January 13, 2017

My Rum Runner Tropical Hibiscus is Blooming!

So what's the big deal? Well for one thing it's January 3rd and it's supposed to snow tomorrow. The other is I rooted this one from the dieing mother plant and it took a year for it to root and it has been growing on my deck (and in the greenhouse in winter) for well over a year. I brought it into the house this year because I didn't have any room left in either greenhouse. There was no sign of a bud in October when I put it in front of the glass door in the dining room.

Day two
About a month ago, I noticed tiny buds on the tips of the branches. Today I was rewarded for my patience with this spectacular flower! There are more buds yet to open. The only downside to this beautiful plant is that the flowers only last one day outside but here in the house they can last a couple of days or more. The colors fade to pale after the first day. The pictures below was taken on day two.

6½ inches across

January 6, 2017

My Greenhouse in Winter

There is no better place to be than a greenhouse when it's cold outside. When I made these pictures Dec. 21st) it was actually warm for a Tennessee winter - 57° outside but look at the inside temp (the number on top) on the thermometer in my greenhouse. It might get down to 40° in there at night when outside temps are in the low 30's. That bottom number is the humidity reading.
Potting Bench

Below are some pictures of the plants growing happily in the  warm atmosphere. All are tropicals and annuals that I winter over inside. In March, I'll be out there nearly every day working with seedlings and potting up herb and perennial plugs to sell in May. Some days I'll wear short sleeves because it gets hot in there even with the vents open and fans on. The work area is in the back on the right. I have a big container of potting soil with a work bench over it and a stool nearby where I rarely sit...but just in case. :-)
View from the door

The greenhouse is not very big (18ft x 8ft) but it works for what I need and could afford. I have another one that is even smaller than that (6' x 8') and I use it strictly to winter over plants (mostly Banana Trees) and sometimes to keep veggie plants from getting frostbite in the spring when we have a late freeze after I open for sales. 

Mist System 
 over grow beds         
View from the potting bench

The Toad lives here but seems to be out looking for bugs right now
Little greenhouse - yes those Bananas will come back out in spring

December 30, 2016

My Meyer Lemon Tree

Meyer Lemon Tree
A friend who moved here to Tennessee a few years ago gave me a Meyer Lemon tree that she bought here at Lowe's. She was hoping to grow lemons like she had in her yard in California. The tree did not do well in her sunroom. It got mealy bugs and was not happy. She gave it to me because I have a greenhouse and she knew I would be able to winter it over in our crazy Tennessee winter. That was early last spring. 

This summer it was full of blooms!
Home Grown Meyer Lemon
That little tree produced 8 lemons that I carefully guarded through the summer. It is Dec 27 as I write this post. So far I have harvested 2 of the big juicy lemons and have 6 more on the tree! Lemons ripened on the tree and picked fresh are a treat! So much better than the bagged ones at the grocery. Now I need to get one to Teala - I promised to share. 

If you decide to grow a Meyer Lemon remember that the best ones are grafted. A seedling grown from a Meyer Lemon seed is grafted into a regular lemon tree and after the graft is growing on its own, the rest of the stock tree is pruned away. I have a seed grown Meyer Lemon tree growing in a pot that I am watching to see if it will produce fruit. If it does I'll report that here. Below are little trees I grew from Meyer Lemon fruit I bought last year. In a few months I'll list these on EBay as trees to be grafted. 

Seed Grown Meyer Lemon Trees

December 23, 2016

Ginger Honey - a Healthy Sweetener

Fresh Ginger is a very healthy. It is especially good in the winter to keep our immune systems  working well. 

Ginger is a bit spicy hot and hard to chew when eaten right from the root. I concocted a good way to get my daily dose and enjoy it. I make Ginger Honey and use a big teaspoon (with a piece of the ginger included) in my first cup of tea in the morning. I also like to add lemon and orange slices to my cup. You can put ginger honey in coffee or blend it into your smoothie too. 

I leave the piece of ginger in there for my second cup also. Eventually it goes into the compost with my tea bags.

Here's how to make Ginger Honey: 
I peel fresh ginger root with a potato peeler and chop it into small pieces no bigger than half inch.  I grow my own ginger. Watch for a post next week about how to do that yourself. Store bought works just as well. 

Put the ginger pieces in a jar. I use a cute little jelly jar because it sits on the counter beside my teapot and of course, I want it pretty! Now fill the jar with Honey (I use organic clover honey). The longer it sits the better it is but it is ready to use immediately. 

As the honey gets low I add more. I keep doing this until I have used all the fresh ginger pieces. The honey acts as a preservative so it's safe on the counter. When all the ginger is gone, use the last of the honey that's left and start over. 

I made little jars of this for my sister-in-law and mom and tucked them into their Christmas boxes. I labeled them as you can see in the picture.