Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Back in the Freezer Again

No, not this freezer.

This one.


Icicles on the glass flower fountain from Glass Gardens Northwest. Even the bee ball floating in the top has a skirt of ice, making it look a bit like Saturn.

Our temperature outside this morning at 9:03 was 25 degrees F.

A couple of weeks ago, during our first freeze of the fall/winter season, I learned that when the temperature outside goes down into the 20s, my sole electrical heater can't keep the temperature in the greenhouse much above 40 at night. I bought a second electric heater, but discovered that I couldn't run both on the same electrical circuit without tripping the circuit breaker. My solution was to buy a propane heater, which I turn on only at night, after about 10:00-10:30. It runs on two one-lb. propane canisters, which it uses up overnight, running out just as the sun comes up. With the propane heater and the electrical heater, the temperature overnight goes up into the mid-50s. I don't know how much the electricity costs that the electrical heater runs on, but the canisters cost $12.99 for a package of four, which means to run the propane heater on below-freezing nights costs $6.50. I'm betting that's quite a bit more than the electricity costs, otherwise our electric bill would be astronomical.

Propane heater

Electric heater

The temperature in the greenhouse last night at 10:30 was 43.1 (Ignore the non-DST time on the clock).

Half an hour later, after turning on the propane heater, the temperature has risen to 50. It will rise to the mid-50s and stay there all night.

Once the sun rises, the temperature out in the greenhouse rises naturally into the 50s, and sometimes 60s and 70s. I disabled the vents on the windows, so that they no longer open when the temperature hits the 60s. I figure the hotter it gets in there during the day, the longer it will retain that heat at night.

In other news, my Datura that I rescued from the garden to over-winter inside the greenhouse have bugs. I don't know what kind, but they leave sticky stuff on the leaves, so I think they might be woolly aphids. Does anyone know for sure? Time to start applying some kind of insecticide.

Here's the underside of that same leaf.

They're also on one of my Brugs, and I'm sure if I do nothing, they'll eventually overtake all of them.

And now some good news: I dug up one of my Digiplexis 'Illumination Flame' to over-winter inside the greenhouse. Basically I just cut it back to the ground, dug the rootball and stuck it into a big nursery pot. It's producing new shoots, so I guess that means it's still alive. Keep your fingers crossed that it survives to be planted again outside in the spring. I really love this plant and don't want to be without it.

And my Aloe glauca is still flowering too.

I hope wherever you are, Dear Reader, that you are staying warm.


  1. Oh Alison you are a good gardener. What lengths we go to for our plants, you are the best. I too have some aphid critters, and while I don't use anything chemical against them, any suggestions? I'm thinking a good spray of water. Good luck with your freeze up north, we have about the same around here.

  2. Yes, we are warm 59F, 15C, we have warm front rain; so far, so soft. Will get stronger as the day progresses. Snow (freezing) level is about 13,000'. I will now officially stop complaining about the heat and lack of winter rain and instead give you lots of sympathy about the cost and troubles of maintaining a warm greenhouse. It's just awful you have bugs in the greenhouse, too.

  3. That is cold and it's still early. Love seeing all the blooms indoors. Have you tried jugs of warm water to help retain some heat? I've heard that works.

    Your freezer looks nicely organized. I need to add some plastic bins.

  4. Your freezer is very organized! I'm impressed! Ugh, those awful sticky pooping bugs! Spray them with the hose, spraying water with dish detergent works but must be re applied fairly regularly, lady bugs, Neem oil. (Malathion, Diazinon, DDT, Napalm, Agent Orange, sacrificing a virgin to a volcano)

  5. Sigh. When it gets cold at your place, invariably somebody leaves the door open and cold air hurries southeastward. So far there's no rumor of cold coming this way.

    I decided not to mention just exactly HOW WARM it is here.

    It's hard to get the heating fine tuned for a greenhouse.

    Give your aphids a bath with oil soap to soften their little outer skins -- that's not kindness. Goodbye, aphids. Critters might be why I decided to leave Brugs out of the GH -- I had white fly on mine the first year I brought them in. The next year I had cuttings and they took up much real estate. Bromeliads occupy that space this year.

  6. Your water feature is extra attractive with icicles hanging and surrounded by ice! Stay warm and snug inside Alison!

  7. Tom keeps our greenhouse at just above freezing with one heater, which is high enough for how we are using it. We don't have a small fortune worth of tropical plants like you do.

  8. Like some of the other commentators, I was very impressed by the tidiness of your freezer! I'm also impressed by the lengths you're taking to keep your tender plants comfortable. The woolly aphids are a pain but I'm sure you'll succeed in dispatching them. I'll be interested to see what happens with the Digiplexis - I cut 3 of mine back but I didn't cut them to the ground so their lower stems are looking a little naked now. FYI, they seem to be prone to woolly aphids when under stress too so it may be a good idea to keep a watch on that plant too as it leafs out.

  9. You asked this question elsewhere: I love old school nurseries. Are you aware of any nurseries near the Huntington that might be worth a visit? Your best bet is to try to time your visit with one of the Huntington plant sales. They are the best source for "interesting" plants. Otherwise California Cactus Center and Nuccio's Nursery if you can grow camellias and azaleas.

  10. Thanks for the reminder that I need to take a look at the brugmansia in the SP greenhouse. I've been trying to make sure no bugs get a foothold but things are so stuffed in there with this round of cold that I can't easily get to it.

    You know way more than I do about the plants in your greenhouse and the workings of it, but why does it have to stay so warm? Isn't 40 okay?

  11. We had a warm up to 40 is now in the 30s in days and 20s at night. Glad you could keep your greenhouse warm for your plants and I hope you can find a way to get rid of the aphids.


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