Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Limes, Lemons, and Agave

When are limes & lemons ready to harvest??

Lime trees don't begin producing fruit until they are approximately 3 years old. The first few years after planting, the lime expends energy developing a healthy root system. Mature lime trees have no distinct harvest season and produce ripe fruit year-round. The trees are more productive in the summer months, beginning in May and lasting through early fall, but produce enough fruit for a small monthly harvest during the winter.

Mexican limes, or key limes, grow on a short bush-like tree and produce small fruits that grow to approximately 2 inches long. The thin rind of the Mexican lime turns yellow once the fruit fully matures. Once the fruit fully ripens and yellows, the limes begin dropping from the tree on their own. Harvesting should occur before the fruits detach naturally from the tree. Fruits that drop naturally have a shorter storage life which makes them less desirable for anything but immediate use.

Tahiti limes grow on full-size trees and produce fruit that measures up to 3 inches long. These limes are typically harvested for storage or transport when the rind is dark green but after the fruit becomes firm. The rind gradually fades to light green and eventually becomes yellow as the fruit becomes overripe. Harvesting at the light green stage for home use ensures a fully mature lime that hasn't yet passed its peak flavor.

 Twist the lime fruit from the branch, as yanking and pulling may cause limb breakage and damage to the tree.
If you pluck some other kinds of fruits from their trees before those fruits are ripe, it takes only a little patience until they ripen. The same maneuver with a lemon will buy you disappointment. Lemons ripen on the tree or not at all. So getting your harvest timing right is critical. Ripe lemons are a brilliant shade of yellow or yellow-orange and have a shine to their skin. Wrinkled or dull skin means that you waited too long; the fruits are past their prime.


Is your agave plant looking wilted or rotted at the base?  It could be agave worms at work.  These are the white worms used in a bottle of mescal plus they can are also be canned and eaten as a treat in Mexico.  When fried, they taste like sunflower seeds.  (No, thanks anyway.)

Fernando stopped by this morning as we were inspecting one of our housewatch homes.  He wanted to alert us that he would be removing this big agave plant this week.  He gently pulled on one of the stems and the whole plant came right out of the ground.
He then showed us how the plant was rotted off at ground level.  In the debris under the plant, we could see the white worms and even a scorpion or two.
So if you return to the resort and find a plant or two missing from your yard, maybe it was Fernando and crew to the rescue saving YOU the labor of cleaning up. 

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