Fifty lemons are a load for one person, but for fifty persons they are perfume. – Ethiopian Proverb
I saw this proverb today and thought about the lemon tree that is now growing in my garden/sun room in New Hampshire. (It’s such a more positive thought than the proverb about making lemonade from lemons, isn’t it?)
During my travels to the California Bay Area while working for Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard over the past 20 years, I’ve had the opportunity to become friends with many people who live in beautiful cities and towns close to San Francisco, include Palo Alto and San Jose.
I’ve always been impressed, and admittedly, a little (ok, very!) jealous, of the gorgeous lemon and orange trees that so many of them take for granted in their own backyards. When I say ‘take for granted’, many comment that the trees are messy and more of a nuisance vs. benefit.
When traveling to California during the winter months, I’d always return home to New Hampshire and think about how nice it would be to have my own lemon tree. Just for that fresh spritz of lemon to brighten a boring piece of fish. Or, a twist of lemon for a cocktail made at home. I’d be able to do so many things with my own home-grown lemons.
Time to become a Lemon Farmer
I never realized that this desire could become a reality, until I saw the fruits of the labor of two friends, in different areas of NH, who have been maintaining fruit producing lemon trees for the past few years. Both Bobbi (in Hampton Falls near the coast) and Joe (in Nashua across the street) have had much success growing Meyer Lemons in NH.
This year is my turn to become a “lemon farmer”!
The tree was purchased locally at a nursery just over the border in Chelmsford, Massachusetts late this fall and was about $30. While the Meyer Lemon trees that I know Bobbi and Joe have had success with didn’t look so healthy at the nursery this fall, there was a beautiful variegated Pink Lemon tree (called Eureka) that looked lush and was full of flower buds (which seemed odd since it was fall.)
The lemony fragrance of the flowers and foliage was (and still is!) just amazing. Bringing this tree into my home has been like adding a natural perfume into my home that envelopes my living space.
The Fruits of my Labor
Fast-forward 3 months. The pink lemon tree has been such a treat – at this point, primarily for the fragrance. However, the bright variegated foliage is a nice addition to the few indoor plants that are maintained inside of my home during the winter.
The lemon tree lives in the one room of my old home that sees natural light almost 8 hours a day in the winter. I’ve learned that it doesn’t like a lot of water and needs occasional doses of an organic fertilizer. Overall, it’s been almost maintenance-free.
The blossoms keep blooming, giving off that perfumey fragrance and the tree is filling out with some nice fruit. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that I was growing limes, based on how they look today.
Hoping for a Load of 50 Lemons
I do hope that I can grow even half of that number of lemons from this little tree! Of course I’ll add a some fresh lemon twists to some homemade cocktails, and spritz some boring fish. And, I’ll even make some (pink) lemonade! But I will also share these little beauties with local friends who need that uplifting fragrance that a fresh lemon brings during the middle of a NH winter.
I look forward to a blog post early this spring to provide an update when this lemon farmer prepares for the first sunroom lemon harvest!