31 January, 2008

Growing Oranges in Chicagoland

I made my first pre-purchase for the garden this week. Now, growing citrus trees in Northern Illinois doesn't sound like the smartest thing to try with our harsh winters (we're in gardening Zone 5), but I found this company that sells patio-sized trees you take indoors to overwinter.

Stark Bro's in Missouri sells a Citrus Garden Assortment of four different fruit trees: Valencia Orange, Tangerine, Meyeri Lemon, and Key Lime. Aren't they adorable? They'll arrive the first or second week in April, and I think we'll put them at the front entrance of The Box House, by the stairs. The house faces south, so I'm pretty sure they'll receive enough light.

With all of the other expenses that come with the first year of living in a new house, we've given ourselves a pretty tight budget for the garden and will probably only be able to focus on a few things, like the entryway and general cleanup. Most of our grand schemes--the fish pond, the flowering trees--will have to wait until this fall or even next year.

It looks like the bulk of this summer will be spent prepping the ground and taming or removing the shrubs that are already here. I think most of them are going--including the two-story evergreen tree that's practically growing out of the foundation. The dense row of shrubs in front of the house blocks all of the natural light coming into the basement--believe it or not, there are some very large windows just above ground level. So those bushes will have to go, too, as much as I hate the idea of removing greenery; I think we should be able to handle the bushes ourselves, if not the evergreen tree. (Before anyone asks, all the trees in the parkway stay.)

I would love to hear from anyone who has taken out a large tree themselves. Is it worth the effort and hassle? Just how hard will it be to dig out a root ball? Or is a tree as large as this evergreen a good candidate for a professional?

The photo shows Mom in front of The Box House on the day we closed.


StuccoHouse said...

I had a calamodin (miniature orange) tree for almost 25 yrs. Bought it on Spring break when I was in college. They make very good cakes & jams. Sadly, mine caught some disease last year and met a sudden demise. I'm actually still mourning it. Hope you enjoy your new tree :-)

Joanne said...

Thanks, Stuccohouse. Twenty-five years for a fruit tree is inspiring. :-)

At my mom's other house--which we're still trying to sell--we have several bushes we're quite attached to, a magnolia that we planted as a memorial to grandmother and two evergreens that came from my grandfather's yard thirty years ago. We're already mourning the fact that we'll have to leave them behind--so many memories!

Anonymous said...

We are in the same zone! Although, I am sure that we have a different climate here (super hot and dry summers, cold and dry winters).

We had a big tree removed and I would say it was worth paying someone to do it. They were able to get the roots out with a tool they had, and we wouldn't have been able to do that.

Good luck with your citrus trees, and thanks for the link to the garden review site too!

Karen Anne said...

You've probably already dealt with your trees, but if not, by all means have a tree company grind the roots out. This is such a huge savings in labor. They have a machine that looks like a tiny tractor that grinds the stump way below the ground into bits.

Every time I drive past someone's house where they are trying to camouflage a tree stump with plants or something, I want to leave them a little note telling them about this.

Joanne said...

The tree's actually still standing there; we decided not to take it out this year (too many other expenses). But I think most companies only charge $30-50 to grind out the root.