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A taste of Sicily

Courtesy of Yates.

Winter has well and truly arrived. It’s pretty cold and damp out there but when the sun comes out, there’s lots of gardening, planting and preparation jobs to do . . . so get your gumboots on and get out there.

Home-grown blood oranges

Brightly-coloured oranges are dripping from trees during winter. Blood oranges (Citrus sinensis) are a double delight by developing bright crimson flesh and some will also show a red blush on the skin. The red colouring comes from the presence of anthocyanins, which are natural colourful pigments that are a great source of antioxidants.

Different varieties will develop varying levels of red pigment. For example, Moro, which originated in Sicily, has deep red flesh and Sanguinelli is flecked with red.

Here are some simple steps to get the best out of home-grown blood oranges:

• Blood oranges prefer a Mediterranean type climate with warm dry summers and cold nights. Flesh colour is often dictated by cold night temperatures during winter and hot dry summers.

• Blood orange trees grow to around 3m tall. Find a sunny spot that receives at least six hours of sunshine a day with well-drained soil. When planting a new blood orange tree, mix some Yates Thrive Natural Blood & Bone into the planting hole. The rich organic matter helps improve soil quality as well as providing the new tree with gentle, slow- release organic nutrients.

• Blood oranges can also be grown in a large pot (at least 40cm in diameter) filled with a good quality potting mix like Yates Premium Potting Mix.

• Feeding blood oranges regularly is the key to promoting the best possible harvest. Citrus are very hungry plants. Yates Thrive Citrus Liquid Plant Food is a complete plant food that has been specially formulated to provide citrus with the nutrients they need. Apply it every week while oranges are still on the tree and then start feeding again in early spring when new foliage and flower buds start to emerge.

Cranberries

Bright red cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants and can be enjoyed in a variety of delicious savoury dishes including relish, salads, sauces and stuffing and mouth-watering sweets like puddings, tarts and cakes.

If you live in an area with mild summers and have a moist but free-draining spot in the garden with acidic soil, you can try growing your own cranberries. They are hardy evergreen creeping shrubs that form a dense mat of stems and small leaves.

Keep horizontal cranberry runners in check by pruning them off, with more upright stems producing colourful 1-2cm diameter fruit during autumn.

Feed cranberry plants with a fertiliser like Yates Thrive Granular Azalea, Camellia & Rhododendron that’s designed for acid-loving plants and apply Yates Soil Acidifier Liquid Sulfur to help maintain an acid soil pH.

— Courtesy of Yates

Sliced Sicilian blood oranges.