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Lemon scheme

 
Tyler Ludens
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I would really like to have a Lemon tree. Here's my scheme for how I might grow one in my Zone 8 yard. Tanks are two black 3000 gallon rain tanks. Lemon will be on the South side of the tanks. Question: Should I extend the greywater (laundry) bed to include the root zone of the Lemon? Or should I just let the Lemon send roots in that direction if it wants to? What do you think of my plan? Will the tanks provide enough warmth to keep the Lemon happy?



lemonscheme.jpg
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Michael Newby
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I like the tankind idea but will they be kept full all winter or would they be in use? Not nearly as much benefit with half full tanks I'd think. As long as you keep the tanks full and maybe build some kind of cold frame for deep winter than a lemon might have a fighting chance.

As far as the grey water goes I think that as long as it doesn't overload the area and create an area that's waterlogged then it would be a good thing.
 
leila hamaya
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maybe.
a pile of rocks might help too, like a huge pile of rocks. maybe a slightly raised bed, too, where you could mulch it every year good.
citrus have very shallow small roots. well for a tree, that is...not exactly small, but considering the size of the tree it seems odd.

i am growing a lot of lemons, or well lets say i am attempting to grow a lot of lemons =P...in zone 8 too. but i have all the lemons, mandarins and orange trees that i have in pots....put them in a plastic sheet type simple greenhouse ish area, and surround the bases with mulch/straw/dirt...basically submerge them into the mulch so that the bottom half of the pots is under the mulch/dirt cover, to keep the roots a bit warmer. they are alive, but not enthusiastic, plus its been even wetter and much colder than usual, and this hasnt been good for them.

they are actually much hardier than many people think, i believe that most types could survive the brunt of our zone 8 winter without extra measures -- we are so close to zone 9, which is what most lemons are said to be hardy to....BUT a significant issue is that the tops would keep dying off/ and they keep resprouting from the roots and the bottom once it warms up. perhaps once they get to be older and bigger trees they dont do this as much, or resprout much more vigorously.if you got a cultivar type tree that was grafted, that would be an even bigger issue, although hopefully enough of the grafted part might survive zone 8 winter, just as is . ? maybe?

many citrus are winter fruit, so this is a big problem, as just as they are ready to bloom and set fruit along comes too cold temps, and then instead of providing fruit in winter or very early spring, they are just coming back. the tips often die back to the ground/pot/roots, or at least to the main stalk.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you for these helpful ideas! These tanks are for our emergency household water, so they're usually full (actually only one of them is currently installed). I like the idea of the rock pile. I have plenty of rocks! And it should be fairly easy to throw a covering over the tree in the event of a cold spell. Meyer is supposed to be the most cold-hardy Lemon, so I will look for one of those unless someone has a better suggestion.

lemonscheme2.jpg
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leila hamaya
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meyers are good, they are sweet for lemons, but different than most. they are a cross between a lemon and a mandarin (?) i think.

they have an advantage of blooming twice a year, or rather being able to produce lemons at any time of year, as opposed to most other types which have a set schedule, and usually are ripe in winter/early spring, depending on type. and totally they are said to be hardier than other types. they are also said to be the best for containers, and stay small ish.

i am kind of fond of the feminello lemon, i am trying some of those from seed. i'd really like to get a tree, have been contemplating actually buying a nice big one, in spite of it being less than a sure thing. they are HUGE!!! almost the exact opposite of meyers, they are less sweet than other lemons, really lemon flavored lemon!
another one that produces multiple blooms throughout the year, which i think increases my chances to get good fruit in this slightly colder zone.

i've also really thought about buying a pink lemon, theres a variegated pink 'eureka' type lemon i would like to try.
then theres some manadarins i want too! many mandarins are even more cold hardy than lemons.

i would consider offering to share some genetics, but shipping citrus out of cal is illegal!
you d have to find a closer supplier, i think tx might be one of the states that is an isolated citrus region.
 
Casie Becker
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My mandarin tree has now survived two winters a little north of you. If you drive around Austin, you'll occasionally see fruiting lemon and orange trees in peoples' yards.

Myer lemons produce well even at small sizes. When I was in an apartment I had a small potted Myer that produced 27 lemons. Citrus takes very well to pruning (why they're so popular as topiaries) and so could be easily kept small enough to cover in hard freezes.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you! Austin might actually be a bit warmer than we are down here, because of the city heat island effect. But it is encouraging to hear citrus can survive there. Of course there's loads of beautiful citrus in San Antonio, but they're Zone 9.

Unfortunately it is illegal to ship citrus to TX from most other states, so I'll probably have to buy a tree locally, or in any case regionally.
 
Casie Becker
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You have time to plan. Keep an eye on the Natural Gardner nursery. Citrus gets planted after all danger of frost. When the trees start showing up at that nursery it will actually be time to put them in the ground.

Oh, and I'm a little north of Austin. I've just never seen established citrus outside the city. John Dromgoole mentioned someone having a two story tall grapefruit tree that he saw in one of the suburbs on his gardening program a few weeks ago, but I don't remember which one (north or south or where ever)
 
Tyler Ludens
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I might not get the tank area set up in time for planting this year - I have to remove a failed hugel, level the area, move the tank, connect it to the existing tank, clean out the greywater bed, and make a buried wood bed where the lemon will go....
 
leila hamaya
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oo, i totally know how that goes, i have a half dozen things like that right now on my mind. gotta take it one step at a time, you know if you think about it all too much it gets overwhelming and you further procrastinate!

seems to me, without knowing much about how big it is, you might be able to plant 2 or even 3 small trees? seems like ...if you are going to go for it you should just totally go for it with a few trees. also seems like theres probably a way to use the water barrels as a support for a covering, somehow. like there could be a large frame that you pull out in winter, and between that and the tanks you could use to hold up the plastic/whatever else. i totally think the rocks will be a big help, you could do a rock mulch on top of the root area too.

mandarins are more hardy than lemons. owari satsumas and others are rated to be hardy to zone 8.

here's a link i found talking to google...

growing-citrus-in-the-texas-gulf-coast
 
Tyler Ludens
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Ooo! I think you must be right leila - I think I must plant more than one!
 
leila hamaya
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yeah , i have weird ideas about stuff, but you could squish the trees closer spacing than recommended.

also contrary to what most people would say, i am very interested to see what will come of the seed grown citrus i have been growing for...3 years now. on own roots, and from seed, contrary to what many would claim, i think has a good shot at developing better once in the ground.

they are starting to get big, but it will be a while. i got some mandarin seeds from this woman in greece on ebay, and got a quite a few sprouts from her seed, and just this year i ordered more from her. i do think in my limited experience, but it seems, the mandarins are doing better than the lemons, both the many seedling lemons i have started, and the older nursery grown (grafted) trees. i have been airlayering the citrus so now i have some small layered cuttings, meyers lemon on own roots.
 
Tyler Ludens
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What would be the best companion plants to include with the citrus? I'm thinking some kinds of flowering plants, but are there any kinds that are supposed to be especially beneficial for citrus?

Here's an updated version of the scheme:

lemonscheme3.jpg
[Thumbnail for lemonscheme3.jpg]
 
Tyler Ludens
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Here's progress; greywater basin cleaned and remulched, new berm constructed, pad for the new tank leveled and smoothed. fence partly installed, rocks beginning to go on berm:

lemonschemeMar7.jpg
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R Ranson
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I love this!

Sorry, I can't help with the advice, but I would like to share words of encouragement. Keep up the good work and thank you for sharing your progress with us. What a wonderful endeavor.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you so much, that's so nice! I'm probably too darn excited about this project and want to see it finished! I'm afraid the brakes will be slammed on when it comes time to move the water tank, because that will require help from my husband and the neighbor (or rather, the neighbor's tractor)...
 
Tyler Ludens
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Yet more rocks:

lemonrocks.jpg
[Thumbnail for lemonrocks.jpg]
 
Cris Bessette
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Somehow I missed this when you posted it. I am growing citrus in the Appalachian mountains in zone 7B.
You ideas with the water tanks and rocks and such look pretty promising, though lemon trees are basically the least
cold hardy of all citrus, it doesn't hurt to try!
If sepp holzer can do it with passive means, why can't we?

I have two young kumquat trees that are planted out in the yard that were only protected by passive means this past winter, they seem to be fine this Spring.
One was protected by basically burying it in a soil/leaf mound, the other is in a protected south facing slope under a large evergreen tree.
Per you question about companion plants, I've read that in inland Alabama and a few other places citrus are planted amongst pine trees to
produce a microclimate, keep ice off of them, slow passive radiation of heat,etc.

My two Satsuma mandarin trees are in a mostly passive heated greenhouse, they've been growing for 4+ years now and doing great.
They are only about 3 feet tall each so far, but have 40+ fruit each a year. These are my absolute favorite citrus of any kind and
I am really exited about how well they are doing.


I have two citrus (poncirus) trifoliata trees that are mature, planted out in the open and completely unprotected, one that has been producing fruit for two years, and another that just flowered the first time this Spring. Admittedly, it's pretty tough figuring out how to use the fruit, they are pretty bitter. I did make some jelly last fall that has a funky lemon n gin taste, but it's not bad.






 
leila hamaya
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just was reading your thread about getting this together, and got linked up to here...seems youve almost got this together!

well the fates have been kind to me lately, and i recently purchased some hardy citrus trees =)
also now thats its warmer a lot of my pots of various mandarins and lemon seeds are sprouting. some of them are actually pretty old, like i had basically started to give up on them, but they were waiting for spring to pop...

cali is also an isolated region, so i have to order from california nurseries, and this is the best (and most reasonably priced) nursery i have found, and just bought some trees from --->

four winds growers

the feminello lemon and others that i wanted were out of stock, but i did get an owari satsuma mandarin and another cold hardy mandarin =)

almost also got a kumquat as well, but instead got a moro blood orange, one of my favorites of the citrus fruits. that one is a little more iffy, and will require more protection in the cold. although i have read good things about them being a bit more hardy than average, compared to oranges in general. mandarins on the other hand, are even more cold tolerant than most lemons, limes and oranges.

anywho came across this chart there which has been helpful to figure out which varieties are the most cold hardy, and which varieties fruit at different times/multiple times a year, something thats really important to me for trying citrus in colder climates...so thought i would share...

citrus variety chart
mandarins3.jpg
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mandarins11.jpg
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Tyler Ludens
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Thank you!

 
Tyler Ludens
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I forgot to post a pic of the two tanks and the final space, which I think is too small for more than one tree:



Now I'm agonizing about whether to try for a Lemon, or go with a Satsuma Mandarin which is supposed to be a little more cold hardy. I think a Lemon is more useful in the kitchen, but if it dies it won't be useful at all...I found a nursery within driving distance which has citrus. It will be a major expedition, but should be less expensive than trying to have one shipped here.

 
Cris Bessette
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Unripe Satsuma mandarins are quite a bit more acidic than ripe ones, make decent lemon substitutes.
Lemons are the LEAST cold hardy of practically all citrus, so that would be an uphill battle.
A Meyer lemon is a bit more cold hardy though if you really want to go that route.
 
leila hamaya
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looks great =)
now again i have weird ideas about things, planting extremely close together as thats just the way i have developed into going about things, but i would stick two trees there. the other one just to the right of the picture, err rather left of the tank...or somewhere. lemon/citrus trees are rather small and seems appropriate to prune them up nicely frequently.

but as is, seems like you can plant a lot of interesting stuff around the base of the tree, maybe some vining things to grow unto the tanks or fence and use that bottom area for other plants? then the citrus would be like the centerpiece, i'm sure it will be beautiful.

i am also agonizing about putting my first citrus in the ground, and exactly which one! i have prepared the area mostly, but now have been going back and forth over a dozen different young trees to plant in the hole.

i am leaning towards one the 3 year old cold hardy mandarins i started from seed. as so far out of everything i have been trying, this has survived the best, has grown the largest even among those started at the same time (lemons mostly), and held up remarkably well throughout our winters, not dying back much at all.

i am also leaning towards one of the new nursery grown mandarins i just got. my worry though is that they arent quite ready, that maybe after a year of acclimating to this area, and being able to be protected throughout next winter...then they will be ready to go in the ground. also if they die back too much the first winter, then i will be left with the rootstock. i have already taken some cuttings and done a few air layers on the new trees, even though theres not much there to get cuttings of....

then again i am thinking i would really want to plant one of the seed grown lemons. there are 3 + that are looking pretty ok, have grown nicely, are 2-3 years old, although i lost quite a few to die back and winter this past year. that is even with being protected a bit, and some were sheltered in our laundry room under lights. but unfortunately i took them outside a bit too early, didnt properly acclimate them, and bugs descended on them badly this early spring...so some are totally toast...maybe they will respring up from the roots...i have seen them do that. only a few, and the oldest ones, are looking good enough to consider using them.

i could also try the meyer's lemons that i propagated through air layering last year, which should ideally mature much faster, once it develops a nice root system. that would be meyer's lemon on its own roots...IF and when i could get it established well.

if i plant the seed grown ones it will not likely fruit for a long time...so yeah going round in circles with analysis paralysis and still havent sorted out which one. i may just plant a different tree entirely there too! but i have prepared the spot and want to plant out the citrus....and think i will try one of those.

the advantages of the seed grown ones is that if they die back to the ground they will not just default into the rootstock! the disadvantage is that they may not fruit for a very long time. so i guess theres a bit of a leap of faith there...i do think its possible i can get one of these in the ground and growing nicely...so at some point i am just going to have to pick one at random and go for it =)
 
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