|From In the Garden|
|From In the Garden|
|From In the Garden|
This is my first year with the greenhouse and while my little greenhouse is only 6' x 8' feet it is an excellent size for all of my plants. I keep telling my husband it keeps me honest in that I am limited by the number of plants I can store in it so I am not tempted to overdo tropicals and tenders. They are just too much work even though I do enjoy them all. One fault of the greenhouse is that even though my plants fit in it comfortably, I am stretching for space for the new seedling and cutting trays. Additionally, there is not much room in it for me when I need to water by the time you factor in the space the rain barrel, shelving, a huge tree houseplant, and the heater takes up in the greenhouse-quarters are cramped. You can probably tell from the pictures above.
Heating the greenhouse has been a very simple matter. The small 1500 watt radiant heater I have placed in the greenhouse works like a charm. I have it set to keep the greenhouse temperature above 50 degrees. During sunny days the greenhouse temperature can easily reach 80+ degrees! It is an awesome place to hang out on sunny days. No matter how hard and frigid the wind is blowing outside it is always toasty in the greenhouse on sunny days. The problem this winter is that we've had more cloudy days than sunny days and the heater has been running more than I'd like it to. Our electric bill has felt the pain as well. I'm not sure how much it costs to heat the greenhouse but I estimate between $30-$60 a month. The small size of the greenhouse makes it economical to heat but it also means the plants can go through some extreme temperatures (80 degrees during the day and down to 50 at night).One very nice note is that when we lost our power three nights ago from approximately midnight to 3:00 am, the plants did not suffer so I think that either the plants are quite flexible and adaptable (a great trait!) or that my greenhouse is well insulated and has enough passive solar heating to compensate. I'll soon be switching from the heater to only seed heat mats and passive heating as the days get longer. All in all heating the little greenhouse has been easy and rewarding.
I must mention the bubble wrap I used as additional insulation. I covered all of the inside panels of the greenhouse with 4 foot wide large bubble bubblewrap. The only area I could not cover with bubble wrap inside of the greenhouse was the greenhouse door. I had to tape the bubble wrap to the outside of the door in its case due to the way the greenhouse door was configured. The bubble wrap along with the caulking and polystyrene panels has made my little greenhouse a well insulated cocoon. I am quite pleased with this fast as I was a bit afraid the cold of the snow and outside would penetrate inside, and vice versa that the heat from inside would be felt outside. That has not been the case at all. You can find bubble wrap in the wide widths (four feet wide was the widest I could find) on the Internet. I could not find any bubble wrap wider than two feet in any stores or shipping stores like UPS-and I tried, believe me. I finally had to order my wide bubble wrap from Starboxes and found they had excellent customer service and reasonable prices. I did not use the entire roll I ordered so I have some for next year. I will probably remove all of the bubble wrap from this year and may try to salvage some of it. A good amount of it is dirty from the plants though so I am not so sure how realistic that will work for me. If you ever use bubble wrap for insulation make sure you install it before it turns cold outside or you'll have a condensation problem inside the greenhouse. Condensation will cause problems with the tape if you plan to tape on the bubble wrap like I did. I will be cognizant of this mistake come this fall and will be sure to put up the bubble wrap before it gets cold. It was not fun insulating it in the cold. The bubble wrap has made a great difference. On some of the forums gardeners with bubble wrap recommend using solar pool covers. I don't like this method because the solar pool cover bubbles are so much smaller and thinner that it doesn't seem like the layer makes much of a difference. Not only that but large solar pool covers are hard to work with in cutting them to size. I will stick with large bubble wrap for my greenhouse. You can see the bubble wrap in the pictures but in case you missed or forgot how I insulated this greenhouse you can find those posts here.
The plants in the greenhouse have adapted and are doing well. Most of the plants have remained in full bloom this winter. My best greenhouse plants have been: lantana, 'Diamond Frost', 'Slightly Strawberry' Cape Mallow (Proven Winners), angel trumpets, and geraniums. All of these plants are blooming non-stop. I have to remember to add fertilizer to the soil as I water so that these plants don't burn themselves out. Some of my other plants have had issues and don't look so great. Mainly the pineapple sage I wintered over as cuttings is mottled and looks like it is stressed even though the plants are about one foot tall and green. Perhaps the humidity is too high for the sage I am not sure. But now that I am thinking about it the same pineapple sage looked terrible last year when I wintered it over in my unheated garage. I think that particular sage just prefers a hotter environment in general. Coleus has been a problem for me as well. I've lost several plants from what I assume to be root rot. Once I realized there was a problem I stopped watering them and am letting them dry out a bit now. The lettuce seedlings I started back in November haven't grown any so I never was able to harvest lettuce from the greenhouse. Those seedlings will be planted in the garden soon and before I know it head lettuce will be ripe for the picking. A plant doing well in the greenhouse that I did not plant is love in a mist. I harvested seedheads from my garden last year and hung them in the greenhouse to dry. Unbeknowst to me many seeds fell out of the plants onto the brick floor of the greenhouse. Those seeds have germinated and are nice and green in the greenhouse. They grow alongside one area of the brick floor; which is unreachable to me. That is where they'll stay because I can't get to them to do anything with them and they aren't bothering anything anyhow.I do hope they don't flower and go to seed in the greenhouse though as I don't particularly want flowers on my brick floor in the greenhouse. Basically I can say the plants are doing well in the greenhouse and the expense and time I took to install the greenhouse was well worth it.
Pests have not been a problem in the greenhouse but there have been a few. Due to the lovely new growth on most of the plants aphids have had a field day. The aphids especially love the angel trumpets. I keep a bottle of houseplant pest spray on hand and spray as needed. Ants are a common presence in the greenhouse but there is not much I can do about them; they are everywhere in the environment so I just leave them alone.
The rain barrel I placed in the greenhouse to use as a water source has worked better than I expected. I filled it up once when it was about half way empty. It is a 55 gallon barrel and I estimate that between the fill up and what I've used thus far this winter I have used approximately 30-50 gallons of water. That sounds like a lot of water but this greenhouse is full of large and small plants and there is barely a free spot in it! I have to fill a two gallon watering can in order to water most plants since the rain barrel outlet hose is fed by gravity. I do have a short hose on the tap but since many of the plants are up on shelves the water will not flow to them. This is not so bad but when you are watering a great deal of plants filling the water can on the floor then watering all of these pots by hand gets old in such a cramped space. I may try to rearrange a bit next year in order to make watering all of the plants a bit easier. I do heartily recommend putting a water source such as a rain barrel (fill it with the hose) in a greenhouse if you do not have a hose tap close by. Not only is water close by but the heating of the water during the day helps to maintain a reasonable temperature during the night. The mass of the water also makes less space the heater has to heat.
I guess that is about it for the greenhouse this week. Next week I will be posting on my vegetable/fruit/ornamental garden. I may just begin calling it a potager due to the variety of plants I grow in it and I think it is quite pretty and functional, albeit a bit small....
in the garden....
One more note on the greenhouse, I garden in Tennessee just south of the Kentucky border. My zone is Zone 6B or 7A depending on what reference you use. Our low temperatures sometimes get down to 10 degrees but generally run around 25 degrees on average in the winter. We also are subject to strong winds. After gardening in this greenhouse for nearly one year I can honestly say it is good little hobby greenhouse and should work for most needs a gardener could desire.
I know this post is long and I apologize. Since I've cut down posting a bit I seem to be trying to fit so much more into my posts. I may pick up posting a bit more to see how it goes. The beauty of blogging is that it is quite flexible!
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team,
In the Garden