It’s all about lemons here at present, has been for a month or so actually. My long-held dream of a citrus orchard bowed down with golden fruit may not be precisely as anticipated however there is citrus aplenty, in particular, lemons.
I could not tell you how many unsuspecting orange and lemon trees I have condemned to the big orchard in the sky; like any zealot I just could not accept that Moble was not an ideal place to grow them. Even a long history of little or no success before me could not deter, I mean, everyone has a lemon tree. Alas, not me. No amount of fiddling with trace elements, mulching, compost and horticultural trickery made any difference. All my citrus simply sat in the ground and sulked.
At last I admitted defeat on an orchard level and ventured into pots… very large terracotta pots. Large as in we can only fit one in the boot of the car if we all unpack our bags into it for the trip home. Freight issues aside, it seemed to do the trick and now I have a very happy orchard of citrus, all with their own little micro-environments that can be readily managed to suit. Being in such big pots, they seem to handle the hot weather better as you can really give them a decent drink and mulch them well, although they still need plenty of watering even so. Each can order its own menu for dinner and as I have them in a row on the walk to the clothesline and dog yards, I see them every day, far less chance for neglect. Through the winter, I underplant them with nasturtiums which are a prefect match with their sunny colours.
I have room for one more and it will be a cumquat, when I can find the old round-fruit one again somewhere. It seems to be out of fashion, but I think it makes superior jam; my Mother had a tree that just about kept the whole district in fruit for jam-making, she would send beer cartons full around on the various mail runs.
Citrus trees have so much to offer the gardener even without their delicious fruit. The leaves are a wonderful gloss (when not gasping for that elusive trace element), the fragrance is hedonistic, the bees thrum around them so I imagine citrus honey is superb and if none of that inspires, a bowl of lemons or limes on a table warms the soul. They are always quick to introduce themselves, after all, an orange is an orange, a lemon a lemon, a lime a lime; they arrive at the party with their name on so you never need struggle to remember who they are, even if you haven’t seen them around since last season.
So, we are cooking everything with lemons here, even things you would perhaps not readily associate with lemons, it all seems better with a squeeze. Sadly, the Jack Rats have recently launched a terror attack on the chook yard, so the hens have pulled back a bit from what had been an impressive run of months of eggs. Otherwise Aunt Margaret’s Lemon Cheese would be made until we ran out of jars, but the demand on egg yolks is out-stripping supply. Fresh lemons seem to merit fresh eggs in my book. Lemon in the cheese biscuits adds a nice touch though, lemon cordial is so refreshing, lemon delicious pudding is, well, delicious and I have been slicing them up and freezing them in dear little bags like a squirrel gathering nuts, readying myself for the summer G&T weather which is probably not like a squirrel at all.
Following is an excellent recipe for a fresh lemon loaf that is easy and moist enough for pudding as well,
When life gives you lemons, bake a cake.
The Moble Gardener
Fresh Lemon Loaf
250 g butter 1 ½ cups SR flour
1 cup sugar ½ cup milk
2 eggs 1 lemon rind and juice
- Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time.
- Alternately add flour and milk, then add rind.
- Bake moderate oven about 45-50 minutes. Glaze whilst still in tin when hot. Cool in tin.
- Glaze: heat juice with ¼ cup sugar to dissolve.