I chose this weeks plant of the week for no other reason than to show off. I’m proud you see. My little baby Meyer lemon tree is now all grown up with it’s first little tiny lemon shaped gem growing on it’s stem. To be really honest my Meyer has brought me nothing but heart ache over the past few years, so I think it’s best to start it’s story from the very beginning.
I decided early one spring morning, after waking with a head cold, that I needed to grow a lemon tree that would allow me to make fresh, hot, vitamin C rich lemon drinks when ever I had a hint of a runny nose and not just when I had lemons in the fruit bowl. So off to my local garden centre I drove with the last $20 in my wallet until payday. I was greeted by a cheerful lady who helped me choose the perfect Meyer lemon tree that I could grow in a pot in my courtyard. The tree cost $19.95 (NZD) and I blame it on the head cold that I bought a $130 pot on the credit card to grow it in. I became obsessed at trying to work out how many lemons I could have bought for $150!! That was only the beginning of my lemon tree woes.
The tree grew OK to start with and it wasn’t too long before it started to bloom. I heard on a radio gardening show that it was a good idea to pull all the flowers and fruit off lemon trees in it’s first year of life (something to do with promoting growth first). So with a sigh I decided it would be worth it in the long run and picked the tree bare of it’s baby making properties. It was only two weeks after this that everything went wrong. The tree looked terrible. Yellow leaves, limp looking limbs and strange holes and marks on the bark appearing up the trunk and stems. Was it punishing me for being so mean? I googled, searched through plant books, asked relatives, what could be wrong with my $150 miracle tree? I tracked the culprit down!! My first encounter with Oemona hirta (lemon tree borer). I managed to insert a fine wire into the holes and pull out the tiny enemies. I got three of the little suckers! My next plan was to nurse my Meyer back to health.
I remembered my grandfather telling me as a 10 year old that urinating under the lemon tree is really good for promoting growth. He sure did have the best lemon tree I had ever seen. So would this be the medicine?! I began a weekly schedule of visiting the tree late in the evening to offer a warm golden tonic for it’s drinking. It’s hard to have perfect aim when you are trying to make sure the neighbours aren’t looking!!
A month into the regime all (and I mean every last one) of its leaves fell off. Death by urination? What a way to go. I gave up. I have no idea if my urine just didn’t have the goods or wether I was neglecting the tree of other vital necessities of life. Growing lemons just wasn’t for me. So, I left the tree, devoid of all life and focused on growing beans instead.
I feed it fertiliser every few months and watered whenever I remembered and low and behold, it began to grow. I tried not to look at it in fear of putting it off it’s growing. It began to blossom profusely. Until one cold spring afternoon it began to hail hard. The 10 minutes of hail shredded the tree of all of its flowers and many of its leaves. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Just under a year later, today in fact, it’s looking amazing. I stopped counting at 600 blossoms and there is one solitary, beautiful, dark green lemon growing. Is this the year that I will be able to start getting some of my $150 back? I feel a cold coming on.