Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What Happened to My Lemon Tree?

When I bought my house, it had been a rental for the first ten years of its life. As a result, the landscaping had been reduced to require the minimum of maintenance. In other words, what used to be desert landscaping had turned into just a gravel pit.

The saving grace (in my opinion) were the fruit trees in the back yard, a lemon, an orange, and a pomelo, a Chinese grapefruit. While I'm not a fan of orange or grapefruit, I was thrilled to have a mature lemon tree. I've enjoyed the fruit every year except last year, when the tree had no fruit. I thought that was strange, but I did my summer fertilizing and decided to see what happened.

This summer, I was thrilled to see hundreds of small fruit appearing on the tree. As summer became fall, I was excited to see they began to change color, and couldn't believe the huge number of them. They were smaller than the other years, but I didn't think that was too unusual.

The last couple of days, I started to notice some of the fruit on the ground, so I went out to check and see if the fruit was starting to ripen. I thought it was too early for this. But I wasn't prepared for what I found.

First, the fruit has gone past being yellow and is starting to turn ORANGE. And it is the wrong shape, it looks like a tangerine. Then, I picked an unripened fruit and smelled the skin. It SMELLS like an orange. I brought it in the house and cut it open. The juice is orange. While the fruit obviously isn't ripe, I tasted the juice, and it tastes like lemon juice!

A couple of years ago, I decided that the relandscaping of my backyard would involve removing all three fruit trees, and replacing them with a lemon, a mesquite (or perhaps another desert native), and two espalier fruit trees, most likely a lime and a pomegranate. It was a hard decision to remove mature trees, but they take over the small backyard, and I don't like the fruit from two of them. This new development makes it so much easier to implement this plan. I heard a chain saw in my near future!


Chris said...

Are you sure these are not Meyer lemons? We have meyer lemons, and they vary a bit in colors, and they have sweet, yet tart, juice.

Anyway, I know what you mean... it's hard to take things out but sometimes it's necessary!

Happy Holidays to you!

[Charlene] said...

I'm positive that they are not Meyer. This is a complete change from the huge, tart lemons that used to grow on this tree. And now, it's going to be outta there! I want to replace it with a Meyer, in fact. From my research, they seem like the best lemon tree.

Happy holidays, Chris!