Victoria BC - In Ground Meyer Lemon Update

Discussion in 'Citrus' started by leapfrog, Jul 28, 2006.

  1. leapfrog

    leapfrog Active Member 10 Years

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    Well Fall is in the air, but the lemons are still growing. The largest are one and a half inches in diameter. I wonder when the first ones will ripen? I expect it will not be till late Spring 2007. Anyway, I'll look after the tree over the winter. I have my mini greenhouse (more on that later).

    The first two pictures are from mid August, and the last three are from today ............
     

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  2. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Very nice, leapfrog. The one I have is rather scraggly but it does have three lemons that are coming along nicely. El Nino is supposed to give us warmer temperatures than usual this winter so you won't have to pull out all the stops to protect it.
     
  3. LPN

    LPN Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    It's gonna look awesome once it gets large. Imagine it covered in hundreds of lemons!
    Cheers, LPN.
     
  4. Gregn

    Gregn Active Member 10 Years

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    Looks good! My lemons are smaller - perhaps large grape size. I would suggest that your lemons will be "ripe" sometime next summer. I have a lemon on one of my plants that has been there for about 15 or 16 months - I had that plant inside over the winter (I ate a couple off the tree in June :) ) My lemon has turned a light orange in colour) You will likely be surprised of the taste. My Meyers were surprisingly sweet lemons likely from the lemon x sweet orange parentage. I guess the issue will be to prevent our fruit from freezing on the tree. Last month I got a Pomello hybrid from the States (Citrus Grandis X poncirus trifoliata) which appearantly produces large sweet fruit without the trifoliate aftertaste. I suspect it will be at least a 18 month growing period on that one, and winter protection will be critical. The plant is likley hardy to the -10c range. That one will go in the ground in the spring. Citrus fruit, from what I have read, can hang on the tree to just below freezing - when the tree is large enough so that the canopy of the tree can protect the fruit.
    Greg
     
  5. leapfrog

    leapfrog Active Member 10 Years

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    Here is a picture of my mini greenhouse placed around the tree. I intend to fix it to the ground, and likely will add additional protection, e.g. a blanket around the base, Xmas lights, etc. Any advice?
     

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  6. LPN

    LPN Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I wouldn't fuss too much. Additional heat would only be nessesary if temps dip below about -3C (26F) or so.
    Here's an Improved Meyer Lemon I have in a cedar planter. It's insulated with polystyrene foam on the four sides and bottom to protect the roots from freezing and heat in summer. It's spent all of this year ripening the fruit and no new growth.

    Cheers, LPN.
     

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  7. Gregn

    Gregn Active Member 10 Years

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    Leapfrog, I like your mini greenhouse! after my tomatoes are finished I will send out a picture of my plastic lean-to. (the tomatoes have overgrown the area they share with my citrus) I have similar ideas for heat. I think we have to be careful of the internal temperature of the greenhouse in the direct sun. You don't want the plant to trigger new, tender growth then be hit with a hard freeze. I am guessing we probably don't want to go much above 10c - if possible.
    LPN, in the spring try using a multipurpose 6-6-6 or 8-8-8 fertilizer and dissolved Epsom salts. I found epsom salts to be the key ingredient here.
    Thanks to advise from Millet this worked very well for me in triggering new growth on my Meyers - for me it was a bit late (in august) but it sure filled out my potted meyer.
    Any thoughts?
    Greg
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2006
  8. LPN

    LPN Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Thanks Gregn, Millet is certainly one if the foremost container citrus growers anywhere, and his advice is always welcomed. Thanks for the tip, Cheers, LPN.
     
  9. leapfrog

    leapfrog Active Member 10 Years

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    Thanks or the advice LPN. Here's hoping we stay above -3 C this winter and I don't have to fuss.

    Look forward to seeing the pictures of your plastic lean-to, Gregn.

    Also thanks for the info about the 8-8-8 to promote new flowering Millet/Gregn. My other citrus is a Calamondin Orange that I have in a planter and which (of course) will come in for the winter. It has grown profusely this summer, doubling in size from what it was when I purchased it in March. I put it in a slightly larger container and have been fertilizing it with 24-8-16 every two weeks. It has been out on the deck since I acquired it , and it will likely come in for the winter in about 6 weeks. It flowered this spring and is in flower again now. However, my Meyer, after flowering in the spring, has not re-flowered this fall. I too will try the 8-8-8 in the spring.
     
  10. leapfrog

    leapfrog Active Member 10 Years

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    Here's my early November update.

    The tree has been under the protection of my mini-greenhouse since the early frost we got on October 30 and 31 (see picture below). The temperature in the greenhouse is about 2 C warmer than its immediate surroundings, and it got down to about 1 C on October 31st.

    Back in mid October I bumped the tree with my lawnmower and one of the low hanging lemons was knocked off. It was about 1 inch in diameter and still green, but I decided to eat it anyway. While the skin was still quite thick, I was pleasantly surprised to find that what fruit there was was very much like what I expected the mature lemon to taste like - slightly sweeter than a regular lemon!

    While I don't expect the fruit to mature till early next summer (all of my lemons are from blossoms that appeared in March 2006), two of the larger lemons are definitely starting to turn from green to yellow.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2006
  11. leapfrog

    leapfrog Active Member 10 Years

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    The 65 km per hour winds wrecked havoc last night. My min-greenhouse blew off the lemon tree along with 2 of the immature lemons. Thankfully the greenhouse was not lost and isn't damaged, so I'll cover the tree again and be more careful about anchoring it down.

    Still, there are 24 left and a few of them have definitely started to ripen.
     

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  12. LPN

    LPN Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    leapfrog ... still looks to be in great shape dispite the wind. You may have to anchor that shelter with battleship chains! lol.
    I planted a seed grown lemon (Dec 2002) a month or so ago. It was getting too big to do anything else with, so in the ground it went. It's about 4 and a half feet tall and 5' wide. Loaded with thorns and no fruit of course, being seed grown. I erected a cover over it yesterday morning. I have plans to re-enforce the structure and allow for sides incase of severe weather. Not much wind up my way in Lantzville (north Nanaimo) and none the other day when it blew hard in other places.

    Cheers, LPN.
     

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  13. leapfrog

    leapfrog Active Member 10 Years

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    Nice looking tree, LPN. I like your shelter, but I imagine it will need some reinforcement and some side protection. How do you intend to keep it anchored?

    It's supposed to go down to 37 F (2.3 C) tonight. I was thinking of a way of adding some heat within my greenhouse just in case it gets below 28 F (-2 C) this winter. I think maybe a 40 or 60 watt bulb on a wood frame base with an inverted ceramic pot over it might be a good idea.
     
  14. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Leapfrog, a 40, 60 or even a 100 watt bulb would not come close to giving your tree the required protection, if the temperature got below 28F. - Millet
     
  15. leapfrog

    leapfrog Active Member 10 Years

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    Okay. In the unlikely event that it gets much below freezing I'll do the Xmas light thing.
     
  16. LPN

    LPN Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    An alternative would be a halogen 120V~60Hz work light. It kicks out some heat and should be used accordingly of course.
    Cheers, LPN.
     

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  17. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Which color are you planning on using? I suspect for all intents and purposes the same amount of heat is generated no matter which color is used. Then the question becomes which color has the least impact on a tree's day-night cycle - my guess would be green since it's reflected by the leaves. Can someone speak from experience?
     
  18. leapfrog

    leapfrog Active Member 10 Years

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    LPN and Junglekeeper:

    I might try something different as I don't have an outdoor electrical outlet. I'd appreciate any advice.

    I could run power from the inside of the house, but what about a flameless catalytic heater? Coleman makes several models, but I don't know how much heat I need. If 800 BTU in my mini greenhouse would do it, I could get one that would run off a 1lb propane canister for over 24 hours.

    Interestingly the unit only seems to be available as part of a survival kit, and it costs twice as much in Canada as in the US for some reason. More powerful models are available, but they don't last as long on the 1 lb portable propane tank that they require for power and I don't know how safe they would be in a mini greenhouse. They are supposed to be safe in a tent or in a car, so a 800 BTU model might be okay if it was produced enough heat to make a difference. We're talking about a worst case scenario of a temperature in the 20 F to 25 F range (happens once every 10 or 15 years here).

    Here's what I'm talking about.....

    http://www.colemancanada.ca/?en/Products/HEATERS
     
  19. leapfrog

    leapfrog Active Member 10 Years

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    Anyone in this part of the world knows that we're in for a cold spell.

    I'm worried, but still hopeful. Here are some sample Victoria BC low temperature forecasts, just to give you an idea of how inexact a science the medium term forecasting business is:

    Saturday

    -1 C (30 F) weather.com
    0 C (32 F) Environment Canada, Weather Underground
    +1 C (34 F) CNN
    +2 C (36 F) weather.net

    Sunday

    -6 C (21 F) weather.com
    -2 C (28 F) weather.net, CNN
    0 C (32 F) Weather Underground, Environment Canada

    Monday

    -11 C (12 F) weather.com
    -7 C (19 F) Environment Canada
    -3 C (27 F) CNN
    +4 C (39 F) Weather Underground

    Obviously when you get a forecast more than 3 days into the future no one knows.

    'll go with the average values for Saturday and Sunday, and I won't worry about Monday till the weekend. So that's +0.5 C (33 F) for a low Saturday night and -3 C (27 F) for Sunday night.

    I'll prepare for the worst and hope for the best. That means putting Xmas lights around the lemon tree and keeping the mini-greenhouse closed. If the average prediction comes true, that should give the tree an additional 2 to 3 C and keep it alive. It shouldn't die unless weather.com is right, and it shouldn't sustain severe damage unless Environment Canada is right.
     
  20. LPN

    LPN Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    leapfrog.
    I'd look at Environment Canada as having the most accurate forecast, at least from my experience. They're fairly accurate for most locations within the forecasted area for 3 maybe 4 days in advance.
    Forecast for Nanaimo shows (last time I checked) a -8 celcius overnight low on Monday. Fortunately I don't live near Cassidy (Nanaimo airport) and I suspect my night temps will be more in the -5C range.
    I've never heated a mini greenhouse like yours before but it sounds like you have it figured out. My lemon tree has weathered these temps before without any trouble. I should however make some provisions for a colder than expected event.
    It's difficult to understand how these different sources for weather forecasts can be so different with their predictions. I think some are covering too broad a region and can't possibly have accurancy. It will be sunny though, something we haven't seen much of in November.
    I recall a buddy trying to hitch-hike on the Pat Bay highway in the snowstorm of 1996 in snow that was nearly chest deep! 10 years ago! He did get his ride.

    Cheers, LPN.
     
  21. leapfrog

    leapfrog Active Member 10 Years

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    Okay, I'm as ready as I can be. Deck the Halls and all that stuff.

    I put the lights up tonight. It's currently 7 C (42 F) on the deck, but a toasty 14 C (57 F) in the mini greenhouse. I'll cross my fingers and hope for the best.
     

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  22. LPN

    LPN Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Festive is right! It's going to be fine in there. It might not be needed but at least all you have to do is plug it in if need be. So far nothing for my lemon tree. Too busy working and other stuff to get anything done.
     
  23. Gregn

    Gregn Active Member 10 Years

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    I have managed to keep my lean-to around -1 to 0 c. The temperature outside was -10c. I am using 50 christmas lights to keep 3 small citrus plants against my house from freezing. I have a small 10 degree tangerine which was too small for lights so i placed a poly bag over a milk crate then burried it in snow. As a mature tree the can withstand lower temperatures that what we have experienced. I havent looked into my Canadian tire "tomato greenhouse" yet. I have 2 meyers with lemons on them so I hope they pull through. I will update on the weekend. after the cold goes back to Alberta! :)

    Greg
     
  24. leapfrog

    leapfrog Active Member 10 Years

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    Thanks for the update, Greg.

    On Sunday I waited 2 hours before checking the temperature in the green house with my 20 lights (old style, big outdoor variety) and it was a toasty 20C in there. My mini greenhouse is very small (2ft x 2ft x 28 inches high), so my lights, which are putting out 680 BTUs, are almost too much.

    See here for calculating the heating output based on the capacity of the greenhouse and the relative temperatures:

    http://www.littlegreenhouse.com/heat-calc.shtml

    I've had the lights on constantly during this cold spell (27 1/2 hours and counting). I just checked again and it's -5C outside but +14C in the greenhouse. I think it might even be a bit too warm, so I'm thinking if we have another cold spell this winter I'll remove a few of the lights.
     
  25. LPN

    LPN Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    My lemon which was planted this fall, only has a canopy. I never got around to any side covers or heat. I don't hold out any hope.

    Cheers, LPN.
     

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