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Of Lemons Large and Small, It Pays to be Patient

Storebought versus Grown from Seed Ponderosa lemon

So, you’ve been told that you can’t grow citrus from seed?  I have to differ in opinion.  The puny lemon on the left, albeit normal to most of us, came from the supermarket.  The lovely large and fragrant Ponderosa lemon on the right was grown from the seed of a lemon grown from seed from a lemon tree grown from seed in the Hammock. Amazing, right?

Now here is the patient part of the story.  In 2005, I was riding my bicycle in the Hammock, actually on Armand Drive, out looking for lemon trees.  No, I wasn’t planning to pilfer, but rather ask the owner if I might have a couple for that year’s marmalade making session.  You don’t have to pilfer or pinch (as my British husband would say) citrus fruit in Florida.  All citrus tree owners know there is always way more fruit than all but the largest of extended families could consume in its given season.

I met a very kind lady who gave me a papaya that she had grown from seed–a story for another day.  She directed me to a man down the road that had a large lemon tree.  As fortune would have it, he was out front doing some yard work and took me to see his lemon tree.  He told me that his daughter had grown a tree from seed and when it bore fruit she had grown another tree which she had given to him.  I sure wish that I had a photo of his tree.  It was about 14 feet tall, beautifully symmetrical and laden with fruit.  I accepted a few more than I required for my marmalade and headed home.

I made my marmalade and made lemonade or lemon pudding cake or lemon shortbread or limoncello or something with the extra lemons.  Correct memory evades me.  I also had the foresight to save the seeds.  When they were dry I planted them in potting soil and watched them grow.  Since we were living in Atlanta at the time, they spent a few winters in the garage and basement.  They survived to travel home to Florida in 2009 when I came permanently to build our home in the Hammock.  I feel it is important to let you know, that at that time, we did not know that it was illegal to transport citrus trees across state lines into Florida. Oh, well…

We continued to nurture out potted lemons until our home was finished.  Then we planted them on all sides of our yard, not being sure where they would have the most success.  The Hammock, being a shady place, was a little slow to nurture my lovely lemon trees.  It actually took Hurricane Matthew (or the neighbor taking advantage of our absence to cut down a small live oak on our easement) to let the sunshine in and provide us with our first lemons last year. Two.  This year we have eight.  Honestly, that’s enough for two people for the season, especially as their yield is at least twice as much as the average lemon.

 

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