Gardener harvests first ORANGES from pips he grew in airing cupboard

Gardener finally gets the fruits of his labour as he harvests the first ORANGES from pips he grew in his Southampton airing cupboard 15 years ago

  • Father-of-five Alan Alford, of Southampton grew orange trees from pips
  • Fifteen years on his trees have borne fruit for the first time due to mild weather
  • Typically oranges need mild temperatures of at least 10C (50F) to blossom
  • In Britain the trees normally flower in May, with the fruit ripe by the summer

At a glance, albeit an extremely quick one, Alan Alford’s garden might be more reminiscent of Florida than Southampton.

For a mere 15 years after planting a handful of orange seeds, the gardener is about to taste the fruits of his labour – albeit at the most unlikely time of the year.

Father-of-five Alan Alford potted and then planted the trees at his home in Hamble-le-Rice, near Southampton in 2012 – and waited patiently as they survived every winter without growing fruit

The 52-year-old’s orange trees, which he planted for his now grown-up daughters Erica and Sarah, have borne fruit for the first time this February, thanks to the mild winter weather.

After growing the seedlings in his airing cupboard, Mr Alford eventually potted and then planted the trees at his home in Hamble-le-Rice, near Southampton in 2012 – and waited patiently as they survived every winter without growing fruit.

Now Mr Alford says he will refuse to move home as long as the trees are standing.

For a mere 15 years after planting a handful of orange seeds, the gardener is about to taste the fruits of his labour – albeit at the most unlikely time of the year

‘They will keep me here for as long as they are alive. If I uproot them they will die. I have waited all this time and I want to do everything I can to keep them going,’ Mr Alford said.

Typically oranges grow in warm climates and need temperatures of at least 10C (50F) to blossom – but they can tolerate temperatures as low as 4C (39F). 

In the UK, the trees normally flower in May, with the fruit ripe by the summer.

Father-of-five Mr Alford, a former scrapyard worker, said: ‘I looked out of the window last week and spotted three oranges. We are in the middle of winter and it is out of season for growing oranges. It is a miracle.’

 

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