|A lemon from my own tree!|
Seven years ago, inspired by an article on citrus growing for black-thumb types, I planted a gallon-sized Meyer lemon tree in a clay pot. When the tree outgrew that pot, I transplanted it into a bigger one. When it outgrew the second, I dug a hole and planted the little tree in the backyard.
Roughly two years after I brought the tree home, it produced two lemons. After that, nothing.
During Houston's rare hard freezes, I covered it with a bed sheet. In early spring, I gave it fish- emulsion. One year, its leaves yellowed, and I sprinkled Epsom salts around it.
Eventually, the tree reached five feet in height, but produced no more fruit.
A gardener friend told me to dig it up and toss it in the compost pile. "It's barren. Get yourself another one. Time to move on."
Doesn't every woman shrink when she hears the word "barren?" That word didn't describe my tree with pretty leaves that ranged in color from spring green to emerald.
I never got around to digging up the tree--and there was no place to toss it anyway, since I'd never established a compost pile and wasn't about to set a pretty tree on the curb for yard-waste collection day.
Another couple of years went by, including the drought of 2011. Last winter, we might have had two nights of below-freezing temperatures, and I forgot to cover the lemon tree.
This past spring, Hubs and I put down many, many cubic feet of mulch because we were going out of town, and I was certain the absence of weeds would convince would-be thieves someone was home.
In March, the tree blossomed prettily, but it's blossomed before. I didn't get my hopes up.
The blossoms turned into green buds, but I went about my business and pretended not to notice.
It's now November, and sixteen big-as-baseball lemons hang from the tree. ( Make that fourteen; I picked two.)
Sunkist has nothing to fear, and Houstonians with lemon trees would consider my harvest paltry, but I'm excited.
"Our first crop," Hubs said.
Last night, we dined on salmon with smoked paprika and lemon, plus orzo pasta tossed with lemon, olive oil, feta, spinach, and mint. This weekend, I'll make lemonade--and more of that lemony orzo.
Once upon a time, pumpkin pie and spiced cider signaled fall. This year, it's lemon mojitos and lemon chicken.
What's been your biggest success in the garden? How'd you use your bumper crop?