Monthly Archives: April 2011

Photos from the fourth week of April

Yellow tulips finally opened today!


Here comes the rhubarb.


These chives were clipped last night for dinner... fresh oniony flavor.


Arugula is tiny, but growing.


A row of radishes.




Spinach starts are now outside and doing well... should be able to harvest baby spinach soon.


Oregano leaves are plentiful. This is now a three-year-old plant.


Here's something to enjoy tomorrow.

April Showers

You know what they say, “April showers bring May flowers.”  Remembering that this week while we sit indoors watching the rain come down.

Repotting the Lemon Tree

My dwarf meyer lemon tree came with the instructions to repot annually.  This being the tree’s third spring with us, we are on our third pot.  The pot is big this time!  One more size up and I’ll have to hire movers to haul the thing in and out of the house for me.

I’ve reported on this lemon tree before:  When life hands you one lemon…  and suffice to say the lemon tree and I have had our ups and downs.

But I’ve been looking forward to this annual tradition of repotting.  For one, I wanted to put them lemon tree in a more attractive pot.  I found a very nice brick red pot at my favorite gardening store, Stein Gardens and Gifts.  It’s a Wisconsin chain, so you won’t find them elsewhere.  But if you do come to Wisconsin it’s worth checking out.

My lemon tree has suffered from a few issues.  For one, it sets blooms but then they all fall off and I am left with no lemons.  I’m not sure why this happens, but I’ve heard that this is a problem for many indoor lemon tree growers.  The other problem is that it sheds it leaves a few times a year.  I’m not sure it can get the energy it needs from the sun with so few leaves to soak it in. 

To address the blossom problem I’ve decided to beef up the tree’s food supply.  As I put potting mix into the new pot, I added several cups of organic fruit fertilizer.  I am hoping that this will strengthen stem development because it seems that the stems supporting the blossoms just wimp out and break.

Just so you all know, this is my non-scientific totally untested solution to this problem.  As I’ve said before I work more on a “feel” basis.  I have no idea if this will work or not.   But after months of watching blossoms fall off my plant, it seems like the right thing to do.

As for the leaves, all I can hope is that the weather around here warms up and the tree can go back outside.  I know how this tree feels–cooped up in this house all winter getting a fraction of the sunlight it needs or desires.  I understand wanting to just sadly drop your leaves and look pathetic.  And it does look pathetic.  I’ve been taking it outside when weather permits.  I’m hoping soon it can just stay out there.  Especially since this new pot is so heavy!

I used an organic fertilizer in conjunction with some “moisture plus” potting mix.

I used Dr. Earth organic fruit fertilizer.

I blended the fertilizer with some fresh potting mix to fill the new pot, leaving some room for the lemon trees root system.

When I took the tree out of its current container I noticed a lack of large roots.  There was a system of smaller roots, but as I moved the plant out of the pot many of them broke free of the tree.  I hope I did not cause too much stress to the tree.  I tried to be gentle!

Perhaps the new pot, fertilizer and potting mix will invigorate the root system.

My son waters in the lemon tree.

My new pot is a few inches wider in diameter than the old one.

This new brick red pot is certainly an upgrade!

Something that bothers me about my lemon tree is a lack of a central trunk.  Maybe this is normal?  Leave a comment if you know anything about this.

I’m hopeful that the blossoms that are on the tree now will turn into lemons, at least a few of them!  They will certainly benefit from being outside where the bees can help them along, the sun can warm them and the breeze can make them strong.  The new pot with its healthier blend of potting mix should certainly be a help as well.  And now that the tree has more room to grow, it can support more fruit. 

Im cheering these blossoms on!

Well, little lemon tree… it’s up to you now!

Looking happier already, the lemon tree is getting settled into its new home.


With any luck well have some lemons in a few months. (Here is our lemon "crop" of 2010.)

Photos from the third week of April.

Mint is spotted next to the house.


Rows of tulips soaking in some sun.


These crocuses were a happy sight.


A hydrangea bud.


It began to rain as evening set in.

A few days later we awoke to this.

The rows of tulips were now covered with a blanket of snow.


The chives recieved a dusting of snow as well.

Easter: New life for nature, new life for me.

One of the unexpected benefits of gardening has been the conversations it has opened up with my children.  As plants, insects, birds, butterflies and frogs have died in our garden I am able to share this experience with my kids.  “Everything dies.  Even people die.  But people can go to heaven because Jesus is our Savior!” 

It’s a simple way of telling them the good news, the MOST IMPORTANT news I could ever tell them.  They have a Savior Jesus who loves them, died for them, and will one day welcome them into heaven as one of His own. 

This past week, when a small child from our church died suddenly and unexpectedly, I was reminded of how very important it is to constantly be in conversations of this nature with our children.  They simply must know Jesus.  We do not know the day or the hour in which we will die.  We just know that we will.  Our children need to know their God and Savior just as we need that as well. 

Around here, we are pretty excited for Easter, this coming Sunday.  Because of Easter, because Jesus rose from the dead and conquered death once and for all, we can all have life.

When I look around my garden I see signs of new life in every crevice.  There are tiny insects, little buds on trees.  Birds have returned and are preparing to bring the next generation into the world, building nests in which to lay eggs and raise their young.  From dormant bulbs beneath the surface of the soil come beautiful flowers–tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses.  As these beauties shoot heavenward they are practically singing God’s praises:  “New life!  Beauty!  Praise God!”

Crocuses, part of Gods glorious creation.

We don’t need to look any further than the natural environment God created for us to see Him.  The earth is shouting out the good news for us!  A God who would create such a wonder would surely care enough to see things through.  And has he!  Yes, we have sin and death now, but what we really have is a Savior from these things… God’s own son.  He’s already carried out the plan to take sin to the grave and leave it there, then rising again with New Life for all who believe in Him.  We rise with him!  Alleluia!

When I work the earth this week–planting and amending–I’m going to dwell on these thoughts.  And share them with my children.  It’s so very important.

A few weekend photos.

We had a wonderfully warm day here on Sunday.  While I didn’t have any major gardening projects to do, we were outside enjoying our backyard.  I snapped a few photos.

Tulips which first appeard in mid-Februrary are very slow to show flowers. Perhaps the warm up here over the weekend will move things along.


Garlic is looking good! Can't wait to eat it in a few months.


Potting soil, manure, pea gravel... all elements of maintaining our backyard garden.

Seedling Update

Seedling setup.

It’s been a few weeks since I started my second tray of seeds.  For the most part, nature is taking its course and itty bitty versions of my favorite plants have popped up.  There are a few stinkers in the bunch though, a problem that vexes me year after year.  Why don’t some seeds germinate?

These imapatiens are some of the few that germinated out of a tray of 64.

It’s obvious that conditions are not right for the tray of impatiens I had hoped to grow.  I’m not sure where I went wrong with this one.  A few seeds seem to like the accommodations I’ve provided, but the vast majority do not.  Maybe the starting mix is too wet, or too cold.  My previous experience with starting flowers from seed was extremely successful–I grew six varieties of zinnias, they were so healthy and beautiful.  This tray of impatiens is a pitiful sight.

The good news is that veggies and herbs are thriving.  Thinking about the tomatoes and eggplants that these tiny plants will become makes me happy!  Maybe I’ve started too many plants, but I do this in case there is any trouble.  I like to have some back up plants just in case.  It’s insurance.  Inevitably, I’ll be searching out adoptive  parents for my extra seedlings come Memorial Day.

This tomato is showing some nice leaves. All tomato varieties came up with no problems.

Every day I turn the tray around because these tiny plants lean right into the sunlight.

Noticeably, eggplant and pepper seeds are taking longer than the others.  I hope they come up just fine in the next few days.  I’m trying to keep them warm by putting them on the heat vent at night.  They are getting plenty of warmth from the sun during the day.  I’ve never had a problem with these in the past, so I’m expecting them to pop up eventually.

So what’s the next step?  Well, this weekend I will be transplanting some lettuces and spinach into pots outside.  If we are threatened with hard frosts I can always haul the pots inside or cover with a blanket.

I have begun planting seeds outside.  This week my son and I put in the peas and arugula.  I hope to have the head lettuce and radishes in by the weekend as well.  It’s still cold at night here, but not too cold for these types of seeds.  They even like the cold.

Our weather in Southeastern Wisconsin has been cool, damp and rather dismal.  It’s to be expected, but I long for one of those freakishly warm April days that are just right for working outside and getting that first touch of sun on my white wintry skin.  Wouldn’t some warm sun feel good about now?  I think my plants would agree.

I’ve been taking my rosemary and lemon tree outside during the day.  They’ll need a few weeks of this to adjust to outdoor conditions.  The lemon tree has set some new buds and I’m hoping that taking it outdoors will toughen it up enough to hold onto those buds rather than dropping them like the last set.  In a few weeks I will pot it up to the next size of pot and add organic fruit fertilizer to the mix.  With any luck it might produce a lemon or two this year.  Now if I could just get some bees to come back to my yard to take care of pollinization–that lemon tree’d be all set!

A new set of lemon tree buds brings new hope that this tree may produce fruit in 2011.

I’ve always enjoyed videos that show how a seed grows (thanks to my 80’s childhood watching Sesame Street I’m sure) so here is a link to a nice example from Nova:  Teachers’ Domain: From Seed to Flower.

It’s the beginning of an exciting time of year for me.  A time of hope and expectation, a time for work and play.  It’s off to a good start!

Photos from the first week of April.

Finally made it out to the garden to do some digging and planting.


After turning this bed over and adding some amendments, my son and I planted peas around these supports. We arranged them into a little "house" so he can go in and pick peas.


I love that the emerging lavender buds ARE the color lavender. So pretty.


A sage leaf unravels.


Aha! Proof that the squirrels didn't take all the tulips I planted in my raised bed. I have plans to use these for bouquets, hoping more come up.


My daughter's clematis vine wakes up to spring.


Despite freezing temperatures, a hail storm and a lack of sun, the chives grow.


This Rose of Sharon won't be bare for long.

My, What a Happy Day!

Enjoy this fun and joy-filled clip from Walt Disney’s Fun and Fancy Free: