Earth Day

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With Respect and Gratitude 

The Earth gives us sanctuary and sustains us in all things.  Aside from being a provider, she is also a designer, inventor and teacher among many other things. She is kind but can never be tamed.  That last is quite likely what saves us all from ourselves in the end.

Here’s some of the great beauty she gives us….

Crocus, after hiding below the surface of the earth for most of the year, tells me that spring is finally here

Primrose

Hellebore

Sand cherry blooms much earlier than other cherries in our garden, with a lovely honey fragrance

Columbine catching a rain drop

Thank you, Mother Earth

With Respect and gratitude

Garden And Poetry

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April: The Most Poetic Month

I find April to be a very uplifting and romantic month for me.  Leaves sprout and start to unfurl, seedlings are pushing themselves through the soil to the surface and early flowers are blossoming.   Birds sing loudly to make their territory known and start their courtship.  Some birds have already built their nests.  Aside from these life-affirming activities, the Academy of American Poets also designated April as a Poetry Month beginning in 1996.

Many great writers and poets have taken an interest in nature.  Many of them are favorites of mine such as Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, John Donne and who could forget Shakespeare and Rumi.  There was even a book on Shakespeare’s Gardens published last year that I immediately ran out and bought.

The Poetry month also reminds me of my mother.  We would go out to the market on the weekend in search of plants invoked in poetry to add to our garden.  I still do now but mostly the most fragrant ones.  What flower is more apt for the Poetry month than the Poet’s Jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum).

Poet’s Jasmine buds just about to unfurl in the evening

Fully open Poet’s Jasmine that perfumes our garden at night but lasts only a couple of hours after sunrise

I grow them in pots because, as tropicals, I can bring them in the basement during winter

And the ode to it by Thomas Moore (1779-1852)*

Twas midnight-through the lattice, wreath’d

With woodbine, many a perfume breath’d

From plants that wake when others sleep,

From timid jasmine buds, that keep

Their odour to themselves all day,

But, when the sun-light dies away,

Let the delicious secret out

To every breeze that roams about.

Walking through a garden, any garden, relaxes me and raises my sense of marvel and my envy of nature.  Nothing can duplicate what one has seen at that moment even just an hour after.  Nature gives us art, poetry, philosophy and most of all is life sustaining. Those who understand these facts will always try their best to preserve nature, but those who don’t will always try their best to destroy nature for profit.

Ruining the environment doesn’t stop at the border and the effort to slow this self-destruction rests on our shoulders, the ones who love nature and see poetry in every path we take through nature.  As Shakespeare put it ‘One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.’ (Troilus and Cressida, Act 3 scene 3)**

Have a Happy gardening and reading in the garden.

 

*From Ode to Flowers: A celebration of the poetry of flowers by Samuel Carr, 2013

**From Shakespeare’s Gardens by Jackie Bennet, 2016

 

Spring Has Sprung

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…With A Cold Shoulder

I took the day off from work yesterday and the weather was on my side.  Still plenty of snow on the ground but the temperature had soared to nearly 60°F.  The honeybees should have been out and about now with a temperature this high, but alas, none to be seen.  So I decided to inspect one hive.  Intrinsically I knew I had to face my fear somehow.  It’s better to know early than not know at all.  I suspected they may have died of starvation since the weather has been inconsistent.  That forces the bees to consume their stored food faster leaving them with nothing inside and nothing for them to forage outside.  But I wasn’t expecting what I saw.  There were no bees in the hive.  None at all.

I ended up opening all the hives.  My worst fear had come true.  There were only a few dead bees in each hive which was otherwise empty.  There were plenty of capped and uncapped honey frames in each hive but no live occupants.

First sadness hit, then depression, then self-doubt….what did I do wrong?  I’ve been taking a mite count throughout the season and it’s been very low.  We provided clean water.  We provided food, with the supporting evidence of plenty left over in each hive. The only thing I did not do was treat them with chemicals.  But I have never treated them from the start.  They were fine and happy for many years, from one generation to the next, living their lives naturally.

I’m still sad and depressed but giving up is not in my nature.  I will clean up the empty hives on my next day off and have them readied for new occupants.  New honeybee packages are coming in next month and I hope we will work well together like their long gone relatives.

But there was a bright part of the day…I finally dug my way to the igloo, my cold frame.  What was left in there were carrots, Mustard greens, a few Pac choi too.  The lettuce I had sown in January had come up, barely reaching half an inch.

The path I had to dig to get to the cold frame

Pulled some fresh carrots from inside the cold frame. Small but tasty.

I pulled weeds out, watered the soil a little and sowed a few more seeds: Mizuna, Mustard greens, Radish, Arugula, Chinese broccoli, and more lettuce.  They should start to sprout in a week and within a couple more weeks I can have my first salad of the season.

Sowed some seeds after pulling carrots and clearing some dead vegetables

Our resident Eastern Bluebirds are also looking for a nest box in our yard and haven’t given up despite harassment from the House sparrow.

A pair of Eastern Bluebirds enjoy their meal and keep their eyes on their prospect home

As the Buddhists say, ‘all is impermanence.’  There will be more honeybees.  The garden is still there and this year’s seedlings are all sprouting high in the house and itching to get their feet in the ground outside.  I really can’t complain.

 

Hello Spring

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With Snow On The Ground

We had around two feet of snow last Tuesday and most of it is still on the ground.  The daytime temperatures are hovering between 30 and 40°F which isn’t helping to melt it.  Today is the official first day of spring but outside, you would never know it.  It’s more like ‘Hello spring, where are you?’ to me.  Crocuses, Hellebores and Snowdrops were completely buried under.  My little cold frame looks more like a little igloo in the garden.

It’s not only me that was fooled by nature, the Robins have already made an appearance despite the snow.  The American Goldfinches have started to drop their winter coats.  We try to help them by providing food and water when there isn’t much out there for them besides endless snow.

A male American Goldfinch, amidst snow fall, starting to show their bright yellow plumage, their summer color.

Cold frame is covered with snow. I’ll try to dig my way there to see how it looks inside.

I had sown some lettuce seeds inside the cold frame a couple of weeks ago because I wasn’t expecting to get this much snow around now.  I’ll dig my way in there tomorrow to see how they are doing.

Though it doesn’t look like spring outside, a new cycle of life, a new season, has already begun inside the house.  This is the time I usually start tomato, pepper, eggplant, Swiss chard and kale seedlings.  The first three need to be done around 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost so they can have enough time to grow, bear fruits and ripen.  As for the Swiss chard and kale, they like cold weather anyway so I can put them out in the garden early.

Variety of tomato and pepper seedlings for the new season

Variety of Swiss chard and Kale seedlings

Next, is prepping tropical plants in the basement for their summer outdoors.  Spring should come around the corner and stay within a few weeks.  But who knows? We had snow in April.

 

 

 

Composting

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Right In The Kitchen

People start projects for various reasons.  I know many people raise vermicomposting worms to be used as bait or to sell their casting, a technical term for worm poo, or just to compost.  Why do I raise worms?  Convenience and a little bit of laziness.

We have a large compost bin at the corner of our property where we dump a lot of thing in there: leaves, grass, discarded plants and kitchen scraps.  It works well for us. We fertilize the garden with this compost and use the semi-composted material as mulch in autumn.

From spring to autumn it’s easy to take the kitchen scraps to the compost area after I finish cooking and rake it with leaves and whatever is already in there.  It wouldn’t be pretty and it would draw critters in if I just threw it in. However, I have to bundle up in winter to go out there, making it more of a chore.  It’s even more inconvenience if there is snow on the ground since I have no way to cover it up.  I can’t leave it in the sink and have it become a malodorous fruit fly farm.

So, the worms come to mind.  I set the homemade box right in the kitchen. One additional thing I have to do is add bedding for them once a month. Otherwise it’s a very convenient way to get rid of organic kitchen garbage.

Given the chance, I prefer to construct things myself.  The way a commercial compost bin works seemed easy enough to make and won’t cost me an arm and a leg.  There are also plenty of ‘How to’ websites that I can learn from. So I set out to make one and it worked out well.  Here’s an amateur way to make a compost bin at home:

Materials:

  • Two plastic boxes that are big enough to house the worms for a while.  The box used for the bottom should be slightly bigger if the boxes are not tapered in. I used semi-clear boxes.  Many websites suggest a dark color box to keep the light out.  I put a dark cloth around the outer box instead. I use the semi-clear boxes because I want to be able to see how deep the compost is and how the worms are getting along.

Optional: If one of your boxes is bigger than the other, you will need two pieces of wood or brick that are short enough to fit inside the larger box. These are used as spacers between the top and bottom box.

In the smaller box, drill two rows of holes on all four sides, close to the lid: size .25 inch, and about 2” apart.  These are ventilation holes.  Drill a few of the same size holes at the bottom. These are for drainage. There shouldn’t be any liquid in the bin but just in case.

Drill 1/4 inch holes around the box, near the top

Insert the drilled box inside the other box, if they are tapered boxes you should have a few good inches between them at the bottom.  If it smaller than the outer box, put two pieces of wood or bricks inside at each end of the larger box to provide space between the two boxes.

  • Dry, old newspaper, NOT magazines or anything with a shiny texture or vibrant colors, NOT office paper either as it’s been bleached with heavy chemicals.  Brown cardboard box with no printing on it is also good. Tear or shred the newspaper into small pieces.  Leave some larger pieces to use as top cover.  Wet them then wring out excess water.  Fluff them up then spread in the top box.  This is the worm bedding and should be three to four inches deep.  It also has to be just damp, NOT soaking wet.

    I shredded newspaper and put it in the kitchen sink to be soaked

    Quantity of wet newspaper will reduce down to less than half of its volume when dry so shred more than the quantity you need to put in the bin.

    Wring the water out then fluff them up. The paper has to be damp not wet.

  • A little bit of good old dirt, half a coffee mug should be enough.  Mix the dirt with the damp paper.  This dirt is to add some microbes and grit to help the worms digest and break down food.
  • Kitchen scrapes. If it too wet, I leave it on a paper towel in the sink and let the liquid seep out a little. When I have time, I chop them into small pieces which helps the worms to devour it faster. If not, I just add them in the box.  Cover them with a thin layer of bedding so it won’t attract flies. The worms also prefer to work in the dark.

    I put discarded vegetables, banana peels, coffee grounds, crushed egg shells and spoiled fruit in for their food.

    If I have time or I know that I will cook a lot this week, I chop them up. The smaller bits help the worms to get rid of it faster.  Note: above photo, food is mixed with coffee grounds.

  • Vermicomposting worms; Worms that are used inside the compost bin are the Red Wriggler worm (Eisenia foetida) which tend to stay put in the bin. There are plenty of websites that offer them.  I purchased mine from Uncle Jim‘s. I derive no commission here.  They shipped promptly and their worms are healthy and work well for me.

The worms that are use for composting bin are much smaller than the common garden worms

Feeding: I feed them every time I cook.  If I’ll be away, I add new bedding and more food to last them until I get back.  I don’t chop food so it will take them a little bit longer to digest larger pieces.

Peel away the cover sheet: newspaper sheet or cardboard box

Rake up part of the bedding and old food. A small garden rake comes in handy for that.

Spread the food around

Cover the food with the old bedding. If new bedding needed, this is the time to add it. I add new bedding when I note that 85% of their bedding is gone (yes, they eat the newspaper too)

Put the top layer of newspaper or cardboard back so the bin won’t draw fruit flies and will keep the worms in darkness.

Close the lid and leave them alone until the next feeding.  If balanced correctly, the box should not smell rotten or rancid.  A good functioning box should smell like warm earth.  If the worm bin works as it should, you should be able to harvest the casting within a few months.

Happy composting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Is Coming

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And It Will Not Be a Good One

We came back from our vacation to a sharp drop in temperature.  Our friends told us that while we were gone the temperature had gone up to the 60°F for a couple of days and mostly hovered above 50°F for the rest of that period.  I can see the result of warm temperatures in our garden.  Roses, hydrangeas, tree peonies started to bud.  The silver maple in the front yard has blossomed.  The crocuses and snowdrops are blooming.

Many of over 200 crocuses we put randomly in the lawn last autumn have blossomed.

Many of the over 200 crocuses we put randomly in the lawn last autumn have blossomed.

Flowers open up with out bees to pollinate since the temperature was a little bit too cold for them to come out

We put crocus in as early food for bees but this spring the flowers opened up without the bees to pollinate since the temperature was a little bit too cold for them to come out

Then two days after we came back, the temperature dropped again, combined with a high wind that resulted in a wind chill below 0°F.  Last night the temperature was in a teens and today it is barely above freezing.  It’s de ja vu of last spring.  Plants started budding only to get frost burn.  We didn’t have any hydrangeas last year for this reason and the first round of roses looked awful.

Plenty of Snowdrops pushed themselves through mulch leaves

Plenty of Snowdrops pushed themselves through mulch leaves

Two bulbs of rescued tulip have become a healthy clump

Two bulbs of rescued tulip have become a healthy clump

Young leaves of Anise Hyssop stay close to the ground. Hopefully they won't get frost burn.

Young leaves of Anise Hyssop stay close to the ground. Hopefully they won’t get frost burn.

I don’t even know how the honeybees are.  They’ve been so quiet, no sign of dead bees in front of the hives.  We weren’t here when the temperature soared up to see if they were out cleansing.   They’ve been too quiet for my liking and I have no way of checking on them.  It’s either too cold or too windy to open the hives up for inspection.  To be on the safe side, I have ordered one more package of bees to be delivered in May.

Beehives, all wrapped up, amid snow when we left for vacation. Due to lack of storage, we left empty supers out in the garden, unwrapped.

Beehives, all wrapped up, amid snow when we left for vacation. Due to lack of storage, we left empty supers out in the garden, unwrapped.

Though it will not be a promising spring, I still look forward to it.  It’s time for me to start tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings and prep tropical plants in the basement for a warm and less seesaw temperature outside.  In a little bit over a month the seedlings should be able to set their roots in the garden and tropical plants will enjoy real sunlight.  And, hopefully, the hives will have survived another winter.

Cashmere Bouquet

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Really A Fragrant Bouquet

I love fragrant flowers and try my best to collect them in our garden.  Many of them have to stay in pots as they are tropical plants.  As we are running out of space in the basement, I try not to get a new tropical plant.  I also try not to propagate plants I have.  It’s hard to do since I regularly prune them in spring when I take them out in the garden.  I don’t want to throw healthy branches away so I stick them in a new pot and they take root.  Some plants have been with us for many years and have grown much bigger so space is getting tight down there.

I couldn’t pass up the Cashmere Bouquet (Clerodendrum philippinum) when I saw one in a nursery offering a couple of years ago.  Even though I know how fast it can grow and its need for space, but one is enough.

A clustered bouquet of pale pink fragrant flower at the top of the plant

A clustered bouquet of pale pink fragrant flower at the top of the plant

Sometime it's white

Sometime it’s white

It a big leaf plant with white, sometimes pale pink clustered flowers.  It’s fragrance is lightly sweet and musky and cannot be replicated.  It reminded me of home, of childhood.  I think it’s the same reason why I grow jasmine and have been collecting varieties of them.

Young stem usually produce half a bouquet but still have soothing scent

A Young stem will usually produce half a bouquet but it still has a soothing scent

I mentioned that one plant is enough, but they are two now.  The old habit is hard to get rid of.  I repotted it in spring to give it some legroom but I also split it at the same time.  I wish I could grow it in the garden so I could have a whole patch.  It can be grown out side in warmer USDA Zone 7 and up.  But be warned, they can produce suckers and develop a colony very fast.

If you wish to grow it in a pot, it may not bloom as it likes direct sunlight.  But if you have a window with plenty of light, it’s doable.  One year I had a plant light right on it, to my surprise it bloomed in winter.  Keep the soil on the dry side otherwise it will rot.

House Bound

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And Enjoying Bird Watching

Snow is still on the ground, a residue of the snowfall a few days ago.  It’s very peaceful watching snow falling and the quietness afterward as the snow absorbs sound pretty well.  Though it was too cold to go outside, a joyful moment was still there.

We hang bird feeders along the patio roof during winter which makes it  much easier for us to refill them and we can bird watch when circumstance stops us from doing anything else.  It’s also easier for us to patrol and protect the feeders from European Starlings and House Sparrows.  The down side is we have to sweep bird droppings and whatever else they’ve dropped off the ground underneath.  In spring, after we move the feeders back to the garden, we use soap and water to clean the remaining effluent off the fence.  But it’s worth the effort.  We can observe our avian friends closely and they can also take shelter in the woodpile under the roof from predators too large to squeeze in.

These are some of what we enjoyed a few days ago.

A pair of Cardinal and a House finch waiting their turn in snow

A pair of Northern Cardinals and a House Finch await their turn for the feeders in snow

Female Cardinal

Female Northern Cardinal puffs her feathers up against the cold

Bright red male Cardinal

Bright red male Northern Cardinal looks like an ornament in the snow.  We have plenty of them in the garden as many of them were born right here.

American Tree Sparrow

A little puff ball- American Tree Sparrow-also came for the seeds

Female Bluebird

A female Eastern Bluebird enjoying warmth from the heated birdbath.  We have a flock of five bluebirds that stayed with us this winter.

Downey Woodpecker

Plenty of Downey Woodpeckers year round and they no longer seem to care when we are close by.

House Finch

House Finch also flocking around throughout the year

Dark-eyed Junco

Slate-colored Dark-eyed Junco visit us only in winter and leave for their boreal home by early spring

Junco

Female and young Dark-eyed Junco have more brown color on them

American Goldfinch stay with us throughout the year. The male only change his summer bright yellow coat to a much duller brown in winter. We take a hint that spring is coming when they start to drop the brown feathers.

American Goldfinch stay with us throughout the year. The male only changes his summer bright yellow coat for a much duller brown in winter. We take it as a hint that spring is coming when they start to drop the brown feathers.

Chickadee

Here is our most friendly resident- Black-capped Chickadee

Song Sparrow

Member of the Avian Chorus- Song Sparrow-as the name suggested, sing one of the sweetest songs during spring and summer

White-throated Sparrow

We have a variety of sparrows, this White-throated Sparrow is also a good singer

Titmouse

This Tufted Titmouse has been checking the weaved birdhouse our friend gave us a few times during the day.  I wonder if he roosts in there at night.

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker is twice the size of the Downey Woodpecker and seldom come to the feeders.  This winter we have a pair that frequents one of the suets daily.

Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch tend to eat upside down most of the time

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatch– a smaller cousin of the White-breasted Nuthatch seldom comes to the feeder.  They usually make a fast dash to the feeder, but won’t stay on it like its cousin.

There are others that are more elusive like the Carolina wren, the Pileated Woodpecker and the Northern Flicker.  Clearly not wanting the publicity with being caught on camera.

Water Jasmine

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A Tiny Fragrant Star

Winter is my time for basement gardening.  Where we live we have to put our tropical plants in the basement for the winter.  It’s a lot of labor to go through twice a year.  We take them in when we know that the night temperature will drop and stay below 45°F, usually around late September or early October.  Then take them back out in spring when the temperatures will stay above 45°F at night.  It was easy when they were small but it gets much harder once some of them grow taller than us.  But it’s always a pleasure to have them around.  They keep me going in winter and give us fresh herbs even when the ground is covered with snow outside.

Basement garden- with Kaffir lime in the foreground. The tropical plants reside here under plant lights during winter

Basement garden- with Kaffir lime in the foreground. The tropical plants reside here under plant lights during winter

Tropical plants that are taller than us in addition to Kaffir lime and the Ficus, are the Water Jasmines (Wrightia religiosa), of which we have two, one over six feet tall and the other is around 1.5 foot tall.  I grew both of them from seeds.  I did try air layering once but that plant survived only a couple of years.

Water Jasmine provide plenty of fragrant flowers for months during summer.

Water Jasmine provide plenty of fragrant flowers for months during summer.  Each flower blooms for a day but it flowers continuously.

The branches spread out in layers with flowers under each layer

The branches spread out in layers with flowers under each layer

Each little branches fill with tiny white flowers

Each little branch fills with tiny, fragrant white flowers

Clustered of flowers

A cluster of flowers

A closer look at the flower

A closer look at the flower

A cluster of white flowers that ready to bloom once the opening ones drop

A cluster of white flower buds ready to bloom once the open ones drop

They never flower when they are in the basement.  I guess it’s not quite warm enough and perhaps not enough light.  The taller one gets very finicky with temperature changes too.  It drops 95% of its leaves when we first take it outside or when we bring it back inside.  Leaves and flower buds come out again after a month in full sun.  The tiny white star-shaped flower has a light, soothing fragrance.  Each flower blooms for just one day but there clusters of replacements ready to bloom in its place.

When they are outside and in full bloom, various types of bees, honeybees included, come for the nectar during the day and the moths take over at night.  Its seed pod is also interesting, it looks like a wishbone.  Once it’s matured the pods split open and release seeds with a silky thread attached that the wind will catch and carry to a new place.  That is how I propagate it, by the seeds.  The plant grown from a seed takes a few years before it will flower.  Air-layer and cutting are recommended for faster flowering.

Its seedpods look like wishbone

Its seedpods look like a wishbone

Mature seedpods spliced open with seeds with silky thread

Mature seedpods opened up exposing seeds, each with a silky thread

Seeds I keep for propagation

Seeds I keep for propagation

Water Jasmine is easy to grow in a pot, as I do.  It needs a warm temperature and plenty of sunlight to bloom. It can be planted outside in USDA Zone 8 and up.  If planting outside it can be used as a hedge.  It can also be trained to create a Bonsai.

It seems to have no known pests when growing outside, however Spider mites are the main problem when growing indoors.  I use an insecticide soap to get rid of them and mist the plant with water weekly.  I’m looking forward to germinating some of these seeds in March and hope to have a few more to create Bonsai from.

Growing Tamarind From Seeds

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Trial And Error

I love eating Sweet Tamarind and spicy tamarind candy so much so that I forgot it has a laxative property.  Tamarind juice is also used in many beverages and cooking.  You cannot make real Pad Thai or Massaman curry without tamarind juice.  Young leaves and flowers are also good in cooking.  The juice is also good as a non-toxic polisher for brass and silver.  Wood is also good used as a cutting board.  The plant can be trained as a beautiful Bonzai.  As much as I want to grow it as a tree because of the benefits it provides, I cannot grow it in our garden in this climate.  So, I settled for growing it in a pot like the other tropical plants I have – for the beauty of it.

When I mentioned to my friends and colleagues that I attempted to grow tamarind (Tamarindus indica) from seed.  They asked either …why? or questioned whether I know that tamarind is a very large tree.  Yes, I know tamarind is a long lived, large tree that can grow over 50 feet tall.  Why would I want to grow it then?  It’s because I want to know I can grow it from seed in a cold climate.  I love its beautiful leaves and it can be made it into a Bonsai.  If they grow well, I can eat their young leaves, flowers and fruit.  Fruit is less likely, actually, due to a very short high temperature season and resulting lack of sunlight in this climate, USDA Zone 5-6.

I kept seeds of Sweet Tamarind after having eaten the yummy flesh.  Yes, there is a type of tamarind fruit that turns sweet when ripened.  I put them in warm water and let them soaked over night before I put them in a growing medium.  I put the tray on top of a heat mat that was set to 75°F.   Looking back at my 2015 garden record, I put the seeds in on March 31 and they sprouted on April 11. I was surprised to see them germinate in two weeks.

Tamarind seedling sprout up within two weeks

Tamarind seedling sprouted within two weeks

A week old, new leaves started to unfurl

A week old, new leaves starting to unfurl

Once they grew around 3 inches tall and produced a pair of true leaves, I transferred them to larger pots.  They seemed to grow fast when they were very young but after a year the growing rate seems to slow down.  I’m not really sure if it’s normal for tamarind or it’s because they have to spend 6 months in a cool basement, under artificial sunlight.  Will they grow faster if they sit on a heat mat in winter?  I don’t know but I don’t have the space to put them on a heat mat as an experiment.

Transferred from a seed-starter to a larger pot after the leaves were fully unfurled.

Transferred from a seed-starter to a larger pot after the leaves were fully unfurled.

The four survivors enjoyed late summer outside last year

The four survivors enjoyed late summer outside last year

Out of eight seedlings that sprouted in 2015 only four survived the first year.  I think I may have watered them too much.  Tamarind does better in semi dryness.  In their natural habitat, they survive drought and do fine with less than fertile soil.

The survivors are now almost two years old and thriving in the basement at the moment.  They are around a foot tall but branching out with a lot of beautiful leaves.  I haven’t decided if I want to keep them at a Bonsai height or let them grow to four feet tall (the height that can easily be transported in and out of the basement).

Reside in the basement with other tropical friends in winter. In a couple of moths they can enjoy warm weather and real sunlight again

Relaxing in the basement with other tropical friends in winter. In a couple of months they can enjoy warm weather and real sunlight again.

I’ve learned that watering tamarind too much will kill it, so each one of them will stay slightly on the dry side.  I have not encountered any pests or diseases yet.  As far as I know they are fairly pest-free in their natural habitat.

I look forward to seeing them flower, maybe five to six years from now.  They may not flower at all, but like our Kaffir limes, the oldest of which is around 20 years old, thrive but never flower.  By then, any survivor should be something of real beauty.