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Nagami cumquat

How to grow organic Nagami cumquat

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Looking for a fruit tree that will thrive in a pot? Try a Nagami cumquat, says PHIL DUDMAN

Citrus are at their blessed peak right now, and everywhere you look there are trees weighed down to the ground with fruit that are simply screaming out to be picked – it’s almost deafening! One beautiful tree that caught my eye in a nearby front yard was this Nagami cumquat or kumquat (pictured), dripping with fruit, and happily growing in a big container.

One thing I must get straight for the records is that the Nagami cumquat is not a true citrus. Well, it used to be, but then somebody changed the genus to Fortunella (Fortunella margarita ‘Nagami’). It hasn’t been totally ousted however and is still considered a close relative – it certainly looks like a member of the citrus group and is generally treated and spoken about in that way.

It’s a very compact tree – will get to three metres tall if you let it – fairly frost hardy, and a mighty producer of small colourful olive shaped fruit. These are eaten skin and all – the peel is quite sweet, but the fruit in the centre is slightly sour, and may cause that ‘just sucked a lemon’ look when you eat them fresh from the tree. Many people find them absolutely delicious when eaten this way. If you like to make preserves, they make an excellent marmalade – one of the best – and when soaked in brandy, they are a magical treat.

This tree grows well in a pot and can be pruned to make an attractive topiary or ‘standard’. Like any potted fruit tree, it needs to be watered regularly and should be fed every 6-8 weeks with a complete organic fertiliser. For more tips on growing citrus in pots, be sure to check out Annette McFarlane’s feature in the latest issue of Organic Gardener magazine – the one with the beautiful lemons on the cover.