Category Archives: Garden Updates

Greenhouse Seed Starting Update June 18, 2016

I did a lot of digging in between episodes this time, which really helped me to move many of the bigger seedlings out of the greenhouse. The tomatoes (except for two) and the peppers were all planted out, along with two of the basil plants. All of the Tiny Tim tomatoes were planted in bigger pots and have taken off since.

I also planted the last of the seedlings that I will be doing this season. I planted zucchini in a medium-sized pot which is likely going to be a little small for a plant of its size, but we don’t have plans to eat a lot of it, so hopefully it will only produce a few fruits.

Believe it or not, I finally moved the goji berries out of the greenhouse so that I could plant some vegetables in the raised bed. The goji berry bed measures approximately 8 feet by 8 feet if you measure from the end of each section to the middle edge. Once I get the leaves in, and some more strawberry plants, I am going to plant strawberries in between all of the goji plants. Along with the leaf mulch, this will help to hold in a bit of water by shading the soil (and leaves) as well as helping me to maximize my space.

I also had to remove what was left of the radishes and turnips that were in the raised bed. Almost all of them were starting to bolt, as the hot weather has made it very hard to keep the greenhouse at a good temperature for cooler weather crops. At least we got a few of each early in the season since I won’t be planting any until the fall because of the root maggots we had last year. I had forgotten to mention about these in the video.

As always, keep on gardening, and thanks for watching (the video is below).

Greenhouse Seed Starting Update May 22, 2016

A little snow doesn’t keep a good gardener down. Well, maybe it does in more tropical regions, but here in Alberta, it’s not uncommon to have a late spring snow storm or two, so it’s just something we all have to learn to deal with.

That being said, we have really been blessed this season with warmer than usual spring weather, and I think that has a lot to do with the seedlings do as well as they have done up to this point. The extra heat could have hurt them in the greenhouse during the day, but I was careful to vent with my fan through the open door to push out as much excess heat as I could. This worked out rather well, but as soon as I get the frame put on each end, I will have an automatic venting fan that will run from a few small solar cells that I bought.

That small project should help loads with my venting issues in the greenhouse, as having a fan against the outer plastic pushing the hot air out, while allowing the cooler, outside air in through the window will be much more efficient at exchanging the air inside the greenhouse. Right now the fan does an alright job, but I can tell come summer that it will require at least one more fan to run it this way, and every extra fan that I need to run in the greenhouse takes away from the purpose of gardening in there as cheaply as possible.

For the update on the seedlings, you can just check out the video below, it will be much easier for you to see them first hand like that than for me to tell you.

As always, keep on gardening, and thanks for watching!

Greenhouse Seed Starting Update May 1, 2016

Even though it has been more than a week since I took the video that this post is named after, and from when the video at the bottom of the page was taken, I figured that I could give a little update about what I did and (mostly) didn’t get done this week in the gardens and greenhouse anyway.

First off, the weather changed and it was very hot for most of last week. Luckily for those tomatoes, I only had to use that blanket once, the rest of the nights it was warm enough to leave them uncovered. That changed this week, though, as the last two nights they have had to be covered, and judging by the forecast, I’m going to have to cover them every night for the near future.

I did come up with a better solution, however, and instead of that big, heavy blanket, I have been covering them with some landscape fabric that sometimes doubles as a shade cloth for me when it gets too hot during the summer. Being a lot lighter, it still seems to hold in some of the heat from the mats, and so far has worked great. I also, just as an extra measure, put a long piece of bubble wrap over the top of the plants on the outside, which may or may not also help, but it gives me a little piece of mind when I go in after covering them.

With all of the heat, I never did get the frames put in like I had planned. I don’t do well in temperatures as hot as it was for most of last week, especially working directly in the sun. To add onto my problems with the heat, when it wasn’t too hot to work, it was too windy to play around with taking off the plastic, or I was too busy with work to get anything done outside at all. I will hopefully get to them soon, though I’m not that worried about them getting in immediately.

I also never did get the broccoli, cabbages, spinach, and kale put out like I had planned, again due to heat, the wind, being busy, and also raspberries. You see, where I’m going to plant them has been taken over partially by raspberry suckers. This wouldn’t be a problem normally, I could just dig them up quickly and toss them, or give them away. This time, however, I want to keep them and replant them at the back of the yard to form a bit of a hedge.

I went out and got a few additions to the yard as well this week: I found a great rain barrel at a garage sale for only $10, that I did have time to set up, and it’s begging for rain just as much as I am. I also bought three more blueberry bushes to go with the four that we already have and two saskatoon berry bushes. That is probably as much as I can do for perennials this season, as the lumber that I bought for the frames and for the rest of the greenhouse changes, along with what I’m planning to spend on a couple of other raised beds has eaten almost all of my budget for the year. You never know, though, I might buy something cheap at the end of the season or something like I tend to.

I’m just not planning on anymore…

July 24 Greenhouse and Small Goji Berries Update

Once again there isn’t much to say here that isn’t covered in the video. Everything has been growing fairly well (there are some signs of struggle on the Morning Glories, but that’s it), some of it a little too well, resulting in the cracking of the fruit.

I’m writing this a few days after the video was taken (four days to be exact) and not much has changed. Less water for the tomatoes and cantaloupes seems to be working like a charm, there hasn’t been any more cracking on any of them. I wish I could remember where I got the tip for that so I could give the person credit. I saw it in a video a long time back but never had the problem until recently, so I never thought to save it for a shout out. Oh well, I’m sure if I found it easy enough their video isn’t hurting for views, especially if the rest of the advice they give is as good.

The goji berries are growing like mad now that I have moved them into a bigger pot, I should be able to place them outside soon where they will live permanently. I am a bit worried that I might have started them too late this year to give them enough of a head start to survive the winter, but if I am still worried when it looks like it’s crunch time, I will cover them up just to be safe. If they keep growing at the rate they are, however, I won’t have to worry at all they will be plenty ready.

June 21 2015 Greenhouse Update and Hand Pollination Tips

The greenhouse is doing great for the most part this year, even after a week solid of rain and mostly cloudy weather – there were a few sunny breaks, though not many – everything is growing well. Everything that is, except for the cucumbers.

The cucumbers I planted, that I talked about in the last post have grown a bit, but not as much as everything else around them. This is becoming a bit of a problem, at least for the moment because they aren’t getting as much sun as they should because they are flanked on each side by pole beans and tomatoes which have become much bigger than the lowly cucumbers.

Shaded Cucumbers

As you can see, there isn’t much sun for them yet, and that was taken at 10:30 AM.

As of right now, I would guess they only get about four solid hours of good sunlight a day. The morning sun is dappled through the watermelons and beans, especially on the plant at the back but this is something that I had planned for, as I want the morning glory’s to do that for everything on the north side to keep the temperature down a little bit for slightly longer on warm days.

What I never planned for was the beans growing so much faster than the cucumbers, and that the Roma tomatoes, and some of the door frame would block so much from them in the late afternoon and early evening. None of this will be a problem once the cucumbers start growing up the netting behind them, as for now the sunlight seems to hit just above their current height and there isn’t much of the trellis that is shaded most of the time.

Next year though, I will either moving them to one of the ends of the raised bed, or just starting them earlier so they can be more dominant when it comes to reaching the sun against the other plants. If I transplant them around the same height as the tomatoes, or even the peppers, they should do a lot better.

Hand Pollination
One of the problems with my greenhouse is the lack of pollinators flying in and out of it on a daily basis. Though lately I have had to help a few bees get back home by picking them up on a stick and bringing them out the door, so it seems the hanging basket I put outside is working so far.

I am not seeing enough activity to stop hand pollinating however, so I will keep it up for the rest of the season unless I see the number of pollinators climbing significantly.

Tomatoes and peppers are some of the easiest plants to hand pollinate that I know of. All you have to do is knock the pollen off of the male parts into the air and they will coat the female parts and you will have a new fruit. Some people use electric toothbrushes for this, but I just tap the top of the flower with my finger and it seems to work great. For tomatoes growing very tall I have seen people using long poles to tap on the flowers, but I can reach the roof of my greenhouse, so this should never be the case for me.

The technique I showed in the video for the watermelons – rubbing the reproductive parts of the male flower right onto those of the female flower – can be done for a number of other plants as well. Cucumbers, summer and winter squash, cantaloupe, and any other plant that fruits from imperfect (separate male and female) flowers. You can also transfer the pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers by using a small paintbrush or cotton swab.

That’s it for this update, I hope you enjoyed it, and if you liked the video subscribe to the YouTube channel! As always you can reach me through social media using the links on this page (look for the green buttons).

Greenhouse Update June 5, 2015

Another month is here, and it’s time for a new greenhouse update. This one won’t have the same happy ending the other videos do, but all in all everything else in fine order. The only thing that hasn’t come up is the gladiolas, but I’m hoping they will be up any day now.

The raised bed is doing very well, planted in Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening Method. The tomatoes, peppers, and melons are given one square foot each (though, the basil encroaches on that slightly for the tomatoes) the pole beans are planted nine to a square foot, and the cucumbers will be thinned to the strongest two for their square foot. The onions are planted only four per square foot instead of sixteen simply because I only had four sets left once I was done planting outside. I chose to use his methods in there because it is sort of a small greenhouse and SFG works great in smaller spaces.

The flowers that I planted aren’t mentioned in the SFG book, but I planted them how I thought they would work best. The morning glories are just planted as per the instructions on the seed packet, and the gladiolas have two large corms, and a bunch of small cormlets planted in a single square foot.

Carmen Cucumber Package

The package that my five Carmen European Greenhouse Cucumber seeds came in.

Though I couldn’t remember in the video, but the cucumbers planted there are the variety “Carmen”. They are a greenhouse cucumber variety which doesn’t require outside help with pollination, every flower should grow into a cucumber. They are seedless, and it cost me around $5 for five seeds (Vesey’s is lucky they all germinated or they would have had a strongly worded email on their hands at that price) but if they do what they promise, I think it is money well spent. It is a hybrid, but I wasn’t going to be saving seeds from the other cucumbers I planted outside, and I didn’t want to from these ones either.

In the past I never cared much if what I was planting was hybrid, or heirloom, but these days whenever I am buying new seeds that won’t be serving a special purpose (as with the cukes above) I try to get heirloom varieties, or at very least something that isn’t a hybrid. I like saving seeds, I only started last year, but I find myself being much more proud of the Chile peppers and Marigolds that I grew from seeds that I harvested myself than I was of any of them I’ve grown in years passed.

Speaking of seeds that I purchased specifically because they weren’t hybrids, the jalapeno peppers I’m growing are going to serve two purposes for me, the first being NACHOS… err, for consumption. The second being that I plan to save as much of the seed as I can to grow more next year, though this might be hard as I like the extra heat that comes with keeping the seeds in the peppers while eating them, and I will have to wait even longer to eat them since these jalapenos aren’t fully ripe until they turn red.

I am also going to attempt to over winter the jalapeno in the large container inside this winter because I want to see how big the bush will get being out in the greenhouse in its second season. I’ve never done this with any plants before, but I figure it’s about time I start, I’m going to have to do it with a few more plants this year as well but they will be in another video.

The end of the video shows the damage that the hail did to the brittle plastic that there was on the sunny side of the greenhouse and at the time of filming the video, I wasn’t sure what had caused the plastic to become this brittle. Well, I found out pretty quickly when I went out to fix it the day after the video was shot.

That foam that keep any parts of the ends of the cattle panel from ripping through the plastic does heat up to a degree which I could guess at, but have no real way of knowing the temperature of besides, “it really hurts to touch it”. I found this out the hard way while I was fixing the holes and I decided to test to see how hot a black piece of foam under plastic would get on a sunny day by running my hand along it just to see. Needless to say, I found the problem, for a fix I think I will use something light coloured, probably cloth, but maybe some frost blanket that I have laying around to cover up the black foam to prevent it from happening to the next piece of plastic that I put over it.

As always, thanks for reading, watching, and sharing this. You can find all of my social links at the top of the sidebar to the right if you’re on a computer, or under the write up if you are on your mobile device.

Greenhouse Update May 16, 2015

Hello everyone, welcome to the first greenhouse update for the greenhouse in 2015. What I am writing here will be complimentary to the video I made and posted above. It will give some extra information on a few things I wanted to go into more about on the video, but because I never remember to actually script out my videos beforehand I forgot to mention.

Feel free to watch the video then read the rest of this, or just pause and read the sections that have more information as you go along, I will make sure to bold the names of each section as I write about them.

The New Floor I will touch on this more in another post, but all I have done is removed the tarp, placed down cardboard, landscape plastic, and then loaded in some bags of wood chips. So far it is working great, except for when I spill soil onto the wood chips, it’s a real pain to get it out, as you could see in the video.

Onions There isn’t much to say about these onions so far, other than I put them in the greenhouse to see how they would do compared to the ones outside and that each of the plants is larger than the ones in the outside bed that germinated at relatively the same time.

Topsy Turvy I bought two of these from Canadian Tire for about $3 each this winter, I wasn’t planning on using them this year until I had extra bare root strawberries left over from the new strawberry bed I planted. I don’t think I would do bare roots in one again, I just found it much too annoying to get them planted to the right depth, plus without the bigger root ball of transplants blocking the hole, some of the water leaks out of some of the holes sometimes. I will also be moving it outside as soon as I make a bracket for it.

The Poor Plants that Cooked Under the Extra Cover The plants that were in the mini-greenhouse inside the regular greenhouse included a lot more than just the two basil and the mystery tomato. There were a number of plants that I had started to grow, but just didn’t have a space for growing in there with them; I lost another two tomatoes, at least two lemon balm, and another basil. I probably wouldn’t have used all of them myself, but I could have given some away had the heat not cooked them in their pots.

The Power Bar I bought it, as I said in the video, for about $10 at Canadian Tire during the big clearance sale they had last winter. I think those ones are normally around $40, so it was a great deal I couldn’t pass up. I don’t like where it’s sitting, especially with all of the leaks the greenhouse has at the moment, but soon I will be building a box for it to make sure it is kept dry and safe.

Peat Pellets I know a lot of people love those little peat pellets, but I am not one of them. A lot of times I don’t have time to transplant, or have the materials needed at a moments notice when I am transplanting my seedlings, and with those peat pellets, leaving the plants even just a little too long ends up ripping off a lot more of the roots than I intended. This is fine for some plants, but for a lot of others, it can mean disaster.

Heat Sinks and the Fountain I have still yet to calculate the volume of air that is inside the greenhouse, so I don’t know exactly how many gallons of water I need for a good heat sink. What I do know however is that two five gallon buckets, four four litre milk jugs and three one litre pop bottles is nowhere near the number that I am looking for. Every night it cools off just as much inside the greenhouse as it does outside.

Fly Strip and Solar Bug Zapper The fly strip came about after I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes at the start of this year and I noticed a bunch of “aphids” in there as well. Though they were probably fruit flies, or white flies or something, all I know is that they had to go. The strip has worked pretty well, taking care of a lot of the little “aphids” and mosquitoes, along with flies. I will take it down pretty soon and won’t be replacing it.

The solar bug zapper may have only been shown for a moment in the video, if at all, but it has taken care of tons of mosquitoes in the middle of the night, as I have seen it flickering many times. I think the ants then eat the remains, because in the mornings, there are never any dead mosquitoes around the bottom of it, like there is near the one we have outside.

The Door As the annotation said, I still have need of opening the door to vent the greenhouse from time to time. The problem with that is that the frame isn’t very strong, so the wind can actually bend the door. This in turn would start to work the nails out of the brackets on the corners, and I was constantly worried that the door would break apart one day, and I had to keep hammering the nails back into place. The screws are doing a much better job of keeping it more rigid.

That isn’t the only fix I have planned for the door however. Soon I will be adding two windows to it, and a “kick plate” at the bottom which will not only help to keep me from putting my foot through the plastic one day (it’s coming) but will also help to add some strength to the bottom of the door.

The Leaks If only it was the leeks, but I didn’t plant any of those this year. No, I’m talking about the water rushing through the holes in the roof left by the hail last year, believe it or not, I have already fixed a number of holes this year (you can tell by looking at the lack of water on the shelf) with some good tape I purchased in the fall when I accidentally put a drill bit through the plastic on the door. It works great, and seems to handle the rain just fine, I just have to get out there and find the rest of the holes one of these days.

The Raised Bed I know, I know, it’s made of treated lumber. I did some research on it, and found out that they coat it differently now than what they used to, and that it is safe for use around edibles. Ideally I would have sprung for cedar, so that it would match the floor, but if I had cedar money, the whole greenhouse would have been made out of it. The bottom line is that I feel perfectly safe using treated lumber, so I used it, if you don’t feel the same way, then don’t use it in your garden.

Phew, an eight minute video AND a long, rambling post? I have either given up on short things that won’t take you guys long to get through, or I have finally made my way into full insanity… Either way, what is done is done!

April 24 Garden Update

Hello everyone! First off I would like to apologize for my recent absence from the site, some things have changed in my life and I have been finding it harder and harder to find the time to sit down and write. Some things have changed around the gardens even with how busy I have been. Part of the reason I haven’t had time to sit and write, is because many of my evenings are filled with either extra work, or fiddling with things around the gardens and greenhouse.

The Greenhouse Floor

Those things include finally putting in a good looking floor for the greenhouse, and adding in the raised bed on the North side. I will do a complete write-up on it soon, but let me just say that it was a real pain in the back lifting that greenhouse while we leveled the sides. Most people would have just propped it up instead of holding the whole damned thing off of the ground while their friend shoveled… Apparently we are not most people, because neither of us thought to do it until much later!

Greenhouse 2015

The new floor and the raised bed are great new improvements to the greenhouse.

Peppers, Tomatoes, and Herbs Oh My!

On February 15 I started my peppers, tomatoes, basil, and lemon balm. This year I am trying two types of tomatoes, the Better Boy that I have been growing for the past three years, and a Roma as well, since I would like to try making some homemade sauces. For peppers I planted bell, habanero, jalapeno, and Chile peppers. I think my bell pepper seeds must have been too old though, as I had no germination from them, while the rest of the seeds showed nearly 100% germination.

Peppers Tomatoes Herbs

The Tomatoes have suffered a bit from over-watering as per usual, but everything else is going pretty well, all of those plants are loving the extra heat during the day in the greenhouse.

After I transplanted them on March 15, I have a lemon balm, basil, 2 Jalapeno, a habenero, a Chile pepper, a roma, a better boy, and a mystery tomato that I lost the tag to and tried a little experiment with it in the greenhouse. The experiment was basically to see if I could keep the tomato (and some others) warm enough at night in the greenhouse through slightly freezing temperatures with just a heating mat. It seems to have worked great, except for the day that I forgot to shut it off, and uncover the plants… I lost all of my extras except for one tomato, and two basils which are still just barely hanging on.

The Rejects April 24

Two Basil and either a Roma or Better Boy Tomato plant that are the only survivors of having the heat mat left on in an already hot day in the greenhouse.

Ready, Set, Onions!

Next, for the first time I bought and planted onion sets instead of buying the already growing plants from a garden centre. I planted 70 sets (35 white and 35 red) with 66 of those going into one of the new 4’x 4’ garden areas I put in last June, and 2 of each going into the greenhouse. The ones in the greenhouse are just to see how well they would grow in there, I probably could have used the space for something else, but I tucked them into the corner of the raised bed, so they shouldn’t be too much in the way.

Onion Sets

66 Onion sets ready to be planted outside, and I planted another 4 inside the greenhouse. That should be enough.

Those were all planted on April 11, not many have come up in the raised bed yet, but the ones that were already growing slightly when I planted them are getting bigger, and the ones in the greenhouse just sprouted yesterday, so I am not too worried.

Berries, Melons, and the Cabbage Family

On April 14, I planted six each of sugar baby watermelon, Minnesota midget variety cantaloupe, red cabbage, green cabbage, and broccoli. I also planted 42 white alpine strawberries. In the ten days since, all of the watermelon, cabbage, and broccoli have sprouted, as well as a cantaloupe, but none of the strawberries have. I have just been setting the tray out in the greenhouse in the mornings and then setting them under the lights inside for the night. It seems to be working well, and it not only lets me shut off the grow light during the day, but it also gives me more room to start more plants. The next batch of plants will be planted any day now, and will be in the greenhouse full time, with a heat mat under them in the evenings.

10 Day Old Seedlings April 24

Pretty good growth for only 10 days. I already have to transplant the watermelons soon. From left to right are strawberries (haven’t sprouted yet), broccoli, green cabbage, watermelon, red cabbage, and cantaloupe.

Yesterday, and if you follow me on Instagram you already know, I put out my newly made strawberry planter and planted some bare root strawberries in it and spread wood chips around it. What you might not know is that I also bought four blueberry plants to replace the ones I lost last winter because I never found a place to plant them and left them in the pots on the deck.

Strawberries April 23

The strawberry planter turned out pretty well for saying I didn’t have an actual plan, and it was made from an old pallet. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that I had some extra spray paint laying around though.

Blueberries April 24

I bought 2 Chippewan and 2 Polaris Blueberry plants at Canadian Tire on April 23rd. This year I have a spot picked out for them already so they won’t end up dying on the deck again.

Bonus Entry

Speaking of plants left out on the deck… I bought a rhubarb plant last spring, with hopes of eating some strawberry rhubarb pie once it, and the strawberries I planted last year (none of which survived the winter again) were ready. Just like with the blueberries, I could not find a place to plant it, and before I could it was absolutely destroyed by hail and died.

Or so I thought. Early April sometime, the little leaves started poking out of the soil in the pot again, and I already have a spot all picked out for it this time. I will be putting it in the ground within the next week, where it can thrive without me worrying about it. I mean if it can last all winter in that little pot on the deck, it can survive anything where I’m going to put it.

Rhubarb April 24

Back from the dead. Lucky for it (and for me), I was too lazy to empty the pot after I thought it had died last summer.

That’s all for this update, I am hoping they come quicker now that I have things figured out a little better, but I make no promises to that end. As always, you can follow along with my on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, or Google Plus, all of which have links in my author profile box below or up in the sidebar to the right.

Fall Garden Update November 8, 2014

With the cold weather on the way, I thought I should get out in the greenhouse and show everyone my fall garden set up. It is nothing too fancy, just a small plastic tent inside of the unheated greenhouse with an aquarium heater in a five gallon bucket to try to keep the temperatures above freezing.

Mini-Greenhouse Set Up
The first step I took to set up the small tent was to place down two slabs of 1” thick foam insulation cut to the same size as the tent floor (4×4’) and stacked them on top of one another.

Next, I put together the tent, which turned out to be a real pain doing it inside the greenhouse. There really isn’t as much room in there as I thought, but once it was finished I set it over the foam and tucked the sides underneath the foam to minimize the amount of cold air that could make it inside.

After that I used some bubble wrap to go around the inside of the bottom part of the mini-greenhouse to act as a layer of insulation for the inside of the tent. The plan was to do this all around the mini greenhouse from top to bottom, but I ran out of bubble wrap, so I only got the bottom done, and then two strips that went up over the top of the frame, but under the plastic to try to keep some of the heat from escaping upwards.

After that I placed my water containers inside. I had two five gallon (19L) buckets, four 4L (1 Gallon) milk jugs, and three 1L pop bottles set up inside all painted black (mostly flat black) so that they would heat up in the sun and slowly release that heat overnight.

Then I placed my plants inside, being careful to keep them close to the water filled heat sinks, so that they could stay as warm as possible during the night.

The last step I took to set up the mini-greenhouse was to drill a hole in the top of one of the five gallon buckets big enough to fit the cord of the 25 Watt aquarium heater through it, fed the cord through (after taking off the lid) then dropped the heater into the bucket. This will not only help to keep the water inside of the bucket warm, but will also provide heat for the rest of the tent through times when the temperature is low and the sun isn’t shining.

Greenhouse Set Up

On the outside of the mini-greenhouse, but inside my regular greenhouse, I also did a few things to keep the cold out, and I plan on doing a few more in the near future as well. They are just minor changes that will be either taken down, or in one case, put back up in the spring when the little tent is no longer needed.

The shelf that I had up on the south side of the greenhouse all summer was incredibly useful to have while the sun was high in the sky. However, with the lower sun in the fall, it started to shade the area directly where I put the tent, so I gathered up some help and took it down. I think at some point during the winter, if I can find the space to, I will paint it white, so it can reflect a little light to the plants once it’s put back up come spring.

Next, I put up a white tarp on the north side of the greenhouse. To hang it up all I did was put fencing staples into the greenhouse frame on each side to hold up a rope. I then fed the tarp up over the rope and secured the end to the cattle panels that make up the roof of the with some clothes pins. This tarp will not only help to reflect some light into the greenhouse, making it brighter for the plants even on cloudy days, but it also slightly reduces the size of the greenhouse so that it will heat up a little quicker, and it will help to trap a bit of heat. Though admittedly without it being attached to the sides all the way up, and not having it make a dome shape on the roof to actually catch the heat probably doesn’t do all that much for heat retention or speeding up the heating, but it’s nice to think it does.

I also found out, after removing all of the plants and the fence panel they were sitting on, that the greenhouse doesn’t sit level where it is, and that there is a gap on the south side where you can see light shining through on sunny days between the ground and the frame. I remedied this for now by putting a piece of plywood in front of it, and when it snows it will seal it up even further, but I may also bring in a soil, or woodchip bag to place in front of it as well.

The only other thing I am planning to do in the greenhouse is to put up extra plastic sheeting over the window, and around the door. Both places have weather stripping, but as I’m not the best carpenter in the world, the door has a bit of a gap at the top, and the window’s one whole side can be seen through where the frame meets the window. These gaps will allow for a lot of air exchanging and when it drops to -30°C this could be a problem, even if the mini-greenhouse is heated.

The tent I’m using for the fall garden worries me slightly. The bottom of the flaps don’t have zippers, they only have three pieces of Velcro spread out across the opening, this means that when it’s closed, there is still a good chance that the cold air from the greenhouse can get inside. I will be making sure that there is at least a little more protection there with the bubble wrap on the inside, but I’m only hoping it will be enough, I am not sure if it even will be.

I am also a little worried about there being so much open floor space in the bottom of the tent. I am going to try to fill in all of the gaps with more painted bottles of water, but if I was going to do this again, I would put more plants inside as well, since the soil would also help to keep the temperatures up. This should be my only year doing it this way however, since in the spring I will have a raised bed along the north side of the greenhouse, and I can use that for my fall/winter gardening needs in the future.

My Last Outdoor Harvest of the 2014 Season

As many of you reading this may know, we had snow very early this year, on September 8th. Generally we don’t get our first snow until closer to Hallowe’en, but something went weird and we got a big dump of it early, so early in fact that we had not even had a frost before it hit.

This ruined some of the plants I had yet to harvest from outdoors, I lost all of my corn, my pumpkin, dill, sunflowers, hollyhocks, and a few heads of lettuce that were buried in snow and forgotten about when the others were rescued. What I didn’t lose is a shorter list, but one with an ending that was better than I had expected.

After the snow had melted, and I was busy cleaning up the damage, I noticed a few things. First, the biggest cabbage that I had (the only one not decimated by caterpillars) grew tremendously in the cooler weather that followed for a week or so after the snow was gone. It almost doubled in size in a week, and was easily the largest cabbage that I have ever grown. I left it until September 29th before finally picking it; I then lost almost half of it to cabbage loopers who were hiding under the outside leaves going to town chewing up the inside. Even after that, I had a good sized cabbage that was nice and sweet, as it turns out frost (or temporary snow) makes the cabbage taste sweeter, I had read this, but never knew it to be true. Now I know it is absolutely true, and I don’t think I will pick a cabbage before frost again, it tasted that much better.

Cabbage Looper

These little jerks ruined most of my cabbages this season, but one was just too strong for them.

Besides the cabbage, the only other things I hadn’t lost to the snow were the carrots in the front yard square foot garden. I still had three squares planted and though the tops had been pushed over under the weight of the snow, they looked healthy, so I kept them in the ground until October 3rd. Then I harvested 65 of them, including some of the largest carrots I have ever grown (see below for a picture of the biggest).

Biggest Carrot 2014

This was the biggest carrot to come out of my gardens ever. I think there were one or two that may have been even larger, but they broke while I tried to pull them out. That’s a quarter for reference.

They were also the sweetest carrots I had ever grown, despite their size, they taste like baby carrots. As it turns out, carrots also taste sweeter after they have had a frost. I had never seen this mentioned anywhere else (not that I had looked for it) but I confirmed it with a friend of mine who said that they never harvest their carrots until after a frost in their garden because it makes them taste much better. This will now by my practice, as I found it is well worth the wait, though I have a sneaking suspicion that a few of those carrots will get pulled up and eaten early due to my lack of patience for wanting to taste them. I will try to keep that under control for a bigger payout in the end however.

Harvest October 3 2014

Not a bad haul, especially almost a month after the first snowfall. Only the carrots were from outside though, the rest came from the greenhouse.

As you can see from the picture, on the same day I also harvested the last green bell pepper, the last nine chili peppers (they were still green) and the last eleven tomatoes from the greenhouse. They could have remained out there longer and left to ripen on their own, but I had decided not to use the heater in there once the fall garden went into it, and it was supposed to get below freezing that night. Without a big enough heat sink, I wouldn’t have been able to keep them out there without them getting hit hard by the dropping nighttime temperatures.

Also in the picture is the first harvest from the fall garden, 28 radishes, they were small to medium sized and could have been left in longer, but I wanted to replant them and get a good start on the second harvest. It is a good thing I did too, as they are growing much slower this time around, due to lower temperatures and less sunlight per day. You can read about the fall garden here.

I think that I learned more from this harvest than from any other I have ever had. Not only was it the first time I had ever harvested so late (I always used to pull anything I couldn’t cover once the frost hit), but I also learned a few things that I had looked into were actually true.

I had read about the cabbages being sweeter after a frost, but I had no idea that the carrots would be too. I was confident both would survive the snowfall we had, but I didn’t think that the flavours would be that much better. I guess what I’m saying, is that the snow in early September wasn’t so bad… This time. I wouldn’t want to see Mother Nature make a habit out of hitting us like that every year though.

Cabbage Looper photo courtesy ForestryImages.org