Three hundred and fifty five days ago I publicly declared that I was going to conquer my incompetence with citrus trees and vowed to keep one alive. I’ve killed so many over the years that my reputation proceeds me and when I wander the tree aisle of the garden centre all the lemons and limes quake with fear. I just keep trying and applying my do or die philosophy down in the orchard. This clearly didn’t work as they really didn’t appreciate the neglect, the lack of regular feeding and the soggy wet feet in winter. I lost count of how many met their end down the far end.
Having said that, there was one mandarin that after being given up for dead has actually managed to grow through the hard times and actually produced a harvest this season. This came as a bit of a shock, to find a flash of orange in my winter orchard. But it was really a lemon I was after. It was always quite embarrassing to have to accept my lemons from the overabundance of others.
I thought it would be nice to pop them in the chicken run so they could feed it in their own special way and in return it could provide them with shade. They didn’t quite see it that way and just scratched it up, damaging them beyond repair. They didn’t last long there at all.
Then there were the ones that died in the most shameful way – still in their pots, while I pondered the best way to keep them alive. Oh the irony.
But this year was different and it took an entire year of deciding just how I’d go about it, but there was always something else to do, so they got pushed back to the bottom of the list. Sometimes they weren’t even there at all, only to be returned to the list after a sleepless night where I was wracked with concern over the lack of lemon in my life. My garden often wakes me at night to remind me of things that need to be done.
But with a handful of days left in the year, I needed to make good on this resolution and I headed to the garden centre and picked up a nervous Meyer Lemon and Tahitian Lime with dwarfing rootstock. Things weren’t looking good for them as they ended up sitting on the deck in their pots for well over a week. Putting them right outside the door may have caused problems for the rest of the family as they had to walk around them, but for me, it kept them in the forefront of my mind.
I thought I’d whip up a container with the left over palings from my great compost / fence project, because if I’m to overcome the wet feet problem they need to be raised. If they are to avoid being neglected and get feed regularly then they need to be right where I can see them – in my garden. However in my haste, my measure once by declaring ‘she’ll be right’ didn’t go well for me for once. And after an afternoon of Hubby the Un-Gardener welding power tools on my behalf, I reluctantly abandoned my hand made bespoke container idea. It could have been fabulous, because it was in my head.
While out Christmas shopping, buying gifts for others I found the bargin of the century and got two wonderfully large pots that will not only support my citrus, but make a stunning feature, because they are gorgeous. I filled the pots with my rich soil, but also added a generous helping of perlite because normal soil can compact easily in containers. I also added compost, blood and bone, sheep pellets and other goodies for sustaining the greedy plants as they settle in and grow to fill their new homes.
All going well I’ll have a splash of yellow fruit come winter and if not this one but the next. But as per my new years resolution, I really only have to keep them alive until the end of the year. I’m sure I can manage keeping them in the land of the living for the next 10 days!
Come again soon – Christmas is days away and the garden has a large role in the menu. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without it.
Sarah the Gardener : o)