The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

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

31 comments:

  1. OMG you have a little tortoise shell kitty. My favorite kind of cat...what is her name?
    I lost mine 3 years ago.

    Your greenhouse will be a jungle in no time.

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    1. Her name is Tiger, Tewshooz, and she is a funny little thing. Remember the other kitten we lost, Little Bit? She was Tiger's sister.

      Your comment about the greenhouse being a jungle made me smile. I sure hope so!

      Fern

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  2. I'm sure you'll pardon the pun if I say I'm green with envy at the sight of your magnificent greenhouse. What an absolute treasure it is. Will you plant the cabbage and brussell sprouts outside or will they not cope with the snow and cold temps? It's when I see all the preps you do to have fresh food growing all year round that I realise just how lucky I am to live in an area, that while experiencing frosts during the winter, doesn't have the challenges of snow and I an plant just about anything. As I type this the temp is skyrocketing outside and its humid - yuck. Summer is well and truly on it's way. Blessing to you both.

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    1. We tried planting some cabbage, rather late, last year in the fall and it never did anything. I'm not very good at growing cabbage anytime, so we'll see how this will do. I've been tempted to pick a few cabbage leaves to add to a meal, but I don't know if they would be any good. I have another tube planted with seeds, so I hope we can get two 'crops' over the winter. I look forward to growing a bunch of cabbage seedlings for spring planting.

      We get very little snow here and it doesn't stay long. There is usually a week or so in the winter when it is below freezing, but generally it stays above freezing most days and nights. Take care in the heat, it can really be a challenge. Thanks you for sharing.

      Fern

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    2. I've picked cabbage leaves before and used them in a meal and they were just fine Fern. You will probably have to cut the "rib" out of them as it will be fairly tough from being the outside leaves if the cabbages are bigger. From memory I think I used them in Chow Mein or a casserole. If the cabbages are small treat them like you would baby lettuce or any other immature veg. Cabbages grow well here - not that I'm an expert - but I have a dreadful problem with the White Cabbage Moth that lays it's eggs on them. The only way to protect them is with lots of fine netting that the moths can't get though and they have to be protected from the minute I plant them as seedlings.

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    3. I have never been able to grow a real head of cabbage in the garden because of the moths and worms, Calidore, and I have never tried the netting either. I may have to break down and try it. I think the weeds will take over under there, though. I'll try again this coming spring and see what luck we have.

      We ate a few small cabbage leaves in a salad today along with some of the onion greens, lettuce and spinach. It was good. Thank you for the information.

      Fern

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  3. I am envious you have stevia. I have bought plants and tried it 4 seasons but all I get is the same say 3-5 original branches that get longer and then stop growing and die a month or so later. Is it best if you pinch the tips of the branches back to get more branches? I can't find information about this on the net. I have looked. I tried growing it in full sun and partial shade and same results. I live in S. Calif. Did you have to order our comfy on line? I never see it for sale here and now not even stevia.
    Your green house is so pretty! Dreams do come true. Especially if you save and plan and work for it ! :-) Now you are on to a new learning experience. So much we can learn from books or other people. Other things we have to experiment for ourselves on our own land. I can see you are enjoying this new adventure! You will be enjoying this for many years, God willing. Jody

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    1. The stevia is only doing so, so. We'll see if it ever grows enough to do anything. I trimmed these back from their long, leggy stems when I moved them in here, then dried the leaves that were cut off. I tried them in a pie, but they didn't make much difference in the sweetening and have a funny after taste. I need to do more research.

      I bought the comfrey roots from Horizon Herbs.

      https://www.horizonherbs.com/group.asp?grp=674

      If you buy the Russian variety they will spread through the roots, which is a good way to increase your plantings.

      Thank you for sharing, Jody.

      Fern

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  4. Your greenhouse crops look great. I pick cabbage leaves, only the bottom ones, all the time to add to salads or my wraps. Be sure to cut and use the flower buds of any edible plants. I'd suggest growing flowers, they are necessary for the prettiness they provide, that are edible also - marigolds, nasturiums, violas, society garlic and so on - there are lists on the web.

    One other thing I've noticed getting a lot of press for those looking to be more self sufficient - sprouts and not just the ones grown in a jar. Pea shoots and sunflower shoots are considered the most nutritious of those grown in a shallow container of soil. You can have continuous crops every 4-6 weeks all year. I've grown sunflower shoots from sun seeds harvested from my own sunflowers and from seeds purchased for eating, as long as they are raw.

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    1. We've never been flower eaters, Bellen. I know lots of folks are, but so far, we haven't been. I haven't heard of eating sunflower sprouts, so that is good to know. I can start a tub of those next to the Austrian Winter Peas. The leaves are supposed to be great on salads and taste just like peas. I can also feed the peas to the critters in the winter. Great information, thank you for sharing.

      Fern

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  5. From Off the Grid News blog - http://www.offthegridnews.com/survival-gardening-2/how-to-grow-an-edible-indoor-garden-in-just-10-days-2/
    How to grow micro greens. What I think everybody should be doing.

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    1. Good article, Bellen, thank you. My first curiosity was what plants they recommended for the greens and this is what I found. "Specific examples of plants that can be grown as microgreens include mustard, kale, endive, arugula, beet greens, spinach, tatsoi, radish greens and watercress." I have most of these seeds, so we could mix our own, kind of like I have done for regular sprouts grown in a jar by the kitchen sink. There are so many ways to get good nutrition year round. Thank you for pointing out this resource.

      Fern

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  6. We received an email from Emergency Essentials this morning (11/01/15), and their 55 gallon water barrels are on sale. These are the same barrels we have in the greenhouse. Just thought I would share in case anyone was interested. We bought ours in 2008 when the price was lower and they had free shipping.

    http://beprepared.com/water-barrel-55-gallon-drum.html?oc=INEM3346m&sc=EMAIL&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=emer1101%20-%20INEM3346m&utm_term=Master%20-%20Monthly%20Sales

    Fern

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  7. This is great experiment - to see if the mass of water provides enough heat for the winter in your zone! It's possible it will, since most of your plants are cool weather tolerant and you seem to be far enough south.

    I agree about micro greens. No reason most people can't be growing a few of these, even on a windowsill, because of their nutritive value. That being said....off I go. To plant some micro-greens!

    Thanks for the wonderful post.

    Just Me

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    1. Thank you for sharing, Just Me. I experiment on us all the time. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. Either way, I learn a lot.

      Fern

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  8. Replies
    1. Thanks, Wendy. I can't wait until everything is up and really growing, then I won't worry about picking too much.

      Fern

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  9. Fern, I have to say your Green house is great. AND this is possibly the most comprehensive post I have ever seen. Thanks for all the detail. Oh and when you get tired of that cat just send her up here.

    Carl In the UP

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    1. Hi, Carl. The greenhouse has been a long term dream of ours. The learning curve is just beginning, though. The temperatures are starting to change, so we're about to find out how well it works. Sorry, but the cat stays here. Thanks for your comment.

      Frank

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  10. It looks fantastic Fern. What a blessing to be able to plant and grow food all year long. I'm looking forward to the day when our greenhouse becomes a reality too.

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    1. Hi, Leigh. The next six months or so are going to be a large experiment and sharp learning curve. We'll keep you posted on how it goes, or doesn't.

      Frank

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  11. The greenhouse and vegetation looks awesome. Great job!!!!

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    1. Hello, Shannon. Thank you. It looks good now, we'll see how it goes in the next couple of months.

      Frank

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  12. Your greenhouse is so tidy and so very clean. I remember when mine looked that way. LOL
    With our greenhouse, we only use it part-time now, as we no longer supply propane heat to keep it running in the colder Winter months. We open up the greenhouse in February here in our Zone 6 region and I begin to sow seeds -- that's when we heat our greenhouse. We rely on our stats to regulate the forced-heat, fans, and vents.

    I wanted to mention something that I do for potatoes during the colder season (and during Winter). I take several potato eyes and I plant them in October. By early Spring, those plants have created several new potatoes!! This is a great method to increase your own seed potatoes, especially if you are only working with a dozen or so potatoes for the upcoming year. Also, this method can be done as a second/alternative way to
    store" some of your seed potatoes.
    L.S.

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    1. Dear L.S. I live in Zone 5 and wondered if I could do the potatoes if I mulched heavily? When do you remove the mulch in the spring - after the last hard frost? Never did it this way before and any advice would be welcomed.
      Thanks - JD from NY

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    2. JD from NY
      I didn't write that clearly enough, I'm sorry.
      When I am planting the 'carry over' potato eyes in October, they are in containers in the greenhouse. I am not heating the greenhouse during the cold months but the daytime sun brings the temp up enough to allow the eyes to grow and tubers to form. So far, I have grown them in 5 gal buckets and the soil is about 3/4 filled. I think having the extra soil helps to insulate the growing tubers.
      L.S.

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    3. Hi, L.S. One year we tried growing potatoes on the surface of the garden, and covered them with straw. This could be a good idea to try over winter in the greenhouse. We are in zone 7, almost zone 8. At this time we do not plan on heating the greenhouse. We'll see how it goes. Thank you for the ideas and thank you for sharing.

      Frank

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  13. Oh amazing!! I'm in love with your greenhouse. We have plans to some day move one of our little sheds and convert it to a greenhouse. I usually say all in due time because our list of projects on the homestead just continues to grow but with dreariness of winter just around the corner, seeing your post gets me fired up and excited. Might have to push the greenhouse project farther up on the list. Many blessings to you both.

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    1. We find that if we water our projects regularly that the list continues to grow. Seriously, it does appear to be a never ending list, kind of like two steps forward and one step back. Our weather is up around 70* during the days now, the trees are changing, but it's real good outdoor working weather. Maybe someday that list will go down, but not today. Good luck on your dreams.

      Frank

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  14. I'm really enjoying reading about your greenhouse, Fern. I want to move the hoophouse higher up on my list.

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    1. Hi, Kathi. Keep us informed about the progress on your hoophouse. We investigated that possibility, and I guess in the long run, it's still a possibility. There are some big hoophouses out there. Good luck on yours.

      Frank

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