February is here already, and it is time to start seeds for early spring transplants. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, and cool season herbs should all be started between now and February 15, so they will be ready to transplant during the last two weeks of March.
We are harvesting Meyer lemons this month. This tree, which is now in its second year in my possession, has been the most productive of the indoor citrus we have tried. If you have never grown citrus, it is certainly worth a try. Use a container that you won't mind lugging in an out, because you have to protect the trees from temperatures below about 35 degrees. An unheated garage with a south facing window offers the best winter home, unless of course you have a greenhouse. Citrus has enjoyed increasing popularity with home gardeners in recent years. You can find a great selection of trees, along with potting mix, fertilizer and advice, at Stanley's Greenhouses.
Meyer lemons are sweeter, larger and juicier than standard lemons, and botanically are actually more closely related to tangerine. The pith of Meyer lemons is not bitter, so the entire fruit can be used. It is a popular choice for making preserved lemons, a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine. Here's a typical, simple recipe:
Preserved Meyer Lemons
2 Meyer lemons
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt
1 small bay leaf
1 whole clove
2 whole coriander seeds
2 black peppercorns
lemon juice, from two additional Meyer lemons
Wash the lemons well, trim off the ends, and slice lengthwise into quarters, not cutting completely through one end, so they lemon opens up like a flower. Sprinkle the cut surfaces with some of the salt, close the lemons up and place them in a small jar, after adding about half the remaining salt to the bottom of the jar. Drop in the spices, sprinkle the rest of the salt over all, and add enough fresh lemon juice to cover. Cap the jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. Wait about a month before opening, to allow the flavor to develop.