Tuesday, 10 June 2014 00:00

A Lemon a Day Keeps the Doctor Away!

Who introduced Lemons to the New World?

  • Latin Name:

    Citrus x limon

  • Growth:

    The lemon is a small evergreen tree that is best suited to USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to 11.

    Click here to show the USDA Plant Hardiness Map

    Lemons grow best in warm, sunny climates. Under proper growing conditions, a lemon tree will produce flowers and fruit year-round.

    The lemon is among the most cold-sensitive of citrus trees. In cooler areas along the citrus belt, lemon trees are sometimes grown indoors to provide better protection from frost.

     Learn about Lemon and other Citrus Trees

     

  • Propagation:

    Propagation of lemon trees can be accomplished by seed, cuttings, layering, grafting or budding.The easiest methods are to grow by seed, cuttings or layering.

    It’s possible to grow a lemon tree from the seed of store-bought fruit, however, there’s a higher chance that the seed will produce a sterile tree because the parent plant may have been a hybrid. Whenever possible, fruit and seed should be harvested from a known tree for best results.

    To propagate from seed, remove the seeds from the fruit, rinse with water and do not allow them to dry. Abrade a seed with fine sandpaper or nick it with a knife to expedite germination, and immediately plant in a container with well-draining soil mix. Placed in a warm spot, the seed should sprout within a week.

    To propagate from cuttings, stem cuttings 6 to 8 inches in length are taken from new green growth, and all but the top two leaves are removed. Rooting hormone is applied to the base of the cutting and planted in a sterile growing medium or potting soil. It is placed in a plastic bag to keep humidity high. Temperatures of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit achieve the fastest growing rates.

    Air layering is the quickest way to effectively grow robust lemon trees. A branch of new growth with a diameter of approximately ½ inch is selected. A ring of bark from the branch ½ inch in width is removed, rooting hormone applied and moistened sphagnum moss wrapped around the wounded area with plastic and tape. Roots grow from the wound site while the branch continues to receive nourishment from the parent plant. Once the roots have developed to sufficiently support the new plant, it is cut from its parent.

     

     

  • Harvest:

    Young lemon trees begin producing fruit within 3 to 5 years of planting and 4 to 12 months after the tree begins blossoming. Once a lemon tree begins to produce fruit, it will produce fruit year-round.

    To know when to harvest, pinch lemons that are on the tree. A lemon that is ready to be picked should be yellow, 2 to 3 inches in diameter, firm, and not squishy to the touch. If the lemon has any give when it is squeezed gently but firmly, it should be picked immediately.

    It will not continue to ripen after it has been picked from the tree.

     

     

  • Storage:

    Once picked, unpeeled lemons keep at room temperature for approximately one week. If placed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, lemons can keep up to one month.

     

  • History:

    Little is known about the origin of the lemon, although it is thought to hail from the Assam region of northeast India. The fruit arrived in the Middle East and Africa sometime around the year 100 CE, and entered Europe via southern Italy during the reign of ancient Rome sometime around 200 CE.

    Lemons were not cultivated as food until the 10th century, but were used instead as an ornamental plant or for medicine. After the Arabs introduced the lemon to Spain in the 11th century, the lemon became a staple in Mediterranean culinary arts.

    Christopher Columbus is said to have brought the first lemons to the New World in 1493, and Spanish conquest ultimately spread the lemon to Florida and California, which are two of the largest commercial lemon producers in the United States today.

  • Top Producers:

    According to statistics from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in 2011, China is the leading commercial lemon producer, followed by Mexico, India, Argentina and Brazil.

     

     

  • Varieties:

    There are more than 200 varieties of lemons that have been identified in the United States alone. Some of the most popular varieties are the Meyer Lemon, the Rough Lemon,, the Eureka, the Lisbon, the Ponderosa and the Villafranca.

    The Meyer and the Eureka are two of the most common lemon varieties found in supermarkets.

     

  • Products:

    Lemons can be used in teas, juices and in salads, dressings, and desserts, or even eaten raw. Lemon is also used in essential oils, natural beauty products, and household cleaning products.

  • Top Health Benefits:

    Lemon juice acts as a blood purifier and cleansing agent, and has been used in the treatment of digestive disorders, kidney stones, throat infections, high blood pressure burns and obesity. Its high flavonoid content also provides the lemon with great antioxidant and cancer-fighting attributes.

    When lemon juice has been fully metabolized inside the body, it has an alkalizing effect that raises PH in the blood. Because of this, the benefits of drinking warm lemon water include:

    - Flushing out toxins and alkalizing acidic conditions seen in diseases such as rheumatoid and degenerative arthritis, multiple sclerosis, digestive disorders, Type II diabetes, and gout.

    - Decreasing LDL (bad cholesterol).

    - Assisting in weight loss by cutting through adipose and cellulite tissue and reducing sweet and gluten cravings (which cause acidic environments in the body).

    Lemons are exceptionally high in Vitamin C, a powerful aid in protecting the body’s immune system. They are also a great source of calcium, citric acid, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.

    Lemon juice helps to strengthen the liver by providing energy to liver enzymes when they are too dilute, dissolving acid, and aiding in the production of bile. Lemon also helps to balance calcium and oxygen levels in the liver, which can provide relief from heartburn.

    Due to the coagulant properties of its bio-flavinoids, lemon juice can be applied to a cotton ball to stop a nosebleed and can even help to stop internal bleeding.

    The antiseptic properties of lemon juice can benefit the body inside and out. Inside the body, it can prevent sepsis (the presence of pathogenic bacteria) and putrefaction (tissue decomposition). Lemon is also effective in helping skin conditions such as acne, sunburn, insect stings and eczema.

    Lemon acts as a digestive aid that ensures smooth bowel functions and prevents conditions such as constipation, diarrhea, heartburn and bloating.

     

     

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