For years, I have dreamed of big beautiful lemons dripping from the branches of a tree in the back yard. I imagine plucking juicy lemons from the tree to make a lemon meringue pie, fresh lemonade or (more likely) a cocktail.
Unfortunately, I have never had a green thumb. In fact I have killed most every green thing I have ever touched. After the basil I kept on my kitchen counter died, my sweet friend looked at me and said “You know that’s basically a weed, right”? We don’t even talk about the strawberry massacre of Summer 2012.
But, something happened when we moved into a house with tons of windows. I decided that I could be a plant mom and brought home two fiddle leaf fig trees, determined to keep them alive. Much to everyone’s surprise, Blanche and Stella thrived.
So, I figured I was ready to step up my game and get a couple of fruit trees. I mean I had kept two of the most fickle houseplants on earth alive for an entire year. What could go wrong? Welp.
What I Thought My Lemon Tree Would Look Like By Now
What My Lemon Tree Actually Looks Like
In my defense, it used to look much worse.
The first winter, we forgot to bring the lemon trees inside before the frost. When we did move them into the sunroom, they thanked us by dropping all their leaves. Every. Single. One.
So, I devoted myself to caring for the sticks that stood where my beautiful lemon trees were supposed to be. I watered them religiously. Fed them with a special citrus tree fertilizer blend. I talked to them, coaxing them to live another day. And then one day, I had the tiniest green signs of life and you would have thought I had won the lottery.
By the next summer, we actually had tiny little lemons sprouting!
Then Came The Birds
About the time I started to dream of my first harvest, my worst Hitchcock nightmare came true. The birds came for my lemons. Those little green bulbs never had a chance.
In addition to the birds stealing our lemons before they even got a chance to turn yellow, we lost one of the trees to Citrus Scale by the end of the summer.
I was beginning to think that I should stick to Fiddle Leafs.
But then – as the weather warmed up this year, I found five – FIVE – little lemon buds growing on our surviving tree! I had to find a way to protect my lemon trees from the birds.
A Gift Wrapped Solution
You never know where solutions will appear. I was looking for some organza gift bags for another project and reading Amazon reviews when one comment popped out at me. A buyer used them to protect her lime trees from bugs and other critters.
Brilliant! And they are only $9 for 100 bags!
Just slide the bag over the baby fruit and pull the drawstring to secure it to the branch. The bags are 4″ x 6″, so there is plenty of growing room as the lemon matures.
The physical barrier keeps the predators from being able to get to the fruit, but lets in plenty of sunlight and water. And, it turns out this method is much more effective than banging like a madman on the window whenever a bluejay lands on the deck railing.
Now, I just have to wait 6 – 9 months for my harvest.
In the meantime – Lemonade anyone?