in between the trees and all around them where we hope the roots will eventually grow.

Once all the trees were planted, we sprinkled gypsum and dynamic lifter on the ground in between the trees and all around them where we hope the roots will eventually grow.

Next we put down cardboard to suppress the grass and covered it in dirt and horse manure to build a mound that will breakdown into the ground below. We plan to continue adding compost and mulch to improve the soil. (Notice jamie is out of his moustache phase and has now entered into skin head phase)

Next we put down cardboard to suppress the grass and covered it in dirt and horse manure to build a mound that will breakdown into the ground below. We plan to continue adding compost and mulch to improve the soil.

(Notice jamie is out of his moustache phase and has now entered into skin head phase)

Then we put a thick layer of mulch over it and watered it in.

Then we put a thick layer of mulch over it and watered it in.

The varieties I planted are:

Eureka Lemon, Ruby Grapefruit, Tahitian Lime, Kaffir Lime, Imperial Mandarin, Empire Mandarin, 2 varieties of Valencia Orange (an early and late fruiting variety) and a Navel Orange. We are also going to add a tangerine when we can get our hands on one.

We've been told that we have to pull off all the flowers for the next three years so that the plants can put all their energy into growing rather than producing fruit.  I'm quietly hoping that they live that long. The neighbours pigs have gotten out and come to visit a few times this week so it's motivating me to get serious about our fencing. I've had another neighbours cows come wandering over once before and apparently they love fruit trees! The fence is planned for Jamie's next days off. Fingers crossed we don't get any more hoofed visitors before then. 

Here it is all finished...

And me feeling pretty happy with myself that all the trees survived the night xx

And me feeling pretty happy with myself that all the trees survived the night xx