2/15/12

Cleaning Out My Little Greenhouse



Last year I purchased this little greenhouse from Farm and Fleet. I had my eye on it for years before I finally decided to get one. It was my anniversary present from Tom :)  Unfortunately I didn't use it as much as I had planned during the growing season last year. I didn't start my own seeds under lights inside, so I didn't have any hardening off to do in the spring. In the fall I moved some kale, Swiss chard, tomato, pepper, lettuce and strawberry plants into the greenhouse. The tomatoes and peppers succumbed to the cold before producing any more fruit. We did get salads from the lettuce and kale and we also ate some of the chard. But this year I really want to get a lot more use from this nifty little contraption.

I decided it was time to clean all of the dead stuff out of the greenhouse today and get it set up for spring. The temperature was over 40 F outside as I started pulling everything out. It felt pretty warm in the greenhouse, even with the overcast conditions.



I left the cardboard on the ground to suppress weeds, then I built a little 'fort' of hay bales to provide insulation on three sides of the new planting area.



I used two glass shower doors (left over from a remodeling project) to cover the bales of hay. I can add another bale of hay to the front of this bed to create a cold frame within the greenhouse to provide extra protection during the coldest months. The glass doors can be pushed back to cool down the bed on sunny days. They will also work as a table for putting flats of seedlings out in the spring.

It is my hope that we will be able to keep some organic greens going throughout the winter for our own use. There are a few kale plants that have survived so far this year without the extra protection...hopefully they will sprout some new leaves for salads this spring and maybe even set seed this year. I can save the seed for planting out in the garden.

I have used straw bale forts with old windows over them in the past as cold frames and was able to harvest lettuce until after Thanksgiving and kale until well after Christmas. I think that having this little cold frame inside the greenhouse will be a very interesting experiment. I only wish I had gotten my get-up-and-go in gear last fall so that we could have fresh greens right now!

This post is featured on Wildcrafting Wednesdays on Mind Body and Soul at  http://mindbodyandsoleonline.com/herbal-information/27th-edition-of-wildcrafting-wednesday/

Also featured on: _ garden link up

16 comments:

  1. Please let us know how it works out! Isnt it just wonderful what we can think to use and recycle :) love the shower door idea.

    Julie

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  2. Thats a very resourceful way to re-purpose old shower doors!

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  3. I love your little greenhouse and the straw bale cold frame sounds like a great idea! I hope your kale likes the new conditions and starts producing again! :)

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  4. Thanks for the comments! When we had the shower doors replaced, the guy doing the work was planning to break the doors to put them in the garbage. They are shatter-proof so he said there would be no sharp bits, just little pebbles of glass. Well, I really didn't want him to do that in our driveway...which was his plan. So I put on my thinking cap and came up with this idea...much better than adding to the landfill and taking a chance on bits of glass in the driveway. So far everything looks good...now I just need to keep the kale watered. I'm considering sowing some lettuce and spinach seed in the cold frame bed this week. Temps have been unusually mild for Feb around here.

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  5. Those are some great ideas. I like the straw bale cold frame idea. Shower doors would be a nice, heavy glass for insulation. Okay, now you've giving me an idea for a new project... Thanks for the post!

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  6. Happy to share! Let me know how your project goes :)

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  7. I've seen these little greenhouses in nursery catalogs and always wondered how they performed. Look rather roomy, actually.

    Rural Thursday is up and waiting for you, Lisa. http://www.aruraljournal.com/2012/02/rural-thursday-blog-hop-3-parmesan.html Hope you can join us!

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    1. Hi Nancy,
      If I were to do it over again, I think I would get the one that is a couple feet longer. I think this one is 6'x6' and the 6'x8' would be nice. I do like this little greenhouse, but I noticed as I was cleaning that there was a small hole in the plastic at the bottom. I tried to weigh down the bottom edges with chunks of wood to prevent cold air from blowing in underneath, and that caused the hole when the wind was blowing. So I need to figure out a better arrangement.

      Thanks for letting me know...I'll be right over to link up!

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  8. This is great - you're way ahead of the game in my book! I still have weeding to do.

    Thanks for linking up with Rural Thursday!

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    1. Don't worry, I have weeds too!

      Thanks for the opportunity to share on your blog hop!

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  9. You are accomplishing a lot with your greenhouse....do you mind if I link this to one of my greenhouse posts...I get a lot of people commenting to me that they cannot afford a greenhouse and I think your blog post would really inspire them! By the way thanks for linking up to "The Ole' Saturday Homesteading Trading Post" blog hop at Lil' Suburban Homestead this week!

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    1. Feel free to link to my post...I'm honored that you want to! This little greenhouse was around $190 regular price. We got it on sale in March last year for about $160...which may still be a bit high for a lot of folks. If they can get the bales of straw or hay and some old windows, they can put together a really easy cold frame like I did. The straw will get moldy after a while, but you could line the inside with black plastic to keep that out of the soil.

      Thanks for hosting the blog hop!

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  10. That's a nice greenhouse. I need something and this might do if I can figure out how to tie it down well. We're on a ridge top and it can get windy.

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    1. Hi Kathy,
      I purchased an anchoring kit for metal tool sheds. We (by we, I mean mostly Tom)used it to anchor the greenhouse in the most sheltered part of our yard. I don't know if that would work in your location or not. We have had some pretty windy conditions with tornado warnings in our area, and it has held up. Be aware that the plastic covering for this greenhouse will eventually need to be replaced.

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  11. Great post Lisa Lynn. I love how resourceful you are. Those shatterproof glass doors will really help as will the hay bales. Have you got a way to read temperatures in the greenhouse? I borrowed my hubby's little digital wi-fi thermometer gizmo and put it in my hoop houses for a few weeks last fall and I was amazed at how successful those little 3mil plastic covers were at elevating temps and keeping my veggie babies warm inside. I kept a log and had a good idea when I needed to close the ends each day and when to open them again.

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    1. Thanks! I don't have a thermometer in the greenhouse yet...it is busy keeping track of the incubator temps right now :) I'm planning to use it in the greenhouse when the eggs hatch. And yes, it is the same type of gizmo you are using! What a great thing to have. I had the same set up at our last house in my cold frames, so I knew when to put an extra layer over it at night.

      Keeping a log is a great idea...you are very organized :) Maybe that will rub off on me...fingers crossed!

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