Project Lemon

26 Apr

I love lemons almost as much as I love feeding lemons to toddlers. You should try it sometime – best entertainment. ever.

I reckon all lemons should be Eurekas. Unlike the fraudulent Meyer, more sweet than a lemon, and the Lisbon – thick skinned and freakishly seedless. Eurekas are intensely sour, knobbly and fantastic.

The Eureka lemon- repotted

When my friend Sarah heard that my Eureka lemon was stolen earlier this year, she said I could become custodian of her one. It was in a pot, not getting much sun and looking a bit sick. When she described it I was imagining a pathetic bedraggled specimen, but when she brought it around a couple of weeks ago it was beautiful – much larger than I expected, and I started immediately dreaming of little D eating its fruit.

I repotted it into a terracotta pot about 40cm in diameter. Its is slightly wider than the pot it came out of and substantially deeper. It will probably only do for about a year, but until then it’ll be fine.

The tree had recently come under attack by furry caterpillars, but she has managed to ward them off with pyrethrum. I’ve been keeping my eye out for any other attackers, but I think she’s sorted them out.

Sick lemon leaf - what does it need?

I seem to always kill things when I try too hard, and I’m determined not to kill this one. So I’ve been trying to space the ‘treatments’ a week apart. First treatment was a watering with seasol on transplant. Next, I needed to sit back and think about it. I know that mineral deficiencies should be evident from the patterns on the leaves, but I’ve gone a bit cross eyed trying to work out what it needs.   Iron? Zinc? Bex and a good lie down?

So a week ago I took a stab in the dark and gave it a water with some iron chelates. I didn’t want to overdo it, so I made it up at half the recommended rate and watered it in. A week later I can’t honestly tell if it’s made a lick of difference, but I don’t think it has hurt anything.

A week after the iron treatment

We’ve had a lot of rain in Sydney, and it doesn’t look like easing, so I’m worried about my old nemesis – root rot. A few weeks ago I threw all organic standards out the window and bought some Yates anti-rot for my dwarf mandarin. You can apply it as a foliar spray, or put it in a watering can and water it in. I did it that way for the mandarin, and that’s what I’ve done again today for the lemon. I also gave it a sprinkle of dynamic lifter for citrus because I’m worried that all the rain is leaching all the nutrients from the soil. I’ll keep you updated on it’s progress.

Repotted Avocados

In other news, my avocados arrived from Daley’s Fruit. Avocados apparently crop better if you have two complementary varieties, so I ordered a Wurtz because it’s naturally small and an A pollinator, and a Sheppard, because it’s my favourite type to eat, and a B pollinator.

Daley’s don’t recommend growing avocados in pots, but I’m ignoring their advice and trying it anyway. They have a long tap root, so I bought some tall narrow pots on ebay that I think they’ll like. I plan to repot them in 12-18 months, and pinch out the vertical growth to encourage a horizontal growth habit. Today I gave them some dynamic lifter at the same time as the lemon, and I probably need to give them some preventative anti-rot too, because avocados are particularly susceptible, and if I can kill a citrus that way, then surely the avocados are doomed…

*Update* here

9 Responses to “Project Lemon”

  1. Asydfoodie April 26, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

    With the lemon … Did the yellowing start in the young or the old leaves first? If the young leaves. I’d try Epsom salts (short term) and then chicken pellets (long term). Probably not iron chelates – are citrus acid soil loving?

    • L April 26, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

      I have no idea – Sarah would know better than me. Pretty sure Iron chelates is good for iron deficiency in citrus, but just not sure if iron deficiency is what I am dealing with. I did the chicken pellets (dynamic lifter) today. Is epson salts for magnesium?

      • Asydfoodie April 26, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

        Yes. The other good one is sulfur of potash. Or you can buy trace elements in a shaker bottle

    • Sarah April 27, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

      No idea! I have a new baby, so the tree’s been quite neglected for about 6 months

      • L April 27, 2011 at 10:52 pm #

        Hehe. I’m grateful too – gives me something to play with 🙂

  2. The New Good Life April 27, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    Oooh, I have also been working on a Project Lemon of my own. Twice I’ve cut back dead sections and have managed to get rid of some sort of burrowing parasite that made the branches swell up. Now I have caterpillar issues as well and I ended up spraying it with some citrus eco oil to help it along the way. I have some citrus fertilizer as well to go on, but will wait til next weekend before I put that on.

    I have a toddler at home too, so I’ll be waiting with bated breath to feed her one of my home grown fruits if it finally decides to show some sort of productivity.

    Good luck with your lemon.

    • L April 27, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

      Ooh – I think I can help with that one. The branch swelling is probably Citrus Gall Wasp. Look it up, but I think all you can do is prune.

      I hope you’ll post a picture of toddler lemon-eating when it happens 🙂


  1. Success on project lemon « 500m2 in Sydney - May 18, 2011

    […] posted last month about the Eureka lemon tree I was attempting to nurse back to health. I’ve been […]

  2. My Struggles with Citrus « 500m2 in Sydney - March 13, 2012

    […] first (clearly enlightened) gardening acts I killed my kaffir lime tree by overwatering it. I then took custody of my friend Sarah’s Eureka lemon tree, which despite the appearance of early success, I […]

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