We had it all planned. We would have pomelos, oranges, naartjies and a few other kinds the names of which escape me. The first citrus trees, three pomelos and one lemon tree have done very well. The pomelos have been large and delicious and the trees have borne well.

Not least is the single lemon tree. It is a runty little thing that does not seem to grow bigger no matter how much we encourage it by watering, adding growth pellets to the soil around it and just standing in front of it and telling it how wonderful it is. It refuses to grow any bigger, but boy does it bear. Some of its skinny little branches are so weighed down by fruit they have to be supported to stop them breaking.

I am told the most important area of support you can give a citrus tree is your admiration and appreciation. They need to be encouraged repeatedly. I’ve noticed Miriam among them, chatting away in a friendly fashion.

In any event, the obvious thing for us to do was to acquire more citrus trees and plan it so that we would have a greater variety of fruit. We decided on adding two orange trees, two naartjies and one more pomelo. That would give us a bountiful selection of citrus fruit every year.

Well, the trees grew nicely, they all looked sturdy and healthy. Flowers appeared and with them some disgustingly greedy beetles who wanted to eat all our flowers. Of course, we could not allow that. No flowers would mean no fruit. So we took action against the little so-and-so’s.

And our fruit started to appear, in abundant quantities. With great enthusiasm we made regular visits to our new trees, but gradually, as they developed, the fruit started taking on a form that was not what we planned for. We visited them daily, hoping that we were mistaken. But we were not. It slowly became clearer and clearer that they were all lemon trees.

“Oh no,” Miriam said. “We now have two pomelo trees and six lemon trees.”

“If they all bear like the little one, we’re going to have enough lemons to open a bottling plant,” I said. “Who sold us these?”

“A guy from Limpopo called Sarel. We bought them along the road. I haven’t seen him since.”

They do seem to be bearing as well as the little one. So we are going to have a lot of lemons this summer, more than we could possibly give away, but no oranges and no naartjies.

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Lemons, Lemons and More Lemons