08 June, 2016

Our lemon tree

- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

Poor embattled tree. House had tenants for years. One idiot WIREd the tree to a stake! The following tenants left the branch to grow over the embedded wire.

I can always pick a lemon from our tree

Lemon tree wired to that stake in 2014

Discovered Treasure for June is the established lemon tree. Permaculture food. I can pick a few lemons from our tree year round!

Discovered Treasures in our False Bay garden
Lemon and carob trees
Shrubby Marble Chips and Plectranthus

Your chosen plant for June?
Pam in the Poconos has picked a vase of mock orange for its fabulous scent!
Donna in Upstate New York brings dusky pink milkweed to her caterpillars and hummingbirds. 

Reaching for the sun in June 2014

When I first saw the tree, it was overwhelmed by next door's hedge pouring over, and a pair of Australian brush cherry monsters (from That Hedge). One feisty branch was reaching up for a corner of sunlight, and remains the most vigorous.

Lots of lemons in July 2015

We had the invasive aliens removed. We removed the stake and I cut the wire. I removed the dead and entangled branches, one by one, giving the tree a chance to recover. I lifted the elbowing and shouldering and poke you in the eye lower branches, also the way too high to pick from branches battling to sun. As I harvest each fruit, I tidy THAT branch.

Focal point from the washing pergola

Once the Ungardener had laid the paving slabs, the tree had to be altered to fit. For months he muttered about being whacked on the head by lemons as I waited for harvest.

Focal point from the path around Froggy Pond

I have a final ugly elbow and a fresh set of reaching for heaven branches. I have achieved a graceful interesting trunk with a twisty fan of branches. A focal point, both when you step out of the kitchen and gaze down Cornish Stripe through the frame of the washing pergola to a glimpse of mountain, and when you walk down the other side to Froggy Point where the barrier of That Hedge is a backdrop for my lemon.

With a necklace of inherited violets and my Felicia
mulched with citrus peel

Our tree has bugs or fungus beneath the leaves, which sunbirds and white eyes appreciate. At the garden club Harry Goemans Garden Centre man explained if you use systemic poison, you must wait 6 months to harvest. Shriek of indignation from the lady behind me. Silent screams from me about 6 months of toxic waste lemons. Why, if you use the lemon zest would you use an oil-based poison laced thru that fragrant lemon oil? Or a systemic poison, IN the lemon juice?!

~~~~~

We went on our first hack (with the Friends of Silvermine every first Saturday). Black wattle seedlings (from Australia) already as tall as I am a year after the fire. I pulled the smaller seedlings and have the, wrapped around my arm for traction, bruise to show for it. He used loppers and a bow saw (how strange was that to carry them into a nature reserve!) with poison on the stumps. But singing while they worked were the 3 men with tree poppers. I tried - even I - could remove a sapling!

We hiked up and over that ridge
carrying our tools in Silvermine

~~~~~

Cape Town's dam levels are 30%! We hope fervently for rain this winter, but I anticipate more severe garden watering restrictions next summer. Perhaps a simple grey water system to harvest the washing machine water for anything except acid-loving fynbos and pots?

Astroturf?
Green in a drought-stricken country

We live on False Bay. Satellite view shows an alarming patch of 'Astroturf' green, as if the Clovelly Country Club uses the Silvermine River to irrigate its greens. Our priority in a mediterranean climate with long hot summers and a city with a rapidly growing population? Western Cape farmers hoping for rain.

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Pictures by Jurg and Diana Studer
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35 comments:

  1. I love my lemon tree, too. It looks pretty much like yours branching into three at the same height. It is the one plant I would take to a desert island.

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  2. Diana - Are you sure it's bugs or fungus? Not woolly fruit fly? Woolly fruit fly is devastating orchards in the Western Cape - the Eco-friendly recipe I was given by Diane at Starke Ayres garden center in Tondebosch is on my blog. Also I've just found Nerm oil in SA - made by Biogrow and called Bioneem ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps you are right.
      I'll keep pruning, and harvesting.

      http://permaculturenews.org/2013/08/12/controlling-garden-pests-with-natural-remedies/ Mulch is my choice.

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    2. Sorry - typo - that should be Neem Oil. Rated organic - diluted properly and according to manufactuers instructions it is not harmful to beneficial insects. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neem_oil

      And from here: http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/pests/pesticides/neem-oil-uses.htm

      There has been concern about the use of neem oil and bees. Most studies specify that if neem oil is used inappropriately, and in massive quantities, it can cause harm to small hives, but has no effect on medium to large hives. Additionally, since neem oil insecticide does not target bugs that do not chew on leaves, most beneficial insects, like butterflies and ladybugs, are considered safe.

      http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/pests/pesticides/neem-oil-uses.htm

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    3. Even that small risk to bees - is too much for me, since we don't live in an agricultural area. I choose no poison in my garden or home.

      We have Swiss friends who had to remove all the cotoneaster from their garden, due to a fire blight risk to nearby apple orchards.

      Delete
  3. The tree has turned out nicely with your work and patience. The bonus is you have lemons to use as well.

    Our lakes were nearly dry for several years and have refilled with recent rains. We would like the city to keep some watering restrictions in place because the pattern will surely change again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Better to encourage people to use water thoughtfully.
      We are promised good rain tomorrow night ...

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  4. Your tree is now a lovely shape and I'm sure it is very grateful that you have removed the wire.

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    Replies
    1. I wish I could remove the wire - but the limb seems to have found a way to grow alongside the stub.

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  5. You've done a great job of caring for your lemon tree! I inherited one with our house too and am very grateful for it - in fact, I was admiring it just this morning. It produces fruit year round but could use some tidying up. I think I'll implement your strategy of cleaning branches up each time I pick some lemons.

    I can sympathize with you on the drought concerns. Our state's priorities in dealing with it leave me scratching my head too and there's one idiotic presidential candidate that has declared California's drought a hoax.

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  6. Your lemon is a lovely tree, mine are in pots as most winters they need to be inside the unheated greenhouse. This past winter they could have remained outside!
    Mine did have some woolly aphid, I conteol by picking them off, this year I can't see any, but I don't suppose I've won the battle but I would never spray!

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    Replies
    1. Icky leaves, and happy birds, suits me!

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  7. Your lemon tree looks beautiful. Maybe the bugs or fungus beneath the leaves will disappear now that you have pruned the tree and its surroundings. I am sure the tree is much happier now and will reward you.

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    Replies
    1. Opening it up to sunlight and the breeze, with food - the tree does look happy.

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  8. To a cold-climate gardener like me, the idea of being able to pick lemons from your own tree sounds like heaven! (That tree must be very grateful to finally have a knowledgeable and caring caretaker.)Hope you get your needed rain. -Jean

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    Replies
    1. We did have some rain ... and more promised next week.

      For Jean @ https://jeansgarden.wordpress.com/

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  9. Your lemon tree must be very pleased to have you .... My aunt had one in Zambia and it was very forgiving ... Had fruit every year regardless. Like you we try not to have pesticides of any sort & that has worked well for us. The rain has just started here after a very dry autumn ... Hope you get plenty soon..

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  10. Your beautiful lemon tree is testimony to your patient, meticulous work. P.x
    BTW -- my new blog postings are not appearing in the blog roll again. I've tried all the tricks you suggested some years back with no luck. I wonder why this is happening. It has totally cut down on the traffic to my site.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Odd. I read blogs via Feedly and had already seen your post.
      But I see my blogroll for yours says '1 week ago'.

      Try the options under 'Troubleshootize' via Feedburner?

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    2. I've 'pinged' and 'resynced' and read everything in 'Troubleshootize' but no luck -- this latest post still hasn't appeared in blogroll. Thanks for your advice. It may be a good idea for me to repost under a new date, but how do I do that?

      Delete
    3. open the Editor, Post Settings on that sidebar. Click Published On - and then change to Automatic? Ish.

      Delete
  11. Your lemon tree is wonderful; you have done a great job of restoring it to beauty and health. I think we are killing ourselves, not just bugs, with systemic poisons. The poisons don't distinguish between butterflies and other pollinators and the few "bad" bugs or humans! It is tragic that many chemically treated plants are sold to customers who want to attract pollinators, which they then kill!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Apex predator gets the full benefit of the poison we all use. I'm also concerned about microbeads, in toothpaste and ...

      Selling poisonous plants to gardeners who are actively trying to support pollinators, is malicious!

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  12. The shape of your lemon tree is beautiful. I share your dislike in using chemicals in the garden.The green of the golf course is striking against the rest of the landscape. Sarah x

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  13. I love the sculptural shape of your lemon tree. The elbow lends a certain charm too, I think. The idea of being able to pick lemons straight from the tree is very appealing. We have to make do with apples in our cool and currently very wet Suffolk garden.

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    Replies
    1. That elbow is polite, no longer poking into the path and people.

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  14. Hi Diana.,. am very happy to see you as active as ever... and your garden as pretty as ever... talking about the lemon tree, ours got blown over by a strong wind, and is now recuperating... happy gardening!

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    Replies
    1. Today we have fierce wind, and the carob tree is letting a limb down.

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  15. Some people! I love the scent of a lemon freshly picked from the tree.
    Amalia
    xo

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  16. Your lemon tree looks so nice all pruned up! How nice to be able to have lemons! I love the tree popper. That looks like such a handy tool. I hope you get some rain soon!

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  17. Why not remove that elbow from the lemon tree? Does it carry too much of the tree?

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    Replies
    1. Oh, I will!
      I like to sort the tree, one little bit at a time.

      Delete
  18. Not only resurrected but looking good. Always like to read a story of someone dafter than myself.

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    Replies
    1. Knowing your gardens - that's high praise - thank you :~)

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