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Caterina Rancho

The Lemon Man Lives in Mallorca

How Xingo Apesteguia fell in love with citrus.

On the coast road from Valldemossa to Soller, Mallorca, I felt compelled to stop the car in a small village called Deia, where I passed by a little property with a bunch of lemon and orange trees.

At the entrance to the property was small hut to with a sign that beckoned vistors to buy fresh, homemade orange, lemon, and avocado juice– this is where I found the Lemon Man, Xingo Apesteguia.

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I parked my car, took a look over the fence and immediately know that I had to go inside. At first glance it seemed like no one was there, but then I saw a man working on a bed in the garden, so I called to him over the fence to get his attention.

A few moments later, up the hill he came, welcoming me at the juice hut. We got to talking about Garden Collage Magazine, and soon he invited me into his garden where he explained the different components of the property.

Fifteen years ago, Xingo Apesteguia inherited his land from his grandfather, who inherited it from his father, who– of course– also got it from his father. No one knows exactly how many generations the grove has been in Apesteguia’s possession, but today, it is a lemon grove of Edenic proportions.

“No one knows exactly how many generations the grove has been in Apesteguia’s possession, but today, it is a lemon grove of Edenic proportions.”

Xingo built up a handsome house for himself and his wife by hand, including modern achievements like electricity and sanitation. He hammered every stone of the stairs with his own hands.

He says the house is never completely finished but the garden needs so much attention that the process of building new things (especially those, like the forthcoming terrace, which aren’t totally necessary for the house) is a slow one. Still, the architecture is not often why people swing by Apesteguia’s home– they come for the lemons.

Apesteguia and his wife support themselves on the diversity of vegetables that grow on their land, and they have chickens for egg production. To earn a little money on the side, they have small hut next to the street– the very same that attracted me to the property– where people can buy their homemade juices, marmalades, almonds, and other herbs sourced from the Mallorcan soil.

There’s no system for buying and there are no opening hours. Xingo tells me that people usually find a way to get his attention and in a few cases they just come in, prepare themselves a juice, and put the money on the table. So goes the story of Apesteguia– aka “the Lemon Man”– and his locally-renowned juices.

Working on the property is a 24-hour job within a 365-day year, without Sundays off (to say nothing of public or personal holidays). Apesteguia’s work shows in the beauty of the property, which you’ll see in the pictures below.

“Everybody comes here to take a holiday, but I’m living here, in Mallorca,” he says, “I’m living in the everlasting holiday. Where else would I go?!”

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A citrus grove in paradise: Xingo Apesteguia surveying his garden in Mallorca.

Apesteguia doesn’t use any machines or synthetic fertilizer in his gardening. To achieve a good harvest and protect the plants, he uses following natural system:

  1. The cat catches the mice that would otherwise eat plants or roots.
  2. The dog protects the chickens from the fox, so that they can eat the snails from the vegetables that grow on the ground. (“I don’t have decoration animals,” he explains. “We all work on this whole thing.”)
  3. The rest, well– let’s just say it all comes down to good-old fashioned elbow grease: diligent weeding and strategic watering.

Apesteguia’s new garden project includes planting two cherry trees, which are around 40 centimeters high at the moment I visit. His grandfather planted all of the lemon and orange trees on the property, and the trees constitute what Apesteguia hopes can be his part of that legacy.

“In 20 years, when I’m an old man,” he quips, “I will sit here on my terrace and eat cherries”. Judging from the success he’s had with his lemons, this vision may come to life even sooner.

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