Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tutorial: How to pollinate a lemon tree

This is my dwarf Meyer lemon tree. It lives outdoors in the spring, summer, and fall, and comes inside my office to spend the winter. Usually once it comes inside it has some ripening fruit...but also some blossoms for the next fruit cycle. Since the tree is now inside, it needs to be pollinated by me! Call me foolish but it took me a few seasons to figure all of this out. I apologize in advance for not giving the proper scientific names for these plant parts! Why don't these trees come with a manual? Why don't children come with a manual? Why am I so dependent on directions? Er....getting back to pollination:

For people who already know how to do this, the pictures and directions may seem like overkill. But for those who don't know how, it takes a little practice to see the different between the two flower types, just like when you first started gardening and ALL the seedling plants looked the same! A little experience with the kinds of blossoms will hopefully teach your eyes to distinguish the difference, but once you learn it I think it stays with you always. Besides, if you already know how to do this, why are you reading this post? 

There are two kinds of flowers on this lemon tree. I believe the female flower is the one that will actually become the fruit. This flower has a long, thick stem-like structure exactly in the middle of the flower petals. It has a small knob at the end. Before pollination, this knob is white in color. After pollination, the knob becomes distinctly yellow. On the photo below the female flower is the lower blossom, pointing downward. The upper flower (surely the male!) has no middle structure. Instead it has fringy, vibrantly yellow center petalets (my word, like it?) that are heavy with loads of pollen. If you jolt the branch, pollen takes to the air and drifts around, coating the leaves and everything else in the room (the computers do not like this). 

Below shows an unpollinated female's not bright yellow yet. Sorry so photography is tricky with my camera.

Below is another picture, this one with two pollinated female flowers. See the middle structure? (okay, I found it now...that middle structure is the pistil)

The closest I can get with my camera....female flower with pistil. 

To pollinate, grab a Q-tip. Even cheap ones with work for this, although I have discovered they are pretty much useless for any other job. Stick the end of the Q-tip right inside that male plant (stop laughing!) and roll it around real good, coat that Q-tip with pollen! It doesn't seem to go as far as you would think.

This is supposed to be a picture of the Q-tip with pollen. Little tiny grains of pollen on it! In the background is a half-grown lemon. Yes, I know it looks like a lime. Why does everybody say that? Do I strike people as unable to distinguish lemons from limes? This tree has lived with me for years, give me the benefit of the doubt! This is what lemons look like before they look like lemons :)

Last step! Carry the pollinated Q-tip to a female flower pistil and rub that pollen all over it - I know, this is awfully weird and kinky! Thus is the sex life of plants. Orchids are even worse, trust me! Once the pistil is bright yellow, you should be done. I think. I am still learning here, myself. 

If you did it right, in a few days or a week (I don't time it!) the petals and other parts will fall off and you will see a bump at the base of the pistil. This is the baby lemon! I have noticed that sometimes these babies will also fall off, I don't know if it's because they just weren't pollinated enough, if they have something wrong with them, or if the tree just has too many to feed. Just make sure you have pollinated as many female flowers as possible, as you can always remove some fruit later if the tree is unable to grow that many. Also as with any fruiting plant, the more fruit you have will often mean smaller fruit. It's a fine balancing act between fruit quantity and fruit size!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Line In The Sand

This story at the Indieregister is much to valid to not post: (click on the original post for working links in the article)

BY  | OCTOBER 24, 2012 · 11:30 PM

Where is your ‘line in the sand’?By Eric VolivaI have a question for you; it’s not meant to be answered, nor is its purpose to cause angry discourse. It’s a question that I ask solely for your serious–and internal–consideration; and I sincerely hope you do take the time to reflect on it.Where do you draw the line in the sand with the government taking away your rights and freedoms?
Do you stand up to them once they come break down your door in the middle of the night, “mistaking” your home for a known “drug den”?
Do you wait until they raise taxes to the point where you can no longer afford to pay it and your house payments, so they evict you from your home, and thus become homeless or living on welfare?
Do you wait until they arrest a friend or family member or a child because they collected rainwater or sold raw milk or gave a meal to a starving member of the homeless community without a permit?
Do you wait until someone you love is “accidentally” murdered or maimed by an “accidental” drug raid (which is becoming insanely commonplace in the U.S.)?
Do you wait until you’re locked up for participating in “terrorist activities” for simply walking into your bank and closing your account on the same day there’s a protest of that bank occurring?
Do you wait until a friend is raped by a cop, and then the cop is never even charged and allowed to continue to harm others because they’re in a brotherhood ruled by the “blue code of silence“?
Or, do you go along with the crowd and wait until everyone else takes a stand?
Then, once you have waited as long as you possibly can under the hand of tyranny and can no longer tolerate the status quo of oppression, how is it that you actually take your stand? Do you raise your voice and shout your anger to the world? What would that accomplish? Do you refuse to no longer be part of their structure of control and by way of passive resistance refuse to pay tribute in the form of taxes in hopes of de-funding their treasury? Do you allow yourself to go to prison for your passive resistance? Or do you speak out in defiance and try to educate your fellow citizen-slaves, knowing that because of your protests you can be legally labeled a “terrorist” under the NDAA and face the bloody situation of men in swat gear raiding your home in the middle of the night and detaining you as a “threat to our national security” (oh, the irony)?
Whatever your line in the sand may be, this is a reality we all face. The situation with our freedoms will continue to get worse until we decide how far is too far, and stand united in our defiance to their continued criminalizing of our rights.
So, once again, I ask you: When do you make your stand? Where is it that you will draw that line?
Just know that the longer you wait, the harder it will be.

 Martin Luther King Jr. - "One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws." Indeed. It's also a matter of survival and self-defense.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


It's funny how you can be happy or at least satisfied and accepting, for the most part. Then something happens or someone enters your life and turns it upside-down, and suddenly your dissatisfaction with those aspects of your life that aren't quite where you want them to be can irritate and chafe like ill-fitting shoes. Even when the inclusion of much new joy and discovery brings happiness of one sort, it can oddly also evoke unsuspected feelings of restriction and frustration at the same time. Does that mean forever happiness in the moment is a pipe dream? Or is that only caused by the addition of a faulty new gadget? Regardless, after one is lifted to heights of excitement and unexpected passion, later then inevitably crashing down to long since forgotten lows, eventually - At last! - equilibrium is regained. Finally, the soothing cadence of calm seas, gentle swells and mainly sunny skies are a balm to my fragile heart. Yet as relieved as I am at the passing of the storm, I am richer for my experience to the soaring summit which blinds in its brightness, and the turbulent caverns enclosing dark depths that lie beneath the surface. Alone again on an empty sea I can smile and see the beauty in the world. I am at last again at peace with myself.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Open letter to Mr. Romney

Dear Mr. Romney:
I am 42 years old and a single mom. I pay no federal income tax as Head of Household with a child tax credit and earned income credit. I make $14 an hour. I work 40 hours a week and attend classes (currently 10 credit hours) at the local university. Please tell me how much tax you feel I should fairly pay. Also, tell me what luxury I should cut from my personal budget to pay the tax.
WAGES FOR 1 MONTH…………………………   $2240
Health insurance for me and my son……..     -130
Dental insurance for me and my son  ……       -30
FICA SS payments ….……………………………..    -85
FICA Medicaid………………………………………      -30
Employee savings plan…………………………       -23
GROSS TAKE HOME MONTHLY…………………….……… $1942
Mortgage payment……………………......…………………….626
Water and electricity…….....….......…around (it varies) 125
Car insurance ……………………………...................……....31
Fire insurance on home………………………….……………….26
Internet connection w/landline phone (I work at home)..68
Gas for car……………………………………………………….…….80
Life insurance for me…………………………………………….. 10
Life insurance for my son………………………………………….6 Allowance for my son………………………………………………20
Car repairs and maintenance (Honda Civic, 1996)…….…100
Groceries ( $3/meal, 3 meals a day x 2 people)………min 540
Medical bills ( immunosuppressant therapy bimonthly)…min 50
Entertainment (online video game site)………………………….6
Flea treatment and heartworm meds for 2 rescued dogs……3
Clothing budget,  son ( I don’t need new clothes)…….….…20
Cc payment (I had to get a new heat pump). …..Whatever is left. Looks like this month about $130. Hope those tires last a few more months. Oh wait, I probably need to stash a few bucks away for Christmas and my son’s birthday approaching.

Oddly, Mr. Romney, I do not feel like a victim…I feel proud that I’m working, raising my boy, and providing for both of our needs. I’m hopeful someday I’ll be in a better place financially. Any time I can, I am glad to help others when I have something to give. I am so grateful for all of that which I have – a mind, a soul, and love in my heart. To be able to work, provide, laugh, and see all the beauty in the world. I am content I am doing the right thing, even if you feel I’m a lazy and calculating freeloader. I must admit I feel your choices in life have caused pain and suffering and the crushing of dreams to many, all so you could line your pockets. I guess we will just have to agree to disagree. But don't call me a victim when I actually think that I understand what is really important better than you do.

Monday, August 20, 2012

When do the Hunger Games begin?

As a reward for intensive help during a project, I traveled to the grocery store for a specifically requested ice cream for my son. As I walked the length of the immense freezer aisle I was floored by the hundreds of ice cream varieties available ( I don't shop that aisle much ever). Having just finished the Hunger Games trilogy, I already had on my mind how close my nearly middle class life and the lives of those citizens who live in the Capitol of Panem is. Even years ago, I was starting to feel that our society here in the USA was frighteningly beginning to resemble the latter days of the Roman Empire, when the wealthiest citizens continued to empty the empire of the resources needed to maintain the vast conglomeration until said resources vanished, eventually crumbling the entire empire to pieces from within and ushering in centuries of violence and danger, at least for what later became Europe. Our decadent lifestyles and mindless entertainment for years have been vastly different from how the majority of the global population, particularly poorer and emerging nations, scrape by with their mostly subsistence surviving. The Hunger Games have uncomfortably demonstrated to me the way our lives here are so remarkably similar to the Capitol:

  • So many kinds and so much food available, much of which is wasted, even when we have people going hungry in this country, in your neighborhood, every day.  
  • The children of low income parents as human fodder in the wars we wage for our continued access to foreign oil, as this demographic comprises the biggest portion of noncommisioned soldiers. If they don't die overseas, they might be one of the 38 veterans every DAY who try to commit suicide. 
  • Obsession by many of mindless entertainment such as Dancing With the Stars, the best of the fall lineup, and sporting events, among others.
  • Wasting of resources.
  • Corporate-fostered callous indifference or obliviousness of the global effects of our consumption levels. 
  • Passive acquiescence to civil authority, even when it's not in our best interests.
  • Feelings of righteousness about our indulgent lives celebrating self-gratification.
We already live in the Capitol of Panem. Ouch.


Examples of how our political system is irrevocably broken:

  • Money buys elections and legislature. Lobbyists wine and dine our lawmakers for special interest groups, which have incredible financial advantages over the needs or wishes of most citizens. Elections are determined by fundraising while millionaires and billionaires (a tiny portion of the US population) have the legal right to fund these elections. Why should somebody's vote be more effective because they can direct more money to it than someone who has little or no disposable income? That's not a democracy or a republic, that's an oligarchy. 
  • Corporations have the rights of individuals, but not the responsibilities or obligations. The only obligation a corporation "feels" is to provide the shareholders with as much profit as possible at any cost, even the lives of people, and also to provide the upper administration with substantial paychecks and benefits under the guise of hiring and keeping the best people for the job. 
  • The checks and balances put in place by the creators of our government have slowly but relentlessly been undermined. War is fought overseas without approval by Congress.  The Chief Executive lies to citizens without penalty, kills people labeled as a threat to the nation without a trial, and tortures suspected enemies without due process or public proof of wrongdoing. 
  • Private companies are gifted with taxpayer cash when in financial trouble, without sharing the immense profits they report later. This is privatizing profits and socializing losses, carried on the back of the middle class. 
  • Social safety nets are called "socialism" but subsidies to high-earning companies and agribusiness are touted as necessary. Isn't the first job of the government to protect it's citizens? If that's not the job of government, what is? And if a company needs a government subsidy to afford to stay in business, that's not free market capitalism. 
  • A revolving door between government officials and legislation makers with the lobbyists and upper echelon positions in certain big businesses, such as oil, finance, and agribusiness. 
  • Both parties, regardless of their election promises and platforms, are entirely committed to maintaining the status quo once they are installed in office. 
  • The electoral college. How does a candidate win the popular vote but not the election? 
  • Lawmakers and elected officials have forgotten their job description: To serve and address the needs and desires of their constituents, the PEOPLE. 
I'm sure there are more I either don't know or have overlooked. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Goings on

I am the new proud keeper of the family hand-me-down rotating composter. Just need to find a little hardware to keep the bin in place.

My big new project going on, my adaptation from this idea. Funny how stuff you've been musing over can come together, just like that, with the right trigger. That white outlined piece behind the cinder blocks is part of stand-up shower I had to dismantle. I saved those pieces and AT LAST, get to use them!

I'm not sure if I ever posted about the rainwater harvester...I need to clean it out and fix something this summer, perhaps I can remember to take photos while I do it. That's how I learned how to make one, from lotsa friendly bloggers.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Seeds in and ordered!!

Okay, ordered a few seeds including chicory witloof, for homegrown endive.....let's hope that works with a very small learning curve.

Perennial-type stuff growing here regularly:
Meyer lemon tree
rosemary (like a small tree!)
peach tree
blueberries (so far 3 years, nonproducing, hmmm)
grape vine
hardy kiwi
spinach (from seeds last fall!)
leeks (huge, I think they are 2 years old? Also delicious)
basil (big and small)
parsley, small
garlic, hard and soft neck
elephant garlic
onions that for some reason refuse to BULB OUT. In since LAST FALL.
An unidentified green flourishing bunch of...parsley? cilantro? maybe even celery? I cut it to use while cooking, regardless. At least it's organic, eh?

Planted or seeded out or seeded inside, this week:
tomatoes - yellow, roma, grape, and meaty, and one from Beka's work. Italian?
potatoes, red of some kind
garbanzo beans
adzuki beans
purple podded pole beans
blue lake pole beans
yellow squash
Florence fennel
Japanese bunching onions
lots of peppers
lots of lettuce (for indoor growing)
bok choy
swiss chard

And I bought some cress. For indoors, of course.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I'm Satisfied

A rousing cheer to the matron of husbandry for her frugal, almost wasteless use of an entire chicken. The best part is I have now duplicated that feat!

So, yesterday I cooked a whole chicken and after processing, this is what I have left after feeding us (probably at least 8 meals total), the dogs (4 meals or more), and a tasty cooked-carrot snack for dogs and chickens:

Yay! Now those old chickens in the pen who aren't laying any more better watch out...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Just for the Record:

This poignant essay exemplifies how I feel about it, also. I hope my family will honor those wishes if the situation arises for me.