Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lemons & limes

Greed is not good. Well, that's what some people say, but if you're a lemon, a lime or some other citrus tree you know that's bunkum. Greed is good as far as they are concerned. Well, if it's greed for fertiliser, sunshine and water you're talking about, then greed is good. August is citrus-feeding time here in Oz, and I fed mine early in the month, and aren't they happy little gluttons now!

The pinky hue says this is a lemon flower, so too does the light scent if you get up close (although a bee might have an opinion on whether your head is welcome or not in that particular branch). Baby lemons forming everywhere, too.

Clusters of blooms are covering my baby two-year old 'Eureka' lemon at the moment. Far too many in fact, but I'll let them go for another week or two – the flowering is such a delightful sight.

At the edges of every branch, new shoots are reaching out for the sun, and these guys are my priority at the moment. The plan is not to let fruits form, to encourage more plant growth. That's easier said than done, though. It's a fruit tree, for goodness sake, and it just doesn't seem right or look right to be bereft of fruit. And so I'll compromise and cut off most of the fruits, but I'll leave a token half dozen or so to grow on just to cheer myself up. Last year, in its first year, I let two lemon fruits develop, and they were superb, their juice squeezed over some Sydney rock oysters.

The all-white, almost scentless blooms of my lime tree are pretty things, too, and there are plenty of them on my happy and healthy, eight-year-old, well-established espaliered lime tree.

Just managed to spot this lime flower bud bursting open this morning. Looks like a dessert already!

All my lime tree requires from me is feeding in August and February each year, plus a constant supply of water. Given plenty of sunshine and clear blue skies, plus our merciful lack of frosts to bother it in winter, it supplies the best little green limes for making everything from margaritas to guacamoles and an assortment of tangy tarts and puddings.

All the Aussies reading this blog probably are all keen gardeners and already know that it's citrus feeding time, but just in case a stranger wanders past and puts his or her nose up against the window of my blog, here's your reminder. Go feed your lemons, limes or whatever citrus you have growing this weekend. August is citrus feeding time, so is February.

I mostly use chicken manure pellets to feed my citrus trees but any of the commercially available citrus foods are fine, and apparently rose food is almost identical to citrus food, and so if you have some of that lying around, give some to your greedy citrus trees this weekend. And don't forget to water the tree well before fertilising, then water well again after fertilising as well. Do this feeding routine again in February and many of the problems experienced by notoriously temperamental citrus trees will hopefully be a thing of the past, or at the very least not as bad as they once were.


prue said...

Looks such a healthy tree. I feed mine about four times a year, but that is because it is in a pot so the good stuff gets leached out pretty quickly. We got about 4 lemons this year. Hope your next crop is just as tasty!

Harlinah said...

Thanks Jamie, I found this post helpful (and timely). I'm new to growing citrus, and my lime and lemon have been badly affected by gall wasp. I'm going to try pruning & feeding them and see how they go.