If life hands you lemons…

I didn’t think I could grow citrus successfully in Hunua, as when I moved here, there was only one citrus tree in the garden and it was the saddest, most miserable looking ‘Meyer’ lemon you could imagine. I think we got one lemon off it that first winter. Our garden isn’t just frosty, it’s largely south-facing, making those frosts even more frosty, if you get my gist.

When we were carving the hill below our house into terraces, we ummed and ahhed over whether to keep the scungy lemon tree (and a non-fruiting feijoa) or rip them out. I felt a stab of pity for the citrus tree and figured I’d give it another year, with a bit of care, to prove its worth. (As part of the landscaping, we’d also pulled out a shelter belt that was casting quite a bit of shade over it.)

After a good feed and a stern talking to, it has had a Lazarus-like recovery. We got at least 100 lemons off it last winter and there are hundreds more developing this year. Buoyed by its change of heart, I had a change of heart too and planted a whole citrus grove last August. Four days later it snowed and killed the tops off all my trees. Ain’t that always the way? I sense potted trees that can be shifted under the wide porch across the front of our stables may be the best long term solution.

See below for my ‘How to Grow’ citrus video for The Living Channel.

11 thoughts on “If life hands you lemons…

  1. I am in an ongoing battle with lemon trees and am yet to actually grow a full sized, yellow juicy lemon before the tree they should grow on yellows and dies.

    I have tried every condition, every trick and still I fail : (

    I finally have a tree that seems to have been through a sulk and is now on it’s way back to healthy with a few tiny green lemons on it.

    Fingers crossed that we get something finally!!! We eat and use so many lemons and it would be great to have our own source.

    This challenge is made all the more frustrating by the fact we grow all sorts of other crops and they do great! Including grapefruit, mandarins and tangelos.

    Please Lemon gods, look kindly on my little tree……

    • Hi Rachael,
      What type of tree is it? A ‘Meyer’? They’re by far the easiest (and most cold-tolerant) citrus. I’d buy another tree if you’ve got a sulky one. If it’s continually turning yellow, it sounds like the soil could be too wet (if it’s not a magnesium deficiency).

  2. Hi Lynda,

    I am a long-time follower and fan. I make specialised baby food freezer trays (the mumi&bubi Solids Starter Kit), right here in Auckland and, seeing as you’ve got a few acres of baby food growing nicely down there, I would like to send you some.

    Please get in touch with your address and I’ll get those off to you right away 🙂 With everything you do, you will find many uses for them well beyond baby food.

    Looking forward to hearing from you!

    Best regards,
    Christina Piet
    owner, mumi&bubi

  3. Hi Lynda,

    Loving the new videos! Especially this one on citrus as I have a very petulant old lemon tree that I am slowly coaxing back to life so lots of great tips.

    I am just wondering how we access the other video’s I have looked on YouTube but they are unlisted. Would love to watch the rest of the series!


  4. i live in christchurch and have 3 small citrus trees growing on a north facing wall next to the house. they have done well over the summer and i have fruit! but now it is winter and we have started having frosts. i have been diligent about frost cloth overnight but was wondering whether they need to be uncovered during the day. do you know? can anyone advise please.



    • Here in Dunedin I have a Meyer lemon tree against a north facing brick wall. In my experience, frost and snow do not seem to harm the tree but do stop the actual lemons from growing, it almost hardens them. Therefore I do cover if there is likely to be a frost but don’t always remember to remove it during the day

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