These three things will not only allow you to grow lemons successfully, but will apply to similar citrus fruits such as limes, mandarins and kumquats.
Why are we growing lemons in a vegetable garden website?
Well, what kitchen garden is complete without a lemon tree growing... considering some veggies and salads just have to have lemon juice squeezed over them... absolutely have to.
Right that's settled. So give your lemon tree or other young citrus trees a good start and plant them in the early autumn or early spring to spare them difficult climate conditions.
If there isn't an obvious sunny spot in your garden, grow a container variety and move it around. It simply must get this level of sunshine to thrive.
Citrus trees need a warm or mild climate zone. As long as frosts are not severe citrus trees will tolerate cool conditions. In cold zones grow only container versions, so when temperatures really plummet, bring them inside a greenhouse or enclosed porch.
There are container varieties that will thrive under the proper conditions. Those conditions include having enough room to grow, lots of water and re-potting every few years. Use the no dig methods of layering materials even in containers to achieve brilliant results.
Ensure a good level of mulch around your tree but keep the mulch 5-7cm (2-3") away from the base. Mulch will hold moisture but may encourage rot if allowed to touch the tree trunk.
Citrus trees attract pests and they need to be controlled. Aphids are attracted for the new foliage. A quick review of pest controls at garden pests will limit the damage they do.
The same controls should be used for citrus leafminer. This is the larvae of a moth and tell-tale signs are a silvery trail as they eat their way through the leaf.
Keep a watch out for stink bugs as they suck the sap around the growing fruits. Add a good squirt of detergent into a spray bottle and give them a quick blast. This will immobilise them and you can then knock them off into a bucket of soapy water to quickly die. Finally, scale is also common. If your lemon tree develops scale, water more often and use a vegetable oil based solution for pest control.
If your fruit starts to drop before it is mature, it is generally a sign of irregular or uneven watering. Lack of fertiliser or too much can also cause this problem. As discussed, they like your attention. They'll tell you if something isn't right.
If you can meet these three conditions, growing lemons or other citrus will be a rewarding pleasure for you.