Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Cactus still in bloom last day of December

The Christmas Cactus, also known as Schlumbergera, are going strong. They are easy-to-grow and some of the new colors are just breathtaking. My favorite is Schlumbergera 'Cristen' with its bright, electrifying pink color.

The common name Christmas Cactus refers to its blooming season. Although, the varieties shown below actually start blooming in the fall and can bloom all the way into late winter.

Here is an array of colorful Christmas Cactus.

The bright pink is called Schlumbergera 'Cristen.'

The salmon colored group is called Schlumbergera 'Christmas Flame.'

The white with pink edges is Schlumbergera 'Thor Tena.'

Here a trio of Christmas Cactus ready to go out the door.

In the center is Schlumbergera 'Thor Carmen'

Remember to care for Schlumbergera, they need to dry out between watering. They can be susceptible to root fungus, if they are kept too wet. Also, partial sun to shade is fine for light requirements. It is the shortened day length and cool night time temperatures that induce bloom. Prune after flowering and during active growth feed 1/2 tsp of balanced fertilizer (7-9-5) to 1 gallon of water every two weeks.

Christmas Cactus can grow for years in the same pot and cuttings can be given to friends and family. It's not unusual to hear someone say, "That's my grandmother's christmas cactus that I've had since my childhood."

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How to Winter Over Your Banana Plant in the Northeast

Wintering over a tropical banana in Northeast, Connecticut (Zone 5-6) is easier than you think.
To find out your zone you can go to our website and enter your zip code. A zone number will appear. Or you can look at a USDA Zone Map.

First, the two bananas that we discuss in the video below are the Musa basjoo, our true hardy banana (Zone 4) and Musa sikkimensis, a banana that is a little more sensitive to the cold but can be grown in Zones 5 or higher. These bananas are grown for their defining tropical look in a garden.

The Musa Basjoo grows so fast it can produce up to a leaf a day. Musa sikkimensis is grown for its red underside and adds a splash of color to its large leafed foliage. Both bananas grow extremely fast when given full sun, plenty of water and lots of fertilizer. It's not unusual for the height to get upwards of twelve feet in one growing season. Finally, although they don't produce bananas, they do have the ability to flower, which is also edible. See our new book,Growing Tasty Tropical Plants for more details.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Logee's Ponderosa Lemon featured at Book/Open House Weekend

Our famous Logee's Ponderosa Lemonade and Lemon Bread were featured at our Book Launch Party/Open House Weekend.

Our Ponderosa Lemon Tree has been growing in the same spot since 1900 and was brought to Logee's by train from Philadelphia, then by horse and buggy from the train station. It has been producing lemons reliably for over one hundred years and has given us thousands of cuttings.
We used the lemons from this tree for our Ponderosa Lemonade and for our Ponderosa Lemon Bread.

Our recipe has been tweaked for the past five years and now we have the perfect combination of sour and sweet. We served complimentary Lemonade Friday night at our Book Launch Party and all Weekend at our Open House.

Byron and I started the weekend signing books for customers and friends.

Here, my mother and I are standing in front of her Ponderosa Lemon Bread.

She made six loaves. One of her secrets is in the Glaze. Take some fresh squeezed lemon and sugar mixture and spoon it over the warm loaves while they are still in the pan. Do not Remove from the pan until the glaze has been absorbed. This makes for a wonderfully moist and fresh lemon tasty tea loaf.

Her recipe is featured in our book on page 33. If you would like the recipe, visit our website where it is posted.

My sister, Gwendolyn Carbone, is serving other beverages for us too.

She also transformed our lunch room into a warm and welcome event.

She is the owner of The Blue Door Emporium, which features collectibles and antiques.

There's always some comic relief with our son, Elijah.

Someone else showed up at the book signing too. Bella Rose, (our daughter's shitzu/bichon puppy). Bella Rose has been designated by our staff as Logee's mascot.

Amy,our retail supervisor gets ready for the Open House.

Tiffany takes a break from the greenhouse and helps Amy make more Lemonade for the weekend. They made over 10 gallons of lemonade.

Napa Howe, one of our growers gave a tour of Logee's, in spite of our muddy, construction site.

Byron gets ready for a lecture about growing fruit in containers.

More Ponderosa Lemonade.

Sham, our business manager and his son Malek helping in our retail store.

If you go to Logee's retail store now through the end of the year, we sell the Ponderosa Lemons from the tree. They are $5 each, but when you walk into a holiday party with a lemon that size, heads turn and conversations begin. Or better yet, a lemon this size will easily make two loaves of bread, then go to the party bearing gifts.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Logee's New Fruit Book Launch on Martha Stewart TV

Our fruit book "Growing Tasty Tropical Plants in any home, any where" will air on Martha Stewart TV (Hallmark Channel) this Friday, Nov. 5th. We travel to New York City on November 3rd to tape the show and the fruit plants that we have chosen for the show are pictured below.

First, our Black Olive plant (Olea europaea 'Arbequina'). The plant pictured is two years old and is a 5 foot tree with unripe olives (green) and ripe olives (black). Growing an olive tree is easy as long as you have nighttime temperatures in the winter down to 40˚F. It is the chill down that brings on flowering and ultimately the fruit.

Next, our five year old Dragon Fruit(Hylocerus undatus) plant that is in fruit. The pink fruit when sliced open has a delicious custardy center that can be scooped out and eaten. If you just want to order the fruit and not the plant go to From the Farm, a tropical fruit grower in Florida does a really nice job of growing and shipping the fruit.

Our amazing Dwarf Starfruit (Averrhoa carambola 'Dwarf Maher') is an abundant producer of sweet juicy fruit. When cut in half a five-pointed star is created. Fruit starts forming at only 2 feet in height. Give plenty of sun, and water when dry and you will have your own starfruit in no time.

The Flower of chocolate. The ripe Chocolate pod.

Chocolate is a must and our Chocolate Plant (Theobroma cacao) will be featured on the show as well. Of course, the previous blog just talked about all the in's and out's of growing chocolate. We will be showing how to make chocolate nibs from the cocooned chocolate fruit. Basically, the chocolate beans need to ferment for a week and then roast and dry them. Then, you can eat the beans or use a mortar and pestle to crush them into chocolate nibs. Delicious. From the Farm also offers the roasted chocolate beans for the daring and curious fruit connoisseur.

Our Passion Fruit (Passiflora edulis 'McCann') is slotted to travel to NYC with its golden yellow fruit that is as sweet as they come. Passiflora is grown for its amazing flowers and delicious fruit. It is vining so needs support but is relatively easy care. Passion Flowers in their native habitat grow in poor soil and at time drought like conditions.

Finally the last plant is a pineapple that we will show how to cut off the top of a pineapple and put it in a pot for easy propagation.

All of these fruiting plants and many more can be found in our new book Growing Tasty Tropical Plants, which is available from Logee's or your local bookstore.
Our shipment of books arrived and we learned today that it was voted in the top 10 for the Best Book in Craft and Garden for the 2010 year.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

How to Grow a Chocolate Plant

Chocolate is a well loved commodity in our world and believe it or not you can grow your own Chocolate Pods. The ripe fruit or pods contain the raw chocolate pieces that can be made into chocolate nibs. Chocolate nibs are sited as the new super food for their anti-oxidant qualities. The chocolate candy bars that we know come from the chocolate pods as well but is a highly mechanized process.

To get started with growing your own Chocolate Plant which will produce the chocolate pods watch the video below.

Byron Martin shows how to grow Chocolate (Theobroma cacao) in containers and what to do with the inherent browning leaves that are typical of chocolate plants.

The chocolate pods can be cut in half once they turn an orange/golden color which indicates that they are ripe.

In our new book, Growing Tasty Tropical Plants, (available after Oct. 27th) has a nice section on how to grow chocolate and how to make your own chocolate nibs from the cocooned chocolate pieces inside the chocolate pod.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Angel's Trumpet In Full Bloom

The cooler nights and shorter days have given way to an abundance of Angel's Trumpet Blooms at the Greenhouses. For those of you who have never grown Angel's Trumpets (Brugmansias), these are fast growing fluted flowers that emit an intoxicating nighttime fragrance. Easy-to-grow, simply give lots of fertilizer and full sun and the blooms will reward you time and again. I took pictures of three varieties that were in full bloom yesterday.

Angel's Trumpet 'Cherub' has hundreds of open flowers. The nighttime fragrance is overwhelming.

This is a 6 year-old specimen. Every fall, we prune it back to a bare stem, about 3 feet high and then overwinter it in a cool greenhouse or you can overwinter an Angel's Trumpet in a basement or a garage that doesn't go below freezing. Water only once a month and when springtime arrives put the plant in a sunny spot and watch it sprout back to life.

This year a bird's nest made a home in 'Cherub' at its trunk bifurcation.

The blooms are a translucent pink when viewed from underneath.

The flowers gather in frilly pink clusters.

The Italian Terra-Cotta pot is about 32 inches wide and has been in the Logee-Martin family for nearly 60 years.

A new Variety of Angel's Trumpet will be introduced in 2011. It is another Byron Martin hybrid called Brugmansia 'Angel's Blushing Beauty'.

I turned the pot for another view of this two year-old specimen. Notice the lovely soft pink blooms that cascade in layers of color.

Of course, our old standby Brugmansia 'Angel's Summer Dream' was blooming its head off and does so most of the year.