Please don’t smite me…..

Like much of the country, the weather this past week or more has been horrendous. I consider us very lucky in that we are only getting rain and not the ice and snow other locations are enduring, but it has still been a mess. We have quite literally had rain every day for over a week now…and not just a light sprinkle, either. My yard is more swamp than turf and my driveway makes me consider getting a pontoon rather than risk my car.

Needless to say, the trees I had scheduled to come down this past week…are still standing. My only hope is that the weather will dry enough for them to be removed before the ground is saturated so deeply that they simply keel over under their own weight.

However, in spite of that, there is much to report on the happenings within my little indoor garden. I have shoots and sprouts coming up all over the place!

First, my latest purchased addition:

sprouted coconut palm about 1 foot high

Yes, that’s a coconut. And no, it’s not a dwarf variety. Now coconut palms can get very, very large and I’m sure a lot of you might be thinking, “You can’t grow a tree that size indoors!”

And you’d be right, of course.

But as I went looking for a dwarf coconut to add to my garden, I discovered a funny little thing. There are no dwarf coconut palms. However, there are some varieties that are called dwarf – just not because they won’t grow tall. No, dwarf coconut palms have earned their name not from their growth habits, but from their fruiting habits. Some coconut palms will begin fruiting with only 2-3′ of brown wood, so these are the ones considered to be ‘dwarf’ varieties.

So far, with precisely zero feet of brown wood, this coconut sprout has a ways to go. But hopefully I will see fruit in 3-4 years.

Another new addition to my garden is a tree known as moringa, drumstick tree, or even horseradish tree. I’m rather excited about this one because it’s completely new to me. I found it while surfing information about other plants. But it is, by all reports, a very healthy plant to eat, providing more nutrients and antioxidants in a serving than traditionally healthy foods like spinach or oranges. And all parts of the tree are edible, from roots to leaves to fruits. Most people, if they have heard of it at all, might be familiar with moringa powder which is made up of the dried & ground leaves.

But the fresh leaves are supposedly even healthier and they can be used in entirely different ways. While the powder can be sprinkled into smoothies or over salads, the fresh leaves can be cooked up like spinach, added to soups or stews, or tossed in with the salad lettuce, adding a bit of spice.

It also grows quickly, replenishes after harvest even more quickly, and doesn’t mind containers. For this reason I though I would try to make moringa a potential commercial plant for me. As possibly the only grower of tropical moringa in my temperate region, I might be able to make it profitable selling fresh leaves to health food delis or our international grocery.

So I got a morringa starter kit to grow a small forest of them. One week after it arrived and it’s sprouting nicely already.

12-cell planting tray with 4 trays showing new moringa sprouts

But wait! That’s not all!

I also have a few plants sprouting that I didn’t purchase – or at least, didn’t purchase the already-growing plant.

I’m most excited about one tiny sprig of tarragon. This would be the third or fourth little clamshell of herbs I’ve gotten from the grocery to try and root, but it’s the first one that has actually taken (I think…I hope!).

tarragon sprig with fading larger leaves, but tiny tips of new growth

The new growth is so small, it’s difficult to see but there is a tiny sucker sprouting in the leaf joint on the left and more new growth right at the tip. It’s the first one that has ever shown new growth instead of simply withering!

This is exciting because French tarragon cannot be propagated from seed. It has apparently been cultivated for so long that it no longer produces its own seed and it has to be propagated from cuttings or division. Which means that any tarragon seeds you can purchase are for the less-tasty Russian tarragon. To get the true French variety, you need to buy an already-growing plant…or root a cutting like I have finally managed here. Yay!

I also have a lemongrass from the grocery finally sprouting also. That took two bunches of about 6 stalks each…to get a single rooted stalk. I don’t recommend, really. You can get lemongrass seed and, though it will take longer to grow large, it is much less trouble. Here I have my rooted stalk surrounded by, if you look closely, a few tiny tips of newly-germinated lemongrass seeds.(Lemongrass is the very tiny seedlings. The larger ones are pepper plants)

Lemongrass sprouting from center of cut-off stalk surrounded by rice-sized lemongrass seedlings and a couple larger pepper seedlings

My cardamom is also showing a new sprout…

Cardamom plant with a 6-inch high sprout and another inch-high sprout beside the main plant

And I even have some long-shot seeds growing! You know how international groceries will have little produce trays of dried-up brown tamarind pods? I figured…what the heck? One $3 little tray, a few minutes extracting the seeds – a surprisingly easy task as they are in a sort of sheath and do not need to be stripped of attached fruit – and I had a pile of a good 30-40 tamarind seeds. I stuck those in a shallow tray – a plant saucer, really – covered them with a layer of damp soil, and put them on my heating mat. I honestly didn’t expect them to grow. But now about a week later, I have 20 little growing seeds!

tamarind seed with root several inches long

I’ll be honest – these guys fooled me. I saw nothing, and more nothing. I tried to keep the soil moist, but because I was using a saucer without drainage holes, I didn’t want to waterlog them so I let them dry out probably more than I should, knowing what I now know. Because these seeds showed nothing on top of the soil, but were growing nicely under it! I finally realized that the soil was starting to mound in the center of the saucer when it had been flat before. Moving aside some of the soil, I found roots! Roots everywhere!

So I quickly dumped out the tray and carefully separated the seeds, planting them in a deeper pot to hopefully continue growing. I just hope my too-casual watering didn’t damage them too much to survive. Wish me luck!

And last but not least, in my ultimate defiance of Mother Nature…it is 28°F (-2°C) outside and has been for the past 2-3 nights….and I have a tomato growing in my greenhouse.

green Roma tomato about egg-sized

So take that, Mother Nature!

See what you can do with a little plastic and a little electricity? You can make entire planting zones and seasons irrelevant! (Okay, not so much. It’s definitely not fruiting as well as it would in mid-summer. But still…it is fruiting!)

Wishing you all a happy homesteading!