Friday, February 17, 2012

Under Cover

Being a Seattle native, I usually don't notice it's raining until my hair is soaking wet and water starts dripping down my face.  Today was one of those "soaking" days in Seattle, so I was limited to working in the increasingly cramped greenhouse in order to stay dry.


When I opened the door, I was welcomed by some very aggressive castor bean seedlings trying to rip the roof off of their seed tray.

Last April, I bought 100 red-leaved castor bean seeds (Ricinus communis) from an online retailer and planted them in the ground.  About 10 of those plants went on to produce viable seed - an amazing feat considering the cold spring and cool summer we had.  I cut the flower stalks off in mid-November and hung them upside-down in the greenhouse where they became fully ripe around Thanksgiving.  I then spent two hours removing the poisonous beans by hand from their spiky pods.   Here's a picture I took in November:

In all, I managed to get about 300 beans.  I placed them in a manila envelope, stuck them in the garage, and mostly forgot about them until two weeks ago when I thought I should try to germinate some.

Well, here's what 14 days of bottom heat, moisture, and some seed starter mix do to a castor bean seed.  Pretty amazing.

I also started some Brussels sprouts & Cauliflower, pictured below.  They were planted on Feb. 4th.

The first picture in this posting shows a variegated lemon tree (Citrus limon 'Pink Lemonade') with - oddly enough - variegated fruit as well as leaves.  The picture below is of the same plant and shows the pink tinge in the plant's new growth.  The inside of the fruit is also pink.  It certainly makes a great potted plant for the greenhouse in winter and outside in the summer.

Sometimes growing diagonally is a necessity.  This bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae) is getting too big to fit in the greenhouse!

Sparkler sedge (Carex phyllocephala 'Sparkler') seedlings.

Finally, my blue agave (Agave tequilana) is starting to put on some new growth.  Other than watering it once on Christmas day, it hasn't been watered since October.

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