Hail is in the Bag

One of the growing hazards here in suburbs of Denver (and all of the Colorado region) is hail. We can be pummeled with golf ball sized ice balls that shatter windshields, destroy crops, and bury gardens. Hail comes with the intense afternoon thunderstorms that roll through here in June and July. I have watched it pile up like a blizzard and destroy plants in a matter of seconds.

So far, for my location anyway, the hail hasn’t been too bad (I am knocking on wood as I write this). The orange tree I am growing is now living outside along with the lime tree my daughter potted. Recently, we had a storm and I brought in my orange tree, but the pot for her lime tree is too big for one person to handle so it had to stay outside. Luckily the damage was very minimal with just one leaf with a hole knocked in it.

Hail damage to lime tree leaf.

The other day I was out doing errands when huge, black, storm clouds came rumbling in and I wasn’t able to bring my tree inside like I usually would. My imagination pictured my orange tree decimated and the single orange smashed to the ground. Thankfully, it was just my imagination. When I returned home, we didn’t have a drop of rain and the orange still hung happily from the branch.

The orange still on my tree.

Because I have just a single orange I, like any good plant mom, want to protect it from our nasty spring weather. But how? After much thought I came up with a plan. I don’t know how well it will work, but it was the only thing I could come up with. I bagged it.

I hope this will protect it from hail damage. Time, and the next storm, will tell. I also hope that it will prevent any squirrels, raccoons, or other sneaky creatures from nibbling on the fruit once it gets to that delicious stage. One can only hope.

Do you have any experience growing a potted orange tree? Add any tips you have learned in the comments.

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How Do My Oranges Grow?

I am on a new growing experiment.  Orangelos, are a cross between an orange and a grapefruit. They purportedly are a sweet flavored grapefruit and easy to grow in a pot. Because I live in a winter to summer climate, I couldn’t grow it outdoors so a pot was necessary. I did a little research on how to feed and care for an orange tree before I bought it to be sure I purchased one that did well in a pot. I bought it this past fall so it wintered by the back door where it got a lot of sun, but stayed warm inside.

This spring it blossomed. Not only are the blossoms beautiful, but they smell wonderful. My kitchen and living room were the best places to be while there were flowers. I was so excited to see so many flowers that I thought I would have a huge orange crop too.

Orange Blossom

This is just one of the many blossoms.

It pushed out about 20 of these little fruits.

Tiny orange fruit

See the little green ball on the right and at the bottom edge of the frame?

I knew that not every blossom would produce fruit, but I did hope for at least 5-10 orangelos. Unfortunately, all but one fell off. This last little one has been hanging on and it is my hope it continues to grow.

Last surviving orange.

This is the last one. As of this posting, it is about 2x larger than any of the others I lost.

I will keep you posted on how well this one does. Maybe I will be able to enjoy one single orange later this year.

What about you? Have you ever tried to grow fruit in a pot? What lessons did you learn along the way? Leave your comments. We love comments!

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How Does My Garlic Grow? Time to Harvest

In December 0f 2017 I started four cloves of garlic in a pot on my windowsill. Now, ten months later, I think I will harvest my crop of three sprigs. I did pull the fourth one a couple of months ago to see where it had gotten as far as the number of cloves. I was a little disappointed to see that it looked more like a green onion than a garlic. So, I left the final three to grow for another few months.

Garlic plant before harvest

 

Today, I decided it was time to pull it all up. I read a number of articles last year, when I started this project, that stated it would take about 9 months for cloves to form. The greens did grow quickly, but the cloves? Well, not so much. After a little bit of careful pulling I found the plant to be quite root bound.

Root Bound Garlic

I suppose this isn’t too surprising because of how fast they grew and the size of the pot. Add to the fact that they grew much too close to one another it all resulted in what looks like green onions.

Garlic peeled to reveal root

After peeling back the outer layers I found a beautiful white core and a strong aroma of garlic. Although these beauties were not segmented into cloves, I’m still very happy. If the smell is any indicator of the flavor then these will be a successful first attempt at growing garlic.

For next time? The cloves will be started in a pot, but they will mature in the ground. Garlic seems to need the room that my pot could not provide.

Do you grow garlic? Share your tips for success in the comments.

Until next time!

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How Does My Garlic Grow? June Update

I am most excited that not only is my garlic still alive, but it is doing really well too. Yeah me! I took these photos today. Aren’t these guys looking great?

If you browse back to my post from 3-16-16 and compare the photos you can see that today the garlic has grown quite a bit. The photo on the right also shows a bulb forming. I moved the pot outside earlier in the season, and it really took off. Fresh air and sunshine does a soul (and garlic) good.

It will be a couple of months before full bulbs form. After reading up on the subject it takes about 9 months from sprout to bulb. I planted the sprouting bulbs back in December so there is still a month or two to go before I can pull them up. Interestingly, the one on the right that is set apart from the others is a bit bigger. It must have more room to stretch. I’ll have to keep that in mind for next year’s crop.

Have you ever tried to grow garlic? I’d love to hear about your successes and challenges.  Until next time.

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The Universe

I believe in the idea that there are powers greater than ourselves keeping tabs on the ebb and flow of our existence. This energy could be called Karma, God, Allah, or, as I like to refer to it, the Universe. I can’t really say if our lives are drawn out for us beginning at conception, or if it is decided as we go along, but I do believe that when we need something, truly need something, we are graced with the gift from the Fates.

It is these small things that are given that have convinced me that there is something more out there than meets the eye and we are given what we need, when we need them in order to get through life. Some of the gifts are small, and some might be hard, but each and every challenge we face brings us to exactly where we need to be for the  next step in our lives.

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How Does My Garlic Grow?

Several months ago I posted that I was growing some garlic for the first time. Believe it or not, it’s still alive. I am the first to admit my brown thumb when it comes to plants that are needy. Thankfully garlic is not one of those kinds of plants. I have been told that the bulbs take awhile to grow, so I am not ready to yank one out to see how it is growing. With my luck all four of them would come out and I’d have to start over. Until I pull them out, here are a few photos of how fast it grew.

My first post was back in December and the photo there shows the plants just peaking out from under the dirt (taken December 2). Within a week the sprouts were already an inch tall, and by the 13th they grew to 4 or 5 inches.

December 13, 2017

 

January 8, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 15, 2018

It doesn’t look much different today than from this photo from back in March. The leaves still look scraggly, and deformed but I am hoping the goodness below the soil is beautiful.

I’ll keep you updated on my success or failure growing my first batch of garlic.

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A few Thoughts on Retirement

I am doing my 20’s for the third time so I am getting closer to “that age” for retirement. In my opinion, retirement is a thing that died out with pensions and my parent’s generation. I know, not the entire generation is gone. My mother is the last in my family from her generation. It is the Baby Boomers who are now retiring. Or, trying to. I think the word may, one day, fall into disuse being categorized by the dictionary as archaic.

I do not feel I will ever stop working unless I drop by death, stroke, heart-failure, or some other malaise that ties me down. It’s just not in my DNA. I get restless if I don’t have a job. But, I do keep it real….I’m strictly a part-timer and I keep my calendar open for long vacations. I still have to visit the Isle of Man, New Zealand, Australia, and most of Europe. Visiting farmer’s markets in every state? Now THAT’S a great idea!!

What does retirement look like for you?

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This post inspired by a friend of mine who posted her thoughts on retirement. I ended up writing a reply that was nearly as long as her post.

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Color Coding Bread

Have you ever noticed that there are different color twist ties and plastic bands on bread? Bread is color coded for freshness. The color coordinates with the day is was baked and with the colored bands it is easy for store clerks to pull the loaves that are reaching their peak of staleness. Now, it will make your search for freshness easier.

bread-color

Why nothing on Wednesday and Sunday? Well, bakers do need a day off every once in awhile. Keep in mind that not all bakeries are created equal. Double check the freshness date to be sure you really are getting the best loaf for your buck.

 

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Growing Garlic

I love garlic. I eat it in nearly every dish I make (except cookies), and I’m sure I put too much in sometimes. My sister told me about how she likes to grow her own garlic and she found a great batch from Germany. I don’t remember the exact strain, but she gave me a couple of bulbs so I could grow some too. She lives in the Midwest and I live in the Rocky Mountain region. When I asked how to grow it she said to take one clove, pointy side up, and stick in the ground in the fall and it will come up in the spring. Scratching my head I smiled. I wasn’t sure how that would translate to my climate, but we were interrupted at that moment and I didn’t follow up.  Then, once home, I ate the garlic and never thought again to try to grow it.

Last month, I read an article on one of my favorite blogs, Lovely Greens, about how to grow garlic. She reiterated just what my sister said. Plant it in fall and it grows in spring. Again, this is coming from someone in a climate very different from my own (Isle of Mann to be exact). So, this is the second time in just a few months that I have been told about growing garlic. Maybe I should make an attempt at it.

Unfortunately, I don’t have garlic left from my sister’s batch, but I did just get some from the grocery store. I figure that if I manage to grow that then I will ask for more of the German variety (it is delicious by the way). Doing my usual “guess and by golly” method of doing things, I found a little pot  and stuck four cloves in the dirt and dumped water on it.

It’s growing!!

I am pleasantly surprised that it is actually growing. The larger sprout had already started while it was attached to the bulb so that little guy had a head start. The others are also showing signs of life. If all goes well I should have four nice bulbs of garlic late in the Spring or early Summer.

I will keep you posted on the progress of my planting experiment. Until then, I think I need to eat what’s left of the bulb these came from. Roasted sounds lovely.

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Goodbye 2017

What many people may not realize about being a writer is that it can be nerve wracking. We writers pour our hearts and souls into what we do, and if there is a single misspelled word we feel failure. It is not an easy job, but one that we all feel crazily compelled to do. We can be an insecure bunch of people, but we are not in it alone.

I am a member of The Insecure Writers Support Group, and every month we are given a question that we can answer in our IWSG post. These questions may prompt us to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. This month, the last in a very long year, our question is:

As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

The only thing I would do differently is to wrap my entire family in bubble wrap. Without going into detail, let me just say that seeing the inside of nine emergency rooms in twelve months is more than anyone should have to go through. (No one died this year, so there’s that). To say the least, this put a huge crimp on my writing progress. Getting a story out has been the last thing on my to-do list.

It wasn’t all bad though. I did manage to complete a couple of short stories, several blog posts, and I wrote everyday for NaNoWriMo. My debut novel, The Manx, is shaping up with characters that are living and breathing entities in a brilliant world. I also attended two writing conferences (PPWC and RMFW) where I reconnected with writers across the country and re-energized my creative battery. I also had the pleasure to meet one of my favorite authors, Diane Gabaldon.

At book signing during RMFW2017

My advice to anyone who is in the thick of life’s challenges? Get through it anyway you can. Writing does not have to be at the top of your to-do list, but sometimes it should surface to the top just so you can have a few moments of sanity. It is okay to let the words fall by the side of the road while you are trying to maintain a straight direction with four flat tires.

Say goodbye to 2017 because 2018 will be a better year. It has to be.

Thanks to our awesome co-hosts for the December 6 posting of the IWSG, Julie Flanders, Shannon Lawrence, Fundy Blue, and Heather Gardner!

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