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Diggers Rest, Issue #015-Growing lemons, Eco gardening tips, Recipe: Lemony Vegetable Kebabs
May 11, 2006

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May 11, 2006 Issue #15


The no dig garden website is a venture into publishing on a topic I love. Thanks for joining me on the adventure! I'd love to have your feedback.
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In this issue:

1) Growing lemons (yes, you can!)
2) Eco gardening tips
3) Recipe: Lemony vegetable kebabs

Growing Lemons

Lemons are a fruit, so this article could be considered off-topic, but what kitchen garden can be considered complete without growing your own lemons?

Lemons are such a staple in the kitchen that you should consider growing your own. And it's dead easy to grow lemons.

Too exotic for you? I don't think so...

It's best to plant young citrus trees in the early autumn or early spring to spare them difficult climate conditions.

There are just three things you need when growing lemons. These three things will not only allow you to grow lemons successfully, but will apply to similar citrus fruits such as lime, mandarin and kumquat trees.

1) Sunshine. When growing lemons they need a minimum of six hours of full sun every day. This goes for all types of citrus trees and is not negotiable.

If there isn't an obvious spot in your garden that can provide this, 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 and bring them inside a greenhouse or enclosed porch when it gets really cold.

2) Great drainage. Lemon trees love to have lots of water but absolutely hate to sit in it. So don't put them anywhere near the boggy part of the yard, if you have one.

If you can't identify a good spot with lots of sunshine, again, consider putting your lemon tree into a pot with feet.

There are container varieties that will thrive under the proper conditions. Those conditions include having enough room to grow, lots of water and a 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 5-7 cm (2-3 inches) away from the base of the trunk of the tree. Mulch will hold moisture but will encourage rot if allowed to touch the tree trunk.

3) Attention. If you are growing lemons, or any sort of citrus, they need a level of attention to perform for you.

Water them regularly, about once a week in hot weather. Feed them fertiliser often (at the drip line, rather than near the trunk) and keep an eye on them. Citrus trees attract pests and they need to be controlled.

Aphids are attracted for the new foliage. A quick review of pest controls at Organic Garden Pest Control will limit the damage they do.

The same controls should be used for citrus leafminer. This is the larvae of a moth and telltale signs are a silvery trail as they eat their way through the leaf.

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, you can grow lemons or any other sort of citrus.

Eco Gardening Tips

Eco gardening tips stands for both economical and ecological. Regular tips will be a feature in all newsletters from now on.

  • Never plant tomatoes and eggplant near each other. They come from the same family of plants and will attract an excess of pests.
  • Bees are an important pollinator for your garden. To attract them, plant herbs like thyme, basil, lemon balm, coriander and fennel amongst your vegetables. Check the companion planting guide for guidance on vegetables and herbs that grow well together.
  • If dogs and cats are a problem in your garden make your own spray to deter them. Mix about 12 unpeeled garlic cloves and a large unpeeled onion (chopped up) into an old container and cover with boiling water. Allow it to sit for a day or so to steep, then strain and put in a spray bottle. Spray it around your garden where you are trying to deter animals.

    Another way to deter cats is to sprinkle kerosene or cloudy ammonia on bits of cloth and leave them around the garden. It's much safer than using mothballs as young children can mistake them for something edible.

  • Feature Recipe: Lemony Vegetable Kebabs

    This is a recipe to catch the cross over between seasons in both the northern and southern hemispheres. It's warm enough to barbeque in most regions at the moment, so give this stunning recipe a whirl.

    1 large eggplant
    1 large red pepper
    8 small onions, halved
    16 button mushrooms
    2 tablespoons fresh chives chopped
    1/3 cup fresh parsley chopped

    This recipe is designed to feed 4 people, with 2 skewers of mixed vegetables each. While preparing your vegetables, soak your bamboo skewers in water to stop them burning once on the barbeque.

    Cut eggplant into sticks, place in a collander and sprinkle with salt. Let stand for 30 minutes while you chop the other vegetables and prepare the baste.

    Lemon Baste
    Combine in a bowl:
    1/2 cup of lemon juice
    2 tablespoons of oil
    1 clove of garlic, crushed

    Rinse the eggplant under cold water and pat dry. Thread eggplant, pepper, onions and mushrooms alternately on skewers.

    Turn and baste them while they are on the barbeque. Barbeque until the onions are just soft. Sprinkle with combined parsley and chives before serving.

    You can do kebabs with a wide variety of vegetables, but take cooking time into account. Root vegetables will take much longer than vine vegetables to cook, so try to skewer like with like and make it colourful and tasty!

    Happy gardening!

    Judy Williams

    Copyright J.L. Williams 2006

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