Tag Archives: strawberries

Greenhouse Seed Starting – April 17, 2016 Update

It’s time for another look at how the seedlings are doing in the greenhouse with nothing but a heat mat and some hope. So far, so good with this method for me this year, but things are about to change.

It has been three weeks since the first video in the series, and since then we have had weather as low as -10°C (14°F) and as high as 34°C (approximately 93°F). Luckily that 34 didn’t last long, it was on a weird day when I had to keep opening and closing the door, and at some point I didn’t open it fast enough to keep the temperature down. Once the door was opened, though, the temperature dropped to somewhere reasonable quite quickly.

In the last week or so, we only had a couple of nights below freezing, and both ended up being around -8°C (about -18°F). The rest of the nights have been near freezing, but not quite making it down far enough, at least not according to my thermometer inside the greenhouse.

No matter how cold it has been, since the last video, I have changed the heat mats to turn off at 9 AM, and turn back on at 7 PM. After this video, I will be changing the evening time to 8 PM, and for now, I will leave them on until 9, but might drop that down to 8 PM if the temperatures allow it.

As for the plants themselves, the only seeds that never germinated were from the Lemon Balm and the Habanero Peppers, the rest all did great. One of the two Meyer Lemon trees even sprouted, which I wasn’t sure would happen since it took most of a month to happen, but I’m glad it did. I don’t think the ones I overwintered made it.

These seedlings might be the strongest that I have ever produced also, I haven’t had any problems with the plants being leggy, or looking unhealthy, and I have lost only one seedling out of everything I planted. That was my fault as well, I missed covering the tray up completely one night and a jalapeno pepper paid the price for it… Phew, say that three times fast. Everything else has nice thick stems and is growing a lot faster than they ever had when I’ve had them under the grow light in the house.

On April 2nd, I planted eight cells each of Kale and Spinach, eighteen of three different lettuces (more on that in a moment), six cells of Broccoli, and six each of red and green Cabbage. Out of all of the cells, everything sprouted except for one cell of broccoli, and none of the lettuce.

The problem with the lettuce might be one of two things; either my seeds are too old, or I planted them too deep.

The seeds I have for each type of lettuce are about three to four years old, and knowing this, I didn’t bother to over-seed each cell like I should have to guarantee something came up, I just planted two or three seeds in each and walked away.

The other possibility is that I planted them too deep. I’ve had some bad luck with lettuce in recent years, and I am starting to think it might be because I have been planting the seeds at 1/2 an inch deep. I have noticed that most gardeners that I follow on YouTube, or even on gardening shows on T.V. mention that they plant their lettuce seeds at a 1/4 of an inch deep, and they seem to have fantastic results.

When I plant some more later in the season here, I will make sure not only to plant it at 1/4 inch but also over seed it a bit… Unless I buy some new seed, which I just might do.

The transplanting went really well, I didn’t mash any baby seedlings with my big, stupid hands like I usually do, and the only thing that didn’t get planted were the White Alpine Strawberries. I’m going to let them get a little bigger before I put them into a bigger pot, or right out into the planter box they will have soon.

Now only the heat loving plants (tomatoes, basil, and peppers) will be on the heat mats at night. Everything else will just be left on their own with only the greenhouse for cover. I know the spinach, cabbage, kale, broccoli, and strawberries will be fine, but I am slightly worried about the mint, chives, and goji berries being left as is if it manages to get down to -5 or below. I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens.

On April 10th I planted four peas (I forgot to mention them in the video), a half row of Early Snowball Turnips, a half row of Round Scarlet White Radishes, a half row of German Giant Radishes, and I used seed tape to make a half row of Scarlet Nantes Carrots in the raised bed. The peas are situated in the back corner, with two across the back, two down the side, and the turnips and radishes are spread out in the middle with rows that are really too far apart. I couldn’t find my line making stick that I usually use, so that’s part of why the other part is I’m just really not good at eyeballing a line and making it straight for planting. Oh, and the carrots are across the front, and they will get another half row once the Goji Berries are out of the other part of the planter.

Which reminds me, a bunch of the Goji Berries from last year are coming back! I thought I had lost them since I never planted them until October in the greenhouse and by then they were so root-bound that it was hard to know when the roots ended and the soil began. So far I have five or six plants that are leafing out, so hopefully soon I’ll plant them in their spot in the yard.

I was going to talk more about the starting schedule that I have modified from Patrick Dolan’s own seed starting methods, but this post is getting really, really long, so I will save that for another time.

Thanks for reading if you did, and if you’re only here for the video, thanks for watching!

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.