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Harvesting Lemons from the Winter Garden

It's that time again! Every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I strap on my garden boots, ready my shears and clear out some extra space in the freezer, because I know it's time for my annual lemon harvest.

There have been seasons when my husband, Dan, and I have picked more than 300 lemons from our tree. Yes, 300! Here's what we've learned to do with them:

1. Slice them into quarters, place them in Ziplock bags and freeze them for use throughout the year. For quick and easy defrosting, I drop a wedge in a bowl and pop it into the microwave for no more than 30 seconds. This allows us to use them in recipes, dressings, teas, herbal waters and other health and household uses throughout the year.

2. Share them with others. You know the City Girl Gardener is all about using gardening as an avenue toward healthy living, and part of healthy living is having healthy relationships. I often give baskets of lemons as small gifts during the holidays as a way to spread some non-commercial cheer and share my passion with loved ones. Plus it'll save your friend, family member or colleague a few cents at the grocery store!

3. Sell them. I sometimes go to holiday or farmer's markets with my surplus lemons and sell them for a small profit. Why not?!

My tree produces Meyer Lemons, which are far less tart than other lemons, but yield more juice and have an edible rind. Like other fruit trees, it is susceptible to freezing during the winter, which I try to prevent by wrapping holiday lights around the leaves and branches. The heat from the lights provide just enough warmth to protect it from any minimal or average freezes.

If you have a lemon or fruit tree, I'd love to know about your harvest this year! Was it bountiful? What are you planning to do with all that produce? How do you keep your plants warm in the winter?

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