Saturday, July 28, 2007

When life gives you lemons...

... make lemonade, lemon bars, and lemon meringue pie.

In Sacramento, it's criminal not to grow citrus. Despite touchy frosts and occasional freezes, we can walk out front or back and pluck oranges, lemons, kumquats, mandarins and other citrus fruits right off the tree most months of the year. That's one of the wonderful things about living here.

In my early twenties as a renter, I was able to pick grapefruits off a large tree from the roof of my Victorian four-plex apartment in midtown Sacramento. Pretty cool. I envied my aunt Eileen for her spectacular mature Washington navel tree that came with her cute bungalow in east Sacramento. Those were the hugest, sweetest oranges... mere steps from her kitchen.

In my late twenties, my husband and I bought our first house, also a little bungalow in east Sacramento... that came with a mature Meyer lemon tree. Meyer lemons can be used like grocery store lemons (Eureka, Lisbon, etc.) but they have a sweetness and unique fragrance that builds nostalgic loyalty. Lemon bars are great, but have you ever had a Meyer lemon bar? Heaven.

I hated selling our little house when we outgrew it, but I mostly hated losing that tree. Anyone buying a house with mature citrus trees is very lucky. A few years ago, I planted several dwarf citrus trees from Four Winds, hoping to have pluckable citrus sometime in the future. I finally do, or I'm about to. My Eureka lemon is so far the most robust tree and it's covered with egg-sized fruits. Ok, so it's not the Meyer, but I'm not complaining. The Meyer I planted in the ground here bit the dust and its replacement is getting established in a half-barrel. I'm also raising orange trees, a kumquat, a lime, and an indiomandarinquat. They're still in that awkward teenage stage.

Will I be in this house long enough to see all my citrus trees mature? Who knows? If not, at least someone else will inherit mature citrus like I did in my first house. For now, though, I'm looking forward to making lemonade and lemon bars... soon. I guess I didn't have to wait too long. Just a few birthdays.


  1. How neat to find a fellow blogger who feels the same way about growing citrus! I tasted a Meyer lemon in a friend's garden in Sonoma last year,and I completely agree with you on taste and aroma.
    We have a larger orange tree, planted by the previous owner,and last year enjoyed a huge crop. This year's is smaller. I also have a lime and a tangelo in half barrels,nurturing for wwhen we move to our new house next year. I definitely plan to add a Meyer lemon and knquat, as well as kaffir lime.

  2. I'm envious of your growing citrus orchard. A friend in Vacaville has a Meyer lemon at a rental house they live in and I bring them home by the shopping bagful every time I visit. I agree Meyer lemon bars are da bomb!

  3. Our house is fine and all, but I was sold as soon as I saw the Meyer out back.

    I have to add: deserts are nice, but this is what I do with all the extra lemons.