Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My awesome banana plants!

This is a quick update of my awesome banana plants! I'm so happy with them as they are looking healthy and growing every day.

Monday, November 28, 2011

don't over water your strawberries

Ok so I can now admit that I don't have a green thumb, but a blueish green one. I got over excited that my strawberry plant was growing a couple flowers and that the weather was really nice that I became overly generous in watering it. This was a week ago and I am seeing the effects now. Most of my leafs have brown tips and aren't as shiny as they used to be.

I trimmed a few leafs that looked in bad shape and even plucked off a couple as well.

It is then that I found on the other side of the plant that I have another flower trying to grow. So I'm hoping that once these leafs are out of the way and the soil dries up some more it may continue to grow as normal and produce some new leafs.

I do see some new leafs trying to grow which is a good sign. But, I'll make sure to stay patient next time and continue watering and feeding habits as normal.

note: once the leafs turn partially or fully brown they will never turn back so its best to cut them off.

I'll post a pic in a few days if it starts to recover.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I ordered a Meyer Lemon Tree

I ordered a Meyer Lemon Tree yesterday.  I was not happy with the company I had originally ordered from. They sent me a small stick looking thing and although it looks healthy it might not make the winter here. I know the plant is indoors, but these trees are pretty fragile when they are small.

I ordered my new Meyer Lemon Tree from Amazon after seeing a lot of positive reviews about this company. Sorry, but I won't name it here. They like to send their trees in a gallon container and with the average age of 1 year. This means the tree is about 2 ft tall and has branches and leafs already.

By doing this the tree has a much better success rate of living and prospering. Also, it has the added benefit of being able to produce flowers and fruits in the first year.

I can't wait to get this in and smell the nice aroma of its flowers. And of course, the awesome lemons!

I should have it in in about a week. I'll make sure to post an update when I get it.

quick update of my garden 11/27/2011

This is a quick update to my sunroom garden.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Garden update 11/24/2011

I took a few pictures this morning of my sunroom garden. Take a look.

This is one section of my garden. On the left you see my strawberry plant, then my basjoo. Then my small tangerine tree, my other basjoo in the back. Then you see my two Super Dwarf Cavendish plants.
This is the other side of my garden. I have these on a table in the corner. To the left is my Top Hat blueberry plant. Then my new basil plant, two parsley plants and my green onions in the back.

This is another angle where you can see the strawberry plant and my basjoo plant. They are enjoying the sun.

This is my basjoo plant next to my super dwarf cavendish plant. They are in shadow in the picture, but about ten minutes later they will be in good sun.

This is a close up of my Eversweet strawberry plant. You can see the small flowers trying to form now. It is much larger than it was a few days ago. I hope with all the sun today they will continue to grow well.

This is the mystery plant growing with my green onions. It looks healthy, but hasn't grown much in the last couple days.

This is my Dwarf Meyer Lemon tree. The one stalk is very healthy, but overall it looks very tiny. I will keep an eye on it to see if I can see any growth. It doesn't look like its dying which is good.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

4 great herbs to grow indoors

Herbs are generally easy to grow and can be used in a wide variety of cooking, beverages and even fresh right off the plant. If you are new to gardening and are a little intimidated by growing most things you can start with a herb as they are rather resilient and take minimal care. Some of these listed below will also do well year round with proper conditions indoors.  So when you think you want to give the gardening thing a try check out one of these herbs.

Chives - These grow well in smaller pots in half to full day of sunlight. Make sure to keep the water moist, but not soaking. As you take small clippings this plant will continue to regrow and will do well most of the year in the same place. Seeds are abundant so when they do go dormant and die out you will have lots of seeds to work with.

Basil - This is one of the most popular herbs used in cooking. It is used in salads, sandwiches, soups and in sauces. You won't find a lack of uses for it. And, it has a very nice aroma. Some varieties are pretty hardy, but all will do well near a south facing window that gets a lot of sun and with regular light watering. Pluck off the larger leafs to consume and let the smaller ones grow. Indoors this can grow pretty much year round.

Thyme - This is another nice herb than can be used in a variety of ways. It works well with oil, garlic and other Mediterranean flavors. This is a low growing herb and can be harvested by clipping small bunches of stems. Thyme will do well near a south facing window, but does not require lots of water. It is very easy to grow and some varieties have a lemon like scent. This dries very well.

Mint - Mint is a great herb because it is not very fussy and will spread quickly if you let it. It has a nice aroma and adds to many dishes and even drinks. Make sure to trim it and use it often to make sure it continues to regrow. If left to fully mature it will bolt and try to produce more mint plants. This also dries well.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My other blog!

Hi everyone.
I am pleased to announce that I have started another blog. It is called growingyourfruits.blogspot.com. I am dedicating that blog to blogging about growing fruit. It will be about my fruit garden and also about growing fruits in general. I hope to incorporate tips, questions and answers and things that I'm learning as well. So if you prefer to learn only about growing fruit please my new blog.



And then there was basil!

Today I went to my local stop n' shop for lunch as always and found something interesting. Amongst the fruits and vegetables they had some small basil plants in containers for sale. I couldn't find the price tag, but the closest one to them said $2.99. I thought to myself, wow, if this is the price I should probably pick it up.

The plant was in a 4 inch pot and the basil plant was already about 10 inches high. It looked like it was very healthy.  And although they had it in cold water it seemed to be doing ok.

So after work, I headed back and saw one plant left and picked it up. I didn't want it sitting in my car all afternoon so I told myself that if there was one left I'd buy it.

The aroma is phenomenal and it was refreshing on my ride home.

On closer inspection I could see that it had grown several smaller stalks of basil as well so I figured I'd repot a couple and then repot the originals in a slightly larger pot. But, as soon as I took the plastic casing off of the plant it just fell over.  The following picture is of the plant right before it fell over.

So I'm not worried, I just think it was being supported by the plastic and with no sun in the store it was probably best for the plant.

They are now both in my sunroom where they should get at least a few hrs of direct sunlight a day and several hours of indirect light.

Hopefully in a day or two they will straighten up.

I did harvest some leafs as they seemed ready to eat.

But here is the first picture of my new basil plant.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Is my strawberry plant growing a flower?

I'm pretty excited to say that my strawberry plant may be growing a flower. This means that eventually a strawberry! I just noticed it today as I was showing my plant to my dad. It liked like a cluster of leaves until I looked closer and saw the common leaf pattern found on back of a strawberry. The look like small triangle leafs running in a circular pattern. In the middle I can see a small whitish round object.

As I have never grown strawberries before or really seen them grow I am pretty certain but not 100% positive that this is a flower yet. I can see two next to each other underneath the leafs. I am hoping that this grows further and does develop. This would be my first flower or fruit to grow!

I will make sure to post a picture in the morning where there will be better lighting and possibly a size difference.

Stay tuned!

update: following day

Eversweet Strawberry
Not sure if you can see, but right in the middle there is a different leaf formation (arranged in a circle and a small white area in the middle).  There is another to the right of it and another below it. I believe these are flowers getting ready to grow. I'm excited and will make sure to show an update over the weekend.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Update of my indoor garden 11/20/2011

The weather was really great today so I was able to put my tangerine tree and strawberry plant outside. I'm sure that the rest of my plants enjoyed the good weather as well. These are a few pictures of my indoor garden for you to see.

This is my scallion plant. As you can see they are growing rather well. The ones that I cut and placed back in the soil aren't doing too well though. I hope they start to grow better soon.

mystery plant
This is the mystery plant still growing in the scallion pot. It has grown slightly, but still is completely unidentifiable.

hardy chicago fig
This is my Hardy Chicago fig tree.  It really hasn't grown too much at all. But, you can see the small sprout there has grown bigger than it was about three weeks ago.

Hardy chicago fig
This is another sprout that had been forming on this plant. It is noticeably larger than three weeks ago, but has not grown all that much recently.

Musa basjoo
This is my first Musa Basjoo banana plant. This leaf is getting ready to open. Probably one more very sunny day and it will.

Musa basjoo
This is my second Musa Basjoo banana plant. You can clearly see a new leaf is growing. I'd give it about a week before it fully opens.

Super Dwarf Cavendish
This is my second Super Dwarf Cavendish plant. This leaf is starting to open. I'd say one more good sunny day and it will fully open.

Super Dwarf Cavendish
This is my first Super Dwarf Cavendish plant. It still needs to grow another two inches before it will be large enough to open its leaf.

Eversweet Strawberry
This is my strawberry plant. It is mostly healthy and has been growing new leafs almost every other day. But, if you look closely you can see the edges are turning a brown color. I'm not sure what is causing that. I have not seen insects or anything like that. I'll have to keep an eye on it.

Tangerine Tree

Tangerine Tree
These are two pictures of my tangerine tree. I took the second as a close up as I'm almost positive that these leafs have grown since I got this plant in the mail. I will continue to take pictures going forward to see if I can identify some real growth.

This is the second mystery plant that I have growing. This one is in the same pot as the Tangerine tree. This one seems a little more delicate and more yellowish than the other one I found. I hope it starts to grow more so I can identify it.

This is one of my parsley plants. It has not been doing so well. I don't think it is warm enough in this room or its not getting enough sun. I moved it this morning to this spot.  If you can see the middle sprouts they are rising up. So I'm hoping that the move helps this plant as some of the leafs are looking more and more yellow.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What is over wintering? And is it good to do?

Over wintering is the process of inducing a hibernating state to your plant or tree.

This is especially important when caring for your fruit trees and plants over the colder months.

There are two main kinds of methods.

Over wintering outside:
If you have a very large plant or tree it may not be an option to dig it up and protect it indoors. So, to make sure it survives that cold winter you need care for it as best as you can.  Depending on the size of the tree/plant you may have to trim it down. Try to cut the branches back a little if possible for size purposes.
If you have a small tree you can cover it with some plastic, tarps, blankets or even a bucket. In the end you want it to be fully covered and wrapped properly. Not too tight, and not too loose either. Make sure that you do this right after your first frost. If it is too warm and you cover it up it will most likely get too warm, produce some condensation and possibly will cause some rot.
Depending on your tree or plant some may withstand colder weather on their own so you can wait later in the season to cover them up. Please reference your plants climate conditions. There are some plants that will go into hibernation on their own. Another good thing you can do is to add mulch or hay to the base of the plant, tree. This will help keep the trunk/stalk warmer and the soil underneath it as well.
Don't allow the roots to freeze. If you are growing bananas to be outside year round try to plant the roots a good foot underneath the soil to keep them from freezing in the winter. The banana plant is one of the few plants that you could cut down to about 4 ft, cover and mulch, and would grow back really well in the spring.

Over wintering indoors:
This is a great option if your plant or tree is smaller. You can dig it up roots and all and place it in your garage, basement or underneath your house. The main thing to remember is to not give it any light and to cut back on your watering to an almost bi-weekly time frame. Also make sure not to feed your plant when you are overwintering it. The plant/tree will hibernate, most likely drop all its leafs and be fine. Any growth that does happen during this period will be in the roots.

The ideal soil temperature and climate for over wintering is around 30-40 degrees. But, of course that depends on the hardiness of the plant or tree.

Now there is a big debate whether to all your plants to grow indoors all winter and not over-winter them. This is an option you have, but most plants/trees enjoy some rest time and will produce much better the following season by having a little time off.  But, if your plant is very small over wintering might not be an option and I would suggest letting it grow further and get fully established.  The smaller the plant the more delicate it will be to the cold and to over wintering.

So as a conclusion over wintering is great to do for your plants at it encourages rest, lets them survive in colder climates by protecting them and helps them to get more established. Make sure not to cover them too early in the season if you are keeping them outside. Also, remember to unwrap them when it starts to get warmer or they will over heat.

If you protect your plants every winter you'll be rewarded with healthy plants/trees every year.


Friday, November 18, 2011

My musa basjoo update 11/18/2011

This is just a quick update of my musa basjoo. It has been growing slowly as it is getting cold here, but it is growing. This one is more hardy then the SDC so I'm hoping that it will continue to grow most of the winter.  Here is a picture of it trying to grow another leaf.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What's for dinner? Scallions!

I've been keeping an eye on my green onions and they are growing very well. I'm not sure how large these will get, but these are about 10 inches high. I decided to cut some down and try them in my soup tonight. I had cut some before, but I accidentally put in a lot of cayenne pepper so I couldn't really taste them.

This time I only put a little bit of pepper in there, so I'm expecting more flavor.

Here are a couple pictures.

Remember that these grow very quickly, taste good, and don't take up a lot of space in a pot. I probably have another 10 stems growing out of the same pot. The great thing is that you can cut them about an inch above soil and they will grow back. So you can enjoy scallions from the same plant several times over!

my scallion

cut scallions

cut up scallions

scallions in a broth

scallions in my noodle soup

Update: this is a pic the next day. You'll see that my scallion plant is growing back quick.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I have a mystery plant!

I was watering my green onion plant today and noticed something on the side of the container. I looked a little closer and it looked like some growth. It was this small green sprout looking thing. So, I'm not sure what it is. I was trying to think where a seed could of made it in there and really couldn't remember anything. Then I remembered that when I bought it it had been in a cluster of different plants. So it possibly could be mint or parsley. I'll have to keep an eye on it and see what happens.

Here is a picture. I'll make sure to add more later on as it starts to grow further.

Most of all I hope it's not a weed...

Update: taken the following day

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

my banana plant update 11/15/2011

Hi guys.

This is a quick update of me growing banana plants in massachusetts.


Question of the day: How long does it take a strawberry seed to germinate?

This is actually a question I had a couple weeks ago myself and was able to do some research on the subject.

As you probably know, strawberry seeds are tiny. They are on the fruit itself and we them along with the fruit. Now, because of their size they are rather delicate and need some extra care to allow them to grow.

You can plant these in growing containers, 1 inch pots, plastic containers, and in the ground only if you are in ideal climate and have lots of seeds.

You want to place the seeds on top of the soil. You may create a small indentation in the soil and place the seed there exposed to light/fresh air.

Once you have planted the seed in the ground dampen it with some watering.

If you are planting this in a tray, or container it would be advantageous to pre-soak the soil.

Try to make sure the soil and seed get a good amount of sunlight. It is probably a better idea to do the germination indoors as bugs, birds and even heavy winds won't have a chance to ruin them or move them about.

These seeds take a very long time to germinate and grow under normal conditions. Please be patient with them and give them up to 2 months to germinate. Lightly water only when the soil is dry and give them some sunlight.

Once the seed has started to sprout 2 full leafs, then you will be able to transplant them to the ground or a slightly larger pot.

Make sure to grow these about half an inch apart when trying to germinate them and the more seeds the better. This will help increase your chances of growing a nice strawberry plant or more.

Most important factors to remember:
Pre-moisten soil if in a tray or small container
Water slightly once planted on top of soil
Give at least a couple hours of direct sunlight on plant
Water only when dry
Be very patient as it could take several weeks for the seeds to sprout
Plant a lot of seeds to increase your chances

Average time to germination : 4 weeks to 6 weeks. (Depending on variety and conditions)

But, I'll know first hand in probably a week when I get my own seeds and start the journey of tryng to germinate my own seeds. Follow me on my blog as I will document my results.

Now grow some yourself and good luck!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sharing my garden.

I am enjoying the process of growing my garden and it truly has grown. I started out with one banana plant, then another, and another and another etc. Now I have about a dozen different plants.

I've actually found others quite receptive to my little hobby and have even encouraged others to start their own little garden.

I am happy to say that I am trading seeds with someone I met on bananas.org, sharing seeds with a friend of mine and most recently give some of my Parsley and Mint to my aunt. She uses parsley a lot and liked the idea of being able to grow her own.

I have a couple other people who are waiting to see how my plants do before they start some of their own. I guess some people have been unlucky growing from seed, or even small plants. So I'm happy to say that I have re-awakened their interest and they are more curious than anything.

I am not a seasoned pro or ever had a green thumb, but I'm learning along the way and trying my best to identify issues early on and asking others.

Its funny because I almost killed the easiest-to-grow plant I have, my Aloe Vera. When I transplanted it I watered it and I saw it getting very dark green and not doing well. I later found out that these need light watering every three weeks or so. They like to be in dry soil and are succulents. They actually take in a lot of the water and continue to feed themselves for a long period of time.

I'm happy to say that I stopped watering it and it is thriving.

So the best thing to do when you are unsure is to ask. There is often someone around or online who can help guide you in the right direction. But, not every environment, soil, lighting, food acts in the same way so continue learning and see what works best for 'your' plants.

By sharing my garden I get to learn more and network with some interesting people.

Share your garden today!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Why I started to grow fruit trees.

Ok so I probably should of written this a long time ago, but I think that now that I am actually doing it I have a better perspective on things.

Even as a child I enjoyed discovering new things. I did a lot of traveling as a child and was able to visit places I would have never dreamed of going. I've seen fields of huge sunflowers, olives, and tons of different trees. My dad enjoyed having plants in his yard as well and although when I think of him I don't think of his as a gardener, becase he's not. But, maybe he is. He would have lots of different bushes, daffodils, and other flowers around his yard. He appreciated the plants that he had more than his lawn.

So I guess maybe he does have a green thumb. I remember going to different greeneries and green houses with him and spending hours looking at all the different flowers, leafs and plants. I don't recall the name of these places as some were outside of the US and some within, but they were huge.

I would look forward to these trips and wander around looking at everything. I was always looking to see something new. And often times I would find something.

My curiosity and creativity led me to my passion in computers and electronics.

I majored in graphic design in college and dabbled in web design, drawing, painting and later on into photography.

I now have a wedding photography business and am looking to develop and grow it. This is my website www.tomasharanphotography.com . I continue to learn more about photography every day and enjoy it more and more.

When I first got my camera my favorite subjects were flowers, plants and other things in nature. You can see some of these pictures on my flickr account found here.  http://www.flickr.com/photos/imagesbytommyg .

But, I feel like I am digressing here.

One other very important part of my life is my love for food. I haven't really found anything I hated or thought was gross. I love all kinds of foods from different places, cousines and I would even eat them for breakfast.

But with all these different foods one thing I couldn't live without was fruit. I am not a big sweets eater, but I will never refuse a fruit. I remember growing up having fruit salad bowls almost every morning. Bananas were my go to fruit and in my experience it is impossible to eat a bad banana. (unless its over ripe or rotting of course). I actually prefer them with some brown and black spots on the skin.

I've also tried a wide variety of pears, apples, oranges, grapes and mango (flavor wise is my favorite fruit). Kiwis are amazing and pineapples etc... I can go on and on. There is something about the sweetness and the ability of placing something on your plate and being able to eat it immediately. They don't require cooking or a companion to taste great. These can be eaten alone and taste great.

So after a few months of watching some of my friends growing things and succeeding at them I thought to myself. Wow, if they can do it, so can I.

Then there was the tough decision of what I would grow. Would I grow tomatoes, or cucumbers, or squash? I instantly though, I want to grow something that I will enjoy eating. Bananas!

The next challenge was to get information on where to get the plants from, how to grow them, which ones might do well in the Northeast and what options I had. This took some time and a lot of research. It was then that I found www.bananas.org . I found some very knowledgable people on there and even some who were actually growing bananas less than 100 miles from me. After seeing photos and exchanging messages with some people I took the plunge and did it. I found a reputable company on Amazon and ordered myself a Super Dwarf Cavendish (soon after ordered a second one), got a pot, soil, watering container and started my indoor container garden.

Now, nearly two months later I have a tangerine plant, meyer lemon plant, strawberry plant, fig tree and a blueberry plant. All of these are very small and growing in my sun room but are healthy.

I look forward to the Spring when I will be able to put most of these outside and let them flourish.

So thanks for reading this and hopefully I can inspire you to grow some fruit of your own. Please check in periodically to watch my garden grow. I look forward to comments, questions and even suggestions as I am learning as I go.


quick update on some of my plants.

I took several pictures yesterday, but didn't have a chance to post them.

So I'm going to share them with you today.

Musa Basjoo
This is my first basjoo plant and as you can see its trying to grow out a new leaf! I am so pumped that these are doing se well. The leaf on the left to it just fully opened about 3 days ago. Go plant!

My strawberry plant.
This is my strawberry plant. I'm not sure what it is, but if you look in between the leaves there is some growth there. It looks like a cluster of leafs or could be a flower growing. I'm not sure, but i'll keep me eye on it. This plant has been doing very well.

Dwarf Tangerine plant
This plant has not grown at all, but the leafs are still a very nice green and I'm sure its still growing its roots and getting used to the pot. I gave it a nice soaking early in the day.

Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree
This is my Meyer Lemon tree. I'm not too happy with its condition as it is only showing one and a half stems that look ok. But it is very small at about 5 inches high. I gave it a good soak before placing in the pot. I hope to see some growth in a week or so. I am excited to see this grow.

Bunching onion - scallions
This plant has been doing very well. If you look back at earlier pictures they topped off at about 6 inches and actually that was only two little stalks that were that high and the rest were about 5 inches. I measured this plant and it is about 7.3 inches tall now. There are several stems that tall. I've made sure to give it good amounts of water daily and its been doing rather well.

Rainbow Bell Pepper Seeds
These are the Rainbow Bell Pepper seeds I ordered from Amazon. Actually, they are also from Hirt's where I got my SDC plants. I really like their products and their care. I just planted 5 of these seeds and hope they will germinate in about 2 weeks.

Green onions
This was part of my green onion project and the conclusion is "yes". You can grow them in just water. I put in some tiny clumps of soil in there in case they helped with nutrients, but that's ok. I don't know if you remember the earlier pictures of the first green onion I placed in there. It was half the height of the container and was floating in the water. Now it is a little taller than the container! So if you weren't sure this was possible it is! Grow your green onion in water! But, do make sure to change the water every 3-5 days.

Strawberry plant
Yesterday was a pretty nice day at about 58 degrees and lots of sun. I decided to place my strawberry plant outside for a few hours to soak in the sun. As you can see the leafs are a very healthy green. It loved being outside. Not sure if you can see, but a lot of the newer leafs are trying to outgrow the older leafs. They are starting to layer. This is a good sign of growth. Soon the stems will get longer and they will start leaning to a side. Then, hopefully I'll start getting some flowers and later fruit!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Growing bell peppers from seed VIDEO

This is the beginning of my bell pepper series. Today I planted my little seeds and am hoping to see them grow in a week or so. Here's hoping!

Green onion project part 2 VIDEO

This is part two of my green onion project. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

How expensive is it to start a fruit garden?

Have you ever thought of starting a fruit garden, but didn't know where to begin?

These are the things you will need:

1.  Soil
2.  Pot with drainage holes
3.  water
4.  seeds

This seems pretty simple, and it really is.

Soil:     You want to get some rich soil that will have good drainage, will have some perlite or peat moss in it, these will help the roots breathe. You don't want to use soil from your yard as it will dry way too quickly and be overly acidic due to rain and other things in the soil around it. Miracle grow produces some inexpensive, but quality soil. You will find different kinds that are specific for container gardening, some for flowers, some for succulents and some for the outdoors.  There are several sizes available, but a small big can be as little as $4.00.

Pot:     If you are growing from seed or from a small established plant will need to place in a small pot. If you will be growing you fruit indoors expect the plant to grow slower than if outside. The plant will live well in a 6-8 inch pot for at least half a season. Now, some fruit plants grow deeper or shallower than others. This means that you could take an old plastic container or even a gallon of milk cut in half and use that. Your first pot doesn't have to be fancy and you probably already have a container type object in your house. Some people have been able to start a plant from a plastic cup. Just make sure to drill some tiny holes on the bottom of your container if there aren't any there already. If you are starting from a seed you can use something as small as a yogurt cup. You can place these under the sink, on top of the refrigerator, window sill and it should grow well. Also, if you are growing from seed, make sure you soak the seeds for at least 4 hrs in water. This helps to 'wake up' the seed. There are other methods like making little cuts or scrapes on the seed, but if you don't do it right you could hurt the seed. So, in conclusion you can use a container from your house or buy a small container at the store. At Home Depot and other locations you can find a plastic 6 in pot for $1.50!

Water:     This is a given as your new plant will enjoy some nice water. Depending on the fruit plant some will require more water than others. Once the plant has started growing soak the plant (filling the pot half an inch above soil level) once a week if possible. You will know when the plant needs watering when you can put your finger about an inch into the soil and it still feels dry.  But not all these plants are the same. Some might do well with regular misting and others do better with some watering around the pot. Remember that when the fruit starts to grow the plant will benefit from consistent watering. Never over water as the roots will rot. Never let these plants be in sitting water. If you are going to soak the plant make sure the excess water drains out. Later on you can add some fertilizer to your watering which will add about $8.00 to your expenses, but is not necessary right away. Only fertilize in the warm seasons once every two weeks. In the off season once every two months.

Seeds:     You can start your garden with seeds or small plants. Seeds are very inexpensive and can be as little as 50c for a handful on the off season. If done correctly you can actually use some of the seeds from the fruit you buy and it at home. These are often hard to grow or "germinate", but it is possible. But, for the newbie I would recommend buying a small plant as some of these plants take a long time to grow. This way you can see if the plant is healthy, you can watch it grow leafs and you will have a better success rate. Small plants under a year old can be bought for around $10.00. This obviously depends on the plant, availability and age of the plant. Dwarf trees are a great option for growing in pots indoors as most of them don't get over 6 ft tall. Also, they are very comfortable living their whole lives in pots.

So we will do some quick math here at what it costs to start your fruit garden.

At the minimum you are looking at $4.00!!

The only thing you would be paying for is soil! You have a container or two at home already (jars, bottles, cups, plastic containers etc.). You can use your tap water or water from a Brida which you may already have. And you just ate an orange and decided to try to grow the seeds.

So, how does $4.00 sound? With that size bag of soil you'd have enough to fill 4 to 5 very small containers.

Now if you are looking to grow a small plant to get a head start on your fruit garden you are still at under $20.00! I have bought strawberries, blueberries and a small fig plant for about $8.00 each. Find a reputable site and you can be growing your garden in less than a week!!

So the next time you're wondering if you should buy that fruit platter for the party at $20.00! Think again, you could be growing four different fruits from seeds for under $10.00!!

The fun thing about starting your garden and telling people about it is that you might be fortunate enough to find other gardeners in your area. Most gardeners are happy to share a couple small plants or seeds for some of yours in exchange.

So what are you waiting for?? Start growing your favorite fruit today!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

banana plants update!

So, its been a while since I gave you an update on my banana plants. I figured I'd show you a couple pictures. They have been growing, rather slowly now, but they are growing.

Musa Basjoo
This is my basjoo plant #1. If you look in the middle it has almost fully opened a leaf. Proud of this plant as it had suffered so much early on. Its funny, but these seem to grow and open and then grow up and out.

Musa Basjoo
This is my basjoo plant #2. You can see in the middle there a plant is almost half way grown and opened. The warm weather in the sunroom has really helped.

Super Dwarf Cavendish
This is my Super Dwarf Cavendish plant #1. It seems to be doing well as it is about to unroll a leaf. It is leaning a little, not sure why, but is still very healthy.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How to grow fruit trees in your home

I'm sure you have seen apples trees and other fruit trees on your daily commute or when you travel around your state. You probably hear about apple picking in the fall and maybe even partake in it.

But, how can you grow apples without a backyard or with very limited space? Are your fall and winter seasons brutally cold?

You'll learn that just because you have some limitations it doesn't mean that you can't do it. For many years now they have developed different strains or hybrids of most fruit trees to grow smaller. These are ideal for those people that have limited space, but still want to enjoy good fruit.

These kind of trees are called Dwarf trees. They are grafted, or spliced, at a certain part of their trunk to basically stunt their growth. There is such a thing as Dwarf, Semi-Dwarf and Super Dwarf.

Dwarf : Most of these can grow up to 5-7 ft tall.
Semi-Dwarf: Most of these can grow from 8-10 ft tall.
Super Dwarf: These will grow up to 4-6 ft tall.

Of course this depends on nutrition, location, soil and ideal climates as well.

The other thing to remember is that all Dwarf trees will only reach their full height if they are grown in the ground with some good care. So, if you are looking to keep them at under 6 ft tall the best thing to do is to grow them in pots. While in pots these trees will get accustomed to the pot they are in and grow fruit. The best thing about this is that most fruit is the same size as on a full outdoor tree. As these are hybrids some offer different taste, different appearance and a different amount of fruit.

So the thing to see here is where you would like to grow them. Most Dwarf trees will do much better in about 6-8 hrs of direct light, weekly watering and in temperatures of over 60 degrees. This means that you can grow them indoors next to a south or southwest facing window. They will grow slower than if planted outside with a full day of sun, but they will grow.

You will want to feed your trees with fertilizers once they are about 6 months old on a monthly basis and also when the fruit start forming as well. They enjoy a lot of water, but don't like to be soaked, so make sure you use high quality soil that has good drainage. Also, make sure the pots have drainage holes on the bottom. The plant will often tell you if it is being over watered, under-watered or being fed too much. Most of the time you will see the signs on the leafs. They will tend to change color on the tips or sides.  But, all trees are not the same so keep a look out for signs of stress. Dwarf trees are accustomed to humid weather so adding a humidifier near them or misting their leafs regularly is very helpful as well.

Dwarf trees will attract little mites and things like that especially indoors so you must keep on eye on them. If you see little spiders or mites you can wipe down the leafs with soapy water. There are also good remedies that you can find online to get rid of small pests. Also, if you happen to get ants you can wrap the bottom part of the trunk of the tree with tin foil and put some vaseline on the foil.

Some Dwarf trees that do very well indoors are the Citrus trees, fig trees, pomegranate trees, banana trees, peach trees, pear trees etc. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that you can pretty much grow any kind of fruit tree in your home.

You can often find these at nurseries and also online. My recommendation is to order a plant that is at least a year old so you can make sure it makes it through the shipping process. Also, the roots will be more established and you will be able to tell immediately if it is healthy.  These do cost more than ordering them in smaller form, but will ensure that you grow a healthy tree for a very long time.

There are such things as dwarf blueberry plants, dwarf strawberry plants, dwarf kiwi plants, dwarf nut trees as well. So take some time and look online and you'll find that there are tons of different dwarf kinds of fruits, vegetables and plants.

So take a chance and grow something today.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Why you should grow your own fruit or vegetables

Before I started growing anything, like many others, I was skeptical about having enough time or knowledge to do it correctly. I did my research and found tons of blogs, videos and forums on this topic. What I found was the same resounding response. Grow your own fruit and vegetables because it tastes better, looks great in your garden, is very fulfilling and in the long term is much cheaper than buying at the super market.

Now this might seem like a lot of great reasons and you might be wondering why not everyone is doing it, but there are some simple reasons. Some people aren't interested in gardening or taking care of something long term. Some people have tried growing flowers and other plants and have not been successful as they lost interest or just simply forgot about them. Also, fruits and vegetables require certain climates, pots, watering schedules, fertilizers and often time are a larger plant than a simple flower or small plant.  These are all valid ideas, but the truth is that growing vegetables or fruit that you will eventually eat is so much more rewarding.  Also, as these plants tend to take longer to grow and do end up producing something edible you will find that you are more likely to grow a bond with your plants. You will get to see leaves grow, flowers grow, fruit grow and witness it week by week.
Most vegetable and fruit plants evolve as they mature from possibly changing colors, growing pups, growing flowers and releasing great aroma. Did you know that some blueberry plant's leafs turn red in the fall? Or that a strawberry actually grows from the center of its flowers? It is an extraordinary feeling to witness your plants growing, forming, and then bearing fruit. Ok so none of my plants have any fruit yet, but I'm excited in anticipation of the spring where I'm sure I'll have some nice strawberries and possibly blueberries.

You will find that once you start growing one plant you'll want to grow more. They all have their own seasons and bear fruit at different times. There are some gardeners that set up their plants so there is something fruiting year round. But, of course that takes a lot of commitment.

Ok so I think I got of track there. My point is that growing your own plants and vegetables is very rewarding and you'll save yourself a lot of money. You will end up with an abundance of fruits for years (depending on your plant). A Dwarf apple tree can stay with you for over 50 years. Can you image having fresh apples every year that you and your children can enjoy? Also, there are some lemon varieties that fruit multiple times a year.

So, with the right care and environment you can grow pretty much anything you like. If your climate gets very cold in the winter you also have the option of growing fruits or vegetables in containers indoors. I have over 11 plants growing right now (November) in my sunroom. And they are all alive and well!

I will also admit that prior to this I had never grown, attempted or really wanted to grow anything. But, I visited my cousin and one of my other good friends and saw that they had gardens. They told me about how fun it was to see your plants grow and eat their amazing fruit. They also told me how their plants had done so well that they had to give away some of their fruit and vegetables because it was more than they could eat or store. I was amazed. I saw their nice tomatoes, squash, peppers and pumpkins. I thought to myself , "wow I wonder if I could do that too!".

After doing some research online to find out what I'd need I ordered some plants from reputable locations. ( I will discuss this in another post) Got some soil, pots, perlite and some fertilizer.
Another very important step that I would recommend to everyone is; don't do this alone. Meaning that you want to share your experiences and learn from others. There are plenty of blogs like mine, forums and other sites where you can ask people questions and be given advice in a timely fashion.

As I wrote on here before bananas.org was a huge help for me. I was able to ask rookie questions and learn tons from others growing similar banana plants to mine. I was also able to find others who had grown or were growing bananas in my climate. This added to my confidence that I would be able to do it. I found great tips on soil, feeding, watering schedules, and common pests you'd want to look out for.
But, I'm sure that if you do start growing your fruits and vegetables, like me, you'll want to share with others. It is a very fun and rewarding hobby and most people look upon it as a very positive hobby. I have been getting nothing but encouragement and "really, you can grow that in Massachusetts?" or "wow, tell me more".

My main reason to grow these fruits is because I love fruit! I told myself if I'm going to grow something its going to be something I'm going to enjoy. That is my tip to you. If you grow something, grow something that you will be excited to taste once it grows. And when you do get to eat your first fruit you'll know where its been, and that its perfectly fresh. There will be no pesticides, no storage chemicals it will literally be 'right off the vine/tree'.

So I hope this post wasn't all over the place, but I am very passionate about this and continue to learn every day. I find out about more strains, hybrids, sizes, colors and varieties of every fruit or vegetable. You will find that after you start growing something you'll be interested in growing something else as well just to try something new. The beauty of this is that in most situations the plant itself can be as little as a $1.00. You can get tomato, lettuce, onion, chive or almost any seeds for under $2.00. Sure it takes longer to grow, but that is extremely budget friendly! Now if you're looking at trees you will most likely be spending more, but its a tree!!

So try growing something this season. Get a small 4 inch pot, get some seeds of something that interests you and help it grow. Feel free to ask me for advice and I'd be happy to help you in any way possible.  This adventure is fun, ongoing and you'll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor. I highly recommend it!

If you do start growing something please send me a note as I'm always interested in hearing about other's gardens.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

2nd video of my container garden!

This is my second video of my container garden. I'll try to post one of these once a month going forward.

The green onion project...

I have inspected the green onions and they are doing well. They are growing very slowly so I won't be posting any pictures until early in the week so you can see that they have grown.
I'm surprised, but the one growing in just tap water is actually doing well. I think it's grown about half an inch.

The two that were planted in soil haven't grown at all, but I'm sure it's because I didn't plant them with enough of a root system. I'm sure that's what theyre doing though, growing ground up.

The small stalks that were there from the beginning continue to grow as well.

I will continue to monitor their growth and share some pictures early or mid week so you can see for yourself.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

my Dwarf Tangerine tree pics

These are a couple pics of my Dwarf Tangerine Tree. As you can see it is very small, but the leafs are a healthy green. Also, there are some tiny buds there that look like they will form into even more leafs.

Dwarf tangerine tree

Dwarf tangerine tree

As this plant is still very small I have it in a 6 inch pot. But, I noticed that the root system is very hearty. If it grows another three or four inches I will have to put it in a larger pot.

I got my Dwarf Tangerine tree today!

I noticed that my Dwarf Tangerine tree arrived today. It was much smaller than anticipated as its only about 10 inches high. It resembles the size of my fig tree at this time. But, it should continue to grow at its normal rate with some good sun.

I have repotted it into a 7 inch pot as it has outgrown its 2 inch pot.

The leafs look very healthy and green, but it looks like something was chewing on a couple of its leafs.
So, although the plant is very small, it is in good shape.

I will post some pictures later today.

Friday, November 4, 2011

how to pick a good pot for your plant or tree

When I first got my plants I had no idea what size pots to get for them. I knew that when they were shipped to me they were most likely in 2-4 inch pots. So I did my research and aside from finding out what kind of soils to use (that will be in another post) I tried to figure out what kinds of pots to use.

There are many types of pots out there from rounded, square, terracotta, plastic, bio-degradable, hanging, raised bed types and more.

When you are growing fruit plants or trees you want to take into consideration how their roots develop, how quickly the plant grows and their watering needs. And I forgot, portability.

I will only write on here what I know from experience and from what I have read.

Banana plants:
When they are young a 10 inch pot is good.
They require good drainage so make sure you have a pot with holes on the bottom.
Plastic is good as these size pots or larger start to get pretty heavy.
Also if you live in a cold climate you may have to "overwinter" your bananas and moving a plastic pot is much easier than a ceramic pot.
This plant requires watering every other day during the warm seasons and once a week or so in the winter.
When the plant outgrows this pot place it in a 3 or 5 gallon pot.
They can easily live their whole life in a 5 gallon pot. (This would be perfect for a dwarf variety.)
Full size banana plants, which need to be potted, will do well in a 10 gallon pot.
Fertilize these once a week only during the warmer seasons.

These like to spread so if you place them in a wide pot they will do well.
Their roots don't grow all that deep so a 5 inch deep pot and a minimum of 7 inches across is a good start.
Once they grow larger you can move to a 12 inch pot or wider. They will grow runners which you can then place in those in the original pot.
There are strawberry pots as well that you can buy which are very heavy, but allow you to grow multiple plants on different levels from the same pot.
This plant also requires well drained soil so make sure the pot has holes on the bottom.
Make sure to water frequently and even more when they are fruiting.
If it is colder make sure not to spray the leaves as they may grow mold.
Fertilize once a week when the plant is growing and use sulfur to lower the PH level of the soil.
If the PH is too high the plant will have trouble growing fruit.

These plants prefer a little room so you can start with a 10 inch pot or wider. These will grow up and will later fill out like a bush. I am growing a dwarf variety and I'm told they can live their whole lives in a 12 inch wide pot.
These also require good drainage and watering almost every other day.
These have very nice green leafs that later change to a bright red in the fall.

These can be grow in 12 inch pots or 3 gallon pots and do very well.
Although they do like to be snug in pots it is ok to start them off in a larger pot.
When they are very young they will work on establishing their roots and then start growing upwards.
So at first they grow very slowly and once established they tend to grow pretty quickly.
Make sure the pot used has holes as they don't like to have wet feet.
Fertilize these once a week to help them grow.

Citrus Trees (Dwarf Variety):
These, like the Fig tree, can start in 12 inch pots or larger.
Many have been known to full develop and live out their existence in 3 to 5 gallon pots.
They need good drainage and would be best in plastic pots as they can get heavy.
If you're weather is fairly mild you can place in terracotta pots as they are more decorative and breathe better. This is the same for the fig tree.
Fertilize these once a week to help them to grow.

So from my experience plastic pots have worked well for me as they are generally cheaper and lighter. Once you get to larger ones it is also a good idea to use buckets. These are fairly cheap as well and can be found everywhere. As these are somewhat deep I probably would not recommend them for strawberries but bananas and citrus trees would do well in them. Just make sure to drill holes on the bottom of the containers.

Also, if you are going to be putting pots outdoors for long periods of time try not to use clear plastic or black plastic pots. These will overheat the dirt and root areas which is not good for the plant.  And of course, over time, buying lots of soil to put in pots will start to add up, so when possible place your plant or tree in your yard. All they will need is some good water and some fertilizer. Keep a look out for pests and you'll be fine.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Waiting for my tangerine tree to show up

I think my Tangerine tree should be arriving tomorrow or Friday.
I have a 5 gallon bucket ready for when it arrives.  I also have a Meyer Lemon tree arriving in about a week. These should be about a foot and a half tall when they arrive so I'm hoping they'll do well in my sun room.  I will make sure to post some pictures when they arrive and are planted.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Eversweet Strawberry plant

These are a few pictures of my strawberry plant. I'm not sure but I think it has perked up since I bought it. Could be my imagination, but it looks much healthier.

Eversweet Strawberry

Eversweet Strawberry

My Strawberry Plant

Eversweet Strawberry
I'll try to take some more pictures next week to see if there is some growth.