Wednesday, December 16, 2015

How I Grew the Biggest Lemons in Pennsylvania!

About seven years ago, I ordered a lemon tree through the mail. 

At the time, I was seriously over the edge in terms of doing EVERYTHING organic and decided that growing my own organic lemons was a good idea.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned that I live in Pennsylvania. Not Florida.

But the optimistic website assured me that I could grow lemons ANYWHERE. So, I said, “Awesome! Send me a tree!” (I’m sure that’s technically historical fiction, as the facts are fuzzy these many years later.)

The tree arrived and I carefully followed the directions and planted it in a humongous pot filled with wood chips mixed with soil (per the instructions that came with my tiny little tree).

For seven long years, I tended my plant. It grew and grew, eventually sprouting long sharp spikes that poked us when we passed too closely. One year, my angry husband cut all the spikes off the tree, but even that didn’t deter it. It just grew new spikes.

We moved it inside each winter where it proceeded to be forgotten for weeks at a time, only to be rescued from death by heavy watering, removal of all its dead leaves, and being doused with a seaweed fertilizer concoction.

Anyway – all that is to say – it’s not been an easy life for our little lemon tree. And for six long years it produced not one lemon.

But this year everything changed. This year we grew lemons! Really, really, really BIG lemons. Grapefruit sized lemons!

Early in the summer they were tiny little green balls, more like limes.

Somewhere about August they began to swell to epic proportions. So much so, that I took to Facebook to see if anyone knew what I was growing.

After much serious and some not-at-all-serious-but-very-entertaining discussion/speculation, it was decided that what I was growing were indeed lemons, but they wouldn’t be fully ripened until Thanksgiving, maybe even Christmas.

And what do you know? This is the lemon I picked from my tree last night.

(Forgive the fuzzy appearance, it may have been the cameraman or the wine...)

Half of the lemon produced nearly a cup of juice! And today I’m making dried lemon zest! (Lemon zest is the most crazy-easy thing – simply grate rind and set it on wax paper on your counter to dry out. Done. Just don’t let anyone spill their granola on it when they’re cleaning up. Ahem.)

There is still one lemon that hasn't fully ripened yet left on the tree. It will be the fifth lemon my tree has produced this year! Wowsa! Maybe it'll be a New Year's lemon. Can't wait til next year's crop!

So, the point of this post? If I can grow lemons here in the wilds of Pennsylvania with hostile family members and the occasional unintentional drought, anyone can.

(or when life gives you a grapefruit sized lemon – take a lot of funny pictures to post on Facebook!)

#growinglemons #GiantLemons #growlemonsinside #PAlemons


  1. So neat! I love lemonade. I'm going to order lemon tree!

    1. Just be patient! This year we only have 3 lemons, but it was a rough summer for the tree on the porch - many, many droughts. Sigh.