One of my husband’s friends from work has an amazing lemon tree that produces tons of mature, huge lemons. Our baby lemon trees cannot keep up with the volume that this mature tree produces. Luckily for us (and my crazy pregnancy citrus cravings), the owner of the lemon tree is very generous with the lemons and always sends some home with my husband for me. 🙂 One of my favorite things to do with all of the lemons is to make tons of homemade lemonade. I don’t like to use a lot of sugar when making lemonade, so I found a way to make it with just the tiniest bit of sugar.
I start with about 6 large lemons, and scrub them well to remove any dirt. This step is important since the lemon zest is an important part of the recipe. If you are using smaller lemons, you should increase the number of lemons that you use.
Start by peeling the zest off the washed lemons using a vegetable peeler. Be sure to just peel off the zest, avoiding the white pith which is bitter tasting.
You will need approximately two cups of peeled lemon zest. Put the strips of lemon zest in a small pan along with 6 cups of water, and 6-10 tablespoons of sugar (adjust according to how sweet or tart you want it – add more if you want it really sweet). Bring to a low boil and cook covered on a medium-low flame for approximately two hours. After enough time has passed, the water will be infused with the natural sweetness from the lemon zest, and the water will be tinted yellow. Once finished, allow the syrup mixture to cool to room temperature before using.
Juice the 6 lemons used above to use for the lemonade.
Once cooled, pour the lemon syrup mixture into a large canning jar. This will make several batches of lemonade, and can be stored in the fridge for a few months. To make the lemonade, mix together 1/2 cup of the lemon syrup, juice from the 6 lemons, and approximately 6 cups of cold water. You can add more or less syrup and water to adjust to your own personal taste preference. That’s it! It’s really easy, and uses only a minimal amount of sugar for each glass of lemonade!
When I originally planted our current garden, I didn’t put a lot of thought into mixing in some of our dwarf citrus trees in with our vegetables. Upon second thought, it wasn’t a very good idea. While they may need similar watering now, they will not later on. We also do not want the citrus trees to start cutting down on our vegetable bed area. We decided to quickly move them out of the vegetable beds and into containers in the patio.
The trees that are planted in the grassy area are going to stay, and we are just moving the dwarf trees that are planted with the vegetables. They haven’t been planted long, so luckily the roots have not extended much past their root balls yet. We picked up a bunch of half wine/whiskey barrels, and got them ready for planting.
Step 1: My husband drilled holes in the bottom of the barrels for drainage.
Step 2: I cut small squares of screen from our old kitchen window that he recently removed (to replace with a double paned window).
Step 3: My husband nailed the screens in place, over the holes, to prevent the soil from draining away.
Step 4: We filled the barrel with potting soil, and relocated the dwarf trees!
One of the most important aspects of gardening is making sure that each plant gets the right amount of water. Too little and the plant may die, too much and the roots may rot.
As a general rule, cactus and succulents are some of the only plants that thrive in the very dry conditions, shown in the red zone on the meter. Most houseplants, vegetables, and other garden plants thrive in moist soil, shown in the green area on the meter. Only certain aquatic and bog-like plants thrive from regularly being in wet soil, shown in the blue area on the meter.
With the new baby fruit trees, I try to make sure that they stay consistently moist, watering every 3-4 days. I aim to have the meter read just past the green zone, slightly into the wet blue zone immediately after the watering, and then generally in the high end area of moist. With the majority of my vegetables and other plants, I try to keep the moisture reading in the middle of the green zone.
As you can see in the first picture, the baby plum tree is still moist but due for some additional watering. The baby orange tree and tomato plant in the second and third pictures do not need to be watered at this time since they are plenty wet. They are actually a little more wet than I would like due to a recent irrigation accident (which I will cover at a later date in more detail). The extra watering was along the lines of an unexpected rainstorm, which shouldn’t be too bad in the long run, but in the meantime I am holding off watering these until they actually need the water.
It is important to push the meter deep into the soil to test the moisture where the roots of the plants are, and not test the moisture at the surface of the soil since that is not where the plant gets its water. As you can see in the third picture, the surface of the soil looks dry (more mulch is needed and will be coming soon), but the soil underneath is actually still quite moist.
One of my favorite snacks…Just like the awesome street vendors sell. I miss getting those little bags of produce from street vendors since there aren’t any in the area we live. I love slicing up some peeled cucumber, and sprinkling them with some lemon juice, salt, and chili powder. So easy and so tasty!