Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Kefir Lime

I know this is off-topic for a blog about a weaving business, but what the heck!

I took part of the day off from work yesterday to give some love to an important being in my life. When I moved to Oregon in 2009 I said goodbye to a kefir lime tree that I had raised from the time it was 12" tall with only 13 leaves. I didn't think I could keep it happy in Oregon.

Well, the person who took the tree moved to a new house and didn't have room for it so it went to live with another friend until I could bring it home. I finally brought it home in February. I forget just how much pruning experience I have. (Y'all know that I was a landscaper specializing in aesthetic pruning before I was a weaver, right?) Well, the poor tree had a few issues that cropped up over the last few years. I began the process of fixing them all yesterday.

(Here's the tree resting in the living room after a long van ride.)

One of the problems is a common one in the Bay Area. Ants had planted a crop of insects called "Scale" onto part of the tree. Scale bugs suck the sap and secrete a honey-like substance that the ants eat. This was a minor infestation, but when the ants left, the scale bugs kept secreting honey, which dripped all over one side of the tree and attracted mildew. It was a sticky, yucky mess.

Yesterday I killed the bugs with Dr. Bronner's soap and then washed all of the leaves.

The next problem is that this small tree doesn't want to stay small. The roots and branches keep growing. The roots had filled all available area in the pot.

So, I moved it to larger, permanent pot and pruned the roots. Yep, that's right! Every few years a potted tree needs to have some roots removed so that it has room to grow new ones. A good tree parent will keep track of which roots were removed and when so that different roots are removed next time.

The last thing I did was to pull a few branches into the places where I think they should be to give a beautiful and natural shape. I think I'm still seeing the result of not turning the tree often enough in the San Francisco garden. One side doesn't have enough branches in the right places.

The tying is done with soft rope, which will not stay in place for more than a year. Next Spring I'll untie them. If the branches haven't adapted to their new shape I'll retie them in different spots so that the ropes don't cut into the bark.

When you prune the roots, you need to prune the branches, too. If you don't, then there isn't enough water flowing in through roots to keep up with the leaves' transpiration. The tree gets stressed out trying to keep up and the whole thing suffers.

This is the final shape, as good as I can make it for now. By next year, it will be ready for another good pruning.

And then, there's the reason to keep this tree. It's for the leaves. I pruned off enough leaves to keep me and my friends fed with yummy Thai food all year. They get wrapped up in plastic and frozen until we're ready to use them. Yum!

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