Edible gardening guide

How to grow delicious vegetables, herbs, and fruit at home

7 best citrus trees to grow

When life gives you lemons, do what one Orange County couple does: Make Meyer lemonade for the neighbors

Citrus gardeners
Photo by Andrea Gómez Romero; written by Sharon Cohoon

Meet the gardeners

When Diane Cu and Todd Porter bought their home in Costa Mesa, California, they immediately set out to do a serious makeover on the 1/4-acre backyard. The foodie couple wanted an orchard of citrus trees, where presumably the juice would flow from fruit to kitchen.

“Citrus is important in every cuisine. That bite of acidity brightens food,” Diane explains. But different cuisines use different types. “We wanted access to things like kaffir [aka kieffer] limes for Thai dishes and yuzu for Japanese ones.”

They started planting within days of moving in, eight years ago. Today, recipes and gardening tips go on their popular White on Rice Couple blog (whiteonricecouple.com), which they started in 2008. The two are certainly at zero risk for scurvy, with 21 vitamin C–bearing trees producing, Todd estimates, 600 pounds of citrus per year. But 600 pounds is a lot for two. So they started an informal citrus club—a way to connect with friends, using their copious yield.

“We invite a bunch of people, hand them all brown paper bags, and send them to ‘the farmyard’ to fill up,” Diane says. That’s where 15 types of citrus trees grow, from Eureka lemons to ‘Buddha’s Hand’. Next is a sit-down meal inspired by the citrus in season. Friends leave with recipes and, as long as they’re locals, a bag of fruit (parts of Southern California and Arizona are under quarantine; see sunset.com/citrus-pest). “Citrus is a crop that carries a certain aura of glamour,” Diane says. “And it cheers everyone up, especially in winter.”

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