This year’s overwintering area has experienced a revamp/relocation. In previous years, I’ve simply moved tropical houseplants outdoors (where possible) for their summer vacations and then put them back in my house wherever they can fit — hopefully with a reasonable amount of window-light. But this year, I decided to kick it up a notch. Yes, there’s some back-story. I’ll explain.
I do quite a bit of vegetable gardening, and I start almost all plants indoor under lights. My area for this has historically been right above my washer/dryer which is in a closet off the side of my kitchen. I’d been using regular shop light fluorescents (two of them) until May of this year, when I finally got a T-5, which is brighter and better! But that posed a problem I hadn’t anticipated: heat. WAY too much heat! Because it’s a closet-type space, there was nothing I could do to bring the heat down – there just wasn’t enough air circulation capacity even with a fan. Terrible for things like spinach and fennel, although fine for Solanaceae members such as peppers, tomatoes, eggplants.
I thought about this long and hard and finally decided that the best course of action would be to move the T-5 into my office, which is one of the three bedrooms in our house. I did that, and then put the regular shop light fluorescents back into the laundry area; they won’t be needed until I start next year’s crop of veg babies anyway. It’s easier for me to add heat than to take it away, in that location.
So here’s what the office looks like right now. In addition to the T-5, I have one red/blue LED lamp over in the corner for my citrus.
The chair belongs to my cats. When I’m writing these blog posts, this is what is behind me; my computer desk is on the other side of this room. The room has an east window and gets some actual sunlight in the mornings (if there’s sun). It’s also the coldest room in my house. But the T-5 might change that…
Actual closet plants. Two of these are plants I’m overwintering for a friend who has less indoor space. Those are the Hibiscus schizopetalus (middle back, single-stem thing leaning leftward) and the Strelitzia reginae which is lower right here.
Above is a terrible picture of my very favorie plant: Citrus hystrix. I got this almost 10 years ago from Four Winds Growers. It’s been a wild ride ever since, but this plant is a real trooper and it’s the very first year it has produced fruit to maturity! I’m so excited about that I even got a close-up of just the fruits, with all their knobbiness:
Then there’s the Meyer lemon I received only a couple months ago, also from Four Winds. It is not looking good. My friend Paul thought this was a case of “hothouse shock” (I think?), which is when something is grown in really ideal conditions and then gets exposed to more variable conditions and croaks. I believe it — it looked great when it arrived, but despite all my efforts it has been steadily dropping leaves and declining ever since. If it dies, this will be the THIRD Meyer lemon I’ll have killed. Ugh. I’m about ready to give up.
But I’m happy about this. This is a pepper that I started from seed bought from Territorial Seed Company, out of Eugene area, where I tend to buy all my vegetable seeds. It’s a mild pepper, no heat actually, variety name is “Yum Yum Gold” and it was a great plant that seemed like the right one to bring in. I dug it up, washed the native soil off its roots as much as I could, potted it up into Sunshine mix #4, removed all its fruits (there were a LOT!) and here it is a month later, looking awesome. I’m trying to learn how best to overwinter Capsicum because I want to get good at it with the C. chinense super-hot varieties. They take longer to mature so overwintering seems likely to be advantageous.. Anyway, this is an experiment with this C. annuum cultivar. We shall see.
Lastly, for this post, here’s a little update on the Saintpaulia that was featured in my very first post on this blog. It’s doing great! Not wilty anymore, and I couldn’t photograph it so you have to take my word on this, but it has already sprouted a couple of little roots off the crown. Ahhhh…
Thanks for reading. See you soon!