Lime, lemon and lime are three Mediterranean citrus fruits that are fundamental for our agriculture, even if not everyone knows the differences. Surely you know that there are lime and lemon but have you ever heard of lime? And then, if you were to have all three of these fruits in front of you, would you know how to distinguish them from each other? When the lemon is not ripe, in fact, it is very similar to lime, especially in the peel and on the outside and being the lime very similar to lime (although on this subject it is necessary to make a clarification), it is certainly not easy to distinguish them, at least until they are opened and tasted, proving to be two completely different fruits.
The ripe lemon is large, yellow, and usually with a thick skin, as opposed to the lime which, however, is smaller and with a green skin.
The acidity of lime juice is higher than that of lemon juice, which in the mouth is acidulous but not as sour as lime, because it is richer in sugar. This is one of the reasons why our gastronomic tradition prefers the use of lemon instead of lime, also considering the double presence of vitamin C in the lemon compared to lime, but both these fruits have very good nutritional characteristics.
The lime, whose scientific name is Citrus aurantiifolia, deserves a special mention.
There are two different currents of thought in this regard, one that considers the lime and the lime the same fruit, another that, however, tends to indicate them as two completely different products.
Specifically, in fact, there is a variety that differs completely from lime as you are accustomed to know it, is the sweet lime, which is now grown only in Italy and has different characteristics than lime.
THE IDEAL CLIMATE
The lemon is practiced almost all over the world, even if it finds its ideal habitat in the Mediterranean basin.
Italy, especially the islands and the south of the boot, is closely linked with this production, even if the largest quantities are produced in the subtropical belt of the planet.
The plant is particularly sensitive to wind and temperatures, much more than other citrus fruits: it suffers from cold and if it is exposed to temperatures below zero for a long time could be compromised its very life, in winter we recommend the use of non-woven protective fabrics.
Similarly, it should not be exposed to excessive temperatures in summer, because these could seriously affect the ripening of its fruits.
It is clear that it is necessary to identify an area that can be easily managed and controlled from the meteorological point of view if you want to carry on a healthy and fruitful lemon garden.
The lemon and lime plants have almost the same characteristics, while the lime plant prefers tropical climates: in the Mediterranean is almost completely absent, except for a few small crops, except for Egypt, where instead it is a widespread cultivation.
It loves the very humid and warm climates and fears particularly the cold or, in any case, the low temperatures. Today, the most widespread lime cultivations are found in Mexico, Latin America, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia.
The lemon can be grown in full or in pots: this is a plant that prefers medium-textured soils well drained and fertilized, which are therefore very fertile to a good depth.
The ideal pH for growing lemon is almost neutral, since the optimal values are between 6.5 and 7.5 and that is why the lemon plant can not give the desired results if it is placed in particularly clayey, alkaline and calcareous soils.
As far as the fertilization of lemon gardens is concerned, therefore in the open field, you should use mature manure, because these plants are particularly greedy for organic matter and the fertilization of the lemon must be carried out for at least three years from the moment of implantation.
Experienced growers recommend that at least 30kg of fertiliser per plant per year be allocated. It is different if you choose to grow lemons in pots, for which the fertilizers are the same as you would use for any other potted plant, to be distributed during irrigation operations of the soil.
In this case you should fertilize the lemon with a higher dose of nitrogen and potassium and with a lower dose of phosphorus.
As far as irrigation is concerned, remember that lemons are afraid of waterlogging, so the soil must be drained perfectly.
The lemon should never be watered frequently but in-depth, so it is advisable to proceed with a weekly irrigation operation taking care to get the water in-depth, without exceeding.
Pruning the lemon is essential to ensure the health of the plant: there is no specific period in which it is necessary to carry out the operation, there are countless differing opinions on the matter but all agree that the operations should be carried out in mild seasons, when the bark is softer.
It is important to eliminate dead and useless branches, those that weigh down the plant too much, while throughout the year should be eliminated suctions, ie branches without fruits that take only nutrients from the production ones. The same attention paid to lemon plants should be paid to those of lime.
The lime plant, on the contrary, requires abundant doses of water even if it does not like stagnations: it is advisable to realize a drip irrigation system which guarantees the right dose also in the winter period. To fertilize the lime you need a fertilizer rich in potassium, phosphorus, nitrogen, zinc and magnesium, which must be spread at the end of summer.
Irrigation is often one of the main causes of the spread of diseases in lemon, lime and lime plants, for the latter, parasitic gum disease is one of the most frequent diseases, resulting from excess water.
It is a particularly aggressive fungus that can only be eradicated by eliminating the affected parts and disinfecting with special salts. Even a wrong pruning can cause a disease, in particular, the Phoma tracheiphila, a bacterium that creeps into the cuts on the wood, which also affects lemons, whose plant is particularly prone to parasite attacks.