It took me a few years to find a Meiwa Kumquat Tree. Nagami Kumquats? Everywhere. All local nurseries carry them. Meiwa… No, sorry, we cannot order them, would you like a Nagami instead?
Now, what’s the difference, you’ll ask? Why do you care? Kumquats are exotic enough, do you need to be that picky? Well, yes, I need to be that picky. Nagami is the well known kumquat with the oval-shaped fruit. The rind is sweet, the flesh is tart. I like them, they are great for marmalade and sauces. But you know, I had tasted better. There is this gigantic kumquat tree at the home of a local gardener bearing an abundance of round sweet fruit. Not as tart as a Nagami, since both the rind and the flesh are sweet. I like it much better to eat fresh out of hand. This is the kumquat tree I wanted, the Meiwa kumquat.
It turns out that availability was restricted due to rootstock incompatibilities that were causing Meiwa trees to die early. Apparently now the right rootstock is being used because the tree is back in the nurseries. I finally brought one home.
Kumquats are excellent container plants, with compact habit, small leaves, showy fruit, and often grafted onto dwarfing stock. They are the most cold hardy among the citrus, temperatures below 20F will do little damage to their foliage. Even a potted tree will produce enough fruit to enjoy fresh, to make a jar or two of marmalade and to slice on top of arugula for a colorful winter salad–add a few toasted pine-nuts and enjoy. Besides Meiwa and Nagami, another variety worth looking for is Fukushu, a dwarf tree with round, sweet and juicy fruit.
My dear Meiwa was not looking good, though. Leaves were too yellow for my taste. I fed it with a solution of fish emulsion and kelp, and it did look better for a while, but soon it was back to looking sick. Fertilizing was not enough. Recently I found a great idea from Diane and Todd of White on Rice Couple. They have a gorgeous lemon tree in a pot that they regularly mulch with leaves trimmings. That’s it! Mulch. Just like with trees in the ground. Thanks Diane and Todd for showing me the way! I have been religiously adding a layer of compost and mulch to my orchard trees and I didn’t think to extend the same courtesy to my little potted kumquat. It is still too early to see much of an effect but I am confident that this will do it. My kumquat tree will be happy with its blanket of leaves.
Fern Richardson is hosting a Container Gardening Blog Carnival on her blog Life on the Balcony. Would you like to grow food in your patio or windowsill? You’d rather grow ornamentals in your pots? Either way, visit Fern’s blog, you’ll love it!