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The Basement Garden

November 30th, 2017

Each year I seem to end up with more and more plants that get overwintered in the basement. This year is not exception. In fact, about a fourth of our basement is currently housing pots of all shapes and sizes.

There are post of edible herbs under grow lights for winter seasoning and large terra cotta pots filled with hydrangeas and other tender plants. I also always seem to have a dozen or so trees, shrubs, and plants that don’t get planted before the cold weather hits. I find overwintering them in the basement works quite well.

Do you have any tender plants that you overwinter in a shed, garage, or basement?

Indoor Citrus

November 29th, 2017

I’ve been growing citrus in containers for years, I think my first little lemon tree was purchased 18 years ago. Currently, I have three citrus trees, a variegated lemon, a lime, and a meyer lemon.

For a while my citrus trees struggled indoors during the winter, then I read in ‘A Year at North Hill‘ that they prefer being pretty cold during the winter months. I started keeping them in the dark basement (with a window nearby) and they started doing very well. For more reading on keeping edible houseplants, read ‘Growing Tasty Tropical Plants‘.

My citrus trees will bloom and set fruit while overwintering in the basement and they have much less issue with scale, spider mites, and the other common issues that plague houseplants.

I’m pretty excited, because my little lime tree is 10 years old this year (I got it at Monticello back in 2010 when it was 3 years old). I harvested three limes already and it set about 50 this summer while outside.

Have you ever grown citrus as a houseplant?

Will They Live?

November 28th, 2017

For the past few years I’ve been growing artichokes. Since we live in a cold climate, I grow the varieties that produce in one season. This means I only get one large choke per plants, sometimes the season is long enough for them to produce a few smaller chokes.

This year, I planted 6 plants. Two of them didn’t produce chokes this summer, but the plants are lush and look very healthy. I decided to try to overwinter them to see if they will produce next summer.

After much thought of how to do it, I decided a fiber cement pot turned upside would be the best option. I was going to buy straw to stuff them with, but realized I have a ready supply of oak leaves. I also used this method to protect my acanthus in hopes that it will bloom in a few years.

What frost/freeze protection methods do you utilize in your garden for tender plants?

Needing a Trim

November 27th, 2017

I have had a potted rosemary in the house for years, this particular plant is probably 5 years old. I keep meaning to plant it in the soil during the summer, I always seem to forget. Instead it seems happy on the back porch during the summer.

When I brought it in last week I noticed it was getting a bit unruly! I’m amazed that it’s so large since I frequently cut branches for cooking. When I prune it this time, I’ll definitely be taking cutting to have another plant or two for myself and perhaps a few for gifting. With this, I have quite a collection of indoor herbs, more about the rest tomorrow.

Do you have any herbs as houseplants? Which is your favorite?

The End of the Season

November 24th, 2017

Last weekend I harvested the rest of the brussels sprouts from the garden. This year, I both grew ‘Churchill’ and ‘Diablo’. (I got my seed from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, a great local seed source for me here in Maine).

‘Diablo’ came out way ahead, it’s a much better variety for my garden. I like the sprouts much better as well, they’re tight sprouts and are more evenly sized. I also found that they had fewer issues with late aphids. If the plants were attacked, the sprouts are easily rinsed off and eaten since they’re so tight. It also held better in the field, without sprouts becoming overgrown and huge. Cold tolerance is also a big bonus for this variety, we regularly had temperatures in the teens and it didn’t mind at all.

The stalks will be left in the garage for a few weeks, then any remaining will be moved to the basement. Most likely, they won’t last long. We’re big fans of Brussels sprouts, our favorite way to eat them is with a balsamic cream sauce, which we had at a local restaurant. Lucky for us, the restaurant chef published a cookbook and it contains the recipe. If you’re interested, see the ‘Brussels Sprouts; The Disregarded Vegetable’ in Comfort Food. I’ll try to share the recipe in December sometime.

Are you a fan of Brussels sprouts? What’s your favorite way to cook them?

Book referenced above, every recipe I’ve tried has been fantastic, which is not a surprise since it’s my favorite restaurant.


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.