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Growing local

I can see why the marketers promote the Lots o'Lemons for pot culture! Left to itself in the ground, it has shot up 2m long thick branches. I’ve no idea if these branches would produce fruit and I bought the plant because it was supposed to be a dwarf form of a Meyer Lemon. So now it has been cut back to size. Next move in a couple of months time, is to remove the excess shoots from the cut ends. No pix of these, but check the cut ends of a citrus tree and see 3-6 new shoots. I don’t leave them, the plant gets too crowded. So the follow-up treatment is to remove all but one outward-facing shoot.

And a triffyd branch:

And some of the branches had wicked spikes:

In the process of lopping and chopping, I’ve found several larvae of the Fuscous Swallowtail Butterfly Papilio fuscus or the Orchard Swallowtail Papilio aegeus. Take your pick, the larvae and the adults seem very similar. There was a little scale and plenty of places the local Grasshoppers had been sharpening their teeth on but given the neglect of the poor tree, it’s come up remarkably well.

Now the tree has had its shock for the year, I have painted the cut ends with Biodynamic Tree Paste. This particular paste comes from Biodynamic Agriculture Australia Ltd in Bellingen. It’s the real thing. Previously I’d used some from Green Harvest which was sold as ‘similar to BD tree paste’. The results were disappointing: magnificent growth of the plants, looking the best they’d ever looked and so little fruit it was hardly worth picking. No surprise that stuff ended up in the compost.

The minimum was 5kgs of the BD Tree Paste so I’ve been using most of it as an in-ground fertiliser. How that pans out, is anyone’s guess and I may never know since I have not set up side-by-side trials.

Moroccan Preserved Lemons are a particular favourite and one I make each year with my own fruit. It’s the simplest process ... I’ve figured out a way which works for me. There are as you can imagine, many ‘authentic’ recipes which are all different. Clean your bottles and lids first either by hot-sterilising or by using the Milton tablets. I’ve tried the latter for the first time.

A couple of decent-sized Lemons fit into an ex-jam jar. Scrub the skins. Slice medium thick including the skin and pips. Layer into the jar with plenty of sea salt (or whatever salt takes your fancy) and Cinnamon sticks or powder. Keep part of one lemon for juice and pour juice over the pieces in the jar until the top slice is covered. It never works out exactly but what is left over does wonderfully squeezed over food anyway so there is no waste. Label and store in a cool dark place for at least 4 weeks - the longer, the richer flavour and the more ‘crystalised’ the peel and seeds become. It is a very rich accompaniment to either meat or vegetables or both and goes well in casseroles and soups too. There’s a lot of salt in it yet the result doesn’t taste particularly salty. Be cautious though given the amount of salt in the jar.

The Cinnamon powder gives a weird look, at first I thought the ‘pink stuff’ was fungus and that I had lost the lot. Stick with it and unless there’s an ‘off’ smell or some visible ‘whiskers’ you’ve got nothing to worry about. That amount of salt would preserve almost anything!

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Comment by Andrew Cumberland on May 29, 2013 at 18:35

I have one in a pot.  Did really badly in the ground but is going okay in a pot.  Rozzie cuts it regularly. I am hoping for one or two fruit (since it has give a few flowers).  The preserved lemon recipe looks good Elaine!

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on May 28, 2013 at 9:42

Ooooh! Total droool ;-)

Comment by Craig Hogan on May 28, 2013 at 8:26
I love preserved lemons. Best use I have found is a risotto with sweet corn and preserved lemon.
Comment by Lissa on May 26, 2013 at 6:48

Fascinating stuff. Makes me wish I could eat citrus to give this a try.

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