One of my regrets about living in California is that we never had a lemon tree. We knew lots of folks who had them and plucking a fruit for some fresh juice or zest while you're cooking just sounded so nice. Luckily, my friend Sara shared her lemons. We used them several times to make Gentle Lemonade. Mmmm! So good and nicely balanced. Click HERE for the recipe.
We moved back to Georgia last year and imagine my surprise one winter's day while taking a walk when I looked up to see a small lemon tree in a neighbor's yard. North Georgia gets too cold for lemons. How did they do it? The next time I saw my neighbor out gardening, I stopped to ask. With a laugh, she invited me up the driveway to see. The lemon tree is planted in a large plastic pot that sits on a wheeled coaster. On frosty days, she just rolls the lemon tree into her garage!
Oh, the pang of regret, wishing I'd brought some California lemons back east with me! Then came time for my husband to take a business trip to the Bay Area. A quick text message to Sara and soon familiar, dear lemons were on their way. We used them to make lemonade for a family party, carefully saving the seeds to plant. In addition, Sara sent us some cuttings. Those poor plants traveled over two thousand miles in a suitcase, their ends wrapped in damp paper towels and aluminum foil. It took them several days to reach me, so I wasn't sure they'd stand much of a chance. But I got them a big pot and some good quality organic soil. To prepare the cuttings, I snipped off the ends, giving each a fresh, diagonal cut. I let them sit in a vase of lukewarm water overnight to make sure they were hydrated and then dipped each cut end into Bontone brand rooting powder before planting. I found them a spot with partial sun and made sure the soil didn't dry out too much. In the first couple of weeks they lost a lot of leaves. Then the remaining leaves started to perk up. A month later, I can't promise success, but they are looking good.
Between the seedlings and the cuttings, we soon hope to have our own lemon tree even if it may be a while until it is large enough to bear fruit. My neighbor says her small tree, about three feet high, produces enough lemons that everyone in her family gets a lemon meringue pie for Christmas. Now I'm daydreaming of batches of lemon curd and lemon tarts. And, of course, lemonade.
Thanks, Sara! And thanks, Brian, for carefully ferrying my potential lemon trees home!
Local buddies, I may be successful and end up with more lemon trees than I can handle. Let me know if you would like to adopt one when they are bigger.