Welcome to the new Calamondin Café web experience! We’ve enhanced our look with photos and we are adding personal touches like this blog. I wanted to start this series with where it all begins: The Grove! Our family grove is located on Pine Island in Bookelia, FL land of sunshine, palm trees, vegetable farms and a lone but happy Calamondin Grove. We are the largest grower in the state. (OK, we think we are the only grower in the state.) I’m told in the 1940’s there was a Calamondin grove in nearby Matlacha, and as far as I know we are the first in the area since then. We pride ourselves on the care and nurturing we give our trees. Our grove manager, Jim Wilson, works hard with a regular staff to keep order–not an easy task thanks to lots of sunshine, rain and heat down here. In Florida you can pull weeds in the morning and see new sprouts in the evening! (And we do hand pull weeds almost entirely) We are a subtropical climate, so frosts are rare. Hurricanes, on the other hand, are always a risk during the rainy season, June 1- Nov 30. They say growing citrus in Florida is like legalized gambling. Over time we plan on expanding to two other nearby regions to assure that we would still have a steady supply even if a bad storm comes through.
I have to assume you are like me and care very much about the food you consume and how it has been grown or produced. Over 95% of what we use on the trees for pest and disease control is OMRI (Organic materials Review Institute) certified. To learn more, please visit: https://www.omri.org/.
In order to save our trees from a fatal disease called Citrus Greening, we have used one treatment of a root drench, Admire (imidacloprid), in three years. It’s the only more traditional pesticide we use, and we use far lower quantities than recommended. No pesticide license is necessary for purchase, and there is a zero wait time until harvest–always a good thing. The first crop after treatment will be roughly three months since the last application. Our extension agent assures us it is not taken up in the fruit, and that we can call our fruit “Toxin-free”. This doesn’t satisfy us, however. After our next season’s treatment ending this summer, we will send fruit for testing so that we know with certainty our fruit is pure. What we learn, we’ll share with you. I know this is probably more technical than the average Calamondin fan cares about, but I’m a compulsive label reader when I shop, and information about the food I eat can’t be too detailed.
It’s a joy to spend time in the grove where beneficial insects, tree frogs, and pollinators abound. There is an eagles’ nest nearby, and we have a resident gopher tortoise who likes to terrorize staff while they weed. (She gets really ornery during mating season!) And Jim has heard Bobcat kittens purring in the adjacent undeveloped land. At Calamondin Café, when we say we’re dishin’ the dirt, we mean it!