Monday, November 15, 2010

The First Lime

By George, I did it.  I grew citrus in Ohio!

As you can see above, I just harvested the first key lime from my dwarf tree.  It is nestled next to an apple for perspective.

I have long joked that, one way or another, I was going to grow citrus in my back yard before I die.  This really only allowed for two options:  move to Key West (still an option, I hope), or find a way to grow a dwarf variety of a citrus tree.  (The third option, which is to single-handedly bring on enough global warming to change the climate here, I deemed unaccepatable and irresponsible for a number of reasons.)

Last year, I bought a dwarf key lime tree from Stark Brothers.  The dwarf variety is a full-sized lime tree grafted onto dwarf root stock; you can see a notch in the trunk where the graft occurred.  The tree will grow in a small planter, but you have to be careful not to bury that notch, or you will get a full-sized tree.  I planted mine in a 12" planter filled with compost, and this spring she bloomed and ultimately set limes.  The tree lives happily outside during summer, and it moves inside to the south-facing dining room window in winter.

This is the first lime, which I photographed for you (you are always on my mind, dear reader!) and then proceeded to make a mojito.  The flavor of this fresh little lime, untainted by pesticides or herbicides and oh-so-fresh, was so complex I was able to leave the lime juice out of the recipe.  It was absolute bliss, and it came from a lime that I grew in our own little "micro-orchard."

The Analysis

Fast:  Limes take several months to mature, from blossom to ripe fruit, but you don't really have to do anything to them in this period.  I like to stop by and periodically encourage the tree to produce mojito fodder, but that is an optional step.

Cheap:  It will take many limes to offset the price of this tree, but if I plan to use these mostly for mojitos (and if you doubt that, you haven't been reading this blog for long), I will probably realize savings pretty quickly.  By using these limes, I will not be buying the expensive bottled lime juice, and I won't be buying a bag of key limes, only to use two of them and see the others go bad.  Since I am growing my own mojito mint, I'm really down to just buying rum and club soda, and making simple syrup.

Good:  A mojito is a luxury, and an occasional one at that.  But sustainability isn't just about finding ways to get your necessities in a resource-friendly manner.  Rather, it is about using sustainable principles to achieve both necessities and luxuries.  And what could be more luxurious than coming home from the second-shift job on a cold winter day and seeing a ripe lime on the tree, just begging to become a little taste of the tropics?
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  1. wow, if you can grow a lime in Ohio, bet I can grow one in Kentucky. Thanks!

  2. You sure can, dmarie. In fact, depending on how much farther south you are, you may do a whole lot better because you can leave the plant outside longer. Good luck!