This should have been written a month ago, at least, however, I have been insanely busy with work, my other YouTube channel, and life in general. None of which are usually the case, but I’ve got some time now, so let’s talk about last year.
What I Accomplished
- With the help of my best friend, I got the greenhouse leveled, and put down cardboard to smother any grass that would try to grow through, landscape plastic, to do pretty much more of the same, and wood chips to make a nice looking floor. It worked out really well for a floor, I’ve only had to pick a couple of grass shoots out of it since we did the work in the early spring.
- I also put down some cardboard and wood chips underneath the espaliered pear shortly after I made a new trellis for it. So now we don’t have to mow under the branches, hoping not to burn them with a hot lawn mower engine, and it’s on a sturdy trellis, so I don’t worry every time a strong southern wind blows through.
- The work with the wood chips and the cardboard didn’t stop there either, I made a small strawberry planter out of an old pallet and placed it east of the greenhouse, where we surrounded it with – surprise, surprise – wood chips and cardboard. I think that we also put down the last of the landscape plastic there just to make sure that the grass didn’t get up through. It mostly worked, I had to pluck some out of the planter every now and then, but, for the most part, it worked well.
- I put a raised bed into the greenhouse. This is by far the best thing that I did all season long, as it gave me a lot more space to plant then did the containers the year before. My greenhouse productivity exploded this year because of it.
- I planted a tub full of herbs. It was delightful, but more on it later.
What I Learned
- Beans LOVE greenhouses. Or so it would seem, I planted nine Kentucky Wonder beans in my greenhouse in the spring and soon they took over enough that they actually started shading my cucumbers. They also ended up going up and over the roof of the greenhouse and touching the other side. We ate a lot of beans, but I still can’t help think we could have eaten more!
- This one is pretty embarrassing if I’m being honest. As it turns out, green beans can just be immature beans of other varieties. This is probably common knowledge to most gardeners, but I didn’t have a clue until probably around July. It’s lucky that it’s like this too, because as it turns out, I don’t really like the flavor of the Kentucky Wonder beans once they mature, but I love them as a green bean. I saved a lot of seed from them for this year because of it.
- Lemon Balm makes great tea. I started a lemon balm plant because I heard that it would add a zest of lemon to your food without having to buy lemons, which can get pretty pricey in my area sometimes. What I learned, later on, is that a couple of leaves in some hot water makes for a great cup of tea, it not only started me drinking lemon balm tea, but also more tea in general. This year I will make sure to dry and save some leaves for later use, though, as I ran out as soon as the plant died back.
- If you’re lucky, a rhubarb plant will live through a zone 3 winter in a small pot on your deck. Blueberries, however, will not. In 2014, I bought three blueberry plants and a rhubarb plant from the local Home Hardware store sometime in June, but I never got around to planting them because I just couldn’t decide where they should go. Well, come to the end of July, the blueberries were doing fine in their pots, but the rhubarb died off. I never threw out the planter that the rhubarb was in, just incase I wanted to reuse the soil (which I normally don’t do, but, this time, I thought I might).
Well, winter went by, and spring came, and all of a sudden I had a tiny rhubarb plant sticking out of the soil, so I started taking care of it and planted it in the yard. It grew to about five times the size it was when I bought it before the year was done and I can’t wait to see how big it gets this year. The blueberries were replaced by four more, which were also planted in the ground as well since they never sprouted leaves from their winter deck vacation.
- There is no better defense against cabbage moths and their devil-babies then some good netting. I had huge broccoli plants and the healthiest cabbage plants I’ve ever grown this year simply because I covered them with a frame and a net early in the spring. I’ll be doing that again this year for sure, I just have to keep those bloody raspberries from popping up inside the cabbage bed.
- A chair is a great addition to a greenhouse if you have room. I went to a garage sale last spring looking to find a good deal on something that I could use, or sell on eBay. I ended up at a place with nothing that I wanted for some people who were moving, and when they saw I was leaving empty handed, the nice couple offered me a leather chair that was in fine shape, save for a rip on the seat for free. Wanting to help them out, but not really having anything to do with it, I took it, while I was driving away, I thought I’d put it in the greenhouse, and it became a great little place to read, or plant, or just listen to the bubbling of the fountain that I got at another garage sale the same day.
- The dark foam that I used to cover the sharp edges on my cattle panel for the greenhouse will destroy plastic because it heats up so much. I bought plastic for the greenhouse that should have lasted for four years, and here I am going to have to replace it after two because the foam pipe insulation that I used to keep the cattle panel edges from tearing it heat up so much in the sun that it makes the plastic brittle. I will find a solution for that this year, though, I have a few ideas floating around for it.
- If you’re air pruning a plant (growing in grow bags) you need to have a constant water source. I tried a Roma tomato in an old cloth grocery bag this summer, it started out great when it was smaller, it rapidly took off, and at one point was even bigger than the one in the greenhouse. However, this changed later in the season when it was using a lot of water and drying out quickly, as I just had it sitting on a board on the ground instead of in a kiddie pool with some water, or some other auto-watering system, as Larry Hall suggests. It should be noted, however, that when I took it out of the bag at the end of the season, the roots had AMAZING growth, with tons of root hairs and if I could have kept up with the water, it would have been a great success.
I’m sure that there was definitely more that I learned through my gardening last season, but I can’t think of anything at the moment. Hopefully, by sharing what I learned, I helped you learn something new as well.
Let me know what you learned in 2015 in the garden in the comments below.