O Lemon Tree, O Lemon Tree

O Lemon Tree, O Lemon Tree
How loyal are your leaves!
You’re green not only in summertime,
But while asleep during a cold winter
O Lemon Tree, O Lemon Tree
How loyal are your leaves!

O Lemon Tree, O Lemon Tree
You can please me very much!
Awake in the Spring after rest
Your blooms smell simply the best
O Lemon Tree, O Lemon Tree
You can please me very much!

O Lemon Tree, O Lemon Tree
Please bring me some lemons!
You tease with young abundance
then it becomes clear, no lemons this year
O Lemon Tree, O Lemon Tree
Please bring me some lemons!


Dare I share something besides the good on this young garden blog? We all know gardening has its successes and frustrations so let me share something today about the other side, the bad and ugly side.  By now you’ve figured out that I have a Meyer lemon tree.  It was a precious gift from a precious friend when I lived in CA and is one of my most beloved “green goods.” I overwinter it in my garage (near a window) because it seems much easier  than keeping it inside the house.  Yes, I know many people claim to grow citrus inside their home and citrus have a great reputation for being easy to grow inside but I had no luck with it.  The first time I brought my lemon tree in the house (winter months only) it was overtaken by scale.  I won’t even go into the details of how I had to get rid of it except to say it was an organic method and one of the most time-consuming processes ever! After that, I decided there had to be another way to “winter” my lemon tree during the cold months in Idaho.
I decided to try the garage with the idea that maybe I could get it to “go to sleep” (go dormant) for a few months but not die. I placed the tree close to the garage window for some light, wrapped a little cold protection (burlap) around the top of the pot and cutback the water to a small bit (2 cups ish) once every three weeks/ month. I found the tree indeed seemed to go dormant, loosing some of its leaves and becoming a not-so-pretty (ugly) statue in the garage BUT it made it through the cold winter months without  any problems with scale or spider mites. When spring came, it began to grow again. Yippee, mission accomplished!  Sort of.  Within six weeks of its new growing period, it was covered in blossoms that were beautiful and smelled heaven-sent.  I noticed a bee or two around the tree occasionally and took note pollination was taking place.  I was so happy and couldn’t help after a few weeks to check the tree to see how many “baby” lemons were forming.  That’s when everything went haywire.  I couldn’t find any blossoms turning into fruits.  I became obsessed and began checking it daily thinking with all of the blossoms there had to be at least one little lemon.  I finally found one or two little fruits but over the weeks they dried up and fell to the ground.  My tree bloomed a bit more in late summer and fall but no fruit developed and in mid-November it was time to go back to the garage.  That was last year’s sour lemon tale.
Now, can you tell I’ve been tending to my beloved tree the last couple of days? After the second year of “overwintering” in the garage I am getting it ready for active growth again. I have increased the water slightly over the last couple of weeks, pruned it a bit (getting rid of branches growing towards the middle and spindly, twiggy growth) and today put some all-season dormant horticultural oil (organic) on it.  This oil will smother any bugs that might be waiting to hatch once it warms.  I worked some fresh potting soil and perlite (keeps the soil from becoming too heavy, lemons like a quick soak)  into the top of the pot.  It’s sitting inside the house in front of a south-facing window and will stay here about a month or so until I can move it outside with little risk of freeze.  Shortly thereafter, in its sunny outdoor spot there should be plenty of blossoms.   But then what?  Will this be the year that I have figured out my tree and the conditions will be just right to provide me with an abundance of beautiful, juicy lemons?
I have a sense of excitement (like many gardeners would) that it is.  But won’t you check back in the next month to see  if the sour tale of bad and ugly is on its way to good and beautiful?
One last thing, if you have any secret lemon tree techniques (including songs, chants, rituals, etc…) that can be used for easy wintering and guaranteed fruit be sure to send them my way!
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