Lanky Lime Tree

My lime tree has been growing like crazy this winter and is now a whopping 3 feet tall (well almost). I know that this isn’t actually tall as far as trees are concerned, but since my lime is an indoor tree, if it grows much taller it’ll be a bit too big.

Lime tree and measuring tape

A whopping 33.5″ tall.

In order to halt vertical growth, and hopefully redirect growth horizontally to form branches, I’ve decided it’s time to head my lime. This involves chopping off the top few inches, which will remove the apical meristem. The apical meristem is responsible for the upward growth and also secretes hormones that inhibit certain other types of growth (like branches) from taking place near the top of the plant. Hopefully with it gone the lime starts to branch out and become more tree-like instead of looking like a leafy stick. I have no idea if it’ll work that way, but I’ll keep you updated.

Lime tree after pruning

Post Pruning

Blueberry

I’d like you all to meet my new (to me) blueberry bush. This little bush had been living in my parents’ backyard for several years where it was attacked regularly by vicious rabbits. It has never been pruned (except by evil rabbits) or fertilized, and never produced any fruit. It was not a very happy bush.

Blueberry plant in pot on deck

It came into my possession after I half-jokingly told my mom that I wanted to take it home. I had been over at my parents’ house helping prune their fruit trees and my mom, as is her habit, asked me if there was anything I wanted to take home. I didn’t actually expect her to let me take the blueberry and that day she didn’t, but a few days later when she brought over some groceries (because she’s awesome) it was in the back of her car. She thought it would be happier here, even if the sole difference is that rabbits can’t reach it on my deck. I hope she’s right. Either way, now I have a blueberry bush.

The first thing I did with it when it got here was give it a good pruning. It has some twiggy, less-than-healthy looking branches at its base and I removed one of the two (the other one will probably go too, but I didn’t want to shock the plant too badly). I also removed the three fruiting buds at the tip of the one cane, because I want the plant to direct its energy into growing instead of trying to fruit.

Close up of blueberry buds

The second thing I did was change the soil. Blueberries like acidic soils with a pH between 4.5 and 5.1 (According to Perdue Horticulture) and the potting soil it was in was not nearly acidic enough. It had also been in the soil for several years so I figured a change might be what the plant needed. I mixed sphagnum peat moss with organic soil conditioner (75% pine bark and 25% compost plus trace minerals) from Suburban Lawn and Garden. I aimed for 33% spahgnum and 66% soil conditioner (Based on this recipe which seemed to be pretty standard) though I didn’t really measure.

Now it’s a waiting game. I have no idea if the change in soil and location will have any effect what-so-ever. The blueberry hasn’t leafed out yet, but it does show signs of life, so that’s encouraging. If I haven’t shocked it enough to kill it, the next things on my list to do will be to find some mulch, a suitable fertilizer, and maybe some sulfur to further acidify the soil. If it survives this is going to be one heck of a pampered blueberry…

If it survives, I may have to get it a friend

Wire Cages (or How to Stop Spinach Thieves)

Someone has eating the tops of my baby spinach!

In an order to stop further destruction and save my spinach from the thieves (who I suspect are either birds or squirrels) I set about making cages out of coated chicken wire this past weekend.

Baby spinach under chicken wire

First I measured the dimensions of my deck boxes. They’re 10 inches by 16 inches. Since I wanted my cages to be 4 inches tall, I added and additional 8 inches to each of those measurements to get what size the sheet of chicken wire needed to be (18” x 24”). I cut the rectangles first then cut 4” x 4” squares out of each corner. My wire cutters weren’t the best so this took a long time. To finish forming the cages I folded the sides up and secured them to each other. I had cut the wire in such a way that all I had to do was twist the wire ends together, but I imagine using a separate length of wire would work just as well. (Pictures of the process are at the end of the post).

I had planned to have the cages sit inside the boxes and be secured by landscape staples, but as usual nothing goes according to plan and these ended up fitting better over the outside of the boxes. On the plus side, they were snug enough that all I really had to do was slide the cages over the outside of the boxes and the texture of the box was enough to keep them in place.

So far they seem to be working. I had a squirrel on my deck this morning inspecting one but it decided that it was too much work and left the boxes alone. Victory!

Rectangle of Chicken Wire

Cutting the rectangle

Chicken Wire cage

Folding the sides

Securing the corners

Securing the corners

Chicken Wire cage over deck planter

Finished cage on deck box

April Garden Update

WooHoo! It’s finally Spring! The last frost date here is April 15th so gardening season isn’t quite in full swing yet, but things are definitely happening. Here’s what’s been going on the past month:

Marigold Sprout with flower bud

House Plants

Two, that’s two (!), of my houseplants are in bloom right now! The Thanksgiving cactus had a second wave of blooms, which are slightly redder in color than the first, very pink, ones. It also has a lot of new growth, which is exciting. I may need to get it a bigger pot soon. The African violet continues to bloom ever so slowly, with three flowers currently open and about twelve more on the way. It didn’t bloom last year so it seems to be putting on quite a show this year to make up for it.

The rosemary plant is in full growth mode and seems to be doing well. Once the weather gets a bit more stable I plan to move it out to the deck so it gets more sun. The lime tree’s growth has slowed down, but is still occurring so I’ll likely be pruning it back this month to encourage more branch growth. I also need to fertilize it sometime this month. I have added some basil plants (from the grocery store), which I still need to pot, and a cutting from the Thanksgiving cactus that I’m rooting for someone in my soils class to my indoor menagerie. The basil will be going outside once the weather gets better and the cutting will be going to a new home once I’m confident that it will survive.

 

Deck Plants

I now have 5 planters on my deck. Two of them have not been planted yet. One planter has spinach in it, which is tiny and only has two leaves at this point. Another of the planters is that glass vase that I put the daffodil bulbs in. They started to get moldy in the house so I moved them outside because mold and I are not friends. They seem to be doing okay and are growing slowly. The last planter on the deck is a blueberry bush from my parents’ house that I hope will be happier on my deck (there will be a post about it later).

Daffodil bulbs in a glass vase

I think the deck planters are going to turn into my herb garden so that’ll be happening gradually over the next month. I’ll also have a few pots with flowers. All of this depends highly on the weather, which is a bit mercurial this time of year.

 

Community Garden

Community Garden Raised Bed

Again, since we haven’t gotten past our last frost date here, I haven’t done a lot with my actual raised bed. I did seed two types of carrots and some beets, but they haven’t sprouted yet. The marigolds, tomatoes, and peppers I started under my grow light are doing well though. One of the marigolds even has a flower bud on it! I’m not sure what it thinks it’s doing because it’s tiny. I also ordered the last of my seeds (this time from Botanical Interests). They should get here just about the time I want to start seeding things. Even though the last frost date is April 15th, I think I’m going to start my beans and squash indoors first incase the weather decides to be mean and freeze late like it did last year.

 

Other

I wrote up and submitted the proposal to change the landscaping in front of my house. Since the lawn care company that takes care of the grass seems to use fertilizer, herbicide, and pesticide on EVERYTHING I’m not going to grow anything I want to eat where they could possibly get to it. Instead I’m leaning towards turning it into a bee and beneficial insect garden / cutting flower garden. We’ll see if the architectural committee approves it.

 

That’s everything that I’m up to right now gardening wise. How about you? What are you doing in your garden right now?

Daffodil Experiment

Daffodil bulbs on marbles in glass jar

Ever get something, put it away and forget about it only to re-discover it a few months later? Well, that’s exactly what happened with these daffodil bulbs. I got them last fall with then intention of planting them but then life got a little hectic and that never happened. While I was organizing my garage over spring break I re-discovered them in the back of a cabinet, starting to grow. Since it seems a little late to plant them outside I thought I’d try to grow some in a glass container with water, like you see sold in the stores. Since I got started so late, they probably won’t bloom for a while, but that’s okay. I like daffodils any time of year.

Colorful Marbles in jar

First I filled the bottom two inches of the glass container with some marbles I found when I was cleaning out my closet at my parents’ place.

Daffodil Bulbs in Jar without water

Then I carefully selected and arranged the daffodil bulbs on the marbles, making sure they were snug enough not to fall over.

Water covered marbles

Lastly I added water (down the side of the container so as not to displace any of the bulbs) just up to the bottom of the bulbs. In a few weeks, once the daffodils have had a chance to grow roots I plan on adding some vodka to stunt their growth so they don’t get so tall they fall over.

I have no idea if this will actually work or if the bulbs will just get moldy and die. Right now it seems like it could go either way, but I’m looking forward to seeing what happens. I’m also glad to finally have a use for all those marbles.

 

Community Garden Workdays

Last Saturday and the Saturday before that we had our first two workdays at the community garden.

The first day was a bit chilly and we finished building the raised beds, filled some of them with city compost, weeded plots, and did general garden upkeep. My bed was one of the ones that was completed and is now 24” high, which will make gardening a bit easier.

Raised bed with soil

My plot after planting carrots and beets on Monday

The second Saturday we did planting in the Rows for the Hungry. Half of the garden land is dedicated to growing food that is either donated to soup kitchens and shelters or sold (with the money then donated). People “adopt” rows to take care of, and while I don’t think I’m reliable enough health-wise at the moment to take on a row, I think it’s a really neat program and definitely plan on helping out.

One of my favorite things about the garden so far is the people; everyone who has shown up for a workday is super friendly and very nice. I’m not sure when the next workday is but I definitely plan on going.

Instagram

Etsy Instagram

Well, I did it. I created an Instagram account for my Etsy shop. Right now I’m working on figuring out my way around the platform and how to do the whole hashtagging thing. Hopefully by the end of the month I’ll start posting more pictures of products and the process behind making them. If you have Instagram you can find me here (my username is expnumber2). I’ll try to spam your feed with shop stuff. If  you only want to see stuff that has to do with the shop then check out the #experimentno2etsy hashtag.

Starting Spring

This past week was spring break for me, and as usual, I didn’t get quite as much done as I had hoped (like writing new posts for example). I’m not really sure what happened to a few of the days, but hey, spring break is supposed to be a break right?

Despite being a bit of a space cadet this past week, I did manage to get my first batch of seeds started.

Green Seedlings in a seed starting tray

This flat includes two types of marigolds (thought I’m thinking one of the types might not be viable since none of the seeds have sprouted yet), two types of tomato, one type of pepper, and some alpine strawberry seeds.

The next batch, which I plan on starting next weekend will include beans, squash, and most likely some more marigolds (never can have too many of those). I started some spinach seeds in my deck boxes this week as well, but they haven’t come up yet, so no pictures of those.

What seeds are you starting this year?