When life gives you Meyer Lemons, Plant The Seeds because,
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
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 are pollinated by bees or insects. Grown indoors, they must be hand pollinated. Photo PBH
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.
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.
Obsessed 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.
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.
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.
2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 T. fresh lemon juice
1-2 t. buttermilk
Zest of one fresh lemon
How 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.