Home & Garden

Lemon Harvesting Still Underway

Third Harvest Yield — About 150 Lemons — click to enlarge

Here it is almost late January and we’re still getting lemons off of our Lisbon Tree. Damsel and I picked those shown above a couple of days ago and scores more remain to be picked. We will probably get to the remaining fruit early next week.

We have had this tree since about the middle of 2010, and each year, the tree seems to have more yield than the years prior. The first crop consisted of about 40 lemons while this year we’re at an unknown number since we asked our landscape crew to help themselves — they took what I’m sure amounts to two hundred or more. This year, the tree had a truly overwhelming crop. In addition the landscape crew’s haul, we have picked lemons since mid December three times now.

We will finish the job sometime next week and will be pruning back the tree at the same time. The lemons will be distributed as usual to friends, neighbors, charities and our own Limoncello production. According the sales flyers, lemon prices are “on sale” at $0.50 each. Our lemons are slightly larger than those we see in the produce section of the Supermarket. Believe it or not, we do not put any fertilizer or anything in the “orchard” other than daily watering via timed irrigation.

Lemon Harvest Coming Soon

The Lemon Tree with HUNDREDS of Lemons needing to be picked

Our Lemon tree (which is a “Lisbon” lemon variety) is nearing that time of year when we need to start harvesting the fruit. This year, the lemon crop appears to be much larger than in previous years (we have had this tree since 2012) and we may have to invest several days harvesting an estimated one thousand lemons. Last year, we filled the wheelbarrow twice with an estimated total of 600 lemons. There are many more than that on the tree now.

As we begin the lemon picking, we will be doing the usual thing with them, that is, giving them away to neighbors, the food bank, the senior center and anyone else that we can convince to take a bag home. Of course, we will reserve some for our annual Limoncello production.

We still have a little time before any frosty weather happens; the forecast for Thanksgiving week should be highs in the low 70’s and lows well above freezing. That’s still cool enough to layer up on the clothing, but will be OK for this variety of frost-tolerant lemons for the time being.

Our plan for Thanksgiving dinner is going to be similar to the past couple of years when we had a Keto-friendly menu featuring some of Damsel’s homemade goodies. We’re looking forward to the dinner, but more on that in a later post.

Delivery Instructions Signage

Because our courtyard gate latch is a bit wonky, we prefer that packages be delivered to the rear of the house by the patio. Now, most carriers allow you to specify delivery instructions, but some of the drivers don’t get the message and try to open the courtyard gate which is a bit difficult. A lot of the time, they just dump the package out front outside of the courtyard. We saw this as a minor security risk, so today we installed the sign in a location that can be seen from the driveway and courtyard walkway.

The sign is installed on the electrical box where the house’s circuit breakers are located. The box is made of steel, so I needed a good drill bit for drilling four holes to accommodate #6 sheet metal screws. I also needed a center punch to locate the holes. We gave away most of my old tool collection to family when we left Kalifornistan, so I had to buy the tools again. Although this is not my first time to do “handyman” chores around the Arizona house, this was the first time that I had to get special tools.

So I went to the hardware store and bought some #6 sheet metal screws, a couple of 7/64 drill bits (they did not have a number 36 drill unless I bought a set) and a center punch to indent the locations for the drills. I previously got the sign from Amazon, so we were now ready to do the installation. It all went as planned and you can see the resulting installation in the (clickable) image above.

This is sort of a mundane post, but since we got the new WordPress theme customized, we are motivated to blog more regularly on topics like this that might be neither exciting nor controversial. Of course, we will continue to post about major occasions and events.

More Spring Cactus Flowers

I took the dogs out this morning for their usual trip to the road outside and noticed that a lot of our May flowers were open on the various cacti around the house. I went back out armed with my Canon Rebel EOS SL1 to try and record some of what I saw when I was out before. I captured the shots as seen in the (clickable) montage above.

The most prevalent flowering cactus is our fourteen foot Saguaro out front of the house. There are buds, open flowers and some transforming into cactus fruit on the tops of the arms of the big guy.

Damsel has some small barrel cacti on the courtyard, a Bishop’s Cap cactus in a pot and a Star Cactus (Astrophytum) in the ground outside of the courtyard gate. Both are relatives of one another and produce flowers not only in May, but other times of the year as well. Both had open flowers today.

Individual photos in the montage above are (click to see each):

We will be seeing more cactus flowers during the summer since there are tell-tale buds on several of them that promise the opening of new flowers soon. Also, be on the lookout for some flowers on other shrubs and trees around the property this summer.

First Cactus Flowers of Spring, 2022

Actually, not the first ones*, but this is the first to open on the native cacti around the yard. Damsel took this photo of one of two flowers that were open today on a hedgehog cactus in front of the house.

From Wikipedia

Echinocereus is a genus of ribbed, usually small to medium-sized, cylindrical cacti, comprising about 70 species native to the southern United States and Mexico in very sunny, rocky places. Usually the flowers are large and the fruit edible.

The name comes from the Ancient Greek echinos, meaning “hedgehog” and the Latin cereus meaning “candle”. They are sometimes known as hedgehog cacti, a term also used for the Pediocactus and Echinopsis.

The article at Wikipedia lists most of the species of hedgehog cacti, but we’re not sure of which one this cactus belongs to. Click on the image to enlarge.

*There are several store-bought cacti in planters around the courtyard and other places which have already produced tiny flowers in 2022.

Winter Lemon Crop

Knowing that there was to be freezing temperatures overnight, Damsel and I decided to start picking the ripe lemons from our “orchard” yesterday – yes, we did it on New Year’s Day. We picked about an estimated three hundred of them before we knocked off for the rest of the day.

We stored the lemons in the wheelbarrow (image above – click to enlarge) in the garage overnight due to the probable freezing temperatures, but, as it turned out, the low was just about exactly the freezing point which wouldn’t have damaged the lemons. The forecast was for a “hard” freeze but the only effects were to freeze the top layer of water in the birdbaths and in the rain bucket. Dogs water dish under cover in the patio and in their wading pool did not freeze.

Despite having picked a couple gross of lemons from the tree, there are dozens more to pick (image below). I checked on the unpicked lemons this morning and none appeared to be damaged, which is a good thing. We plan on using many of the lemons for our annual batch of Limoncello and give the rest away to neighbors and the local food bank.

Since there are a lot of lemons still to be picked, we will probably not get to that until later this week. I have a couple of appointments, one for lab work and another with the dermatologist for my usual skin problems, but we will likely be able to work around those and get the pickin’ into our routine.

Visitors to our humble abode are likely to be presented with a complimentary bottle of our custom Limoncello.