I have always wanted an orange tree. As we don’t live in Florida or California, it has always been merely a dream. Then one day I came across an orange tree for sale at the Farmer’s market. There is a master gardner there that is always growing something of interest. Perhaps tree is a euphemism. I found approximately a branch in a pot labeled orange tree. I bought it on the spot. I watered it regularly and to my delight it grew nicely for 6 months. Then the winter came. I knew that orange trees were fickle and that if it froze, it would die. So I brought it inside. Then I got a lemon tree, then I got another. Then came the clementines. Soon they were followed by limes. Needless to say, I ran out of interior room. I started wintering them in the garage. With 8 trees, now of some size, I still had to protect them during the winter months.
For those of you who bring plants indoors during the winter, you know that even though many live, often they struggle. The light indoors is diminished and so is the humidity. So even thought the trees survived the winters, they often shed many of their leaves and went dormant. Then the Christmas of 2013 my husband got me one of the greatest gifts ever. He bought a temporary greenhouse. It is FABULOUS! Every November we put it up with the first frost and leave it up until the last frost. When broken down it is just some poles and a big sheet of plastic so it is very easy to store in the garage when not in use. The pieces are very simple to assemble even without directions as they really only work in one way. The set up was less than 30 minutes.
Once the frame is up, you simply cover it with the pre-fitted plastic sheeting.
You then secure the cover to the metal frame with the attached velcro strips.
There are also some elastic buttons that further secure the cover to the frame.
To prevent it from getting too cold in the greenhouse/ cold frame we bought some inexpensive heat cables to wrap around the roof of the frame for some additional heat. Last year it was colder than usual,in the single digits, my husband placed a space heater inside to turn on automatically as the temperature approached freezing.
To gauge the greenhouse temperature remotely, we got an indoor/ outdoor thermometer to put in the greenhouse which tells us its interior temperature for the extremely cold days when we didn’t want to let cold air in the greenhouse to check it.
Place the plants inside and enjoy!
If you have an occasional unseasonable warm day, you can open the windows for air circulation.
Since we have used the greenhouse for wintering the plants, our trees have become prolific. The clementines are bursting with fruit, we have tons of lemons, the new lime is already quite prolific, and we have already enjoyed our first orange after years of waiting and have more on the way!
If you are interested the products used, there is an embedded link in each picture (and highlighted words above) to make it convenient for you to click and get in time for the holidays.