The Garden Spotter

Lemon Tree, Very Pretty: Growing Citrus Inside


lemon tree Outside, the frozen ground may be covered in snow and the trees long barren of leaves. But imagine, for a second, that inside there’s a co-existent tropical environment, where a small lemon tree produces the sweetest smelling flowers and lush golden fruit.

Yes, it is possible to grow citrus inside. But there are a few tricks to it.

Lemon Tree Varieties

Citrus x limon trees can grow up to 40 feet, so obviously it’s important to consider this in choosing the type you’ll grow indoors. Dwarf varieties are recommended; they will typically grow to no more than four feet, making them ideal for containers. Citrus x Meyeri, or Meyer Lemon Tree, in dwarf form is very popular because of the fruit’s preference among chefs. A cross between a lemon and mandarin orange, the Meyer is sweet with a thinner skin that makes it easy to peel.

Other lemon tree varieties suitable for indoors include dwarf Ponderosa, Lisbon and Eureka lemon trees.

Grown indoors, lemon trees will bear fruit unpredicatably. They produced beautiful, fragrant flowers and then the fruit develops, taking sometimes several months to mature. You won’t get an abundance of fruit from each tree, but it will be steady throughout the year. Most lemon trees begin bearing fruit after two or three years.

Lemon Tree Care

A lemon tree thrives naturally in humid, tropical weather, which is important to keep in mind if you’re growing one indoors. They do very well in a south window and need at least five hours of direct sunlight per day in order to bloom.  The tree should be planted in a large, sturdy container, a half to a third larger than the root ball. Soil should be light, and slightly acidic. Fertilize and water regularly; soil should be kept slightly moist, but not soggy.

Lemon trees can be brought outdoors in the warm summer months and set on a deck or patio, and then brought back in in the fall. As long as the plant is healthy and properly cared for, pests such as aphids will be kept to a minimum.

Garden Goals for 2017


happy_new_year_floral When setting any sort of New Year’s garden goals, I think it’s important to have a few guidelines, otherwise you risk failure and no one likes failure. Goals should be challenging, yet attainable. They should be geared towards building something and progressing in a positive way.

I learned this when we moved into our new house in Bath. In a year’s time, I envisioned a new deck and driveway, a lushly landscaped yard, and total privacy. While we did meet some of our goals, others fell short because we had to do some foundation work and other upgrades to relieve some water drainage issues. And down the drain went our deck money. Looking back, I think I was just setting myself up for disappointment when I set those too-ambitious goals in the first place.

I’ve smartened up. This year’s garden goals have two guidelines: They are not too specific nor are they too numerous.

Just three very garden goals for this year:

Buy more local organic seeds and plants. Maine has so many reputable seed companies, it makes sense to purchase them from an in-state supplier and grow what I can, or purchase seedlings grown by local farmers and nurseries. The plants will be healthier and hopefully produce better, as they should adapt better to local conditions.

Closely related to buying local organic seeds and plants is my second garden goal for 2017: Further reduce my exposure to chemicals.  I think many other people are taking the so-called “clean living” pledge this year to eliminate chemicals from their lives. I have cut down on additives and synthetics considerably in my food, home and yard, but I want to go all out, and eliminate all household cleaners and garden products, too. This would involve discarding the insect sprays and other chemicals that were left here in storage when the previous homeowners moved out, and replacing them with organic and non toxic treatments. The goal is toward zero man made chemicals in my life, but, having said that,  I realize that 100 percent chemical free is a pretty lofty goal.

And my last garden goal for 2017? As I sit looking into my neighbors’ backyards for the second winter – and they into ours, no doubt – I am reminded of a goal not achieved last year, not even close. I wanted to create more privacy, particularly in the winter months, by planting some evergreens along our borders to add some visual cover, as well as create more protection from the elements.

So, carried over from last  year, a less specific, more generalized garden goal to add more privacy to our yard. That might mean a few strategically placed trees or shrubs, or a partial fence or other structure. We shall see.

As for the new deck? I think it is quite possible we’ll have that in place this summer, along with some changes in the kitchen and back entry. I’m just not going to make it a garden goal for the year, lest we encounter any unforeseen circumstances like last year.

I’m hoping for a great, green and productive year for 2017. How about you?

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