What’s Growing in the Greenhouse? Volume 2

The plants in the greenhouse are growing quite well, so I thought it was time to give you an update. Over the past few nights we have had our first cold weather of the year. Saturday night the low was 28* outside, and since we still have electricity and didn’t want to lose the plants we have growing, we put a small space heater out in the greenhouse for the night. The low in the greenhouse that night was 43* with the heater running. An hour or so after daylight when the outside temperature had risen to 39* and we had turned off the heater, it was 66* in the greenhouse because of the sunlight. It warms quickly once the sun is up. We also ran the heater last night when the low was 31*. The plants would have probably been fine without the heater last night, but we are so happy with all of the growth and potential food, that we didn’t want to take the chance. 

 

Before the cold weather hit, we removed the exhaust fan and covered the four vents with plywood.

 

 

Generally, the temperature next to the wall of the house continues to stay about 10* warmer than the surrounding shelves overnight and all of the plants, with the exception of the okra which is a real heat loving plant, 

appear to be happy. During the day, we open the screen on the door, or the door itself when the temperatures inside reach around 85* or so. We just have to remember to shut everything back down about 3:30 or 4:00 pm once the sun reaches the point where cooling begins to occur. It continues to be a great learning process. We still think the cool weather plants will do well with the thermal mass of the water barrels. The warm weather plants might not make it, but there would still be food to eat. 

Here is the latest tour of the plants.

Sweet pepper dug from the garden

Tomatoes

Buttercup winter squash

Cucumbers

Green beans

Onions

Okra with comfrey leaves for fertilizer

Collard greens

Mesclun greens

Romaine that has been picked a lot

Tansy lettuce & endive

Comfrey that has been picked several times

Strawberries

Lettuce that has never been very happy

Mustard spinach that grows very well. We’ve picked it a lot.

Spinach, we’ll be picking soon

Beets

Broccoli

Cabbage

Carrots

Brussels sprouts

Turnip greens

Celery

Potatoes

 

Cabbage

Kale

Basil

Thyme

Stevia

Coriander

Lemon Balm

Dill

Oregano

Austrian Winter Peas

Jalapeno from the garden

Potato

My first experience with hand pollinating has been with the yellow squash.
 

Yellow squash on the left

Male flower collecting pollen

Female flower receiving pollen

Squash that was pollinated one week later

The muskmelon has had some problems with powdery mildew. One of my books recommended comfrey tea spray which I have been using for a few days. It seems to be gradually diminishing, but not before it affected the yellow squash next door as well.

Powdery mildew

Muskmelon on right next to the yellow squash

The muskmelon has had many male flowers.

I think this will be the first female flower on the muskmelon I have found.

 

Today I picked lettuce, spinach, winter peas, sweet peppers and onions for a salad. We still have a few tomatoes left from the garden, and I added some of our cheddar cheese.
 

There is not a lot of food to harvest yet, but there is a lot of potential. We’ve had a few small servings of cooked turnip, collard and beet greens which we’ve really enjoyed, and we really look forward to eating squash again, in the winter no less. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue learning how to produce more food.

Until next time – Fern
 

What’s Growing in the Greenhouse? Volume 1

Well, we did it. We actually built a greenhouse after 30 years of dreams and plans. Dreams really do come true, and they are appreciated all the more when the wait is long. To be honest, it still doesn’t seem real to me even though I tend the plants here everyday. Recently I had lots of fun, when I added another 18 pots of stuff, some alive and kicking from the yard, and some with newly planted seeds.

We decided to continue using our former seedling tables for planting, this is where the messes will be made. The set up is great, there is lots of room for dirt, gravel, pots, tubs and such, at first we were thinking that everything would move into the greenhouse, but not now. We’ve already started to wonder if the greenhouse is too small, when at first it didn’t look like we could possibly fill the shelves. It is quite the interesting learning process. I can only imagine the other changes we will make along the way.

I started out my planting foray by digging up some things from the garden and herb bed. I realized today that I missed getting some marjoram, which we have really come to enjoy. I will get some in the next few days and add one more pot to the greenhouse shelves, for now. My digging adventure turned up a number of things.

More potatoes from the garden
Comfrey

Mustard greens
Lemon Balm
Creeping Thyme
Two year old celery
Oregano

Tiger decided we needed to have a discussion while I was putting these plants in pots. 

 

Next came the seeds, more pots, and more trips to the greenhouse.

 

I have to admit, it looks pretty neat in here. With more pots on the top shelf to water, I started using the step stool. I am tall, 5’9″, and watering a few plants is not a problem, but now that there are a lot more, it’s time to ‘step up’ to the task.

I have been reading about hand pollination since we have a number of plants that will need help. Since I have several different cucurbits (squashes, cucumbers, muskmelon) growing, and I don’t want to cross pollinate them, each plant will have it’s own paint brush for this task. When I told Frank I needed some paintbrushes he reminded me there were some in the garage. It’s nice to go no farther than one of your own shelves when you need something.


We have picked some lettuce and spinach for salads. I even trimmed some greens from the onions once. We’ve also picked a few turnip greens, but that’s all so far. I don’t think it will be long before the pickings will be increasing, and that will be a real treat, especially as the days get shorter and cooler. Here is what’s growing in the greenhouse.

Onions
Collard greens


Comfrey
Romaine that is going to seed.
Lettuce
Strawberries from the garden thanks to a reader.
Spinach
More Turnips
Turnips
Brussels sprouts
Broccoli
Cabbage

Carrots in tub #1
Carrots in tub #2
Beets

As I prepared some of the new seeds and plants, I began to wonder where I would put them. Some of these plants thrive in cooler weather, so I thought about putting them on the floor. Even though the concrete will help with some heating via solar mass and ground temperatures, I could picture these plants going dormant because of the cold air that settles to the floor. At first I thought about raising them off the floor with concrete blocks, but they would be cold as well. I settled for scrap blocks of wood from some of our building projects, hoping the wood would not conduct the cold as much as a concrete block. We’ll have to see how this theory pans out. This also utilizes more of the space we have in the greenhouse.

Austrian Winter Peas in the tub, new potato plants in the pot
Celery from the herb bed
The first potatoes from the garden
Mustard greens
Okra, which is a hot weather plant. We really don’t expect it to produce.

The area next to the wall of the house contains the plants that prefer hot weather and/or need a trellis. So far with night time temperatures in the 40’s occasionally, this area tends to be around 10 degrees warmer than the main shelf by the outside wall. We are very interested to see how this will work out with freezing temperatures. Since the nights are not down to freezing and the temperatures inside heat up quickly on sunny days, we have not closed down any of the vents yet. Frank has a plan for easily opening and closing the vents as needed.
 

Back row: Green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers
Front row: ginger, buttercup squash, turmeric

Yellow squash

 

Muskmelon

The yellow squash and muskmelon are in the center of the room. So far, they are very happy. The squash will be blooming soon. I hope to be able to wind the muskmelon around on the table top as it grows.
 

The herbs, a few greens and some flowers, have found homes on the top row of shelves. When I was looking for herb seeds, I ran across some Thumbelina Zinnia, Livingston Daisies, Dandelions and Moss Rose (which we have always called rose moss), and just couldn’t resist having a few flowers in here.

2 kinds of Kale
Rose Moss
Zinnias
Mesclun Mixed Greens

 

Creeping Thyme

The almost dead Stevia is coming out again.

Oregano
Lemon Balm with a dandelion

It’s hard to imagine how growing these things may affect our diets, especially in a survival situation. This truly is our survival greenhouse. We have much to learn, and a short time to do it. There will be failure and there will be success, but most of all, I hope there is food.

Until next time – Fern