Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ruby Red Grapefruit

Last but not least, I cannot forget this important citrus.  It seems to be the dominant citrus of Tucson.  There are trees here that are old with most of them being on the East side of town!  You can see this tree out in the open all over the place and most people don't care if you pick the fruit.  Of course, remember to ask first.  I wanted to mention before I finished this series on citrus trees that there is a program here in town that you can contact if you can't use all the fruit or just don't want to eat the fruit. The Tucson Food Bank offers to come and pick these citrus for those in need around the community that can't afford fresh fruit.  Here is some information before I start my write on the Ruby Red Grapefruit,

"The Community Food Bank is offering to pick surplus citrus from homes and businesses in the Tucson area.
This service is known as "Gleaning" or harvesting food that would otherwise go unused.
"It's an easy way for someone to help their neighbors in need during these difficult economic times," said Bill Carnegie, President of the Community Food Bank. "There are thousands of orange, lemon, and grapefruit trees in the Tucson area with citrus products that go to waste each year. These items can go a long way to help feed the hungry in our community."
To schedule someone to come to a home or business and pick the citrus, call:
•(520) 622-0525 x 222.
Those able to do their own gleaning may bring the citrus to the food bank at:
•3003 S. Country Club Road (between 36th Street and Ajo Road)
•Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Founded in 1976, the Community Food Bank provides education, advocacy, and food for people throughout Southern Arizona including Pima, Santa Cruz, Cochise, Graham and Greenlee Counties.
On the web:
www.communityfoodbank.org " Source:

There are also other programs around town including one that utilizes African refugees who have just moved into the Old Pueblo.
My hope, when writing on these citrus, is to expose the unique properties of a citrus tree/bush.  It's important to NEVER prune a citrus tree in hot direct sun.  That's a sure way to kill your citrus plant.  Citrus, naturally, are bushy in nature and should not be pruned into trees. The branches protect the trunk with its' leaves. However, they do make lovely trees and here is a practice that you may see some people do with their citrus in hot climates.  I don't recommend painting the trunks white on many trees, but with the case of the citrus, it is okay to do.  The white paint reflects the sun off the trunk and keeps it from scald. This practice is usually done on the younger trees and only on the ones being trained as trees. If you leave the branches on, you won't need to do any of this.  I prefer dwarf varieties that will fit into my smaller spaces and I prefer them in the bush form. On several posts back, I wrote about several of the citrus having thorns.  I have put these bushes by fences to keep the transients off the property.  If they get through the cactus, they will then hit the nasty thorny Tangelo or Bearss Lime.  These make great deterrents for safety around your property.  Imagine that!  Not only do citrus smell good, look good, taste good, but they can also work as a security system! Talk about a useful plant to have around.
The Ruby Red is a great citrus to grow around your property.  It's the sweeter of the grapefruit varieties and excellent both for breakfast and/or juice.  I almost killed my grapefruit this year by planting it in a shadier spot.  When I pulled it from the ground, it looked like it was going to die, but I nursed it back to health in a pot and it will be ready for transplant this spring in March.  Most grapefruit varieties in town have a yellow fruit and they make great juice.  I like to eat grapefruit so I chose the Ruby Red variety instead of the juicing yellow variety.  This tree is sold as a dwarf or as a regular size plant.  I always go with the dwarf because I know that they won't grow out of control, but you may have a larger area to plant a bigger tree.  My final post is one that many people ask about......what if I threw my favorite orange seed into the ground?  Will it grow?  I have answers so stay tuned!  Until next time, see you in the garden!


  1. Now, you're speaking my language - I could eat good grapefruit all day. My treat most mornings is a half a grapefruit, with whatever I make...but the best treat is a 1x or 2x a week fresh croissant with grapefruit. Got to have the citrus! (and got to hike and bike w/ the croissant)

    Thanks for sharing that excellent idea of the gleaning program - hopefully they do that in So Cal, etc. citrus places, too.

  2. One thing I forgot to mention in my notes is that you should NEVER paint white on the trunk of a young citrus plant. Let it get much larger before trimming branches and pruning it into a tree. I can't believe I forgot to mention that in my write.


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