… except instead of I made it through the rain substitute I made it through the winter indoors.
And so here is our lovely little lemon tree, taking the outdoor sun for the first time since October. You might look at its droopy yellowed leaves and sad absence of leaves on some branches, but I consider it a triumph that we made it this far with any leaves at all.
It was a heartbreaking winter for indoor lemon tree farming. Within days of the tree coming inside, it started showing signs of poor health. I used to obsessively scour the internet for a diagnosis but believe me, the online gardening forums are much worse than WebMD for implanting dread. When the sun was out and the temperature was above 55, I ‘d haul it back out to the deck and drench all sides of the leaves and stems with organic neem oil but I could only do that for a few weeks and it never really got completely rid of whatever it was that was causing the problem in the first place.
So all winter long, a leaf that looked fine and green one day would drop to the kitchen floor the next. It was sad enough finding pea sized fruits on the floor but it was excruciating to watch my biggest fruit, all of 5/8″ long, die by shriveling. The tree continued to flower throughout its time in the house and that encouraged me to think that I had overcome whatever it was and so I overdosed with with Jack’s Citrus Food, causing more leaves to turn a different color before falling off. Boy, did that little tree make a mess on the floor. I’m glad it was in the kitchen where I could use a broom to sweep up whatever was falling off the tree, expected or not.
Not exactly sure what the cause of the problem is but it would start with faint white circles on the leaves – powdery mildew or scale? -and sometimes new leaves would kink or crinkle – mites or tatter leaf virus? – and once I saw a chomped edge on a single leaf – *shudder* . But we made it. And not just merely made it, but made it with an unexpected bonus. Look at this:
There are 5 fruits of similar size that grew from the second round of blossoming. 5! My goal was to retain at least one leaf until I could get it outside again, but here we are with many leaves plus some very promising fruits. so my plan is to take it out every day this week and bring it in to keep it warmed overnight. Then next week, I’m going to blast it with Bayer 3-In-1 Insect, Disease and Mite Control Spray, natural/organic considerations be dammed.
But really, what could be more natural than man obliterating a threat to its survival and prosperity? Then a piece of flint tied to a stick; now weapons grade chemicals from the garden section of Home Depot. That’s evolution.