Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Day in the Glass House

Today was the perfect day to catch up on some things in the greenhouse which have gone by the wayside during the busy holidays. My garden cohort is busy lounging in the Florida Keys, so I had the day to myself and the plants in the greenhouse. Since it was in the mid-60's, I could easily have spent the day deadheading pansies, but that can be Patti's project when she comes back from Florida with a tan!

The lemon trees that spent the summer outside now have huge juicy fruits on them; as much as I would like to take credit for doing something brilliant with them, the fruits just seem to have happened on their own. It's sort of cool, since one tree has three fat lemons on it, and the other is starting to get buds, which promise those amazingly fragrant blooms in a couple of months!

It was mostly a day of "puttering," trimming, fertilizing, etc., which brings me to a couple of points that we're sometimes asked.

With reference to overwintering annuals, the short answer is that it isn't always cost effective, so there are many plants I overwinter, and many others that I don't. For those that do get to come inside, we generally keep just one or two "Mother Plants" of each cultivar. Later in the winter (late January or early February), we'll take cuttings from those plants for next summer's containers. Very often the "mother plants" of coleus, plectranthus, etc., are simply too woody to keep over for a second season, so it's their respective offspring that get to be next summer's star performers!

With some of the coleus cultivars, we only managed to get one good mother plant at the end of summer, so I did a couple of cuttings today of some of the favorites.

In the greenhouse, as in the rest of my garden, I do everything I can to keep with organics....it's really not a powerful politic statement, but I feel better knowing I'm not dumping tons of chemicals in the water supply for those downstream or future generations. I figure that if we each do a little, it adds up to being a major change.

For the inevitable mealy bugs that one finds in a greenhouse, I have had great luck with a product called "Pyola," that I get from Gardens Alive. (A great mail order company....I'll talk about their tomato food later). So far it's proven very successful, and we've kept the insect issue to a minimum.

Since I was the only one in the greenhouse today, I could also use my favorite fertilizer, called "Neptune's Harvest," which comes from a company of the same name. Since it's basically fish by-products, it has a little smell when it first gets added, but works really well, and the odor dissipates quickly. The huge advantage of organics is that they tend to work when nature tells them to work with light, temperature, etc., so there's less requirement to maintain strict calendars, etc.

More about the greenhouse later, but for now, it's time to water the plants!

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