Monday, January 14, 2019

Christina Hollis: Oranges and Lemons

When I’m not writing, I like to grow delicious things to eat. This has been a great year for my collection of citrus trees. They're not keen on English weather, so I grow them in big tubs and keep them in a greenhouse between September and May. In early summer, I wheel them outside and line them up in the sunshine—or what passes for sunshine 800 feet up a breezy, east-facing Gloucestershire hillside!

Part of our crop 
My interest started one Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day). I told the children I'd love to try growing our own lemons. Three weeks later, on the day before Mothering Sunday, a mysterious parcel arrived. It was a little Meyer lemon tree—a present from my daughter.

We had some good crops from that tree over the next few years. Sadly a very long, cold and wet winter finished it off. Citrus fruit don’t like too much moisture, and the atmosphere inside the greenhouse was too damp for it. 

That lemon tree’s successor had almost sixty fruits on it this year. Lemon curd made with eggs from our hens is a million times better than the stuff sold in the shops. It’s a lovely deep yellow colour too, thanks to those golden organic yolks.

My orange tree only has one ripe fruit!
As well as a lemon tree, I have a Tahiti lime, and a Seville orange fruiting at the moment. I bought a small yuzu bush earlier this year, but that will need to be a bit older before it produces any flowers. 

It will soon be marmalade-making time, but my single ripe orange won’t produce enough peel and juice on its own. I’ll have to buy some fruit to add to it!

The tahiti lime is fruiting for the first time. Until this morning it has fifteen fruit on it. Now there are only eleven left, as I made what Tesco calls Key Lime Pie. I’m not sure what Florida residents will think about the recipe, but it was very easy to make and absolutely delicious. 

This picture is courtesy of Pixabay—my basic pie looked the same, but the presentation was so much prettier I used this photo instead of my own. 

Have you ever grown anything exotic?

Christina Hollis's first non-fiction book, Struggle and Suffrage in Bristol will be published by Pen and Sword Books on 28th February 2019. You can find out more about that here, catch up with her at, on Twitter, Facebookand see a full list of her published books at

1 comment:

dstoutholcomb said...

your pie sounds delicious.

how lucky for you to be able to grow the citrus.