I’m sure you must be looking at this picture, thinking, “Obviously, this is an orange tree.” And you would be correct.
But last year, I didn’t have an orange tree. I had a tree filled with bright green orbs all over, and I plucked them all at this stage, thinking they were limes. Don’t laugh.
When I moved into my house last summer, most of the fruit trees were not in good shape. The previous owners had said the mulberry was barely fruiting, and the avocado tree — despite being at least a couple decades old — gave them less than a dozen avocados. So when I bit into my “lime” and found it dry and bitter, I blamed it on poor fertilization. Or poor watering. Or maybe it was still a little unripe — never considering that maybe it was still a lot unripe!
After I harvested all those awful limes, after I squeezed them over fish tacos and dunked them into beer, I found out that the tree was, in fact, a Valencia orange tree. And the few fruits I had left on the tree because I couldn’t reach them eventually ripened to a brilliant orange color, with the sweetest, juiciest flesh inside.
This year, I finally have an orange tree!
Perfectly round, tender fruits dangle like Christmas ornaments from tree branches. Winter citrus always perks me up after feeling a little sad that the bounty of summer has passed. Now that I’ll have a real harvest of oranges soon, I need to start conditioning my arms for all the juicing I’ll be doing!