Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Greenhouse Effect

This cold weather really has a grip on Blooming Hill with these blustery winds that whip through the trees and swirl what's left of the leaves on the ground.  I look out over the lavender beds and although they are now a little paler and grayer, they cling bravely by their roots, determined not to let go.  The Farmer's Almanac called for this windy, cold weather and although we might get a reprieve from these wind gusts, colder weather is destined to follow.  So, I've stayed inside and concentrated on getting Christmas trees and decorations up  No snow outside yet, but the Christmas tree in the living room casts a peaceful aura of lightly falling snow.  At least today, the sun is out but the wind promises not to quit. I'll go back inside and enjoy the Christmas decorations.  Even one of my favorite angels seems perfectly happy staying cozy as she brightens up a shelf in my corner kitchen cupboard with no wind on her wings.

However, I do have to venture out of the house but thankfully not too far.  I've been spending a lot of time in the greenhouse lately--one of my favorite places--trying to gather and prepare scented geraniums, Swedish ivy and a few bays, rosemary's and myrtles for this weekend's Hillsboro Craft Fair.   Everything seems snug and cozy, even against the bitterly cold nights.  It seems earlier than usual for such harsh weather to be hanging around here.  Normally, December is bright with cool days and frosty nights but I don't recall brutal winds blowing day after day this early in the season, at least in recent memory.  Maybe I'm just remembering it in my own way and remembering back, for me, can always be a bit sugar-coated when I step inside the greenhouse and smell the fragrant foliage and see flowers still blooming.  As I stand just inside the door that is buffering the winds, suddenly past winters and especially the beginning of this one becomes calm and serene.

Aside from the large potted plants,  the tiny rosemary, bay and lavender cuttings are holding up well.  in their little peat pots. Using these plastic covers from cakes and pastries may look a little silly but it has been a wonderful way to protect  tender little babies in the greenhouse where the temperature can fluctuate greatly from day to night even with heaters running.  They stay moist and warmer under cover than just exposed to the air already moist and warm in the there, kind of like an extra blanket wrapped around them through the next few months.  Slowly, the cuttings will develop roots, and as they do, I will remove them from under the plastic and re-pot them as well as introduce them to the atmosphere of the greenhouse. Aside from the benefits these covers provide the plants, they give me a good excuse to bring home something sweet from the market periodically.  The small potted plants you see here were started as cuttings in September and have sprouted roots strong enough to come out of the plastic coverings and acclimate themselves to the greenhouse air.  Their growth will slow down now until February or so when extended the daylight really begins to make a difference and plants start preparing themselves for spring. 

Even if you don't have a greenhouse, you can still create your own greenhouse effect in your home with a grow light and plastic covers over cuttings.  I like to use plastic coverings because of the greenhouse effect they create for tiny cuttings and I seem to have much more success with this process during the fall, winter and into spring.  I think the key here is the moist air that is generated under these covers.  These particular trays, also started back in September, are up in my attic and everybody looks good up here, too.  In fact, most of the French lavender (front right) has strong root systems already and need to be placed into pots very soon in order for them to stay healthy through the winter months. If you try this in your home, remember that you must be patient and don't water too heavily, if at all, because the light and the plastic covers will generate the moisture needed for the cuttings.

In the meantime, back to the greenhouse where clipping,  pruning, a little watering and constant rearranging keeps me busy, just like in the garden, but out of the harsh winter elements.  Baby, it may be cold outside, but in here, the Ponderosa Lemon tree is in full swing preparing its own Christmas gifts while mums I bought back in early October are still blooming and geraniums from the summer are still bright--their own kind of Christmas decorations.  To me, this is just as pretty as Christmas lights!

So, everything is nice and cozy and crowded in the greenhouse, close enough to be bundled up against each other for warmth yet still allowing for plenty of greenhouse air circulation for each plant.  Just the way I like it...the more the merrier and the more to keep me company while enjoying the Christmas season and onto waiting for spring!

1 comment:

  1. Those are some lucky plants in this winter chill! :)