Sour Grapefruit & Moldy Peat Pots

Question:

I have a beautiful grapefruit bush, but the grapefruits are extremely bitter. It is fed regularly with Citrus Food. What else do I need to do to sweeten up the fruit? 

Answer:

  • There are a number of factors you need to consider.
    • One: grapefruit can be red, pink, or white; while it is definitely known for its pucker power, grapefruit can range from intense to mild in flavor. Red grapefruit varieties are the sweetest, and Rio Grande is the sweetest.
    • Two: It is commonly assumed that all citrus matures within a twelve-month window. This is not the case with grapefruit and Valencia Oranges.  These varieties take eighteen months to mature under normal conditions. So you should be harvesting them too soon. 
      • The crop takes longer to mature, so let the fruit hang on the tree to sweeten up. Periodically, you taste test one for sweetness after the maturity date has passed. In my yard, naval oranges can mature up to four months late. 
    • Three: Citrus Food's nutrients aid in sweetening, but heat is the critical sweetener for all citrus. There are no artificial sweeteners available.  All citrus require at least six hours of direct sunlight per day, preferably during the heat of the day, April through October. In the Bay Area, we have a variety of microclimates that make growing grapefruits and oranges challenging.
  •  Getting grapefruits and oranges to sweeten up near the coast is very difficult because of the summer fog and mild temperatures.
  • But inland gardeners are very successful, but they run the risk of losing their plants from the winter cold. In addition, areas like San Ramon, parts of San Mateo, Martinez, Fremont, and Pinole are impacted by the summer marine influence. Here, you need to be patient.
  • And one final thought,  don’t be concerned that the plant is flowering with last year's crop still hanging on the tree. They don’t interfere with each other.

Question:

Whenever I start seeds in peat pots, I get mold all over the outside of the pots. How can I keep that from happening?

Answer:

  • Peat pots are designed to hold moisture. With the right conditions, usually humidity and warmth, mold will form. You can improve the air circulation by spacing the plant's father apart to dry things out.
  • If mold continues to be a problem, switch to plastic pots. Also, the mold doesn't interfere with the seed germination or the seedlings.