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.