Well, I wrote this part earlier today, so I may as well post it. Besides, part of it may count as irony, or at least foreshadowing.


My lemon tree is finally out of the plant window and on the back porch. If weather.com is correct, it will stay there for almost a week because it won’t get below 48 until next Tuesday. Of course, it could all change tonight, but that’s why I’m keeping an eye on the forecast. I love spring.

I watered last night, which felt oddly humiliating. Partly it’s that I know the dirt is not as good as it could be, and therefore doesn’t hold the water as well as it could. Still, it’ll be better next year (and the year after that, if the next owner happens to be a gardener or the job market in the Pacific Northwest is completely toast), and I do want my parsley and carrots to sprout, so out came the hose.

I have some minor chores to do–weeding of course, and hardening off more broccoli (and maybe cauliflower if the weather continues looking nice) and cleaning the sap off the lemon tree as Jen suggested, and putting collars around my brassicas as Tina suggested to protect against cutworms. Not enough for as much as I want to be outside right now.


And then there’s this:

I actually went outside this evening after dinner (homemade pizza–as of last pizza, I’m out of slow-roasted and dried tomatoes to use as toppings) to rake, dig, pull weeds, and generally potter. Eventually I sat down on the back porch, thinned the anise hyssop, discovered that there are a couple of shasta daisy sprouts after all, and contemplated the lemon tree. It’s looking a little scraggly after its long winter, but it’s still got about half its leaves and is flowering like the world’s going to end, and I discovered a bright green, newly-minted leaf, so maybe it finally decided to take the advice I’ve been giving it all spring about investing in leaves before putting its all into blooms.

A little further up I discovered a leaf with hard, dark, limpet-like things stuck to it. Oh, hell, I thought, and picked it. Scale? Being squeamish, I didn’t want to scratch at the things with my fingernail. I picked up the nearby grill scrubber and used it, but as you might expect, that only led to a torn-up leaf.

I didn’t see any more dark spots on other leaves. But my gaze fell to the dead leaves in its pot. All winter as they fell, I’ve left them there, because I figured they would act as mulch. And they have; I haven’t watered it much at all. I stuck a finger in the soil and noted it felt dry, so I fetched the hose and watered it. Then it occurred to me that if those things were scale, there might be more in those dead leaves, and I should probably get rid of them.

I took a handful of leaves out. Dark squiggly earworm-like insects ran everywhere. I swore and scooped out more leaves. More squiggly insects and some smaller dark insects skittered away from the sudden harsh light. More swearing, more leaves. White flies flew out. It was like a compendium of houseplant problems. Like Barbara Kingsolver’s vegetannual, but with bugs.

This lemon tree apparently has practically every pest I’ve ever heard of except aphids and spider mites, and maybe I just didn’t look hard enough. I don’t think they can have all moved in over the thirteen hours it sat out on the back porch today. Which means I’ve been providing them a nice, happy, dark, damp home all winter. Why is this tree flowering like the world’s going to end? Oh, right: because its world is obviously close to ending.