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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.

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