Greenfingers – Spring 2018
In last summer’s edition I described my new compact urban greenhouse and my hopes and expectations for it.
During August and September I was absolutely delighted as my lime citrus tree grew, flowered and fruited.
Yet, just as I thought I’d found the perfect solution to all my gardening needs, disaster stuck.
My treasured plant’s leaves suddenly started to fall off! Was it me, or the greenhouse?
Perhaps the fault was mine because just as autumn descended, I placed the poor thing on a heated seed tray and gave it an overdose of water laced with fertiliser. Either way it went from being an extremely happy plant to one at death’s door.
Over the winter I brought it indoors in order to keep it warm as citrus aren’t supposed to enjoy temperatures below 5 c yet it still went from being poorly to desperately ill.
I kept it in my basement kitchen which is a little gloomy and as it became clear it was unlikely to survive until spring I boosted the light level with a 250 watt CFL lamp for a couple of hours each day.
Whilst this undoubtedly helped it didn’t result in any new growth and the chap in the hydroponics shop recommended using far greater wattages such as 600 watt bulbs and higher.
This entails using a great deal of electricity and unless it results in a cash crop it is hard to justify, particularly with lemons costing around 40 p in supermarkets.
Of course just as it was returned to the greenhouse outside the cold snap came with its sub-zero temperatures and snow, so I quickly bought it back indoors again, and in desperation I placed it upstairs in a west facing bay window.
At last success, as after only a week of some direct sunlight the first new shoots are showing through at long last.
The image is of citrus in flower, happy in a Sussex countryside garden greenhouse and totally oblivious to February’s cold weather outside.
This underlines the point that if the conditions are right citrus trees will flower and fruit all year around and its heady scent of Neroli is wonderfully intoxicating.
Something is magical about a plant that not only survives the seasons yet thrives as well, growing once again as the spring sunshine strengthens with every passing day.