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Gas Plant, Foxtails–Indoor Tomato Growing

Posted Apr 05 2011 9:43am
This weekend I am doing 2 PowerPoint presentations for our local Home Show. One program will be on Roses and the other on growing vegetables with flowers. While going through pictures, I found that I have never posted on two of my favorite spring flowers. Dictamnus albus purpurea, Gas Plant and Eremurus, Foxtail Lilies. Plus an update of my indoor tomatoes.

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Early spring, this lovely plant grows by the walkway to our front porch. Lightly touching the flowers leaves a citrus scent. I say lightly touching because a heavier touch leaves a pretty strong citrus scent! This plant is commonly called Gas Plant. I once told someone that I wanted the gas plant because of Ted.  I got an odd look and a snicker. I quickly explained that Ted used to be a propane gas dealer. 
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The story is that on a still day, a match held up to the flower will for a second “flame”.
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Fox Tail Lilies bloom near the double Mock Orange. The Mock Orange provides such a sweet scent! A  cut flower will continue to have scent even after it dries.
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The roots of Eremurus are very odd looking.  They look a bit like a starfish. I recently read that the roots should be planted 6” deep.
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A month ago I bought some tiny heirloom tomatoes. I usually don’t put out tomatoes until the end of May or sometimes early June. So the challenge is to grow a large “root ball” tomato plant and harvest the earliest possible tomato. Years ago Ted made me a bookcase that I have in front of a small basement window. I have it set up with lights. I adjust the plants so that they sit about 2” under the lights. I set a timer so that the lights are on for 14 hours. The plants grow!  With the right kind of fluorescent bulbs they will also flower and set fruit. I have an aquarium bulb and the highest lumens bulb I could find at Lowes. It was either a Daylight or a Sunlight bulb. As the plant grows I plant it in a deeper container. I wanted a narrow container, so I walked around the house looking for a deep container. I save vinegar plastic bottles to use as “cloches” when first setting out plant starts.  I removed the cap and placed a coffee filter over the opening. I lined the container with a plastic grocery bag. It makes the tomato plant easier to lift out and plant without breaking off the tops. As the plant gets taller it tends to break off in the transplanting. The narrow bottom plastic container sits in a clay pot for balance.
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We are continuing to have a cold spring. But in our basement, I have 3 small tomatoes on my “bloody butcher” tomato plant. I have 5 tomato plants growing in our basement under lights. See the huge tree outside our kitchen window! I had just transplanted this little guy and decided it should go into the blog. Happy Spring!
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