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Pucker Up

March 6th, 2014

I’ve finally figured out how to achieve citrus success. Last fall I read To Eat: A Country Life while traveling. In the book Joe and Wayne talked about growing citrus trees in Vermont. They said that citrus has issues with scale if kept in a place warmer than they like, i.e. – pretty much any home in the winter.
Pucker up
My citrus trees always resided in a cold location, but I guess it wasn’t cold enough. This winter I decided to put them in the basement in front of the double doors we have that lead outside. The doors are drafty and hare large south facing windows in them. Turns out, it’s the perfect location for citrus. Right now they get light from the windows and light from the big new grow light, so they’re glowing green thanks to that light!
Pucker up 2
I have one lemon that’s ready to harvest and a good crop of small lemons that will be ready next year. It’s quite exciting to finally see these trees producing fruit. If you remember, I purchased them in 2010 during my visit to Monticello.
Dwarf Citrus Outside 1
I love citrus and am happy to be able to grow a little bit of my own. Now that I’ve figured out the key to successful citrus growing, I’m going to be getting a few more trees. Now to decide what to use our single lemon for…

…how would you use such a prize fruit?

28 Comments to “Pucker Up”
  1. daisy on March 6, 2014 at 6:59 am

    How exciting to know that citrus can be grown so far north! Maybe I can take some lemon, orange and avocado trees with me when we relocate later this year to NC! Whoo-hoo! Enjoy your luscious lemon.

    Reply to daisy's comment

  2. kristin @ going country on March 6, 2014 at 7:08 am

    Other than staring at it lovingly? Hmmmm . . . that’s a hard one. Well, first you have to grate off the zest before its juiced, of course, because it wouldn’t do to waste that. I might make a lemon syrup with it. I like to use citrus syrups both for desserts and cocktails.

    Not that that helps you, since you’re not so into either one.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  3. Kathi cook on March 6, 2014 at 7:22 am

    When my lemon tree was bearing fruit, I felt like no recipe was good enough for my precious lemons- hahaha. Mine were meyer lemons and I ended up using them just as I would any lemons ; chicken piccata, with fish, etc Enjoy!

    Reply to Kathi cook's comment

  4. Liz on March 6, 2014 at 8:36 am

    I also have one, single, precious lemon on my lemon tree. I’ve a few weeks before it’s ripe, and I’ll be searching for a perfect recipe in the meantime. Thanks for the tip to keep the plants in a cold place in the winter. I’ll give that a try!

    Reply to Liz's comment

  5. Songbirdtiff on March 6, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Mine did not go dormant this year, so I’m not sure what to expext regarding fruit. My Myer lemon is covered in buds and my Lisbon is starting to get them. How do you prune yours? I expect to prune in the fall, after the fruit is harvested but I have no idea where to trim. The Lisbon is particularly confusing because its larger and more leggy than my Meyer.

    Its fun to learn and watch!

    Reply to Songbirdtiff's comment

    • Susy on March 6, 2014 at 11:41 am

      Citrus trees don’t really need a hard pruning at a specific time, especially the houseplant varieties. I usually prune mine throughout the year as needed to open up space for air movement.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. Amy S on March 6, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Right now I have one small lemon that’s green on my small tree but from time to time it will have flower buds form then fall off. Are these flower buds the ones that will be available for next winter’s formation? Do you know? I read on Lemon Ladies where next years buds were forming. I would have to make your meyer lemon vinaigrette!

    Reply to Amy S's comment

    • Susy on March 6, 2014 at 11:42 am

      Yes the new flowers/buds will produce lemons next year. This lemon bloomed and was hand pollinated by me last year.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. Nebraska Dave on March 6, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Susy, I guess I’m just not a master gardener just yet. Lemon trees in Maine? I have to chuckle at your enthusiasm and success. I gave up growing any kind of fruit years ago. It’s just easier to buy it. If I did have a lemon tree and it did produce lemons for me I’d make a pie. I’m not sure that one lemon would make a very big pie but I’m guessing that a lemon grown with TLC would make for a right tasty pie.

    Have a great lemony day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

    • Susy on March 6, 2014 at 10:19 pm

      A very tasty bite of pie I think.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  8. whit on March 6, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Hooray! I had one lemon on our tree that I savored in a couple glasses of water and tea. I should have saved the zest, but I was so excited to taste my lemon. Unfortunately, our heater in our greenhouse blew our during our 2nd cold snap and the next morning I found all the lemon trees leaves on the ground. I thinkthey were trying to make it back to CA.

    Reply to whit's comment

  9. Sara on March 6, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Ooh I totally had scale issues with my lemon tree (and it finally died, boo). Now I know why! I think if I had one lemon I might squeeze it over some really special dinner (fish, perhaps or a fancy chickpea salad).

    Also I wanted to say thanks so much for recommending the books by the North Hill guys. I just put this one on hold, and I read Living Seasonally last month, it was SO GOOD!

    Reply to Sara's comment

    • Susy on March 6, 2014 at 10:20 pm

      So glad you loved the book, it’s my all-time favorite book. I read it every single winter and enjoy it more and more every time I read it.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. Lorna on March 6, 2014 at 11:41 am

    I was just gifted one beautiful Meyer lemon from a friend, along with a few new duck eggs; I’m still trying to think of the perfect ‘dish’ to make with them. Perhaps a small batch of lemon curd? Lovely with scones and tea in the cold of winter :)

    Reply to Lorna's comment

    • Susy on March 6, 2014 at 10:20 pm

      Lemon curd is AMAZING. I buy meyer lemons from Lemon Ladies Orchard each year and always make a batch of lemon curd! Lemon custard would be great too, duck eggs make the most wonderful custard!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  11. Wendy on March 6, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Any idea what temps are “good” for citrus? I love the fragrance of the citrus trees at our local greenhouse when they’re in bloom, but I’ve always avoided buying one because I thought our house would be too chilly. We keep the house around 16-18 C (60-65 F) in the winter. But now you have me thinking it might be worth a shot if I can put them in a sunny spot.

    Reply to Wendy's comment

    • Susy on March 6, 2014 at 10:24 pm

      My house is way colder than that, the room we used to keep it in was 55, now the area they are in is around 45 and they’re loving it. I put them outside in the summer so they can soak up lots of sun.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  12. Teresa on March 6, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    How cool do they like? The Logee’s catalog is saying minimum temp of 60 for most small citrus. My place often dips into the 50s overnight so I haven’t even tried. But if they actually LIKE it cooler..where’s that Logee’s catalog?

    Reply to Teresa's comment

    • Susy on March 6, 2014 at 10:21 pm

      Definitely lower than the 60s, if you think about it they can take frost, it will ruin the fruit set, but they can withstand it. I used to keep mine in our bedroom which was about 55 and that was still too warm for it and it would get scale. I’m guessing this area in the basement is in the 40s.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  13. Karen morss on March 6, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Citrus love cold nights. As long as it doesn’t get below freezing too often they will do fine. Southern window exposure also important. Don’t forget to feed them! Good luck!!

    Reply to Karen morss's comment

    • Susy on March 6, 2014 at 10:22 pm

      I always feed Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  14. Jenn on March 6, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Lucky you! I would whip up a special breakfast of eggs Benedict using the lemon for the hollandaise, your own eggs, some of your own bacon and some freshly made English muffins.

    Reply to Jenn's comment

    • Susy on March 6, 2014 at 10:22 pm

      That sounds great, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve made English muffins!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  15. Maybelline on March 7, 2014 at 12:52 am

    Treasure it. Here citrus litters yards and gutters. It’s such a waste.

    Reply to Maybelline's comment

  16. amy on March 7, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    I have one citrus I bought last year and it is covered with blooms and small lemons…..Do I need another for continued pollination or are they self pollinating?

    Reply to amy's comment

    • Susy on March 7, 2014 at 1:47 pm

      I hand pollinated these, some of them were pollinated outside by insects.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  17. Norma on March 9, 2014 at 9:12 am

    Oh my………….I can’t imagine a home without a large productive lemon tree….and even give them as House Warming presents to younger members of the family………you guessed it, I live in a Mediterranean environment.
    Unlike some folks, none of my lemons go to waste. Lemon Curd/Butter, in most of my jams as they replace pectin, lots added to main meals and salads, cleaning,cordial,lemon delicious, lemon sherbet, lots more
    Lemons are indispensible!

    My advice would be to use every bit of your lemon………perhaps..finely grate the rind and put onto a dish directly…to saviour the taste…..if you had 3 or 4 they make the most amazing Lemon Meringue pie…….slices in warm water as an early morning wake up…….I often put the peel after using the juice in a tall jar and cover with vinegar, leave for week or two…..makes a great kitchen cleaner to wipe stove and microwave.
    Maybe make a lemon/coconut cake and make citrus peel for cakes.
    Good luck

    Reply to Norma's comment

  18. Norma on March 12, 2014 at 5:06 am

    Thought more about your lonely lemon. Have you used it yet……well
    how about Lemon Delicious Pudding. It uses only one lemon,little of the grated rind and 1 1/2 tablespoons juice, for a yummy lemon pudding that you can make some custard for and really enjoy the taste.
    There would still be some left for lemon icing on a butter cake and a slice or two in tea. Then use any peel in vinegar soaked for refreshing cleaner. Good luck.

    Reply to Norma's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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