There are few ways to better enjoy a summer day than sitting outside, letting the sunshine wash over you, and drinking an ice-cold glass of lemonade. Maybe you’re more of an iced tea person. Drop a slice of lemon in there and you’ve got it made in the shade. Maybe you just like a cold glass of ice water. Do you know what would make that water better? How about a lemon? You may have been noticing a pattern here, but lemons can be really beneficial to your health, and on top of that, growing your own lemon tree can be really easy if you put in the time and effort. Then whenever you need a lemon, you just step outside to your lemon tree and pluck one right out!
Not only can lemons add a delicious citrus twist to food and drink, but there are also a number of health benefits associated with them as well. According to a study published in Epidemiology, vitamin C in lemons has been associated with improved cardiovascular health. Yet another health benefit of including lemons in your diet is the prevention of kidney stones. According to a study published in Urology, citric acid can increase urine volume, thereby lowering the risk of kidney stones forming. Lemons may also help with anemia. Even though they are low in iron, according to studies published in the British Journal of Nutrition and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the citric acid and vitamin C in lemons allow for greater iron absorption in the body from other foods.
So how can you grow your own lemon tree? It’s easier than you might think. Following these steps and maintaining your lemon tree can be really simple and will benefit you in the long run when you have a supply of lemons right at your fingertips. Below you’ll find some easy steps for growing your own lemon tree and keeping yourself stocked with lemons for the summer. You can also grow a lemon tree indoors, although it will require a little bit more work maintaining the right temperature and growing conditions.
1. The first thing you’ll need to grow a lemon tree is, of course, a lemon seed. According to Natural Living Ideas, a Meyer lemon is the best choice as it can be grown indoors or outdoors. Choose an organic lemon as well, since their seeds are more likely to germinate in your soil.
2. The next step is choosing the right soil. According to Gardening Know How, you’ll want to use pasteurized soil, as this will keep any bacteria from attacking your seedling. The mixture of the soil should contain peat, perlite, vermiculite and organic fertilizer.
3. Next, you’ll need a container or a pot in which to plant your lemon tree. According to Natural Living Ideas, the best size for a lemon tree is something in the range of 8 inches wide. This size may seem small, but it will help to maintain the right level of soil moisture. If your tree continues to grow for the next two to three years, you can transplant it to something that is 10 to 12 inches wide. Make sure your pot has drainage holes in the bottom, as well.
4. You’re going to need to plant your lemon tree somewhere it can get a lot of sunlight. A lemon tree requires 12 to 14 hours of sunlight every day, according to Natural Living Ideas. You can plant your tree somewhere where sunlight is abundant, or you can supplement sunlight using 40-watt fluorescent shop lights.
5. The key to growing a strong lemon tree is moisture in your soil. You don’t want to have too much moisture, as this will cause your seed to rot. Pre-mix your soil with water in a separate bucket, making sure that it is moist, but not too wet. Once the soil is damp enough, add it to your pot, leaving about half an inch at the top.
6. The next step is to get a lemon seed (again, using an organic lemon, Meyer lemons if you can find them). Wash the seed with cold water until all of the juice and pulp are removed, as this can also cause your seed to rot. You can plant multiple seeds to increase your chances of sprouting a seedling. Keep the seeds as moist as possible until you are ready to plant them.
7. Plant your seed in the soil about a half-inch below the surface. Then, once you have covered the seed with soil, use a spray bottle to moisten the top layer of soil with water.
8. The next step is to cover your pot with breathable plastic. If you can’t find breathable plastic, you can use plastic kitchen wrap and poke some holes in it using a toothpick. The plastic wrap will help to maintain moisture, and the holes will allow your seedling to breathe. Place your pot in an area that gets lots of sunlight, but make sure it doesn’t get too hot. If the soil begins to dry out on top, add some water, but avoid making your soil soggy.
9. If you’re successful, you should see a sprout begin to make its way out of the soil. Once you see this, you can remove the plastic wrap and place your pot in a location where the sprout will get lots of warmth and sunshine. Be sure to maintain a close watch on the moisture level of the soil.
10. If you take good care of your seedling, making sure the soil stays moist (but not soggy) and that it gets roughly 12 to 14 hours of sunlight, it should continue to thrive. Once it gets big enough, you can transplant it into a bigger pot. You’ll know it has outgrown its pot when the roots begin to grow out of the bottom through the drainage holes.
11. Now all you have to do is keep your tree healthy. Natural Living Solutions suggests feeding your lemon tree organic fertilizer or compost once it has developed a set of leaves. Vermicompost or regular compost work best. Simply dig a small trench around the base of your plant and fill this with the fertilizer. It’s important not to use too much, and to only repeat this process once or twice a year. Make sure to maintain the moisture in your soil.
12. According to Gardening Know How, you should continue to water your tree with a water-soluble fertilizer every two to four weeks. Make sure to use a fertilizer that is high in potassium and magnesium. You should also water your tree once a month with a solution of one tablespoon of Epsom salts to one-half gallon of water. Save some of the water if your tree is still small. Keep in mind that it may take your tree a few years to bear fruit, but if you take good care of it, and nurture its growth, it will reward you with an abundant supply of fresh, homegrown lemons.