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OUT IN THE YARD: Use that leftover citrus

By Melissa Starr 

November is the season for pumpkins, scarecrows, turkeys and citrus. Before I became a Master Gardener, my parents introduced me to satsuma trees. Every year, they harvested hundreds of satsumas and lemons and gave away bags full of them. Once all of our friends and family had enough, my mom would start juicing the rest. Now I have citrus trees, but what can be done with the overflow?

There are many culinary uses for citrus. My favorite is making satsuma jelly. To make this scrumptious jelly, bring 31/2 to 4 cups of satsuma juice, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1 package Sure-Jell to a boil in a tall pot. Stir continuously until the juice reaches a hard boil that will not stir down, add 5 cups sugar and bring to a hard boil again. Time for one minute while stirring. Put in sterilized half pint jars and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

There are thousands of citrus recipes on the Internet, but do leftover citrus peels have uses in the garden? Citrus peels will add nitrogen to compost piles. When dried and ground into a powder, they will add sulfur, calcium and magnesium to soil. One savvy gardener suggests taking orange peels, cutting slits in them and sliding them onto plants to keep away aphids. Butterflies are attracted to citrus peels left in a dish in your garden. They love to drink the juice left on the peels.

Citrus is also a good pest repellent for pets. Orange peels contain d-Limonene which repels fleas and ticks. Simmer orange peels with water and strain them, and you have a natural repellent spray for dogs.

If you have any prize citrus you would like to showcase, bring three of your best, cleaned and polished, to the Citrus Show at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service office, 1225 Pearl Street, #200, Beaumont. We accept entries 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16, and 9 a.m. to noon Thursday, Nov. 17. The winners will be announced and a lecture on growing citrus ($10 admission) will be presented 6 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 17.

Reach Jefferson County Master Gardener Melissa Starr at melynstarr@hotmail.com or call Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at 409-835-8461.