Today, a terrible thing has happened: A child not belonging to me has plucked the sole lemon from my potted lemon tree. I am ridiculously, over-the-top upset about the abrupt removal of my lemon by someone other than me and I am fully aware that there are many people out there that would roll their eyes and make snarky remarks about 'real problems in the world.' But, I am sure that there are sympathetic readers out there who proudly claim the title 'gardener.'
A little lemon history....
A few years ago, I was rereading Frances Mayes' books on Tuscany as I do every so often because I find the words lovely though they always leave me longing to see Italy for myself. In one of the books, the author mentions a 'limonaia' which is a room designed specifically to house lemon trees over the winter. It never occurred to me that lemons could be grown in pots until I read about this room and a bit of research later confirmed that lemons could indeed be grown in pots and brought inside for the colder months. It was then I decided I must try my hand at growing lemons.
I purchased two small twigs that had about ten leaves each that had a small tag on them proclaiming them to be lemon trees. I felt a little skeptical that such small things could someday grow lemons but I was unwilling to purchase larger, more expensive trees for my experiment. The tiny trees were brought home, repotted, watered, and then I waited. I diligently lugged the pots inside when the nights turned too cool and patiently waited until I was sure there was no absolutely no chance of the nighttime temperatures dropping too low before putting them back out on my front porch. I waited some more. And waited. And waited for a couple years!
The lemon trees finally reached a size where they looked less like twigs and more like bushes. (I'm a little intimidated to try my hand at pruning to get them to grow in the correct shape). Their growth alone was a triumph because my house is situated in a very shady neighborhood and what sunshine there is to be had is on my front porch.
Winter came again and I brought the lemon trees inside and put them near the dining room windows that are able to capture a little of the shallow winter sunlight. I was beginning to think that I would be hauling them back and forth with no hope of lemons ever! But, one morning when I woke up and came downstairs, there was an unexpected floral scent in the air. At first, I couldn't locate it but at last I did. The lemon trees had blossomed!! I was beyond thrilled.
But then tragedy struck. One of the lemon trees began to lose leaves at a rapid rate. This wasn't the ordinary leaf loss the trees experienced in the winter but something different. I couldn't discover the cause. I separated the trees as best as I could while still keeping them in the window that gave them their only light. The first little lemon tree died.
A couple of weeks later, the same thing began to happen to the other tree. I was bewildered at what to do: the trees had looked healthy, were watered, fed, and given as much sun as could be had--the same as every year--and now the second tree was dying. Then, one day as I stood there staring at the tree in dismay, I swear I heard a noise.
I bent closer to the tree and then I saw it. A filthy, thieving, eating stink bug! It literally was munching away at a leaf. Probably I didn't hear anything at all and really saw a small minute movement out of the corner of my eye but what does it matter? That piece of scum was to blame for everything! I removed the stink bug and kept a vigilant watch for any others that might have snuck in.
A couple weeks later, there were new leaves on the lemon tree. And a few more after that, more blossoms. By Summer, there were nearly a dozen tiny green lemons. Time crept by slowly and they grew agonizingly slow. Another minor tragedy struck in the form of an end of summer storm. Every baby lemon was blown off the tree but one. Somehow, it survived--perhaps its stem was a little thicker than the others? and it grew and grew and grew. One day it began to turn a proper yellow and over the weeks it finally swelled just a little bit more until it was larger than any lemon I've ever seen at a store.
My research had told me that a lemon can be 'stored' on the tree for a very long time and it's better to leave it on the tree until it's ready to be used. I was perfectly fine to leave it there until I had a special use for it and I admired it every day. Every. Darn. Day.
I was so proud of that lemon. It was the most epic thing I've ever grown and it represented perserverance. I don't have much land and even less sunlight but over the years I've been able to grow a few things the naysayers said I didn't have enough sun to grow and....I GREW A LEMON!
Pride goeth before a pick?
~Love lemons too? Try my Starbucks Lemon Loaf Sorta Copycat Recipe But EVEN BETTER recipe~