Oranges originated as a sour fruit from China. Navel oranges were “discovered” in 1820 from a group of mutant trees with seedless sweet fruit growing in a garden in Brazil. Because they were seedless they had to be grown by bud grafts aka clones. The rest is history – California proved a perfect climate for growing these oranges, which is where the popular Washington Navel was named. Speaking of names – the colour orange was named after the fruit. The Spanish name for orange tree is naranja (from the Sanskrit name naranga). English dropped the letter n, and the word orange began to be used in the early 16th century for the fruit tree and the colour. They are a long lived tree – there is an orange tree in Europe called “Constable” that is estimated to be almost 500 years old. Plant in full sun with plenty of space/air around them, and you can pretty much forget about them. They will fruit from July – November. As usual give them plenty of compost at planting time to ensure their nutritional requirements are taken care of. The peel is also edible (make sure it’s organic), and also full of vitamin C. Dispose of skins in compost but not in your worm farm – citrus has a chemical substance (limonene) that is toxic to worms.
You can google lots of uses for oranges, but here are some of my favourites:
Orange salad dressing oil – place bits of orange peel (pith removed) into a bottle topped up with olive oil. Keep in a dark place & shake once per week. Will be ready in 1-2 months.
Who remembers the orange pomander – use a toothpick and make holes in an orange. Fill the holes with whole cloves. Bake the oranges on low for an hour or until they harden. I just like the smell, but they also deter moths.
Fire Starters – orange peel oil is volatile so…. squeeze the oil of orange peels onto a bundle of drier lint or use dried peels with kindling.