Your Yard’s Best Friend – Clover

Rough Draft 1.0 10/5/2020

Clover or trefoil Trifolium plants consist of “300 plant species of flowering plants in the legume or pea family Fabaceae. Several species are cultivated as a nutritious livestock feed. A prime benefit is that it fixes nitrogen in the soil which reduces the need for fertilizers. It can be grown in a variety of soils and climates.

Modern Lawns need clover. There is no denying the aesthetic value of a monoculture lawn. A rich green lawn, neatly manicured definitely improves curb appeal. The downside, and it’s millions of tons worth, are the chemicals used to keep lawns green. In the U.S. alone we use:

  • 80 MILLION TONS of chemical pesticides
  • 90 MILLION TONS of chemical fertilizers

It’s important to be aware of how these affect the flora and fauna as unintended consequences. Honey Bees, birds, squirrels, deer, etc., are all ingesting these. I’ll forever not understand how a Saturday morning can start with a neighbor applying “weed and feed” to his lawn and shrubs and then in the afternoon see their kids running around barefoot in the same recently treated yard.

On the other hand, homeowners can convert to natural lawn care methods. In our yard, where we’ve lived for close to 10 years, we’ve never put any chemicals / fertilizers of any type on our small patches of lawn. Instead, we’ve always mowed with a mulching mower and overseeded with clover. We have soil that drains too well. It’s hard to keep moisture in the soil but over time we’ve increased the organic matter to a point where it has made a difference. But the real benefit to the soil development is  the growing patches of clover. An important side benefit has been the flowers for our honey bee colony.

Here’s a quick list of key benefits:

  • It stays green throughout the summer as it is drought tolerant.
  • No mowing required, although we do mow about 3 times a year.
  • It attracts beneficial insects.
  • No fertilizer or herbicides needed.
  • It displaces other weeds.
  • Grows well in poor soil.
  • It’s inexpensive.
  • It’s beautiful.

One effective way to convert lawns to clover is to cover areas with black plastic or straw until the underlying grass dies back, then rake in the clover seeds lightly and cover again until the clover seeds start sprouting.

Another is to simply overseed existing grass and make sure to keep moist until seeds germinate. We’ve used both methods where practical. Note that when we overseeded existing grass, clover didn’t show up in any significant way until the following year.

Our guiding rule with lawns is that if it’s green and growing, we’ll mow it. One year we let our lawn go fallow and were surprised by dozens of walnut tree seedlings. The squirrels were busy! We potted these up and are just waiting for the right space opportunity to grow a small walnut grove.

Link Sources,on%20our%20lawns%20each%20year.


The Secrets to Growing Lemon Trees Indoors

Rough Draft 1.0 10/5/2020

Citrus trees can successfully be grown indoors given some basic understanding that citrus trees are tropical plants. As such, they require rich, well-drained soil, adequate light and warmth in order to do well. Indoor citrus trees will not go dormant as they do outside so they will need year-round care.

Secret #1 – Seeds Are Easy To Start

We have yet to have a lemon seed NOT sprout. We first started growing lemon tree seedlings as an experiment. We were cutting up some lemons to use in a smoothie (we freeze). We did pull out the seeds just out of habit and then, on a whim, stuck them in the dirt in an already potted plant. A few weeks later, there they were! Now, a lot of commercially grown lemons are from favorable trees grafted onto rootstock, so results may vary.

Secret #2 – Good Soil

All potting soils are not created equal. A rich potting soil is important, preferably organic. That being said, we’ve grown lemon tree seedlings in the cheapest “organic” and it took us awhile to figure out why our lemon tree seedlings were struggling. Hint – See Secret #4 & 5.

Secret #3 – The Right Amount of Sunlight

When lemon tree seedlings are first starting out, it’s ok to have them in a lower, non-direct sunlight location. Think of a forest floor where light trickles down. As they mature, they will need more light. Find the sunniest areas of your home and plan on having your lemon trees front and center in these spots.

Secret #4a – Moisture

This was one of the most difficult things for us to dial in. Your indoor plants are 100% dependent on humans for watering and lemon trees like just the right amount. Other indoor houseplants can be more or less forgiving. We found a simple moisture meter (AFFILIATE LINK) to be invaluable at figuring out where our indoor lemon trees liked to be. This is where observation over time will really help you out. We noticed the lemon tree seedlings that were thriving the most had the moisture meter (AFFILIATE LINK) consistently right in the middle of the “moist” setting. NOTE: A simple visual cue is when your leaves are yellow and falling off, it can be a sign of over-watering whereas if the leaves are still green, yet curling it is a sign of under-watering. These aren’t hard and fast rules but they were helpful in helping us identify dial in just the right amount of watering. In smaller pots,  a sprinkling method is effective where you take your watering can every other day-ish,  and sprinkle the top of the soil when it looks like it is drying out. In larger pots less frequent waterings, but more frequent monitoring will be required.

Secret #4b – Pot Drainage

We’ve germinated many different types of plants and what works for one type doesn’t always work for another. Part of our learning curve with lemon tree seedlings is to make sure your pots or whatever vessel you’re growing them in has the ability to let the soil breathe. We grew a batch in a bunch of plastic cups with no holes and our seedlings really struggled. A rookie lesson to be sure.

Secret #5 – Fertilizer

With all of the above, this is the key to flourishing indoor lemon trees. To be transparent, we have only tried two types of fertilizer. One, a commercial “organic” fertilizer specially formulated for fruit and citrus trees.  – it did not do anything – . It was a bagged product that, when placed and even forked into the top level of soil, stunk up our entire house for over a week! So, scratch that one off the list. The other, the magic, was “organic” liquid fish fertilizer. Caution, this one can stink up your house too, CLICK HERE(INTERNAL LINK) to see a method that applies fish fertilizer without stinking up your house. IT TOTALLY WORKS. Lemon trees need to be fed regularly, we recommend feeding every two weeks except when temperatures cool off and growth slows down.

Secret #6 – Air Movement

All plants do well with decent air movement around them so they can breathe. Make sure to place lemon tree seedlings in an area where there is adequate air movement. Stagnant air won’t kill your lemon tree seedlings but it certainly won’t contribute to them thriving.

Do you have any proven tips for growing lemon tree seedings or citrus plants indoors? Please take a moment to register and share your constructive thoughts in the comments section! 

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