Tag Archives: meyer lemon

Calf cramps and phosphorous smoothies

I’ve been getting horrific calf cramps the past few nights. They typically hit while I am in full REM sleep and I wake up in temporary horror when they kick in. Once I am awake enough to comprehend what is going on, I become a bumbling idiot trying to point my toes towards me and then away from me until the pain subsides (I still don’t know which is the better option). Once they subside, I develop cramp paranoia and have trouble sleeping comfortably again. Fun.

I’ve read all I can on the cause of calf cramps. It isn’t dehydration because I drink 8- 10 glasses of water a day. It isn’t due to excessive exercise as it hits at all different times; the night after a hard run and nights after I haven’t exercised for days. I don’t take birth control pills and I’m fairly certain that I’m not pregnant.

The only explanation and one that makes a whole lot of sense is a lack of potassium and/or calcium. Here’s why:

I hate bananas – probably the best way to get the necessary potassium. Until someone creates a new breed of banana that doesn’t have that nasty texture, I’m out.

I hate milk – ever since my kindergarten classmate threw up her milk all over my shoes, I can’t stomach the stuff. That smell never left me. My parents made me drink it and I still resent them for it. It was the greatest part about leaving for college, no more forced milk. Pathetic, i know.

Knowing all this, and knowing the calf cramps are … cramping my style … it’s time to make a move. Bananas in smoothies works (no texture issues) and daily calcium pills are now on the docket. We’ll see just how much of an impact this will have.

Which brings me to my giant lemon …

Don’t get the transition? Here we go.

I talked a few weeks back about the soon to be beautifully ripe Meyer lemon I had growing on my Meyer lemon tree. You can read it here.

I finally picked it yesterday as it was time to finally enjoy it. Off it came and the first thing I needed to do was measure the giant.

meyer lemon

About 5 inches wide and 15 inches in diameter.

I had personally never seen a lemon that large and I started to wonder if just maybe I am the lemon whisperer. I could envision a future of people coming from far and wide to view my lemons. A potential book and a movie and a legacy passed on to my kids.

And then I cut into it.

Um … what

meyer lemon 2

Holy rind Batman.

Doesn’t really smell like a lemon.

And the pulp is very dry.

What a f’n colossal disappointment. Where did I go wrong?

It didn’t take very long to figure it out. After a quick Google search, it seemed to be very obvious. Two different things actually (best description here):

Too much nitrogen

Too little phosphorus 

Hmmmm. I’ve kept up with the feeding over the last few years, but nothing excessive. I’ve used a balanced citrus fertilizer but maybe it is time to switch it up. Maybe start using a better organic option like bone meal.

But then again, the fruit to follow looks normal, appearing to have that patented thin Meyer lemon rind.

meyer lemon 3

Do nothing? I can’t. Need to take action.

So in conclusion:

Me: Banana based smoothies and calcium supplements

The lemon tree: Phosphorous based smoothie and bone meal

See what I did there tying it all together? I know, impressive.

Meyer Lemon Challenge

I take my lemons very seriously. 

Is that weird? Actually, allow me to be more specific and less weird.

I take the lemons produced from my Meyer Lemon tree very seriously.

Not so weird, right?

Need proof of this lemon allegiance? Check this out from a few years ago:

A special lemon

Truth is, we haven’t harvested a lemon since that day … but that is about to change … in a big way.

Last year I received a ton of great feedback from readers (thank you!) and from a dude I met on an awesome local gardening radio show I’ve been lucky to frequent over the years. Here is a consolidated list of those tips (all pertain to winter indoor care):

  • Before bringing indoors, place tree in partial shade outdoors for 2 weeks and then another 2 weeks in the attached unheated garage.
  • Spritz the leaves with water every other day to up the humidity.
  • When watering, use warm water.
  • Place the lemon tree on top of a warming mat.
  • Keep the tree away from window/door drafts. I close the curtain to my back sliding door whenever possible as a wind barrier.
  • When in bloom, use a Q-tip and just poke it into the flowers.
  • Fertilize even if it is the winter.

Now some of these tips may be debatable or unnecessary (based on online research I’ve meticulously conducted) but I cannot complain about the results this year. Currently, I have ten lemons on my tree, including this just-about-to-ripen-monstrosity.

meyer lemon challenge

I’ve never seen a lemon this big as it roughly the size of a grapefruit. Now I just pray that it tastes as good as it looks.

Some other current day fruit.

lemon 3

lemon

And the first set of buds just emerged within the last week.

lemon buds

Color me giddy with excitement.

Back to that first mother of a lemon I just showed you. I am thinking we will pull it off the tree within the next week. And it is clearly big enough to easily split into four decent sized wedges.

With that in mind, I am challenging my family to come up with a creative use for their quarter of a lemon. I have my plan mapped out already and spoiler alert, it involves sun screen and the PennEast pipeline. The rest of the family is now on the clock.

I’ll be sure to dedicate a post to each of our upcoming lemon plans and challenge each of you to get creative with your own lemons.

Is that weird? Who cares, do it already and let me know what you did in the comments.

 

Meyer Lemon Tree Update

There have to be close to 40 blooms on my Meyer Lemon tree right now.

lemon

And a bunch more on the way.

lemon buds

I always anticipate quite a bit of leaf drop after bringing the tree indoors each fall, but this year I made it a point to allow the tree to slowly adjust to its new surroundings.

We went from full sun to partial sun outdoors for two weeks in September.

Then we stayed in the unheated garage for a two weeks once the temps dipped severely in October.

Then we made our way inside into a south facing window with supplemental light through the use of a grow light.

This new plan of a phased adjustment to a life indoors has worked with very little leaf drop along the way. However, within the last week or so we are seeing a lot of this …

lemon leaf

After some panicky research online, I decided to head in the fertilizing direction because I know I haven’t over watered the Meyer Lemon and saturated the roots. It must need some food.

So we did a feeding.

And started a program of misting the leaves in early afternoon on sunny days (Thanks Twitter friends).

I added a tray of pebbly water nearby to up the humidity.

I’ve even quickly removed a sucker forming below the graft line because I’m a serious mofo with this Meyer Lemon tree care now.

lemon sucker

We’ll see how this all pans out over the next few weeks. To date, I’ve only had one lemon with so many other tiny forming lemons falling off at some point.

So my question for you all – is there anything else I can do to up the chances of keeping the lemons on the tree?

 

Grats.

 

One special lemon

Five or so years ago my wife gave me a Meyer Lemon tree for Christmas. I still vividly remember the chilly December evening when the four of us were enjoying dinner out and the kids were all giggly and whispering and daring me to guess what Mommy got me for Christmas. I eventually coaxed it out of them and we agreed I would plant it later the next day, a week or two before December 25th. That night was one of those randomly awesome family times when the stars are aligned and you want time to freeze so the kids don’t age another day. Those nights mean more to me than any holiday or vacation.

Since that time, the tree has been brought indoors each autumn where it pouts and drops a bunch of leaves only to rebound when it makes its way back outdoors the following spring. I would get plenty of fragrant flowers along the way, but never an actual lemon …

… until late last summer, when I finally discovered an actual lemon hanging precariously off of a bare branch:

The tree itself had seen better days, but the little lemon was enough to keep me inspired heading into the winter:

Once the tree made its way inside the house, I placed it in its usual southern exposure in my kitchen:

Except now that we had an actual fruit present, it was time to get serious. I had a family counting on me to provide for them. If this fruit were to not come to … fruition … I may never gain back their faith in me. These are the times when real men step up and deliver. So I purchased a grow light and fertilized the tree for the first time while it was indoors. Soon enough, the lemon started to mature:

And new growth appeared all over the tree:

My only fear now, was that the lemon would fall off of the tiny branch and we would be screwed.

But this was a special lemon and she wasn’t going to be denied. By the time we hit May/June, the lemon looked like a … lemon … and I knew we were in the clear:

Now the challenge was all about how to actually enjoy it. It had to be special and ceremonious and we needed to do it right.

Last week I pulled the lemon off of the tree, ready to force a decision upon ourselves as to how it would be consumed. Do we all get a quarter of it and simply eat it? I was game but no one else was on board. Do we use it in a cocktail? Not a bad idea but then the kids would feel left out. Maybe we each take our 1/4 lemon and do whatever the hell we want to with it? Still no definitive direction.

This past Saturday was my son’s 12th birthday. We were having some family over and decided on serving lobster rolls, one of his personal favorites. I wasn’t thinking about that Meyer lemon sitting in the fruit bowl in the kitchen at all until I stepped out the front door and saw this:

My son was chilling, drinking a lemon soda and I commented on how much he loves all things lemon flavored. BOOM, it all came into focus. This was the day our special lemon would be devoured.

True story, my wife craved and was obsessed with citrus when she was pregnant with my son. Lemonade, lemon ice, lime cookies and orange juice were all a part of her daily diet. And no lie, from the day he was born and could eat regular foods, my son loved everything lemon flavored. There has to be a connection here.

I ran back into the house and consulted with my wife. We had the plan in place. Out came the lemon and we cut it in half:

Looking good.

One quarter or so was eaten by yours truly (delicious by the way) and the rest was squeezed into a pot:

The lemon juice would be flavoring the butter that would be flavoring the …

Lobsters!

The lobster rolls were a huge hit and the best I’ve ever had. That friggin lemon juice made all the difference in the world. Our special fruit used for a special kid on his special day. Quick, call Hallmark, I’m getting all mushy and crap.

Happy birthday big guy, never change. We love you.

If we never get another lemon off of that tree, it still did its job.

When life gives you a lemon …

… stare at said lemon for hours on end, shocked you could even produce one of these on a tropical tree in your colder climate. Or something like that.

Weather still sucks here in case you were wondering. The only way to even think about checking out the garden is via hovercraft and mine is in the shop.

So I’ll have to entertain myself by ogling the lone Meyer lemon that is on the tree right now.

Well that and the last remaining bloom on the tree as well.

OK and also the new growth that has emerged all over the tree.

Did I mention how wonderful it is outside?

Yes, that is lawn and not the Delaware River.

I did eventually find  a way to get out in the garden without being swept away just to enjoy the bulbs that have started to put on growth at a nice pace.

The daffodils.

And the crocuses.

Even more exciting, is the promise of Viburnum blooms in the near future.

It is coming slowly, but at least we are trending in the right direction.

The Great Indoors

The blooms are gone.
The lawn has been cut for the last time.
The transplanting has ended.
All of the bulbs have been planted (well almost).
Now what the hell do I do? 
I’ll tell you what I do. I garden … inside. 
Full disclosure – I have virtually no idea what I am doing when it comes to houseplants. Or growing anything indoors. Zero. If you read my recent post about trying to keep a Meyer Lemon tree alive, well, the proof is in those photos. That thing is hurting big time.
But it all changes this year. I need something to hold me over during the winter months beyond catalog reading/planning. I need to tend to something that doesn’t include bickering children. 
So I’ve taken some first steps and while they may seem small to you, I’m pretty fired up.
As you’ll see in the photo below, I have a few plants that are resting comfortably in a southern exposure outside my back windows/sliding door:

On the left is a Norfolk Island Pine that I’ve tried to keep alive and thriving in the past but was not successful. I like it as a mini X-mas tree and dig its shiny green color and texture. It will definitely need sufficient light and I am up to the task of making that happen.

In the middle is a rosemary plant that I brought in from outside. Only once have I been able to overwinter one of these plants outdoors so why not give it a whirl indoors. I love its scent and I am not above rubbing a branch under my arms and calling it “natural” deodorant.

On the right is the aforementioned Meyer Lemon. I am supplementing the natural light with a grow light:

and took a chance and fertilized it a week ago. I am going to baby this sucker all winter because I MUST have lemons soon:

But does it end here? Hell to the friggin “no”.

A sprig of mint is sitting on the window sill by the kitchen sink (and yes this giant container is awkwardly overhanging the sink):  

How about some bulbs being grown indoors? Amaryllis and Paper Whites (Narcissus papyraceus) are on their way already. I timed their expected blooming for Christmas because I am that skilled:

What’s that you say? People have been doing this for centuries and it is the easiest task of all time. Next …

This last one is the one I am most proud of. I have had this terrarium ever since it was given to me by the people at H Potter over three years ago. I finally took the initiative and filled it with six different ferns:

I actually researched it and planted it appropriately with charcoal, moss, potting soil and river rocks. We’ll see how it goes.

My next task is to purchase some mini succulents online. I’ll be sure to share the results with you.

All of this non-outdoor work is occupying my time nicely and I vow to continue to educate myself more and more on these plants. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on what you cold weather people do with indoor plants. And please provide very specific and detailed instructions as I’m a little slow to grasp this stuff.      

Meyer lemon tree

For four years now, I’ve been doing my best to keep a Meyer Lemon tree alive and somewhat thriving. It is a container bound tree that lives outdoors June through September and indoors in front of a south facing window the remainder of the year. It has been a struggle ever since I received the little tree stub for Christmas from my beautiful bride but I am determined to eventually see the “fruits” of my labor.
Here is how it looks in its current state (actually from a week ago):      

It has quadrupled in size but as you can tell, it is a bit awkward as many leaves have dropped from the branches over the years. As I move the container indoors each autumn, the tree becomes unhappy and sheds some leaves in protest. The tree manages to hold on OK through the winter, but it is your classic “one step forward and two steps back” situation.

So now I’ve decided to make some changes to hopefully get me a nice looking and well limbed tree and most importantly, some friggin fruit. Actually, my first fruit appeared this summer and here’s hoping I can keep it on the tree over the winter:

Fingers are crossed.

Back to my changes:

  • I think I panicked a bit in the past and brought my tree in too soon; usually mid to late September. This year, I gave the tree a few more weeks of outdoor time and only brought it in last week in anticipation of our first frost.
  • I made it a point to slowly transition my tree from the outdoors to its ultimate winter landing place. The tree went from full sun all summer to partial sun for a week to my garage for a week. I am now ready to bring her indoors and hopefully the transition is a bit less stressful this year.
  • I never considered fertilizing my lemon tree while indoors but I am open to doing so this year. I’ve read quite a bit on the topic and while opinions vary, I am leaning towards feeding. What would you suggest?
  • I had previously lined the bottom of the container with perlite to aid in the drainage process but I can now attest to the fact that I believe that actually hindered the drainage. The perlite is out, new soil and a larger container are in and here’s hoping we get some positives out of this.
  • Finally, I made the investment in a grow light and I’m counting on this to supplement the light the tree typically gets from my south facing window.

I’ll be closely tracking the development of the tree this “off-season” and will share the results. In the interim, I beg for your feedback on what has or hasn’t worked for you.

As always, thank you.

John