Welcome to my “green thumb” page!!
Tools of the trade
Let me start out by saying that I am not a professional, I learn by trial and error and correct the errors, usually the following year if not the same year.
I love my greenhouse and I love my husband for buying it for me. I used to grow everything in our house and then put it in the garden when the time was right!! Those plants never did as well as what I grow in the greenhouse. The plants were nearly always runts and spindly!!!! It’s a totally different story now.
Let me first start by describing my greenhouse and my first year! It is a 10 x 12ft. structure. My son-in-law put in footers to brace it to, and floor is gravel. No electricity, no heat and the water was held in four 50-gallon drums that had to be filled twice a week. The structure was too far away from any electrical outlets, and this was an experiment to see if I really enjoyed using it.
These are some considerations for you if you want to start a small greenhouse for your own use: location, size considerations, foundation options, weather, temperature control, airflow within and ventilation options, electricity, water, and this is just the beginning.
Placement is critical and if I could move mine I would because it’s in the wide open with full sunlight all day. I needed some shade for the back because it’s gets extremely hot in late June, July and August. The first year I did not have a shade cloth. The greenhouse has four vent windows that didn’t help a lot. I chose this site for the full sun and flat location and very close to the garden plot.
Hubby made two temporary tables for the potted plants and a workstation. He also added some shelving down the interior sides and the back of the structure.
It was a beginning!!!
I had read that the temperature in the greenhouse should be between 55 and 85 degrees. I had thermometers in three locations and checked them regularly. A month after I had planted seeds, we had a frost one week and it was 102* one day the next week. I was beside myself. Hubby bought in a heater that attached to a small portable propane tank and before we went to bed at night the heater was started and as soon as I was out of the bed the next morning it was turned off. It became quite expensive, and I have no idea how many tanks of propane we used. I stored it out of the way during the day and placed it on low in the middle of the floor at night.
If you look closely at this photo, you can tell I was over-watering, notice the algae in some cups. I’ve learned in the last three years that I need to bottom water (pour in the trays, not around the plants) and not water so much. I cover the drip tray and give it five minutes to soak up and then take the excess water out. After some trial and error, you will know almost exactly how much to put in the tray. It’s better to water in the morning early and again in the afternoon but only if it really needs it. This where monitoring the temperature comes into play.
Temperature is so very important and more so in the hotter months than when you first begin if you don’t have a system in play to take the heat out and keep the heat in. I did not have a heat source the first year when I first started planting and I used a propane portable heater during the beginning months, as I spoke of earlier. I didn’t start seeds until I knew it would be in the 60’s and 70’s during the day and never below 50* at night.
My greenhouse came with four vents windows in the roof. I found out almost immediately I needed something else. My son with aid of Dad put in a 10-inch solar exhaust fan. I had high hopes, and it was okay before it got truly hot in the summer months. I didn’t lose plants but would have had I not watered them every two hours. I knew the next summer I would have to do something else. I brought in a box fan and placed up high on a shelf and opened it to high speed which really moved the air around, but I still had to be watchful of the pots/plants drying out quickly. Last summer, 2022, my son-in-law gave me a big commercial fan to use. I placed it at the back of the greenhouse with a smaller panel removed to suck in cooler air and it was strong enough to move the heat out, but I had to leave the sliding entry doors fully open.
We have a huge water tank that holds 250 gallons of fluid, and it was normally used to hold our maple sap in the spring. When it was full it was time to cook off the sap into maple syrup. That’s a whole story on its own!! We filled the tank at the outdoor water faucet while on the back of the old Dodge pickup and hauled it to the back of the greenhouse where the elevation was high enough that hooking a hose to it and turn it on it ran into a tank in front of the greenhouse.
We tried using it from the north side of the greenhouse but there wasn’t enough gravity force to let it run into the barrel. Behind the greenhouse is a grass ledge about 18 inches higher that worked perfectly.
Here is a list of things that I started the actually planting and growing process in the greenhouse:
POTS FOR STARTING, STERILIZED
PRO MIX POTTING SOIL
PAN/ CONTAINER TO CLEAN/STERILIZE POTS
LABELS FOR POTS
MAGIC MARKERS FOR LABELING
Let me stop here and let this sink in and I’ll continue this page in a couple days. Questions??? Leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you.
Greenhouse Opened and Ready to Grow
I love growing things!!!
Eddie and I were very busy making changes in March to my greenhouse. One roof panel came loose during the winter under the shade cloth. One vent window kept coming apart. The small solar exhaust fan in the front peak was too small to do the job of taking the heat out last summer. We were trying to think of new ways to keep it cool because so many times the midday heat rose to over 90 degrees. I didn’t lose anything but was constantly watering and blasting the heat out with a commercial fan that my son-in-law loaned me, and it was a huge challenge, but things still grew for me.
We replaced the roof panel, repaired the vent window, removed the solar fan and did some rearranging of the tables to help with saving the seedlings and plants. I bought an oscillating fan to place in the back of the greenhouse to move the air around and push it to the front of the greenhouse. The back of the greenhouse receives the hottest of the air from the western sun every day that it’s not cloudy.
I bought an exhaust fan to replace the solar fan that is three times the size of the old one.
This fan has a timer with an auto cycle On/OFF at your desired temperature and humidity level and 24hour timer. I have it set at 75* and it’s already working like a charm.
Our son came by last Saturday and set up the timer which was actually very simple, and we could have done it, but he knows electronics and we thought “Better safe than sorry”!!
The next thing we did at his urging was we cut a panel on the northside of the greenhouse, close to the ground and put a screen in it. We saved the cut panel and clip it back on the wall in late afternoon when evening air cools and take it off in the mornings when it warms up.
We’ve been using our chick heat lamps since I opened the greenhouse to keep it warm at night and help the seedlings to grow. It worked great until this weekend when the cold dropped to freezing again and Eddie put a small propane heater in the greenhouse Saturday, yesterday and we’ll probably use it a few more nights as long as the cold is here. The lamps work great but when the air is cold outside, and wind is blowing they’re just not enough.
The herbs are planted, and I also planted some flowers last week. They are balsam, geranium, Bells of Ireland, dusty miller, blanket flower, delphinium, gaillardia, money plant, marigold, zinnia, moonflower (every year), Hosta, cleome, calendula, black-eyed Susan and balloon flower.
The first thing I started were the few vegetables that I will need to can this summer. Mr. Stripey tomatoes, Heavyweight and Super Shepherd sweet peppers, banana peppers, San Marazano tomatoes, romaine lettuce, Stonehead, Flat Dutch and Red Empress cabbages, and carrots. I’ve never been able to get carrots to grow in the garden because the soil is too heavy (I think) so this year I sowed some in a large black plastic cauldron in the greenhouse just see if I can get one. The potatoes and onions will be planted as soon as the weather gets to “normal”!! After that we’ll plant directly into the garden to include corn, green beans, yellow crookneck and Delicata squash, cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins, cantaloupe and watermelon. I haven’t decided where to plant the sunflowers yet if I plant any. The chickens sure do love them.
COME ON WARM WEATHER!!!!