The Yellow Farmhouse Garden

January 19, 2007


Filed under: Uncategorized — bob @ 4:09 pm

I haven’t been able to post here on the old blog for a couple of days because of the ice storm that blew through earlier this week. The greenhouse is located in the area that was without power for a few days. Thursday was the first day we had all the power back on and we had a lot of catching up to do.

The temperature dropped to around 34 degrees ( colder at floor level ) for two nights in a row before we were able to get an electrician to correct a wiring problem we had with our boilers. After he left we were able to limp along on generator power. We had heat, but the generator could not handle the water well.

The generator sent a couple of power surges and blew out a few fuses in our greenhouse ventilation system but no real harm was done. However, I was still finding blown fuses in some of the equipment today.

Remember those begonias that I wrote about awhile back that had to be in the right temperature range in order to germinate? Well, apparently the germination process had started and was well under way when the power went down. It looks like we had a good germination rate as there are plenty of seedlings today and seem to be doing well despite the frigid start of their young lives.

Time will tell if the bananas were damaged as their growing points are buried inside the trunk of the plant. No damage was done to the Easter Lilies, citrus and tomatoes. The Coleus and Ipomea ( sweet potato vine ) that we use for taking cuttings (for starting new plants for spring ), did get “burned” by the cold but did not die. The Strobilanthes (Persian Shield ) was fine as well as the Chicken Gizzard Plant.

A bright note in all this was the Pansy seedlings ( Viola ), they absolutley loved the 30 degree nights and 50 degree days we had inside the greenhouse.

A disaster was averted by the use of propane heaters ( before the electrician arrived) and a generator. So now its back to normal and full speed ahead.

From now on I’ll take my weather like I take my Vernors, without ice!



  1. Got a question. I’ve got two trees in pots. One is lime, the other tangerine. I used to get limes from my lime tree until a storm. They are both in pots. The lime tree used to bloom in the dead of winter because I have 12 feet of windows with southern exposure. By summer, I move everything gradually outside on the deck and I would get limes. The tangerine tree looks old enough now, but no blooms. The lime tree was accidentally hit by a hail storm summer before last. All its leaves were shredded. It took a year to look good again. It looks normal but will no longer bloom. The tangerine tree was young and did not get hit but no blooms on it either.

    Do they need cross pollination or something? Did the lime tree get shocked for good? They take up an awful lot of room. If they aren’t going to produce, I’d like to get rid of them.

    Comment by Ria — January 22, 2007 @ 5:21 pm

  2. Ria,
    As you well know, growing citrus in Michigan can be a hit and miss proposition. Some varieties of lime and tangerine need cross pollination and some are self polinating. Your lime is self pollinating as it had fruit at one time. No way of knowing about the tangerine without knowing the variety.

    Any kind of shock can disrupt fruiting in citrus, it happened to me when I pruned ours heavily to make more room in the greenhouse.

    The most plausible explaination however, is your obvious care for your plants; citrus of all types need some kind of stress in order to blossom. After the recovery period from the hailstorm, they have probably been well taken care of and have never been placed under any sort of stress. The easiest way to induce an element of stress is, in the fall, before you bring them in for the winter, allow them to be exposed to cold temperatures ( 45 degrees or so ) for a few days or nights taking care not to let them get frozen or frosted.

    That should ” shake ‘em up a bit ” and encourage them to flower.

    Comment by Bob — January 23, 2007 @ 4:41 pm

  3. Thanks Bob. Stress hum. That’s why I get so many things to bloom. People can’t understand how my plants bloom, are huge, and I do very little for them. It’s called stress from neglect. I’m definitely not an over waterer. My jasmine vine should be dead for the many times I’ve let it dry up. But it’s blooming away in my TV room. I’m thinking of not pruning the lime tree for awhile for stress. It works for my Hybiscus I’ve trained into a huge tree. When it gets too top heavy for the roots, it blooms like crazy before I cut it back. You know this is the first year I brought the plants in from the deck before it got really cold. That was a bad move I see.

    Comment by Ria — January 25, 2007 @ 12:35 pm

  4. Ria,
    Let’s call it managed stress instead of neglect. If you think about it a bit, it makes sense for this to happen. Exposure to extreme temperatures, drought or other trauma, can cause a survival mechanism to kick in for many plants. It makes them want to form seeds to ensure another generation is produced, just in case they themselves don’t survive.

    Comment by Bob — January 26, 2007 @ 3:19 am

  5. Bob – I live in LaSalle township. I was fortunate enough to purchase a small greenhouse from a nephew who didn’t want it when he bought a new house. 6′ x 8′ I am definitely a beginner. I want to start seeds indoors and gradually move them to greenhouse to finish out before planting outside. Not sure what I need…shad cloth, heater, fan???? I hate to spend the money on things that are not necessary. Can you help?? Thanks Bonnie

    Comment by Bonnie — January 28, 2007 @ 3:19 pm

  6. Bonnie,
    I am always happy to hear about someone expanding their gardening horizons. I’ll give you a brief list of needed items: a minimum/maximum thermometer to monitor your day/night temperatures; a heater of some sort, electric or propane, may be necessary depending how early you plan on setting the plants out into the greenhouse. With an electric heater you can have a thermostat. tender plants such as tomatoes or impatiens will need supplemental heat while cabbage or pansies probably won’t ; greenhouse benches ( plant tables ) ; and a method of ventilation, even on a winter day, the temperatures inside your greenhouse could rise enough to damage your plants. Solar powered models are available these days.

    There are many more options for small greenhouses than there used to be even only a few years ago. You might want to start looking for ideas at , an on-line/catalog greenhouse supplier. Many of those items can be purchased locally.

    Good luck and have fun. Keep checking back on this blog for more on this topic and let us know how things progress for you. Bob

    Comment by Bob — January 29, 2007 @ 5:52 pm

  7. Thanks Bob – I love I’ll let you know how it goes.

    Comment by Bonnie — January 31, 2007 @ 7:55 pm

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