Posts tagged ‘greenhouse’

January 22, 2014

Seed starting/gardening

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust. –Gertrude Jekyll

It’s almost that time again, spring is around the corner and I’ve got the fever! The greenhouse is back up and running again after a few modifications and my seed wishlist is complete. I’ve gone through all the seeds I’ve saved and was given and those I had left over and I am primed and ready!

I wanted to share the sites I use to determine when things are started from seeds and when I put my plants in the ground, where I order seeds from and a few different styles of gardening I like (or would like to try).

Dates for planting will vary, of course, depending on location. Some seeds can be direct sowed -meaning the seed is put right into the ground- (melons, corn, beans, carrots…), while others need a month or more to germinate and grow at warmer temps and thus need to be started indoors or inside of a greenhouse (peppers, tomatoes, some flowers…).

It’s important to know what zone you are in. Knowing this will help determine what dates are better for starting seeds and/or putting certain plants outdoors. Back home in Northern Cal. (zone 8A), we did not put the majority of the summer plants out until around May 1. As a general rule, the week/weekend before Mother’s Day was our target date to have most of the summer plants in (earlier for spring crops of course). Here in Central Kansas (zone 5B), I aim to start planting the 2nd week in May so I can be sure the chances for frost to kill my plants is slim. Putting some plants out too early may cause frost to harm them and that can lead to wasted money and time as plants may need to be re-purchased and re-planted. Starting them too early indoors can mean needing to transplant in larger pots or risk having the plant get “leggy” or root bound.

I haven’t come across a general “all inclusive” website that I like to use that encompasses all of the gardening advice or spreadsheets I use. I pick and choose information from a lot of different sources, including books! Some of my sources have overlapping info and it may be a bit redundant but I am including them anyway as it may be helpful to others.

I will also list several links at the bottom of this post to different styles of gardening I like, will be trying, have tried or would like to try. There are so many gardening styles it’s mind boggling and by no means is what I have listed all inclusive!

Find your zone here: http://www.garden.org/zipzone/

Look up your frost dates here: http://davesgarden.com/guides/freeze-frost-dates/

If you know your zone you can use this handy chart: http://www.food-skills-for-self-sufficiency.com/images/Frost-date-chart.jpg

I love Sprout Robot for a weekly schedule of planting/seed starting both indoors and out: http://sproutrobot.com/

By entering your zip code and “x’ing” out of the pop up window, it will give you a weekly run down of what to do. For further details (instructions, etc.), you must pay to join but I like this handy dandy free tool to keep me on track.

I also love this one! Once you know your last frost date, enter it into the box and it will tell you when to start your seeds and set out your plants! http://www.johnnyseeds.com/e-pdgseedstart.aspx

I use this plant/harvest print-out as a tool throughout the year: http://gardnercommunitygarden.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Kansas-Garden-Calendar.jpg

This guide below is in my “Kansas Garden Guide” book that I picked up at our county extension office but I found this same one through a Google image search. I have seen them for many different states. If you Google image search “(your state) garden guide” you may find one for your state. They don’t usually vary too much. I have listed a couple on a quick search. Try calling your county extension/research/ag dept., they are usually a wealth of information!

Texas: http://www.newgardenidea.me/2013/05/vegetable-garden-planting-guide.html

Mo: http://www.igrowsonoma.org/images/year-round-chart.jpg

Wy: http://myflowerland.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/vege-guide.jpg

Here is a handy general planting guide: http://parkseedjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Parks-Veg.-Plant-Guide3.jpg

It doesn’t take a lot to grow your own food. Even a container or two with a few pots of tomatoes on an apartment balcony can be rewarding. I love to see community gardens popping up!

Lasagne Gardening:

Potatoes grown in bags and containers:

Straw bale gardening:

General “all-purpose” gardening sites:

Amending your soil:

Hardening your plants:

Pinching (pruning tomatoes):

Pest control:

Gardening Forums:

Germination temperature:

A few of my favorite online seed stores (usually they will send you a seed catalog for free even if you don’t order). I like to try to stick with organic non-GMO seeds.

Books I love:

  • Vegetable Gardener’s Bible
  • Sunset’s Western Garden Book

Happy planting!

January 13, 2014

Weekend = Greenhouse

Ahhh, always such great expectations as to what we can accomplish in one weekend. I will say that with really getting into a good cardio routine, I am feeling SO much better! I’m not waking up feeling like my back is about to break, no pain in my hips (probably because my legs feel like they’re going to fall off from the post-workout burn HA HA!) and around about the 3 o’clock hour when normally I would really want to take a nap I am feeling just as perky as the 10 o’clock hour. That coupled with our dietary changes, a week’s time has really made a difference! Thank heavens! Not to mention I am daily getting a good look at the fencing along the property line as I quickly make my way around. I always said I need to check it more. What was fun was seeing it with snow on the ground. There were so many different prints including a bobcat and from the looks of it, he/she was hot on the trail of a bunny.

That said, part of our weekend was taken up with a trip to town to the hardware store to gather a few things to fix up the greenhouse. We had also hoped to get wood splitting in there and while the weather was absolutely gorgeous, the prior evening’s rainfall coupled with the existing snow made for a bit of a small lake which made access to the green house a pain! The wood splitter and pile was still covered by snow too so Saturday was kind of a wash. I opted to clean the house instead. It was a good trade, I guess. Jeremiah visited the neighbor to weld a tow bar, I think. Although I think a lot of his time over there was spent chit chatting…and they say women yack a lot! Shew.

Sunday we made up for Saturday’s lack of outside work and we got to work ripping the 2×4’s to make the new greenhouse door, and what a mighty nice door it is. We unintentionally framed for a window when we originally built it but covered it up with plastic last year and did not opt for a window. I thought I might like to have a window this year so we can get a bit more air flow in there on the very warm days so we built one of those too.

The window isn’t completed yet. We ran out of screws to attach the strips (top and bottom).

The biggest issue with the greenhouse was the plastic being torn off the frame. We stapled it last year but the wind proved to be too much. Friends of ours mentioned putting up a high tunnel. I looked at the plans for it and took a queue on how their plastic was attached. (Here is the link if you’d like to check out the link on how to build an inexpensive high tunnel: http://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Project-Products/Western-SARE-Project-Products/Constructing-a-Low-Cost-High-Tunnel. There is a PDF file that goes a long with it with a materials list and what not). I love this idea, I’ve seen a lot like them and we often think about putting something like this up for year round gardening. For the moment however, our little greenhouse is more than sufficient.

At any rate, they cut their plastic larger than the opening and rolled thin strips of lumber up in them and attached with screws. I think we had thought about doing that last year and we did along the bottom frame but ended up not on the upper portion. I’m convinced the strips are the answer.

We also cut a diagonal to go from the door frame to the top of the shelf just as a additional location to attach the plastic (not installed yet). It’s not needed for structural support. Hopefully this fix will last us a few years.

We never did get to the wood pile and the greenhouse isn’t completely put back together but hopefully after just a couple more hours and I’ll be ready to start seeds. Lots of other little tasks were completed though and I am grateful for that. The weekends pass by so quick and particularly this time of year, the weather can make or break it.

This spring-like weather has me feelin’ the spring fever. I think it does for a lot of people but there’s still a lot of winter yet left. Seeds still need to be planted soon though and it’s nice to think about spring being on its way anyway!

Have a great Monday!

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August 3, 2013

Greenhouse Part 3

To read prior posts on the greenhouse, go here: Greenhouse part 1 and 2

I realized, after glancing through older posts, that I never posted photos of the finished greenhouse shelving.  We started 99% of our plants this year in this greenhouse and have a lovely garden to show for it! Super happy with how this turned out!

 

We used cedar fence boards for our shelving along with some 2×4’s. I think we got 3 separate panels from a regular 8′ board. I suppose if you had a supply of pallets, you could use those too =).

Have a few upgrades to make. Please realize, we get really really bad winds here, OFTEN! The plastic over the hoop held up beautifully. The plastic on the front and back was no match for the last storm it went through with 60 MPH steam-line winds. By that point, however, it was already warm enough that everything was already planted anyway.  If we had doubled  the plastic it may have been been OK but this was a “use what we had” project and there was only enough plastic to do a single layer on the outside. Before this fall, we may just go ahead and redo the front and the back with lap board siding. TO be continued…

 

greenhousegreenhouse shelving

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March 4, 2013

Greenhouse part 2

Click the link below to see the beginnings of the greenhouse and shelving photos.

 Greenhouse part 1 

Greenhouse part 3

All framed up

There is still snow on the ground, as you can see. It was not all that warm Saturday or Sunday and with the snow melting, we’re working in mud puddles, it’s just really no fun.

We had thought about putting a door on the back side as that leads right into the garden, but in the end, decided against. I’ll get about 6 more sq. feet of shelving space without the door.

The top of the frames are attached to the panels. Or rather, the panels are attached to the top of the frame with fencing staples. We should not have any issues with snow accumulations caving the greenhouse in but using any more than 2 panels, and you may want to consider using either a ridge pole or vertical supports. As it is with this one, Jeremiah can hang from the center without it flinching. He can also stand up straight and still have head room. It’s a nice sized little greenhouse and will serve its purpose for us well even allowing us to overwinter some things. Maybe next year we’ll have a larger greenhouse. And while last years cold frames served their purpose well, this project was sort of a “get us by” quicky. I don’t know how long the plastic may last .

The horizontal 2×4’s are on either side (back of  greenhouse) will hold the shelves. I’ll get about 100 sq. feet of shelving space, not too bad =). Using the ground under the shelves will give be about 32 more square feet.

Ground leveled

The ground had to be leveled a bit. Our garden is on a hill though this corner is pretty well flat.

back framed up.

We used 100+ year old recycled bricks for the floor. These will allow for better drainage and also act as insulators and radiant heat. The bricks should heat up during the day and release the heat slowly overnight.

front of greenhouse

front of greenhouse

Doing something the first time always has its challenges in figure it all out. If you ever build something again, it always goes more smoothly! This was our first time constructing a hoop house. I wondered how we’d apply the plastic to the back and front of the greenhouse. I’ve seen them with full plastic on the front but because the greenhouse is accessible to the orchard/front pen where the round bales are and we do let the pigs and goats out in it occasionally, knowing both of these animals tendencies, I felt better about having wood at least half way up.

We covered the edges of the panels with gorilla tape (makers of gorilla glue) so the tips of the panels would not go through the plastic. I was a little unhappy the tape only came in black (and smells like stale Chinese food!) but I wanted guaranteed water resistance over pretty so colored duct tape was out of the question. Drew wanted camo or Sponge Bob duct take. I did consider it for a minute.

We took a sheet of plastic the width of the roll (8′) by 4′ and carefully worked it between the panel and the plastic on the “roof”. I thought we’d cut an arch and seam the two with tape but having it go under the roof plastic creates a much better seal. We then took one long piece of tape and covered the seam along the outer edge.

I should have painted the wood before applying the plastic to the front but it’s supposed to rain next weekend and I needed this thing done. Seeds have to be started. We have lots of left over trim from remodeling our house I’ll just affix that to the front.

front

front

back framed up.

back framed up.

recycled bricks for drainage and to help hold heat.

recycled bricks for drainage and to help hold heat.

recycled door from 100+ year old house

recycled door from 100+ year old house

So, there it is. I cannot calculate up total cost for this because so much of it was recycled. If I had to guess I’d say about $100. It’s as solid as a rock and not going anywhere with our winds. We did have  little mishap while it was still just the roof up. We had winds so bad the weekend after the hoop was done, it tore the plastic from the 2×6 frame. I thought for sure it would be trashed but it did not do too much damage after all. And not that it’s full enclosed, there should be no issues with it creating a rind tunnel.

I was the lucky one who got to work inside shimmying the “wall” plastic between “roof” and panel. It was nice and toasty in there!! Now for some paint to protect it from the elements!

February 18, 2013

Greenhouse- Post 1

Saturday afternoon we got a late start on the greenhouse but we were able to get it 1/2 up. We worked on framing the front Sunday but without measurements or real plans – plus wanting to tweak the photos we have seen a bit to suit our needs- it takes a lot of forethought. It’s not huge (6′ x8′), but will suite our needs perfectly and can always be added on to.

Back in Ca. my husband and a friend put up a Harbor Freight 10′ x 12′ greenhouse. He swore NEVER again. He said it was  entirely too complicated to put together plus the pieces weren’t manufactured all that well for pieces to fit together well. We’re no slouches when it comes to construction so it’s not as if he doesn’t know what he’s doing. A friend of ours living in NE Kansas constructed one about the same time, I think hers lasted less than a year with the winds we get here in Ks. The spring winds in Northern California aren’t much better. Fortunately for us, we reinforced ours with more than what HF included in the kit and attached ours to 3″ galvanized posts set in concrete, it’s never gone anywhere!

Knowing what a pain in the butt the HF kits are and needing one sooner rather than later, we’re going with a temporary/permanent hoop house design. We had the extra panels and the plastic, staples and some of the lumber.  I’ll update this at a later time with a current supply list. We’re using a lot of what we have around which includes 8′ sections of 2×4’s and our plans are changing some as we go so it’s hard to get an accurate list to start.

  • 2 16′ cattle panels
  • 28′ of pressure treated  2″ x 6″  – (2) 8′ pieces, (2) 6′
  •   fencing staples
  • utility staples
  • staple gun
  • t posts
  • 4 mil plastic roll
  • plywood
  • misc. lumber

Last year when we put up our garden fence to keep the chickens out (cattle panels lined on the inside with 2′ chicken wire), we left a 6′ opening in the fence in the corner of the garden for a future greenhouse. We put up one of our  tubed 6′ gates (lined on the bottom with chicken wire) in the opening in the mean time to keep the animals out. We took that gate down to put in the greenhouse so some of the t posts were already there on the one side.

We’ve seen some hoop houses put together without lumber along the bottom attaching it only to t-posts on each side, with our winds and the dirt, I felt lumber along the bottom would serve several purposes so we started by attaching our panels to a pressure treated 2×6. We used 2 panels side by side length-wise overlapping one square the entire length.

Stapling panels to pressure treated 2x6

Stapling panels to pressure treated 2×6

After attaching the panels to the 2×6 at both sides, we rolled out our plastic and cut it long. Coincidentally the roll of plastic’s width, opened up, is big enough to cover the 8′ span of the greenhouse perfectly so there won’t be any seams. We used double the plastic, one on top of the other. I think it’s 4 mil, it may be 6 mil thickness but anyway, we used 2 layers. The second layer we cut longer than the first and wrapped the 2×6 with it so it was stapled to the inside of the greenhouse. I have no idea what difference this makes, we just did it without any concrete justification =). At the very least it prevents soil contact with the pressure treated lumber, AKA defeating the purpose of buying pressure treated, ha!

I don’t know if it will make a difference or not, but way back when when Jeremiah’s Grandma would cover her windows with plastic in the winter, she’d put a piece of paper between the plastic and the staple gun and tear the paper away after she stapled. He said he had no idea if it made a difference but when I saw him carting a piece of paper, I asked what on earth it was for. That was his response. The whole “tearing away the paper after stapling” left us with nothing but torn paper and nothing between the plastic and the stable so I cut strips, folded it 4 times and then we used those little pieces and actually, it seems to work really well!

First he squared up the corners with just a staple (that was how we knew tearing away the paper wouldn’t work) and the plastic did tear a bit when pulling taught. However, the plastic with the folded paper didn’t budge, so maybe there is merit to it. I just thought I’d mention it.

plastic rolled out

plastic rolled out

plastic stapled down

plastic stapled down in one corner to square it (opposite board stapled in same corner after pulling taught across the length)

hoops complete

hoop complete

stabilizing hoop to t-post

stabilizing hoop by wiring it to the top of the t-post tightly

At this point, since the t-posts (on the left of photo) were already sunk into the ground as the garden fence is preexisting, getting the hoop up meant nothing more than Jeremiah lifting and pushing the 2×6 (right side of photo) as I was lifting in the center. It’s a little heavy but pretty much bounces into place after the initial lift proving the other side is jammed against something (in our case, the preexisting t posts and fence).

We secured the panel at the top and bottom (of the t-post) with wire to the posts in each corner. We’ve seen some people add ridge poles on the inside for stability. With just these 2 panels and in the location we secured our panels (corners), Jeremiah can hang from the panel in the center inside and it does not budge. Unless there is a 200+ lb. snow load, this thing isn’t going anywhere! No ridge pole for us, in other words.

front framed

front door framed

The horizontals are 2x4s cut at 21″. The outside verticals along the panel are 36″. The verticals (for the door frame) came to 89″. The door opening is 24″. The cattle panel is just a tiny bit cattywampus (notice at the top of the door frame there is uneven space?) but this will all be pulled together with a few fencing staples through the panel into the top of the door frame, no big deal.

The horizontals not only support the door frame but they will also hold the shelves inside. I’ll get 6 shelves, 8 foot long (3 on either side).

another view of the front

another view of the front

And that’s as far as we made it yesterday. I had hoped to get farther, but like I said, not having a plan takes a little time to think it all out. Well, then there’s this…

cardio workout!

cardio workout!

I about died when I walked out to the barn, camera in hand to see that the miter saw had not been set up…or even brought out for that matter! Nor had the air compressor, or the nail gun, cordless drill or screws. “Nope”, he said, “we’re doing this by hand. I brought you a hand saw too!”. How sweet! See, we’ve decided we need more cardio in our routine. This was his idea of our cardio workout. Nice right? (Probably why we only got as far as we did!). Well, whatever, it’s good fun nonetheless!

The lower portion of the front will be in plywood that will be painted (red to match the other buildings). The upper will be plastic. The back will not have a door. We talked about it because it leads right out to the garden but, in the end, I think more shelving along the back would be better suited for this application so it’ll get framed differently.

We have majorly high winds today. I looked out the window and it’s still standing well, so all seems to be great. I’m thinking about ideas on how to attach the side plastic to the top plastic and it’s either going to be a “cut long” and fold method into the inside or a seamed method. I’m not entirely sure yet. We also discussed an idea with pipe foam insulation and attaching both roof and side plastics to the inside and installing that but that’s entirely too difficult to describe and something I’d have to show, if it were to even work. I’m thinking a hot glue gun may be a perfect application. But, we’ll see!

We’ll pick up some bags of pebbles too to put into the bottom to help retain heat. We’re a little ways from that. As they say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Our ounce of prevention is a lot of pre-thought so we’re not having to do this 50 times over.

More next weekend…for now, I think I’ll start seeds inside this week =).