so long, sucker

When my kaffir lime “tree” arrived, it was little more than a stick with a couple of leaves spurting out of the top. So it’s been exciting to see it branch out in just a couple weeks’ time.

Yesterday I finally got around to reading “How to Grow Dwarf Citrus,” a helpful leaflet that came with the tree.

… Know where the graft is on your tree. It can usually be seen as a diagonal scar between four and eight inches from the soil. Remove all shoot growth below the graft. These suckers take the vitality from the top of the tree (the fruiting wood). Especially on young trees, they are very vigorous….

Of course, it should have been obvious that the fast-growing new branch didn’t really belong. Kaffir lime leaves have a distinctive double-oval shape, whereas these were simple singles. It seemed a shame to hack off something so green and so alive, but gardening requires a certain amount of toughness, and that which does not serve the greater goal must be jettisoned if your efforts are to bear fruit.

It wasn’t a total loss, though. Turns out that while citrus rootstock leaves don’t have the same heady aroma as true Kaffir lime leaves, they are vaguely citrusy and pleasantly green-tasting. Slivered, they make a very nice addition to hot water and honey.

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