Monday, November 28, 2011

The Mysteries of House Plants - part 2

November 19

Tomato houseplant is producing flowers.

Gave it a shake or 2, talked 'dirty' to it in the hopes that some abuse will encourage it to continue to try to prove me wrong (that a snake plant & tomato can't share the same accommodation without one or the other suffering in the extreme).

Headed out of town for the weekend.
November 28

Tomato houseplant has actually set a fruit!

Had to do a big rescue today as I'm really good at ignoring houseplants in the winter. It's amazing how quickly some water will revive a tomato plant!

Am wondering if I should give it a does of fertilizer or Epsom salt to continue encouraging growth... So far, haven't given it anything other than water...

Will give it a turn in the window, talk 'dirty' to it again & monitor plant health over the next short while. Might even consider trimming the top to discourage more flowers in the hopes that this single fruit will ripen in time for Christmas.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

 It sure feels like winter out there today! Clear morning that is quickly melting a heavy frost that was so sparkly & pretty when I first got up. Am very glad I got outside last week to do a few things in the gardens!

 I'm so glad my mom introduced me to calendula a few years ago! There are a wonderfully hardy plant & situated in the right spot, will continue to bloom through-out the year. Yes, I've had them blooming right through December & January up on my deck where they get lots of heat from the winter sun.

I've let them go to seed & while the birds have been feasting on seeds lately, I think I will have lots of new seedlings popping up all over the place next spring. The petals are a great addition to spring salads.

 We also remembered to cut back our gunnera - finally. After a few light frosts, the leaves were starting to look a little worse for wear, so we hauled out the large pruners & cut them back. This particular plant had only about 6 leaves, but a few of them spanned 5 feet across!

We covered the crown with the the leaves, which will protect them from the heavy frosts & any snow that we might get this winter (it's predicted to be a cold & snowy one on the coast!). In the spring, we'll remove what's left of the leaves & see our monster plants sprout new leaves & new flowers.
 It's always fun to wander around to see if the shrubs are putting out new buds in preparation for next year's growth. I planted a lot of cuttings last summer, which the deer found & ate most of, but one variety they didn't touch - forsythia! Most of them bloomed this spring & looked like they are settling in to their new homes. In a few years they should bush out enough to actually form a hedge & then we'll be in for a wonderful treat in the spring with lots of yellow flowers!
 The greenhouse is still a nice place for me to poke my head in once in a while. I have a few herbs over-wintering in here (tarragon, lavender, rosemary) and in the raised bed, the radish are still lush & green. I doubt I'll be eating actual radish at any point this winter, but the shoots are nice to munch on & do require a bit of thinning.

I have a few marigold plants that are still blooming despite the cooler temperatures. I wonder how long they will continue? I've also been tucking a few seed heads here & there into the bed & wonder if they will sprout once the weather warms up again. I have enough seeds saved to not have to buy any for a while - another one of my favourite flowers & the deer don't seem to appreciate them as much as I do!
 I highly recommend investing a few pennies in primrose plants. They are available in the early spring & are such darling little plants that multiply & flower through out the year. Sure, they take a beating from a few bugs, but seem to recover quickly & add a bit of colour to otherwise empty winter beds.
 I have 2 raspberry patches - on opposite ends of the yard & while the summer crop was pitiful this year, the winter crop (yes, I get 2 harvests!) has been bountiful, big & long-term. The stellar jays have enjoyed one patch up by the house, but have left the other one pretty much alone. I might have one or 2 more picks over the next couple of weeks, but don't mind that the birds have a food source. I have lots in the freezer anyway...
This is the first year I actually remembered to get outside & 'harvest' some leaves for mulching on my veggie beds. Our neighbours - with whom we 'share' some alder trees - receive the lion's share of the leaves when they fall, so I spent a cool, sunny morning raking up many full wheelbarrow loads of leaves. I had mulched the beds with one of the last cuttings of grass & with the rain & the birds digging through looking for bugs, the grass was pretty much all gone.

I hope the leaves protect the plants still in the beds for the rest of the winter & provide some much needed nutrients before I add my compost next spring.

I have yet to identify this salad variety, but it's doing very well despite the cold weather & has a slight bitter flavour. I really should eat more of it but for some reason am going through a bit of an 'anti-salad' faze in my meal planning. I miss the spring greens....

This veggie bed looks so much better with a blanket of leaf mulch & will probably receive a few bucket-fulls of compost during the winter as my compost tumbler is full & needs to sit for a month or so before I empty it & start over again.

The pumpkin seems to enjoy it's new home & the jays will no doubt reduce it pretty quickly.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Mysteries of House Plants

I have a 'love-hate' relationship with most of my house plants. I could never live without plants in the house, but they confound me some of the time.

Take the magical & mystical appearance of a tomato plant in one of my snake plants...

I have no idea how a seed managed to find its way into the pot - I'm very strict about proper potting soil & not allowing people to just randomly drop things in them - not even cutesy decorations like beach glass or sea shells...

So, I've been watching this poor tomato sprout & develop the last few weeks & now I see that there are flower buds on it. Experiment??

Unfortunately, it's growing with a plant that really doesn't have the same requirements - actually, the opposite in fact. Tomatoes like lots of water & food & for the most part, I neglect the snake plants & they seem to enjoy it.

Well, we shall see who holds out the longest: me, the tomato plant or the snake plant.