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More than just another Lemon tree

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You should count yourself so lucky if looking around and all you see is the lemon tree. Growing up with fruit trees were such a blessing and only in the fast-pace life of today, living in the city, do I realize what my generation took for granted has created a void we need to address.

As kids we used to peel and eat a lemon with a dash of salt, and boy, was that pulling faces, fun! We won’t encourage the fact that the pips were used as peashooters, or maybe, for any “old” kids reading this, we should! The lemon peel was bent between our little fingers until the fragrant citrus spray was released and we tried to get that spray out just so, to reach the other sibling. We did not think about Christmas time when the dried peel was used in the fruity Christmas cake and although the Marmelade jam produced, tasted awful to us children, it is an aquired taste which has developed to a passion in later years. Our parents did not feed us sour sweets – the lemons were your sour treat. Of course we did not know that all that Vitamin C boosted our immune system during the winter and thereby prevented flue or why our flue bouts were not as severe as some of the kids in school. Neither did we know that it prevents scurvy. We didn’t wonder at the shining silverware, cleaned with lemon juice, nor the fresh lemon smell inside the house, made from lemon juice mixed with water and sprayed as a mist. We did notice the lovely scent of the lemon buds and picked mom an arm full of blossomed twigs for the vase, but couldn’t comprehend why we were scolded for wasting so many lemons and that after we endured the thorny pricks and the bee stings, pollinating the blossoms. The lemon butter tasted so good on the fresh baked bread. It did not occur to us the reason that we could see that lemon tree so clearly through our bedroom window, was because the windows were cleaned with a dash of juice in the water, cleaning away all the grime. During the long hot summer days it was a treat to be given a tall glass of lemon flavoured ice tea and of course we wondered why leaves were floating the jug kept in the fridge. And yes, they really did make lemonade with the lemons….

More and more people moved to the cities for work, with families and sometimes generations, growing up in apartment buildings or small houses with hardly any garden or living in shacks or shanties with no garden. The young, are growing up believing everything need to be purchased in a container. Fortunately in South Africa we have some rural schools where philanthropists, teachers and parents have taken the initiative to set aside a portion of the school ground for tree and vegetable planting. Children living in the city do for the majority not share these benefits and we as leaders, parents and grandparents should take the initiative to teach and instil the knowledge to our younger generation about where the foodstuff consumed daily, originates from.

Don’t wait for arbour day – if you are able to afford it, go buy and plant a lemon tree today. A lemon tree is an investment towards human health and the enjoyment you will reap from it can last for generations to come. The average cost is approx. +/- R100.00 per sapling, depending on the size of the tree. Lemon trees can also be propagated from cuttings or seed, so use whatever method that works for you. As lemon trees are frost sensitive and prefer heat of no less than 21Degrees Celsius during the day, it is advisable to plant it on the south facing side of your house. Planting the tree close to a building will also protect against frost. Lemon trees prefer well drained, slightly acidic soil. Your local nursery should be able to provide you with information and the correct compost mixture for planting your tree. A Lemon tree growing in the right conditions should start producing fruits within approximately 3 years and thereafter yearly, with some species bearing up to 3 times a year.

Don’t lose hope if you do not have a garden. Lemon trees do very well in pots and can be grown on a balcony or indoors as well, providing it gets enough light, and a helping hand by shaking the tree lightly during blooming to ensure pollen reaches the other flowers on the tree.

Do some good for your family, your neighbourhood, your community, your town, and humankind. Go plant a lemon tree. Pick life – pick lemons.

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