Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The New Toy

My little bitty pop up greenhouse. It's called the Farmhouse, it's by Flowerhouse, and at 9' long by 9' wide by 8' tall and $322 (Free Shipping!!) it was an absolute bargain. Mind you, I'd love to have one of the big 16' x 16' greenhouses but the one that I was looking at is $5k, thank you very much.

The reason I broke down and ponied up the money was that the citrus grove just wasn't doing very well inside. I had some high-powered fluorescents but they just weren't the right type to be very effective. I tried taking the trees out in the daytime and in during the night. Nope. Lots of leaf-fall, which is either overwatering (yeah, like I'm going to do that twice!) or not enough sunlight. Sheesh. So it was either lose all six trees or find them some shelter, pronto. Only I knew that the greenhouse alone wasn't going to do it. Not with temperatures in my neck of the woods getting down to 18 degrees faranheit of an evening. (It only does this a handful of nights out of the year, but one is enough to kill off a tree, especially if it's a tree in a five gallon pot.)

So I researched. Now, the good folks over at the flowerhouse site recommend ceramic heaters. Unfortunately those babies do not put off enough heat to overcome the winter chill around here. I didn't really want to do electric if I could help it, either. So I finally found a propane heater I could live with. Theoretically it has the ability to overcome my worst-case-scenario. I ordered it...and when it landed on my doorstep I found out that it's a wall-mounted heater. Which is absolutely fine if you have a wall to mount it to. I have fiber frames and 3 mil greenhouse fabric. Tear hair out; stomp around yard; take a few gods' names in vain. Ponder problem for a week. Have an aha!! moment and find a couple of metal fence posts to latch heater to. Problem solved! Get propane hooked up....

Bother. Propane gets all hooked up and refuses to run. Figure propane bottle may be empty; go fill it up. Propane still refuses to work. Tear more hair out, indulge in a little more profanity (the Banshees were all inside the house and I wasn't being loud, just prolific), stomp a little more. Read instructions again. After fifth or sixth repeat, realize that the regulator valve may have been installed upside-down. Reposition. Restart. Nada, nothing, zip, zilch, zero. Run into the twilight, screaming. Research prices on new propane bottles. After a few hours, go out and indulge in what many call the ultimate proof of religion/superstition/insanity -- i.e. repeat the exact same actions and hope for different results.

And the [expletives deleted for the sensitive of eyeball] thing works this time. Yahoo!! I'm probably going to go out and check it every half hour just to marvel over it, but so far it's keeping the greenhouse nice and comfy. I wouldn't want to sleep there, mind you, but I don't think the citruses are going to freeze.

The Cara Cara orange had a lot of blooms all the way through December, but the Faranheit bugaloo stressed it and it dropped most of the incipient fruit. There are still a couple of proto-oranges on it, so we'll just have to hope for the best. I'll probably feed them in a couple of weeks, once they've gotten over the stress of being moved around so much. In the meantime I've indulged myself in a little tomato-y goodness (some, as in dh, would call it madness. Tomato, tomahto) and have ordered in little tomatoes and big tomatoes and paste tomatoes; I have ordered early, mid, and late season tomotoes. I have at least one yellow, orange, pink, white, and black tomato in addition to the traditional red tomato. I have smooth round tomatoes, long peppery-looking tomatoes, block shaped and pear shaped and ruffly ridged tomatoes. I ordered a lot of the Costoluto Genevese, because they seem to do really well around here and they are SO good.

Time to pick up the digging and kick up the trellises. Tomato Summer is almost upon us.

1 comment:

Bobbisox said...

There you are! I have been having leaf, AND fruit fall and we are warmer, but mine are exposed to the outside air. I would love to have lots of blood oranges and tangerines.