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Greenhouse Gardening: A Busy Weekend

By Paul Gardener


Tags: Paul Gardener, Greenhouse gardening, Artichokes, Greenhouse, Garden planning,

ImageThis past weekend was a busy one around the 'stead. Dear wife's shoulder has been benefiting some from physical therapy and so she's been able to do a little more each day. That managed to free me up for the weekend to get into the yard for some serious clean up and even a little planting.

Last fall we invested in a proper greenhouse to do some greenhouse gardening. I had hoped to over-winter some tomatoes in there, but alas my dreams were slightly larger than my current abilities. (Admitting it is the first step in correcting it!) After winter had finally claimed the few plants that were in there for it's own, I essentially let the junk just pile up and the floor turn to weeds. Oh yeah, tomatoes won't over-winter, but I could have had fresh dandylion, arugula and cilantro salads nearly all winter.

The unfortunate side effect of this, that I hadn't anticipated, was that by letting weeds grow unfettered I gave a wonderfull little ecosystem to the aphids to over-winter in too! Yep, I blew that one! I think I've been proactive enough though to have caught the worst of it. I mixed up a batch of insecticidal soap and sprayed everything down with it this Saturday in order to kill off as many of them as I could. Then Sunday, I cut and killed all plant life down that was growing in between the stones and removed it straight to the trash can with any aphids that were on it in tow.

Here's the result. 

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Not too shabby huh? Even looks like I could get something growing in there if I tried. In fact, if you look closely in the back corner you'll see that I do. Right there on top of the water barrels that I added this weekend to help me stabilize the temperature in there.

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Those are artichokes. Can you believe it? They were the only things worthwhile to over-winter in the green house successfully. I had two plants in pots last year that didn't do anything much through the summer – too hot and too small of pots I think – but I decided to put them in the G-house over the winter to see if they could hold their own. Boy did they! As soon as we were past January they started to slowly fill in and throw out new shoots on their sides. A couple of weeks ago I split the smaller of the two and got the four starts that are on the left. This past weekend I split the other, larger, plant into 8 more. Now, from the two small globe artichoke starts that I bought last year I have twelve new, even bigger ones to plant this year. I can't wait for grilled artichoke hearts!

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I also got some chinese cabbage into the ground this weekend. I had really good success with these last year so I have high hopes for kimchi and stir fry this year too.

If your wondering what's up with the little display cover, it's my version of a "garden cloche" done on the cheap! If you've ever looked into the old Victorian style garden cloches you know that one this size can easily run twenty dollars or more. Well, I found this little figurine display cover at our local thrift store with about 18 of it's buddies for 1.50 a piece! That's my kind of pricing, so I'm trying out the old Victorian technique of cloche gardening. I'll keep you posted on the results

I can feel it already ... this is gonna be a great garden year! (Yeah, yeah, I know I always say that, but hey ... spring's the time for optimism!)

You can reach Paul Gardener by email, or check his personal blog at A posse ad esse

janice_3
4/16/2010 9:30:08 AM

Paul, We've had some reclaimed window sashes and two tempered sliding door panels that have been kicking around. Living in northern New Hampshire gave us plenty of time to make great winter plans to use them for a shed style greenhouse off our shed. It will get great sun about 70% of the day. We plan to make it large enough to bring our hot tub from the outside. We're looking at putting a line on the circulating pump that will run through an old cast iron radiator for heat. Of course, proper venting will also be taken in to consideration. I hope this will help us extend our short season. Your post has given me the energy I need to get up and get going on this project. I wish this project was already done since I woke up to another inch of snow this morning. My seeds are started and I'm ready to repot them into large pots and having a better place to put them will be heaven. I will certain post pictures as the project progresses.


janice_3
4/16/2010 9:28:29 AM

Paul, We've had some reclaimed window sashes and two tempered sliding door panels that have been kicking around. Living in northern New Hampshire gave us plenty of time to make great winter plans to use them for a shed style greenhouse off our shed. It will get great sun about 70% of the day. We plan to make it large enough to bring our hot tub from the outside. We're looking at putting a line on the circulating pump that will run through an old cast iron radiator for heat. Of course, proper venting will also be taken in to consideration. I hope this will help us extend our short season. Your post has given me the energy I need to get up and get going on this project. I wish this project was already done since I woke up to another inch of snow this morning. My seeds are started and I'm ready to repot them into large pots and having a better place to put them will be heaven. I will certain post pictures as the project progresses.


paul gardener
4/13/2010 9:00:17 AM

@Dave, Yep, been there. For something so simple, Starting seed can be a real pain sometimes. Even this year, which has thus far been my best effort to date, I've had some things that just didn't pan out like I'd have hoped. I make my notes in my journal and hope for better next year. I like the sound of that gravity feed automated watering system. I've kicked around a similar idea as well but haven't ever really explored it. I'd love to hear more about your plans, maybe a blog post could bring some collaboration with others? Who knows. P~


nebraska dave
4/12/2010 8:15:17 PM

Paul, I’m glad to hear that things are getting back to normal in your home. My endeavor with a green house was a small 12 expanding seed pod plastic covered tray. With heat mat in place and pods expanded, I planted four seeds of each kind of tomato. Five days, a week, 10 days past and still nothing. I poked around in the pods and found nothing sprouted except two of the palletized seeds. Next step was to take a paper towel, sprinkle seeds on the towel, fold it over, moisten with a sponge, slip it into a ziplock bag, throw it on the heat mat, and wait. Ten days later nada; bad seed; dang Walmart seeds anyway. The lesson learned was always check my seed before planting or starting plants. It’s probably a bit too late to start tomato seeds but I think I’ll just do it anyway just to see if I can do it. It would be good practice for next year. Maybe some time down the road I might have a bigger green house but for now I’m working more on automation rather than extending the growing season. This could be the year for the automated gravity feed watering system to get off the ground. Big plans and little pocketbook don’t often equate to finished project so we will see how it comes together.


cindy murphy
4/7/2010 10:36:26 AM

Cucumber kimchi - that's sounds quite interesting. Looking forward to learning about the process....when the time comes, of course.


paul gardener
4/6/2010 10:12:11 AM

@MountainWoman She is, yes, thank you. Hopefully it will be as productive for me as it is fun to dream of. With all the snow and off again on again cold weather I worry about getting things out there too soon. It would kill me if I lost all my hard work. Here's to hoping!


paul gardener
4/6/2010 10:01:04 AM

@Cindy, Thanks, It's coming along. I finally got more sprouts into it this last weekend too. (The post was referencing the weekend prior) All my broccoli, brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Hoping to move the seed starter along with my 70 or so other plants outside in the next couple of weeks. Last night left us covered with 4" of snow so... we'll see how well the cloches do! As for kimchi I was taught how to make it last year by a co-workers wife. They are both Korean so I guess that makes it "authentic". It isn't the fermented type, that's just a little too authentic you know, it's the fresh type. We love to make cucumber kimchi as well. I promise you a post on the process when the time for making it comes OK? Thanks!


mountain woman
4/6/2010 9:49:12 AM

Paul, So glad your wife is feeling better. I love your greenhouse. Really nice in there. I'm so envious of your artichokes and maybe it's something I should try. We also have a greenhouse although I haven't used it over the winter yet. I just moved my tomatoes out there yesterday and hope all goes well. I'm still very much a novice. Great to read about all your doing and I look forward to more of your growing adventures.


cindy murphy
4/5/2010 6:11:03 PM

Paul, not too shabby, huh? Dang, it's gorgeous. I'd be interested in knowing your kimchi recipe - Hubs loves the stuff; he got a taste for it when he was stationed in Korea way back when. Do you bury it in the ground to ferment as they do over there? Best wishes for that great garden year.