February 26, 2015

Growing ginger lily in cold climate

Let’s see how we grow and propagate ginger lily (Hedychium) here in Poland, Europe, where temperature can drop in the winter down to  -30C/-22F and in the summer can get up to 36C/97F.
We can grow ginger lily outdoors, but for the winter it has to go indoor, no way it could stay outside for the winter..

This particular ginger lily is growing all year round in the winter garden/conservatory. Maybe the conditions there in winter are milder, because the place is heated, but summers  are baking hot. This is why the leafs on the photos are bit brown on the tips.

This particular ginger lily is growing here since 3 years, was brought from Azores, is blooming at the end of summer.  It takes 5 to 10 years for ginger lily to reach final size, it tolerates the soil from alkaline to slightly acidic, chalky, loamy or sandy, moist, but well drained.
In different description I read she needs sunny or partly shady position, but I do not trust it too much. Exotic plants require lots of light when grown in cold climates, because the natural amount of light here is sparse anyway. Any ray of light is a treasure. 

Why to bother growing this exotic plant here? Satisfaction of growing rare plant? Not only. The heavenly scent of the flowers. Yup….  There is always a price to pay, one needs to make sure if the benefits are worth it. In this case beauty of the flowers and the fragrance is worth all the troubles. 

How to propagate ginger lily? Either from seeds or by dividing rhizomes. As you can see on the photos, we had to take properly serious tools to get her out. It doesn’t look that strong, but rhizomes are strong and they form long lines, cos every next piece is growing after another one, strongly attached to the previous one.

We took out about 30 cm long line of rhizomes, and cut them to get four plants that will grow in the large container. All the best to new ginger lilies in my collection! Thank you Krystyna!

Happy gardening!

Recommended reading The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World's Great Drinks

February 22, 2015

Book Review: Tomatomania! A Fresh Approach to Celebrating Tomatoes in the Garden and in the Kitchen

In this book words are as important as the juicy pictures. One warning before you read now anyfurther. If you didn’t grow tomato yet, there is high possibility that after going through this book you will join the club of tomatomaniacs worldwide! If you are not afraid, give me your hand and let me tell you about ‘Tomatomania! A Fresh Approach to Celebrating Tomatoes in the Garden and in the Kitchen’

Red, green, orange, yellow orbs appearing on the plants from nowhere… from the light, water and soil… Well, growing tomatoes might really get obsessive. I know what I am talking about, I went through that phase myself. I wish I could have found a good information source at that time. You know how it is. In Internet information is scattered, you find piece here, piece there and before you put all the pieces together few seasons usually are passing by.

If you don’t want to lose any more tomato growing season and learn about tomatoes, tomato garden and different tomato varieties including heirloom tomato, as much as possible and as fast as possible, you need a book that covers all the aspects of tomato growing subject.

Today I am going to review for you a new book that was published in January 2015,  ‘Tomatomania!’ written by Scott Daigre and Jenn Garbee , so you can make conscious decision and choose the best tomato growing book.

What’s the best about this book? Whether you are tomatomaniac, tomato eater that dreams to turn to tomato gardener, or you already are tomato gardener, you will find interesting information in the book.

‘Gardening is not a rational act’ as Margaret Atwood said, which is cited in the foreword written by chef Claud Mann, host of Dinner&Movie on TBS.

This book presents also organic tomato growing techniques and lots of tips for only 29$. Actually I could make a challenge: find any useful tip about growing tomato that is not covered in “Tomatomania”. Then, all home-grown and talented investigators, ‘Agathas Christies’ and ‘Sherlocks’ unite! BTW, if you find anything let me know.

Tomatomania covers following categories:
- Finding best spot in the garden.
- How to choose best tomato varieties for your garden.
- Deciphering tomato seedlings labels.
- How to treat the seedlings from the very beginning to give them best start.
- Staking, tying, pinching or not pinching?
- Critters and other challenges.
- Best moment to harvest tomato.
- Recipes from tomato martini to tomato-vanilla bean marmalade.

The minus I personally find in the book is too long tomato recipe section, which is approximately  1/3 of the book, starts at 129 page. This is a minus for me, but might be advantage for you. But for that I skip one star in the rating. 

The book is especially useful by the folks living in California, warm US states, or in other Mediterranean climate regions of the globe. Just want to be clear on that. This doesn’t mean that the book is not useful for colder climate tomatomaniacs, you just need to know that if you live in colder climates you need to apply your local tomato maintaining tips as well, but you already know that, don’t you? For me this means one star less.

My rating: 8 out of 10 stars

The book is easy to read and contains lots of photos.

Get your copy of Tomatomania!: A Fresh Approach to Celebrating Tomatoes in the Garden and in the Kitchen

Have you read any great gardening books? Give your recommendations with your reasons why in comments below. Looking forward to discovering some great gardening books.

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, 2015
Pages: 210
Available here: Tomatomania!: A Fresh Approach to Celebrating Tomatoes in the Garden and in the Kitchen