, Salem, MA


January 31, 2014

Spring is six weeks away, no matter what


In a few weeks, the seeds will stop growing and die — this might happen sooner if you forget to keep it watered. Then, you scrub off the goop and dead plants and the figure can be reseeded.

What’s it growing? The seeds that come with most Chia Pets are a seed of the watercress family, and are said to contain no toxic chemicals. Other seeds will work (buy seeds in the health food store), but not as well. They must be tiny, form a gelatinous coating when soaked, and sprout quickly to survive.

You could try growing it in the office if you have decent lighting and remember to water it. At best, it’s good for a few laughs! They’re also a good choice for a child’s first plant.

Q: I got an orange tree a few years back as gift. The first year I had it, the fruit stayed green all year, so I never knew when to pick it. After that, it did not fruit at all one year. It was moved around from different spots and getting different amounts of sunlight. Now that it’s in one place with good sunlight, it has come back, and the oranges turn orange but only grow to about three-quarters to 1 1/4 inches. When is it time to pick them? And what should the season be for an 18-inch tall indoor tree be? Is there anything I can do to help it grow?

A: I think what you have is a Calamondin orange tree — the fruit never gets any larger than what you describe. They are a wonderful windowsill taste of the tropics.

Grow it in full sun or under artificial light and don’t overwater. Keep it evenly moist. Don’t let it get too near a drafty window in the winter. Consider putting the pot outside for the summer, but don’t forget to water it.

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