Over the past year, our 6-year-old lemon tree has started producing more lemons than we know what to do with! We had a whole heap of lemons towards the end of last year, a lot more this year in February and even after the second bountiful harvest we are still left with lots of fleshy, juicy and fully ripened lemons on our tree.
I couldn’t be happier, or more grateful, that our lemon tree is now doing so well, even though it’s really taken its time. At some point I thought, we’re never going to have any lemons, and even though our lemon tree kept growing and sending out new shoots, albeit slowly, I knew I was just being impatient! Five years is not that long when it comes to fruit trees; in fact, it’s probably right on time.
So what have we done with all those lovely lemons? Well, we’ve made tons of delicious marmalade! We’ve kept quite a few jars for ourselves and we’ve shared the rest with family and friends. We’ve also made lots of lemonade; so much, in fact, that I’ve hardly had to buy any juice for us in the shops at all! We’ve also frozen some lemon rind and lemon juice to use later (especially in baking) and we’ve enjoyed freshly squeezed lemons in fruit salads as well as slices of lemon in our tea. While I haven’t quite sat down to calculate the savings, I know that we’ve saved on our grocery budget.
The benefits of growing fruit trees in your garden are not just financial though. Yes, it’s true, you get produce practically for free (excluding the money spent on composting and watering, which can be minimised if you make your own compost and rely on rainwater, both of which we do) but you are also beautifying your outdoor space, creating shade in your garden, attracting bees and birdlife and let’s not forget that planting any tree is good for our environment.
Besides, the fruit trees in your garden are organic produce. The fruit is also the freshest because it’s picked and consumed at source. We don’t spray any of our fruit trees yet we have so much to consume, share with family and friends, as well as provide for the birds and insects who feast on the fruit on the trees. By growing your own fruit trees, you are also not contributing to the CO2 in the atmosphere, which we all do the minute we purchase any produce at a shop; after all, the produce we consume has to be transported from somewhere to wherever you are, and transportation of any kind contributes to global CO2 emissions.
Now that winter is in full swing, we’ve kept back quite a few lemons on our tree to pick as needed. I love nothing more on a chilly winter’s evening than to curl up with a blankie and a hot cup of Rooibos tea, with ginger, lemon and honey. I’m grateful that we won’t have to buy any lemons this winter. I’m also pretty chuffed that our lemon tree is finally yielding some fruit!
Do you have any fruit trees in your garden? Have you considered planting one or two? I’m sure you wouldn’t have to look far and wide for something you fancy as most local nurseries stock a good variety of grafted fruit trees, suitable for our geographical region. While your initial purchase might seem expensive, give it a couple of years, and the produce yield, year after year, will be more than worth it.
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