Several years ago I bought a dwarf Meyer Lemon tree and have truly loved it ever since!
Our new homestead in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Northern California has a few days each winter below freezing (rarely below 26 or 27 degrees) for a day or two at a time, and most citrus trees cannot withstand that low of a temperature for that long. So, we are keeping our citrus trees in fairly large pots, which allows us to move them for the winter into a greenhouse or cover it with a frost blanket, or both!
We live in USDA zone 7b or 8a, and yet our citrus trees have done well, in fact they have positively thrived since moving up to our new homestead.
The move up here was particularly hard on the citrus trees because most of their leaves got shredded while travelling in the back of our pick-up. It was so sad and we didn’t even know it was happening until we arrived, but the poor dears bloomed just a few short months later anyway. Now that’s what I call resilience!
In Italy, lemons are very popular, and so many homes are built with a “lemonaia”, a room with southern window exposure just for citrus fruit trees to overwinter!
For those who don’t know, a Meyer Lemon is actually a cross between a regular lemon (Lisbon or Eureka) and a mandarin orange, which is why the Meyer is sweeter than a regular lemon. However, it may be less acidic than a regular lemon, which is why you should not use one for acidifying fruits or vegetables while canning.
The Lisbon and Eureka lemons are usually larger than a Meyer Lemon, and the coloring of the fruit is also a little different, with the Meyer having a slightly orange tinge to both the rind and the flesh.
I just adore the sweet/tart flavor of the Meyer, especially dripped onto salmon patties, or infused with basil or lavender in a glass of iced cold water… especially on a hot summer day!
Our tree produced about 15 lemons this year, which is a lot for this little tree, and there were a few left on the tree just this last week. I figured I should get them off the tree, since I saw there were already small flower buds on the tree for this year’s crop!
My mother has had a regular lemon tree in her backyard for quite a few years now (I think it is a Eureka) and only picks the fruit when she needs them, and so she has had mature fruit, immature fruit and blossoms on the tree all at the same time. Although it doesn’t seem that her tree minds this in the least, hers is in the ground and mine is in a pot, so I thought I would unburden the tree by picking the last of the lemons.
Our mandarin tree is a Tango Mandarin and is about four years old now. Last year we got almost three dozen mandarins from this dwarf tree! The Tango is supposed to be seed free, but every one of ours have had seeds. After a bit of research, I found that this is probably because of it’s close proximity to our Meyer lemon tree, and the apparent cross pollination.
Obviously we didn’t… but we live and learn!
However, since we don’t mind a few seeds (a perfect excuse for a lady to spit!) we will continue to grow them together.
Believe it or not, this little tree produced almost three dozen fruit this year! The Tango mandarin isn’t usually completely ripe until late January or February, and the quality of the fruit does not degrade for a month or so after ripeness when left on the tree, so we have been enjoying the “fruits of our labor” day by day as we walk by and pluck a snack.
What did I do with the last of my Meyer lemons? I cut them, squeezed them, strained the and poured the juice into ice cube trays.
I thought of making lemon curd, but to save time I thought I would first freeze the juice and then decide later what to do with it. I found a great recipe for lemon curd that can be canned in half pint jars at National Center for Home Food Preservation. If I don’t make the curd, I will probably use the ice cubes this summer in iced tea or infused water. Mmmmm… doesn’t that sound good?
Someday, if we ever get our new house built, I am going to put these trees on our front porch, which will be on the south side of the house. When the trees are in bloom the aroma is heavenly, and I think they would make a beautiful welcome to all who visit. I want to add a lime tree and probably another Tango mandarin, and will use them as a border along one side of the porch where I can set a couple of pretty patio chairs. Won’t that look pretty?
Where the party is: