Growing Calamansi In the Backyard
There’s money in growing calamansi as it fruits throughout the year. Moreover there is always a ready market for the crop as it is the most important citrus juice source in the country.
Thirty-five pieces of calamansi are enough to satisfy a person’s daily requirement of 100 milligrams of vitamin C. Fair in calcium, phosphorus and potassium, its juice has acidic properties resembling lemons and limes. It is used to make beverages and to flavor fish (particularly kinilaw), cakes, pies, preserves, sauces, and marmalades, soups and teas. The rind of calamansi is also used as flavorings.
In some instances, the juice is used to bleach ink stains from fabrics. It also serves as a body deodorant. The fruits, on one hand, are fried in coconut oil with various seasonings and are eaten with curry and vegetables.
Calamansi is also noted for its medicinal properties. To get rid of dandruff, the fruits are crushed for shampooing the hair, or the fruit juice applied to the scalp after shampooing. Doing so also eliminates itching and promotes hair growth. Rubbing calamansi juice on insect bite’s banishes the itching and irritation. For problems with constipation, the juice is warmed and diluted with water.
If you have nausea, just squeeze rind near nostril to inhale (the same technique applied for those fainting). For those with cough, colds and sore throat just drink warm calamansi-ade. The leaves, on the other hand, are good for aromatic bath. Two handfuls of chopped fresh leaves are boiled in a big pot of water. The water is then cooled and strained. The decoction is used as bath for the sick person or a mother after childbirth.
In some parts of the world, however, calamansi is prized more for its ornamental value rather than for its fruit. It is often used as a dooryard tree and can tolerate being in a tub or container. This allows people in colder regions to be able to enjoy them as well.
Here in the Philippines, “you can have a year-round supply of this versatile citrus fruit by growing it in your backyard,” suggests Roy C. Alimoane, the director of the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC) in Kinuskusan, Bansalan, Davao del Sur.
It is easy to grow calamansi. Generally, a climate with low rainfall and plenty of sunshine is good for the crop. It promotes good flower differentiation, flower and fruit development, and fruit quality.
Calamansi can grow and produce well in a wide variety of soil types, except very light, sandy soils, and heavy clay soils. In general, most fruit trees prefer the soil pH to be between 5.5 and 6.5.
Like most citrus, there are several ways of propagating calamansi: budding, cuttings, marcotting, or grafting. The planting materials must be free from diseases so buy only from reliable sources, MBRLC advises.
“If you are planting grafted calamansi, dig a hole at least 40 centimeters in diameter and 40 centimeters deep,” Alimoane instructs. “Set the seedlings into the hole and put back the soil mixed with compost. Water the plants daily.”
Fertilize the plants regularly for these to produce big, luscious fruits. One month after planting, apply 50 to 100 grams (about one handful) of urea and 16-20-0 (mixed) around each tree. Fertilization is done every four months. Starting on the second year, the fertilizer requirement is increased to 200 to 300 grams (Urea and 16-20-0 mixed) per tree.
The tree bears fruit after one to two years. By that time the plants are supplied with complete fertilizer like 12-2412 NPK at the rate of 1.5 kilograms per tree to increase fruit yield. And by the time the tree is 8-10 years old, the fertilizer to be applied should be increased to 2 kilograms to 3 kilograms per tree.
Here’s one pointer when applying fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer properly by mixing it with the soil. Cover the soil around each tree with dry leaves to conserve moisture. Uproot weeds when necessary.
Here’s another one. Apply fertilizer to producing trees three times a year. First, during the rainy season before flowering; second, two months after flowering; and the last, after harvesting.
To keep the calamansi trees healthy, they must be protected from pests and diseases. To control citrus bark borers, the trees arc sprayed with EPN 300 solution. Copper fungicide may also be used for the same problem. To prevent the disease from spreading, the infected parts are cut off and burned.
Aphid is another harmful pest. To control aphids, the trees are sprayed with either Malathion solution (three tablespoons in 5 gallons water), Methyl Parathion (two tablespoons in 5 gallons water), or Diazinon (three tablespoons in 5 gallons water). If aphids have already attacked, the infected portions can be cut off and burned.
Citrus Production: A Manual for Asian Farmers shares this information: “Maintaining good sanitation in orchard is very important in citrus health management. Twigs and fallen leaves should be collected from under and around the trees, and either buried or burned.
“Covering the soil surface with a grass or straw mulch is an effective way of reducing levels of disease, as well as improving the soil.. Covering the soil within 30 centimeters of the trunk with a layer of straw helps prevent infection of the roots with fungus diseases,” it adds.
In harvesting, Alimoane advises to detach the fruits from the branches either manually or using a scissor. “Take care not to damage the branches or the leaves,” he cautions. “You will hare better quality fruit if you leave a portion of the, stem attached to the fruit and do not tear the skin of the fruit when you harvest. You can sell the extra fruits in markets, hotels or restaurants.”
By Henrylito D. Tacio
Photo by : mylot.com