tiny seedlings

Several weeks ago–early November, because I had to move the greenhouse for Thanksgiving–Young Indiana and I made a wee greenhouse of a deepish cardboard box lined with tinfoil. We filled several empty toilet paper rolls with dirt, propped the rolls in an egg carton, and tucked orange seeds into the tops. We’ve a string of Christmas lights in the box to create warmth, and a piece of saran wrap across the top to keep heat and moisture in. But our kitchen is Very Cold, and I thought that despite our efforts perhaps none of them would manage to sprout at all.

But a couple of days ago I looked in and we had a single inch-high seedling! I showed Young Indy, who was delighted, and this morning he reported to me that we had ANOTHER one! And he was right: the barest curl had broken through the soil on another of the tubes! So that’s very exciting, and perhaps we’ll even get a few more over the next week or two!

This is my second attempt at growing orange trees. The first time I tried with two seeds and one did really well up until the point I killed it by going on holiday and not prepping it well enough. I learned quite a lot from the attempt, though. For one thing, oranges don’t have a cold germination period like apples do–they don’t have to get Really Cold for a period of time, you can just plant them straight out of the fruit–and they need pretty warm soil and conditions. Christmas lights make a great source of warmth.

I also learned I’m really, *really* bad at transplanting, which means starting with biodegradable pots (like, say, empty cardboard toilet paper rolls) is a very good idea. Far less likely to kill the baby tree if I just have to plant the whole roll into a larger container when it’s gotten big enough. Indeed, I have some hope of finding sort of medium-small biodegradable pots when it comes to that stage, so when I need to put them into a larger and perhaps final pot (since I wasn’t planning on growing an actual orchard), I can do it with the least amount of trauma to the trees.

If all of these wee things sprout and survive, I may be giving people Christmas Orange Trees in a few years. :)

1 Comment


  1. You tempt me to try an orange tree. There is nothing like an orange blossom for wonderful scent.

    I’m a real fan of biodegradable pots. Last spring I sprouted lupines and delphiniums in little pots that looked like they were pressed out of a mat of grass or roots. In spite of dire warnings that the seedlings couldn’t be transplanted, the pots worked great! And all the neighbors complemented me on my garden.

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