Category Archives: Fruit

Missouri Lemon Harvest

When life gives you Meyer Lemons, Plant The Seeds because,

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I’m growing lemons in the middle of America.

Meyer lemons can be container grown, are small, hardy and fast growing. Start with a seedling, or plant the seed directly from the fruit.

It started with a tiny, sad tree rescued from the garden center sale bin. In a week or two, I’ll plant seed produced from the fruit of that rescued tree. (More about that later.)

The thick, shiny green leaves are beautiful. The fragrant flowers are welcome  when not much else is blooming. The lemons are as bright and yellow as fresh, free-range chicken eggs.

The lemon harvest is fast approaching

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Meyer Lemons

Meyer lemon trees arrived in the United States in the early 1900s. Native to China, the fruit is a cross between a lemon and an orange or Mandarin orange. Meyer lemon or Citrus x meyerii, grows best in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9A through 11.

The tree produces less acid, or sour, tasting fruit than traditional lemons. They are sweeter, juicy and thin-skinned. The small trees grow quickly and are quite hardy.

Meyer lemon flowers

Meyer lemon flowers are pollinated by bees or insects. Grown indoors, they must be hand pollinated. Photo PBH

Movable fruit

I brought the entire lemon orchard indoors before the first frost. My entire lemon orchard is small. OK, it’s one tree. In a pot. The tree lives indoors during our zone 6 winters.

Growing citrus in southeast Missouri has always seemed impossible. Dwarf citrus trees, that can be moved into the house or green house for the winter, makes it possible. I really am growing lemons in the Midwest!

The little lemon tree is mobile. On milder winter days, I set the pot on the porch in the sun. After all chance of freezing is past in the spring, I gradually reintroduce the tree to outdoor living.

Lemon picking

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Don’t pull or twist the lemons off the tree. Use clippers to prevent damage to branches.

The harvest will begin sometime next week. The entire process should take two minutes. It’s my first citrus harvest, so I’m not really sure.

Meyer lemons continue to ripen and sweeten while on the tree. Lemons don’t ripen any further after they are picked.

Don’t twist the lemons off the tree. I’ll be using the small pruning shears to snip off the lemons. Cutting off the fruit will prevent any damage to the tree.

Preserving the harvest

Meyer lemons are thin-skinned, making them difficult transport. The fruit is sweeter and more juicy than most lemons available in grocery stores. The lemons are found seasonally here because they do not withstand excessive handling or shipping.

Whole lemon dressingObsessed with the first citrus harvest, I’ve been saving lemon treats, tips and recipes on my Pinterest board Lemon Tree Treats .

I have saved recipes for lemon curd, lemon pound cake, lemon shortbread, lemon cheesecake, lemon marmalade and lemon pie. I probably won’t make more than two or three lemony treats. Because a couple of recipes will use up the entire years crop.

The entire harvest is only 9 precious fruits. That makes a jar of lemon curd and a few lemon bars. Plus, a spritz of fresh lemon juice over steamed asparagus or broccoli.

As improbable as it seems, growing lemons in zone 6b is possible. It’s a challenge to grow citrus in Missouri. But, it will impress your friends and reaffirm your legendary green thumb gardening status.

sliced lemon

About You Can Grow That!

Welcome to the You Can Grow That! website. We believe that plants and gardening enhance our quality of life. We want people to be successful with what they grow and to become more aware of the many gifts that horticulture brings. The individuals, businesses, and groups included on this site share this common goal. We are promoting plants and gardening because we know that if you’re looking for joy, inspiration, or relaxation, it can be found in a sunny window, balcony, or your own backyard.

I’ll definitely be making Lady Bird Johnson’s Lemon Cake. It is the best lemon cake I ever tasted.

Lady Bird Johnson’s Lemon Cake

Preheat your oven to 325° F. Spray or butter a bundt pan.

Cake

3/4 Cup Softened Butter
1 1/4 Cups Sugar
8 Egg Yolks
2 1/2 Cups Flour
3 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
3/4 Cup Milk<
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Teaspoon Grated Lemon Rind
Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks until light and lemon colored. Blend into the creamed mixture.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Resift 3 times. Add the sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk.  Beat the batter thoroughly after each addition.

Add the vanilla extract,lemon rind and lemon juice.  Beat for 2 minutes.

Bake in a greased Bundt pan in the oven for 1 hour or until the cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool 19 minutes before inverting on serving platter.

Lemon Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 T. fresh lemon juice
1-2 t. buttermilk
Zest of one fresh lemon


Meyer LemonHow Claudia Alta Taylor became Lady Bird Johnson

Claudia Alta Taylor was born in Karnack, Texas on December 29, 1912.  Named for her Mother’s  brother Claud. Her nurse said baby Claudia was “purty as a ladybird.” (I call them ladybugs.)

The nickname Lady Bird replaced her first name forever. The family called her Lady.

Her husband called her Bird, which was the name she used on her marriage license.  She married Lyndon Johnson in November of 1934 after a two month courtship.

Mrs. Johnson is known for her support of the preservation and promotion of wildflowers in America. Lady Bird is responsible for the Highway Beautification Act. She also founded the National Wildflower Research Center in Texas.

The First Lady will forever be known as Lady Bird Johnson.

 

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Today’s Harvest Basket

Saturn or donut peaches

Today's harvest basket 6/30
It’s been a race to get my share of the peaches. There is a ruthless gang of squirrels who snag the peaches. I just wish they would leave a few more in my reach. This years heavy crop of peaches are about 2-21/2″ in diameter.

Also called flat peach,  it has a mild, sweet flavor. I’d call them lunchbox peaches or pocket peaches. Seems like kids would love these as much as they do the little Clementines or zipper oranges.

This little tasty peach originates from China circa 1869, and was  introduced by Rutgers and Stark Bro’s in the 1990s. Disease-resistant to bacterial leafspot. Self-pollinating.

My favorite peach preserve recipe:

Peaches and champagne preserves

 

Spring blossoms promise summer fruits

Fruit plants produce some of the prettiest flowers

Peaches, blueberries and strawberries are blooming and beautiful this year. The raspberries and blackberries are not blooming yet.

The tree is covered with pale pink blooms.

The tree is covered with pale pink blooms.

You don’t need acres of land to enjoy home-grown fruit. My peach orchard is one dwarf tree. The blueberry patch is four containers on the steps of the deck. The strawberry field is a 4′ square raised bed.

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These soft pink flowers or the promise of peaches to come. Stark Saturn Peach is also known as a donut peach.

The donut peach is a white fleshed freestone, just 2¼-2¾” in diameter. Sweet fruit and heavy producer the years we survive long, harsh winters and late frosts. Even without a peach crop, this beautiful peach blossom floral display every spring is reason enough to own this tree.

I got my peach tree from Stark Brothers. The tree is about 8′ tall. Because it is a self-pollinating tree, Stark® Saturn Peach is a great choice for small space gardens.

Ozarks Beauty Strawberry plants are loaded with white flowers

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Imagine the berries.

Imagine the berries.

Scarlet red Ozarks Beauty is ever-bearing with a heavy, first wave of fruit. It should continue with a light production of berries through frost. After that early flush of fruit, strawberry production in my garden becomes occasional. Usually the wildlife score these occasional berry before I discover them.

I started with 25 plants in a 4′ x 4′ raised bed with one 3′ x 3′ tier. Plants were sparse. In this third year, the beds are lush and full of plants covered with blooms. It can take 2-3 years to really produce a good crop. So, this is the year! Maybe, in addition to strawberry shortcake, there will be enough for a small batch of strawberry freezer jam.

Get strawberry plants from Stark Bro’s, Gurney’s, or Jung Seed.

Blooming Blueberries

blueberry blooms

These beautiful white blooms promise to produce berries with that old-fashioned wild blueberry flavor.

 

Blueberries blooming in containers on the deck.

Blueberries blooming in containers on the deck.

Four containers of dwarf  Tophat Blueberry plants are growing on the steps of the deck. In the second year on the deck, we had a mild winter and the blue berry bushes are all blooming this spring. If I don’t cover them, I’m sure the berries will be bird food.

I’m looking forward to picking a few full size ripe berries while sitting on the deck. The plants will get no more than 2′ tall. I the fall, I’ll prune my spindly plants to encourage them to get bushy.

These plants are from Gurney’s . You can usually get the dwarf bushes, from Jung or Stark Bro’s.

 

Tastes like Summer

Picking a perfectly ripe, sun-warmed peach from the tree, gathering a hand full of the juicy raspberries, or popping a whole, sweet strawberry in your mouth is the essence of summer.

Home grown fruit is the best fruit you ever tasted. If you are fortunate to have extra fruit, make a jar of two of homemade jam. That  jar of summer jam will need little or no sugar.

Home grown fruit is grown for flavor. It’s fragile, and meant to be eaten soon after harvest. Fresh fruit is the most nutritious and tender produce you can eat.

Stark Bro’s has been around since 1816. I’ve bought several fruit trees from Stark over the years. It’s a reliable company that stands behind their products. The confidence-building growing guides will get you started with home-grown fruit.

During the Stark Brothers 200th Anniversary,  you can get some very good fruit trees and berries for under $20.

 

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