Monday, July 9, 2012

Ohio citrus?

Years ago, when driving in my car early on a weekend morning, I caught part of a local radio show featuring the man behind one of Northeast Ohio's big garden centers (I am not sure if this show is still around, but for any of you locals, it was on 102.1).  He was answering questions about growing citrus trees in Ohio, and ever since then I have imagined having a Meyer Lemon tree.  I asked around at garden stores the past few years and they were either hard to come by or not available due to a citrus quarantine.  They are sold online, but I wasn't really committed enough to spend upwards of $100 (shipping a small tree is apparently kind of expensive).

So imagine my surprise when we just happened upon one at the garden store this April, when we weren't even looking for it.  And for $24.99, no less. 

As the radio show was several years ago, I'd forgotten all but the overall message of "I can grow lemons!"  So we asked the guy at the garden store, who I will paraphrase... but essentially, in cold weather you just need to keep it indoors where it will get as much sunlight as possible (we have an enclosed porch on the front of our house that is perfect for this.  Even though it is not heated, the sun keeps it fairly warm in the winter).  When the weather starts to get warm, treat the plant "like you would if you were in Florida" (???) - gradually exposing it to a few hours of outdoor warmth each day, until summer really arrives and then it can stay outside.

Lemon trees do not need a ton of water, but you do need to make sure the soil does not get dry (conversely, you also never want them to have "wet feet," which is just as bad).  When it was inside this spring, I watered the tree every few days.   Now that it is outside and we are practically having a drought, I water it more often.

Every two weeks, I apply "Mir-Acid" fertilizer to the plant, per the advice of the garden center guy (it comes in a powder that you mix with water and just pour in the soil).

That's about it - and it is growing!

Right now the plant is not even 2 feet tall, and there are all kinds of baby lemons! (they are about the size of lima beans right now). 

lower right corner, if you couldn't find them...
I've read that the lemons will not grow properly in clusters, so I did have to remove one of the two pictured (as well as 2 others that were a little tight with their neighbors).  Apparently these will grow all summer and actually ripen sometime in winter.  We'll see what happens!

Also - when this plant flowers, it smells amazing.  A very nice addition to our collection!

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