Saturday, November 9, 2013

Making Compost ... My First Attempt

I got a late start on making compost, but better late than never. It's been about 3-4 weeks since I started collecting things for my pile.

I had grass clippings and kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, jack o'lanterns and cardboard. I knew I didn't have enough carbon releasing items in it so it wasn't going to cook very fast. I couldn't wait for the leaves to fall from the trees. I turned it and watered it, but not much action going on yet.

But the leaves have fallen and I have collected a bunch. I mowed the back yard one last time and mowed over the leaves that were there. I then used the sweeper and collected as much as I could of that and put it in the compost pile.

This box is opened on the bottom. It measures 4'x4'x1'.

I made a chicken wire compost bin just for leaves. It sits next to the compost pile. I filled it part way full with the leaves that have thus far fallen in the front yard. I'll get some more later after more have fallen.

So after wondering what I was going to do with the leaves I decided that I would store them until next spring. But I didn't want a ton of large lawn bags full of leaves laying around.

I ordered a leaf shredder and it arrived today. I shredded all the leaves and reduced them to 1 1/2 bags. I love that little leaf shredder! I even shredded some of my compost pile with the intention of doing the whole pile. But that didn't work out as planned. My compost pile was somewhat wet and while the shredder did shred everything, it also stuck around the sides and needed to be cleaned off often. So I quit doing it.

I think I will just leave the pile alone now except for turning it about once a week and watering it. I think it should be broken down enough by spring. Any large material will be caught when I strain it through a screen.

As for the bagged leaves, I have read that I can use those with rabbit pellets to create compost. Maybe I will try that in the spring.

My goal is to have enough homemade compost to use in my square foot gardening beds. We'll see. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Wintering My Citrus Trees

I brought my 3 citrus trees inside a couple weeks ago. I had them in the garage, but I felt it was going to get too cold over night for them, so I brought them upstairs to the spare room/everything else room.

I made my frame out of pvc pipe and have hung the light fixture to it. I made my frame bigger than necessary, oops...guess I'll have to get some more plants. What's a girl to do. I just have the one light fixture for now, but there's room for another one. The light is 4 ft t5 HO with 4 bulbs, 54w and 6500k each. It is on a timer for 16 hours.

I put Orca Grow Film around it. It's kinda a sloppy job, but at least it's up. And I have the ceiling fan running 24/7. My hygrometer reads in the upper 70s-low 80s for temperature and 50-60% humidity. I don't know for sure if that thing is accurate though.

I spray the trees with fish emulsion every week and also use neem oil occasionally. I have sticky traps set up as well, I've caught some gnats.

Watering has been somewhat of a puzzlement for me. I am so afraid of over watering. I was using a wooden dowel inserted in the mix to check for moisture level. I mistakenly thought that the roots had reached closer to the bottom of the pot than they actually do. So when I found the bottom of the pot still moist, I did not water.

Well my poor lime tree nearly bought the farm. It's roots must be pretty shallow yet as it was dying of thirst, literally.

I was so afraid of over watering that I didn't recognize the signs of under watering. It was dropping leaves like crazy, which I attributed to it being brought inside.

But, I understand now what's going on with it and hopefully it will pull through. It is responding very well to being watered. I just hope it puts leaves back on in a hurry.

There is something else about this tree. I thought it was a Key Lime because the label says it's a Key Lime, but the label also says limequat in parentheses. I don't know, but I think limequat fruit is shaped more elongated, so maybe time will tell.

That got me thinking, though, that I want an actual Key Lime. I read that Key Lime will grow true to seed, so I bought some Key Limes and am going to attempt to grow a couple trees from seed. I will post about that later.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bringing the Tropical Hibiscus in for the Winter

Today I pruned back my Mother's tropical hibiscus to prepare it for the move inside for the winter. I have found some advice online on how to get it ready. I read to prune it back about 1/3 of the way, which I did. I was suppose to make the cuts right above leaves and read that from this area at least two more will sprout and produce blooms next spring. I also read to spray it off really well with water and to wash off the pot as well. I did that. Then I was suppose to spray all surfaces of leaves and branches with fish emulsion spray and even though that smells to high heaven, I did it. I'm pretty sure I read somewhere about removing 2" of the potting mix off the top and replacing with new mix, but for the life of me I cannot find that information anywhere. So, I didn't do that. I did spray the mix with neem oil though. I will watch closely for creepy crawlies.

Now I'm not quite sure of the lighting or heat requirements. I guess I will play it by ear. Right now I have put it under the light with my citrus trees. I'll just keep an eye on it and see how it goes. I did also read that some hibiscus never quite make it through this transition. I hope this one does. I plan to repot this little beauty in the spring.

Another thing I did was to put the clippings into potting soil in hopes of them taking root. I really don't know what I'm doing here, but I thought it was worth a shot since they were going into the compost bin anyway. I probably should have cut off the blooms, but that is so difficult to do. 

I will post updates about the progress as it happens. Wish me luck!

These clippings did not take root so I got rid of them. :(

UPDATE: 27 JUN 2014
I thought I might share an updated picture of this hibiscus tree. I repotted it into a bigger pot with Mel's Mix (I think). It has grown a lot and has produced a bunch of blooms. I used to only get 1 at a time, now there are several at one time. It's so beautiful. It has some Japanese beetles on it I noticed. I'm going to try to catch them before too much damage is done. The others are my 2 meyer lemons and the limequat.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Baby Baby Carrots

I kinda didn't take care of my little fall container garden too well, I guess. Something ate the spinach, but I caught it and killed it. I had only 1 pea plant sprout, but it didn't grow very well and it probably will not produce before the cold weather gets here.

The carrots produced beautiful green tops, but hardly any carrot underneath. So I picked them all, cooked them and had them for lunch today. They had such a glorious carrot smell and taste!

I think I am, of course, to blame for the results. I guess I didn't water too well or something. Next spring I will have a few raised beds with a drip system and timer set up. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Update on the Potted Citrus Trees

The transplant was 10 days ago. The lemon tree seemed to make it through pretty well. It lost maybe 1 leaf. The lime tree had a little more trouble adjusting. It was wilting a little on the top for several days. It would perk right up though when I gave it a little bit more water right around the trunk. I think perhaps that I didn't get the gritty mix up into the roots well enough.

They stayed in filtered sun after the transplant until about 2 days ago when I started leaving them in the sun for a couple hours each day. That was about all they could tolerate before they started showing signs of distress. I have seen new growth on both the lemon and lime trees so I actually fed them with some Foliage Pro.

So today I noticed that some of the leaves on the lemon are turning yellow. There's a larger leaf toward the bottom of the tree and some small ones near the top.

I also noticed that the small walnut sized lemon that has been there since I bought this tree has something on its underside.

I have been thinking for some time now about where I will overwinter them. I think I will put them in the garage with a light since there are no windows in the garage. The corner I will put them in joins the house so I think it will be warm enough for them. I will just have to monitor things.

The plan is to go the cooler temps and less lighting for the key lime and the new Meyer lemon I bought. The first Meyer will probably go upstairs in the laundry room. It has a sunny window, but will probably need supplemental lighting as well.