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March 1, 2011 > Pat Kite's Garden: Lemon Life

Pat Kite's Garden: Lemon Life

By Pat Kite

If life hands you lemons, make lemonade. The current lemony economy must account for all the citrus lemons people keep trying to foist on me. However, I have my own quite abundant tree, thank you.

If you can grow no other fruit in this area, think Citrus limon. You can find lemons for patios, and lemons, which, planted in a row about 12-feet apart, will eventually, make a good hedge. Lisbon has ample thorns in case you need added protection.

Should you ever appear on a quiz show, and the host asks how many lemon varieties exist, you can answer 25 with reasonable accuracy. These include Galgal originating in India, Limoneira 8-A Lisbon from Portugal, Meyer Improved from China, and Eureka from Sicily. Supermarket lemons are usually Eureka or Lisbon, and they grow especially well in this area. Both are tart and acidic.

You can also consider Improved Meyer lemons. This is a relatively thornless tree that can be harvested year round in coastal California, and like Lisbon and Eureka is available in a 4- to 6-foot high dwarf as well as standard size. Should you chase around farmer's markets, you might come up with Sanbokans, a sweet pear-shaped lemon good for juice and fresh eating. It is a Mandarin orange/lemon cross, and tastes like biting into a glass of sweet lemonade. Even the pulp is good. If you want huge lemons mostly for show, Ponderosa will give you ample yellow fruits hefting at two pounds or more. However Ponderosa is thick skinned with little juice. There are also pink lemons. Both Spanish Pink and Pink Variegated have green and yellow striped fruit with pink flesh, making pink lemonade easy.

Lemons have seeds, as you know. Here's an indoor project for children and adults. Use a container about the size of a gallon milk carton. If it's possibly leaky, put a pan underneath. Fill the container halfway with potting soil. Now take about two seeds from a lemon, and soak them overnight. Poke the seeds about 1-inch deep into the earth. Cover the container top with waxed paper held in place with a rubber band. Put the container in a warm, not hot, place. The soil should be kept slightly damp. In about three weeks, tiny plants will emerge. Take the cover off the container, and place the container in a very sunny place; water about once a week so the soil stays slightly damp.

This will stay a little plant for a while, but may eventually become a large lemon tree. It's fun, anyhow. Should you actually make lemonade from your lemons, first roll them back and forth on a counter, pressing firmly with the palm of your hand. This helps release the juice. You can also make lemon cake, curd bars, jelly, marinade, pie, balm, sherbet, scones, Greek lemon soup and lemon krumcakes. This is making me hungry. Have a fun spring day!

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