Saturday, November 5, 2011

Chilly Tonight and the Lemon Is In for the Winter. Should I Pick It?

My Meyers lemon tree is "in" for the winter.

And so ends the 2011 gardening season. This evening, after working all afternoon at the office—and not in either of my gardens, I quickly hauled in all my plants. The temps are supposed to be in the 20s in some parts of the area and I don't want to take any chances. Our family room looks like a tropical forest. The blueberry bush is poking up over Patsy's head. There's a strawberry plant peeking out from behind Jim and I'm snuggled up between the fig and lemon trees. I pulled the geraniums in too, because I just love the idea of overwintering them again this year, just like Grandma used to.

The question is this. When do you pick the lemon? I read that lemons don't ripen after they are picked and my prize is almost totally yellow. But on the other side of my superstar, there is a tiny patch that is still green. (Its brothers on the other branch are still limey green and likely won't ripen indoors.) So I'm waiting for just the moment. But, when the time finally arrives, what will I do with it? What worthy endeavor will I find for my single lemon? An oven roasted fish dish? Or perhaps, a twist for a late afternoon iced tea. Does a lemon harvested in one's own garden taste any less bitter, slightly more nuanced? The temptation to pluck it has been quite overwhelming these past few weeks. And any time I happen by my lemon tree, my internal iTunes always plays: "lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet, but the fruit of the poor lemon, is impossible to eat."

This lovely lemon tree has been giving us such a treat all year. Early this spring, even before it warmed up enough for it to go outside, it was already in bloom. And the scent of its sweet blooms kept our room so fresh. Now we close out the season with that bloom's progeny very soon at the ready.

Now when should I pluck it? The Putterer 

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