Lemony Bucket

This is a tale of divine citrus. A tale of two trees that nearly succumbed, four years ago, to a combination of poor drainage and unskilled gardeners’ good intentions (which sent them at least part way down that road to hell). Two trees that, after a year or so of our tender ministrations, appeared scraggly and leafless – though not entirely so, for the leaves that clung weakly to the shrivelled branches had turned yellow and spotted, curled in upon themselves as if to say, “Just let us die already…” – and which we almost pulled out of the ground to consign to the green waste bin, telling ourselves that the experiment had been a failure. So what if our neighbors had ginormous citrus trees that kept them in lemonade year-round? That was clearly not to be our good fortune.

But then – a reprieve. Better soil. The discovery of citrus fertilizer at the local nursery. These basics made all the difference. New growth appeared and the trees began to flourish. The Meyer lemon tree grew six inches that next year, and the Bearss lime shot up and out a good foot in all directions. Sweetly scented blossoms appeared on the branches, followed by tiny baby lemons and limes. We harvested our first “crop.” And it was good.
This year, I could tell we were going to have a citrus bonanza, but I didn’t quite grasp the enormity of the crop until we had our first series of hard frosts last week. Friends told me to hurry up and pick the citrus – all of it, even if it wasn’t quite ripe yet – or lose it to the cold. Friday I went out with a bucket and a large basket and quickly filled both with lemons.
Then I filled another, even larger, basket, a large cardboard box, and an old wastepaper basket that had been languishing in the garage.

All told, I picked a total of 100 pounds of lemons and limes. Unbelievably, there are still more on the two trees! I simply had no more containers to put them in.

Surveying these riches, I began to map out an ambitious plan of marmalades, Meyer lemon tarts, Bearss lime pies, and lots of lemonade and limeade. It quickly became clear that even I, with my great reluctance to waste anything – especially when I’ve grown it myself – could not possibly make use of all the bounty. So I did what any enterprising domestic goddess/suburban gardener with a serious surplus would do: I called a few of the local restaurants, asking if they were interested in buying some of my locally-grown, pesticide-free citrus. This morning, I boxed up 25 pounds of lemons and 25 pounds of limes, and sold them to the pastry chef at one of the high-powered restaurants in Oakland. She’d like more when I have it. How cool is that?

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  1. Selling to a high-end restaurant…that’s brilliant! Of course I’m dying to know which one.

    Happy new year. I really enjoy looking at your blog!

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