I am loving my veggie patch at the moment, but after such a long period of neglect there are a lot of jobs to do.
Today I spent some time caring for the Grand Lady of our garden: the lemon tree. Our tree produces beautiful sweet juicy lemons, nearly year round. We bought her for our first wedding anniversary, so clearly she is special to us. 3 or so years of neglect have left her nutrient depleted, and suffering several bug afflictions.
My first job was to give her a light pruning. Gall wasp has gotten into several branches, so I pruned them off. Gall wasp causes lumps in the branches, as the wasp lays it’s eggs into the branch itself. These lumps can lead to a reduction in fruit, so I pruned them all off and threw them into the green bin. Pruning is the only real way to control the wasp. I had to chop a few branches that had growing lemons on them too, but if you take them with a little piece of stem attach, they will still ripen nicely.
We also have a bit of citrus leaf miner, some scale and a sooty looking mould. These can all be treated with organic controls, but since none of them are seriously attacking the plant I am on watch and wait alert. A good feed, and some repeated deep watering, might allow the plant to control this herself
Next, the girls and I cleared all the grass and weeds from beneath the tree so we could fertilise her. A light hoe got all the growth out pretty easily , and I actually left it piled around the outside to make a little moat. This will stop the water and fertiliser from running down the slope away from the tree.
Lemons need to be fed three times a year: March, July and November (yes, I’m a little late!). I always use a commercial citrus food, but I’m sure you could find some amazing organic options. I choose one with trace elements as well, but you could use rock minerals in combination with a standard NPK fertiliser. There is a dose of fertiliser for lemons, which is 125g per year of plants age. I’m a little less exact than this though, and just toss a couple of handfuls under the tree. It seems to work alright 🙂
Lastly, I mulched with straw from the chicken coop, which provides both manure and soil cover.
Today’s other job was the potatoes. I never buy seed potatoes, as I nearly always have some growing in the potato box anyway. Potatoes are so easy to grow. I wait until a few eyes sprout, then I cut them into pieces, making sure each piece has an eye. I dug a big trench this time, and then planted them into holes at the bottom of each trench. The plants have now sprouted above the top of the trench, so I had to push all the hilled up dirt back into the trench. This will give a better yield then just planting them at ground level (which I’ve done before too). I think next autumn I will do an even deeper ditch, as these plants are doing so well I could use more soil over them.
Tomorrow I will have to start training the unruly beans and peas.