Lemon Tree Fact Sheet

Selecting and Planting Your Communal Lemon Tree

Here are a few simple tips to get your site off to a cracking start. If you would like to download a copy of this fact sheet to share with your neighbours, a printable file is available via the the link at the bottom of the page.


Selecting Your tree

When you are at the nursery choosing a lemon tree, it may be very tempting to select a tree, which has lots of flowers or fruit. In fact, it is far better to find a tree with good structure, healthy, glossy leaves or fresh shoots than one with flowers or fruit. Flowers and fruit on trees in pots may be a sign of stress. It could be a lack of nutrients, water or a lack of available space in the pot. Plants that are in stress will produce flowers and fruit in a last ditch attempt to reproduce in case the plant dies.

If you buy a tree that has fruit on it, make sure you remove the fruit from the tree before you pant it. While it might bruise your ego, your tree will thank you for it in the long run.

Always remove any fruit from your tree before planting!

Dial Before You Dig!

Remember you only get electrocuted once! It doesn’t matter where you are digging – there are a multitude of potential services that may be running below your feet. Before you touch the soil please: Dial Before You Dig – 1100 or visit 1100.com.au.

Preparing Your Site

We strongly advise that you take a long-term approach to planning your communal space. Your plants will grow faster and with better health if you prepare your soil well before you buy your plants!

You can improve your planting site by breaking up the soil to approximately a spades depth and adding a good amount of compost, blood & bone, well rotted manure and turning it all in. Sheep or cow manure would be ideal for this. You can cover the site with old straw and let the earthworms do their work.

Planting Your Tree

Citrus are shallow rooted trees, which is why they don’t like sharing their root space with other plants. You need a large shallow hole. You should prepare a hole that is at least 1.5 times the depth of your pot and 2-3 times as wide. I wouldn’t hesitate to prepare a hole that is 1m2 regardless of the size of the tree. I want to give my plants the best start to life so I prepare my soil not just for planting, but for the first few years growth. Incorporate some more compost into the soil and perhaps some well rotted chicken manure.

When you are ready to plant, back fill the hole with half of the soil. Add a handful or two of charcoal and then place your tree on top. Your
tree should be sitting a little higher than ground level. Now mound the remaining soil up around the roots and pat it down. Mounding the soil up will assist with drainage.

Secure your tree with a couple of 50mm x 50mm stakes either side of your tree and place 2 pieces of hessian tape around the stem and each stake. This will keep the tree safe from strong winds and will help the roots to establish.

Looking After Your Citrus

It’s best to use organic based fertilisers as opposed to synthetic based fertilisers. Your aim should be to feed the soil as well as provide valuable nutrients for your plants.

As a rule of thumb, apply one handful of fertiliser per m2 each season. Before you apply any fertiliser, wet the soil as this will make the ground more porous and will allow the nutrients to get deeper down into the feed zone. Once you’ve applied the fertiliser, water it in as this will wash the smaller particles down into those pores meaning that your tree can access those nutrients much more quickly.

If, when you feed your citrus, you sprinkle the fertiliser away from the trunk, you will encourage the roots to spread wider. This will give the tree a better chance of capturing more nutrients.

And yes it is absolutely true – urine is beneficial to the health of citrus trees. Of course, what you do with that information is entirely up to you!


You will need to water your citrus once a week throughout the year, increasing the frequency of watering during hotter and dryer periods. Remember: if your soil doesn’t contain sufficient water your plants will not be able to access nutrients in the soil.

Download Our Fact Sheet Here:


GETTING STARTED – How to bring TLTP to your neighbourhood!

So you’ve decided to become a champion for TLTP in your neighbourhood. That’s awesome!

We’re going to take you through the process of getting started step by step.

We want you to know that we are here for you right through this process. We’ve provided a bunch of links throughout the text so that you can find other more helpful information right here on our website!

Step 1 – Talk to your neighbours

This is the most important step and for some, it may be the toughest challenge to overcome, but YOU CAN DO THIS!

We’ve developed a series of dialogues to help you talk to your neighbours and get them on board.

We’ve found most people to be very receptive to the idea of creating a communal space in their neighbourhood. Why? Quite simply it’s because most people use things like lemons and herbs frequently when they cook. People like the idea of having a nearby place they can go to collect herbs as and when they need them. It sure beats paying $4 for a tiny packet at the supermarket. And its as fresh as it gets! So remember that when you start telling people about the project.

So, how do you talk to your neighbours?

Make life easier for yourself! Talk to the neighbours that you do know first! Then find out the names of others they know in the street. Who are they closest to? Those are the people you should try next. Even better, get them to talk to the neighbours they know!

If you do have to cold call upon the neighbours that you aren’t familiar with, know this: Any barriers that might exist, when random strangers knock on someone’s door, are easily broken when people hear that you are a neighbour. Most people would be inclined to think that if you are a neighbour, you probably have a valid reason for knocking on their door. So be quick to tell them you are a local! “Hi there, my name is Jodi, I just live a few doors down at …”

Want to really capture their attention? Drop a few names! If they know these people you’ll capture their attention “I’ve teamed up with a couple of other residents, John and Millie at #9, Casey and Andrew at #15”…

Step 2 – Get the troops together

Organise a little gathering to get everyone in one place at one time. We have found that food is a great way to connect people so, why not organise a little lunch..
Things that work well:
– Plate to share – everyone bring a plate of something to share
– Mixed Bag Lunch – Create a list of things that are required to feed your group of people and give everyone the chance to select an item(s) from the list. i.e Bread – Jane, OJ – Bill, Cheese – Jerry… Everyone pops the food on the table and you all make up your own sandwiches/plates.

When you are all together – its a good idea to find out what kind of space would suit the people of your neighbourhood. Think about the following questions:
– What kind of site will you look for?
– Will it be big or small?
– What kinds of things would people like to see in that space? Trees (shade), herbs, flowers, fruits, indigenous plants, habitat for     wildlife i.e. insect hotels etc.
– What kind of Herbs do the people in your neighbourhood actually use? How often do they use those herbs?
– What kind of park bench will you have?

Do a skills audit! You just never know what kinds of amazing skills people might have! One thing we all know for sure is: “if you don’t ask, you don’t get!”. Right?! So ask your neighbours to write down a couple of things they are particularly good at. Tell them that its OK if the things they are good at don’t seem particularly relevant to creating a great space just write them down! You might stumble across an acrobat or someone who breathes fire! Sure, those skills might not help you in establishing your site, but that would certainly make for some good entertainment at a picnic lunch in your new space!
Make a game of it! Match the skill to the neighbour – see if you really can judge a book by its cover.

Step 3 – Find an appropriate site

Take a look around your neighbourhood and decide where the most appropriate site is for your community. Remember; this project is about community so, the most appropriate site may not be in the naturestrip or verge outside YOUR house! It may be in the reserve or park down the street, or perhaps one of the neighbours will be happy to open up their front yard to the community! Just know that there will be an appropriate place, you just need to think broadly and be flexible!

Step 4 – Talk to your council

Introducing yourself to the people who can make or break your site is a great idea!

We highly recommend that you do a bit of research and find the contact details of:
ALL of your local councilors! You can find the details of ALL of your local councilors on your council’s website. The other details you can find by calling your local council office or, simply go to a council meeting and chat to them there!
– Council CEO
– Head of City Infrastructure
– Head of Parks
– Horticulture Manager
– Environment Department Co-ordinator

Send a letter – email is best these days!.

Tell them:
– Who you are (as a group i.e. we are the residents of High Street, Melbourne).
– About the project
– Why you have all decided to come together and create this space.
– What you have achieved so far.
– Your plan
– Where your ideal site is located
– That you have some alternatives, should your ideal site not be appropriate.
– That you would love to be able to work with council to make this site a feature in the landscape.

We promise that if you do this, you will have a much easier time! However, you should bear in mind that if, when telling your council about TLTP and your plans, you talk less about your needs and wants and more about the benefits to the broader community, you will do far better. Remember that council’s represent the whole community, and as such, they like to know that helping you wont disadvantage other people 😉

Step 5 – Plan your site

Head out and take some before shots! It will be great to look back at these once your site is finished.

Based on the feedback you got at your community picnic, carefully consider which are the key elements that your community needs/wants.

Weigh that against the amount of room that you have available – remember that you should allow enough room for each plant to grow to its mature size. Many people make the mistake of over-planting and having too many different things. For instance, with herbs its better to have bigger clusters of a smaller number of plants that people actually use because:
a. it looks better
b. it is much easier for people to know what they are picking – just because you know your thyme from your sage doesn’t meant that everyone else does.
c. it allows the plants to survive without being picked bare!

Where will you put things like plants, benches, sculpture etc. This is where a volunteer designer comes in really handy! Put a call out – is there a local landscape designer who would be willing to help you put your design together? Let them know that you are a community group and that you will happily credit their work in your social media streams, particularly if you make it into your local paper. It’s a great help to you and it can be very good exposure for them – especially if your site is featured by TLTP!


It is always possible that there may be water, gas, electrical and sewage services right below your site and this could present several problems:
a. Digging in a particular part of your site may present an unacceptable risk to your community. In which case you will need to plan around those services.
b. It may mean that your site is in fact not suitable, in which case, you’ll need to find an alternative site.


Step 6 – Plan your soil prep and planting days

We have learned the hard way – if you don’t get the soil right WAY before you think about planting out, you could be setting yourself up for a disaster!

Whatever you do, don’t rush! Your site and your community will always be there. Take your time to prepare and do it well.

Ask yourself:
– What kind of time frame will you be working to?
– What time of year is the best for planting? Whenever that is, prepare your site at least 2-3 months in advance.
– Is summer the best time to plant? Not if you live in the southern hemisphere! You want to plant out your site at a time when there will be a good amount of mild weather and that most amazing of elements – rain!
– What kinds of materials will you need? Compost, mulch etc.
– How much will it cost and how will you raise the funds? Are your neighbours happy to chip in; or
– Can your council help? Many council’s have community grants that can help you on your way. Some councils will also happily provide free mulch to community projects. Your Parks or Horticulture Managers at your local council are the best people to talk to you about this.

The best advice we can give you is: plan your dates well in advance! The more notice you give your community, the more helpers you’ll have on the day. Think about giving them a “Save The Date” card and reminding them the week before. If you’re tech savvy, why not get your community on an email list or private Facebook Group to keep them up to date.

Step 7 – Plan your planting day

You need to round up as many helpers as possible so that you can get through the things that need to be done AND have fun!

Give everyone as much notice as you can.

What kinds of jobs will there be on the day? Make a list and have someone on hand when the day comes to delegate jobs out to the troops.
When will materials arrive? It is always good practice to have materials delivered the day before any working bees. That way you can be sure to start on time and everyone can work on their allocated jobs.
What will you eat and drink?
How will you unwind after the big day?

Step 8 – Show it off!

Celebrate! You deserve it!

Invite all of those important people that you contacted back in step 4. Invite them to come down to your celebration. Tell them that you want them to be able to enjoy the amazing space your community built together. Make sure you include pictures of what the site looked like before, the neighbours working hard at your site prep and planting days and what the site looks like now.

Invite the local newspaper – they are always looking for great community stories.

Have a party! Make sure that everyone in your neighbourhood gets involved.

Pin your site! You will have noticed that we have provided a pin map on our website. Pin you site to this and make sure you add a great photo. This is important because here may be neighbours nearby who didn’t know about the project and who might be really inspired by it. Help them locate your site!

Share it with us! Share pictures of your site on Instagram using the hashtag #TLTP. You can find us @thelemontreeproject

Tweet us! @lemontreeprojec – Tell us where you are and show off that awesome site! Don’t forget… #TLTP

We’d love to hear the story of your site so that we can feature you on our blog. Write to us via the contact form on this website. If you can write your own article, even better!

Important things to note:
Don’t bite off more than you can chew! True story – you’ll only make things more challenging for yourself and your community if you go too big too quick! You’re more likely to get your council offside if you don’t do it well and that can be bad news for everyone!

We know from experience that when you start out small with a view to growing gradually over time you have more success in terms of the plants surviving and growing well and in gaining people’s trust in your ability to do a good job.

We have had the best experience in dealing with councils when we went to them with a clear plan for the future. Councils want to know that you have a plan to work to.  If you are thinking about taking on a big project, definitely break it down into manageable stages.

FACT: If your site looks messy, unloved and neglected you are going to upset people.

Looks are everything here so we strongly encourage you to aim to make your site look beautiful.

People love to spend time in beautiful places. Need we say any more?

Most important – Have fun!


Sima – Finland’s favourite brew!


Sima is the traditional drink of Finland’s Vappu festival – the memorial day of Saint Labor.

It is essentially a mead, which to some might not sound all that appetising, but I can assure you that it is delicious with its sweet honey and lemon flavour.

Don’t worry, it’s non-alcoholic! We don’t allow the Sima to ferment long enough to produce any significant level of alcohol.

We’ve been brewing up a big batch for the Hume Food Summit this week where we will have a “Lemonade Stand”. If you’re coming along please drop in for a Sima and say hi.

Sima is traditionally brewed with honey and hops inflorescences, but today most people use brown sugar in place of the honey and since most people don’t have access to fresh hops they simply omit the flowers from their recipe. I’m going to give you both options so that if you have one or both of those ingredients you can try it and see what you prefer.

For the recipe please head over to Jodi’s blog: EveryDayInTheGarden.com

If you do try this please tweet us @LemonTreeProjec or tag us in your instagram @LemonTreeProject #TLTP #SIMA

 If you liked this recipe you can subscribe to TheLemonTreeProject – we’ll notify you each time we add something new.

If you have set up a communal lemon tree and herb garden in your neighbourhood why not pin your site on our community Pin Map

We’d love you to Tweet us @LemonTreeProjec a pic of your site, your neighbours enjoying your site or perhaps something you have made with your lemons #TLTP – we might feature it on our blog!!
You can also follow us on Instagram @LemonTreeProject #TLTP

If you would like to learn more about gardening and preserving the harvest you can join one of Jodi’s classes – Find Jodi’s classes here

Leader Local Grants – We Won!

We’re stoked. We even made the front page! We had a little trouble sharing the actual clipping so we’ve posted it below for you. Many thanks to the Hume Leader and to everyone who voted for our project.

Hume Leader 31 July 2012

A group’s dream of having communal lemon trees around Hume will soon become a reality thanks to the Leader Local Grants Campaign. Jodi Jackson will lead the project, which she says will bring communities together. THE sweet dream of sour lemons hanging from trees in Hume streets will soon become a reality. 

The Lemon Tree Project has received $1000 as part of the inaugural Leader Local Grants campaign.

They will plant communal lemon trees across Hume.

The group will establish five sites with their grant cash, including at the entrance of the Craigieburn Community Garden and at the Craigieburn Global Learning Centre.

Lemon Tea Cake



By Jodi Jackson www.everydayinthegarden.com

This lemon tea cake is the first recipe I learnt to cook on my own. I must have been in my early teens, inspired by my neighbour Val and the warm and wonderful aromas that were always wafting out of her kitchen.

Times have changed a lot since then and although I often mess around with the recipe it remains my old faithful.

Now, I never get fussy with sifting or anything fancy when I make this cake – it simply looks after itself.

If you have other citrus on hand you can use what you have. I often mix it up so it’s like a fruit salad tea cake 😉

You can present this cake in a number of ways. Below I have provided four of my preferred methods for presenting this cake – none of them are at all difficult!

Lemon Tea Cake

  • 220g softened butter
  • 3/4 cup of caster sugar (I use raw sugar but you can use whatever you like)
  • The zest of 2 lemons (mix it up if you like, 2-3 mandarines, 2-3 limes or 1 orange or tangelo)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups of plain flour (if you are using SR flour use the same quantity but omit the baking powder and salt)
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Alright – Lets Cook!

Cream your butter and sugar.

While that’s mixing, finely grate your zest. You can chop it up if you like.

Add it to the mixer followed by your eggs, one at a time until each is completely incorporated.

Now mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add this to the mixer a little at a time. When it is thoroughly combined add the lemon juice and mix again until it looks lovely like this:

Mmm… Sexy!

Now pour the batter into a greased and floured cake tin. I usually make this cake in a loaf tin but today I decided to go with the Kugelhopf tin.

Pop it in the oven for 50-60min. Testing it with a skewer to ensure it is cooked through.

If like me you have used a Kugelhopf tin, you will need to let the cake rest in the tin for 15-20 min. As the cake cools it will shrink somewhat freeing it from the sides of the tin. It should come away cleanly.


Now there are a number of ways that you could do this. If you want to keep it simple you could sift some icing sugar over the top of your cake once it is completely cool. Or you could melt a tablespoon of butter, brush it over the top and sprinkle the cake with sugar.

You could also top it off with a layer of lemon curd. This is the perfect icing if you have made the batter into cup cakes (note the cooking time will be less). I often use this icing if I have baked it in a round or  loaf tin.

Lemon Curd:

4 eggs lightly beaten

1 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup lemon juice

125g butter

You will need a double boiler for this – if you don’t have one half fill a saucepan with water and bring it to a simmer. Over the top place a mixing bowl and there you have it!

So, place your eggs and sugar into the bowl on top of the saucepan. Whisk until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon juice and butter, continuing to mix until the curd thickens up – this could take 15 min or more.

Once the curd is done spread it over your cake.

Or… you could turn your cake into a syrupy delight! If you chose this option I think that it is better to bake your cake in a loaf tin. Beware though – this cake will need 6-12 hrs in the fridge. Its totally worth it!

For the syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 strips of lemon rind (use your peeler)

Place all of your ingredients into a saucepan placed over a medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Allow the liquid to simmer for 10 minutes or until it has become thick and syrupy. Carefully remove the rind.

Now you need to go over to your warm cake that has been left to sit in the tin. Take a skewer and poke holes all over the top of the cake. Don’t be too dramatic – you still want your cake to look good =)

Now pour over the syrup. Pop the cake in the fridge for at least a few hours – overnight is best as the cake will firm up.

When its ready turn it right side up and rest it on a plate that is at least 2-3cm wider than the cake. I like to serve this warmed with lashings of cream or  ice-cream.


The Lemon Tree Project

Can you see a lemon tree in every street? We can!

The Lemon Tree Project is about creating a space in every street for neighbours to congregate and share.

Picture this: A beautiful burgeoning lemon tree and a park bench. This is what we are proposing.

Lets face it, we don’t all have room for a lemon tree in our backyards and why should we need to when we have so much available space on our nature strips and verges. Lemon trees are versatile and abundant and lemons are almost infinitely useful.

One lemon tree can provide enough fruit to serve a street full of people so why not share a tree with your neighbours? I mean how many people who have a lemon tree use all of the lemons themselves? Not many!

We’re sending out an invitation to the people of world: Come join the revolution! Get out there and plant a lemon tree in your street.

We want to know who is getting on board so write to us. Tell us your stories and share your photos. We’ll post your stories up on the blog so that everyone can be inspired by the great work you have done for your community.

Our cities need more food production and this is one simple way that you can help bring food security to the cities of the world.

Of course, it doesn’t have to end at lemon trees. How about mandarines and oranges planted along the school run? Pre-packaged school snacks anyone?

Now, this project does not belong to us – it belongs to you! Together we can change the world, one street at a time.