Monday, May 6, 2013

Greenhouse Improvison

With all the beautiful spring weather we've been having, my fingers have been itching to get digging and dirty!  I've carried all my planting pots outside to be prepared for spring planting.  Even though I know I still can't plant... yet.  Up until the last week, we had been having frost almost every night! 

But, happily, the last few nights the temperature has stayed in the 50s overnight... so that lets me know that it won't be long before the ground will be able to start warming up enough to plant.

The weather has been lovely the past few days, but just about a week ago.... we had some really strange weather that looked like this...

The morning had started out beautiful and sunny.  And then, while the sun was still shining, a dark cloud hovered over, and the temperature began to drop.

One minute it looked like this... with the sun shining

And the next.... here came the howling wind blowing snow balls around... you see, the stuff that was coming out of the sky couldn't really be considered hail, because it wasn't ice.  It was little balls of packed snow... falling onto my poor petunias that had been so bravely weathering all this cold weather.  Even with the frost and freezing temperatures at night, my petunias have bravely clung on to life!

Snow balls in the grass... some of the grass still trying to catch up from a long winter under snow...

Annie and Cosmo weren't sure what to do about it.  Annie normally loves cold weather of any kind.  But even she ran inside as soon as I opened the door.  Their fur was covered with these little round white snow-balls...

It was a dancing playground outside for a while.  The snow balls came down out of the sky, and once they hit the ground, they bounced all around.

Then things really began to get nasty...

But it didn't last long... and soon enough, the sun came out and shone brightly again, as if none of this business had ever happened. The snow balls all melted quickly, and everything appeared to be well again... But, the strangest thing was... that this episode repeated itself three times throughout the day!  Just when you thought the sun was out to stay... here would come the wind, and these strange snow-balls. 

So, after all this strange weather subsided, the very next day, the sun came out, shone brightly.... and it's been shining ever since!


We all love the sun, don't we?  I know I do, especially when we've seen a lot of gray cloud cover through the winter months.  

I know the ground is just loving the sunshine too... because our grass is just soaking in all the rays, and dandelions are springing up in every available spot. 

I had started some seeds in these small seed cells several weeks ago, and green heads had begun poking themselves out of the dirt. 

I chose a variety of seeds from various different companies.  The seeds included herbs, vegetables, and flowers.

I purchased this particular seed cell grower, and planted my seeds with great faith in it.  To my great dismay, the peat moss began to mold.  I called the nursery I purchased this product from, and they reimbursed me the money I spent, as they had never seen this happen before.  I do not have a picture of the mold growing on this seed cell, but it was pretty bad!  I even tried a heat lamp on it for 12 hours a day to see if the mold would go away, and it just wouldn't.  I ended up throwing the whole mess away.  That was a disappointment indeed! 

So this has been a new thing for me, an experiment in trial and error as this is my first year to try to get seeds to start in pots without planting them directly in the ground.

Before long, I realized that my plants were going to overtake my house. I was using up every spare south or west facing window with my plants, and I knew the day was going to come when they were going to need more space than just a 1" cell!

I was wracking my brain with ideas and innovations on what I could do to get the plants more sunshine and still keep them warm.  I walked outside, and into the back yard. 

My son and his friends had built a makeshift fort in the back for their airsoft wars.  They had five PVC poles that had been concreted in to old tin coffee cans that were surrounding their fort.  As I walked back there, I wondered if the boys would even notice if the poles went missing... at any rate... I wasn't about to ask any questions.  The idea was rolling around in my head and I had to see if it would work. 

I carried the five PVC poles concreted into the coffee cans to a full sunny spot in my back yard.  I grabbed a long table, and a plastic shelf from the basement.  The only thing I was lacking was some heavy duty plastic.  One trip to the local hardware store solved that. 

When my kids got home, I had them help me measure the plastic to completely cover the poles, table, and shelf.  I found a heat lamp and secured it to one of the poles. And this is what my rudimentary, makeshift, "redneck" if you will... greenhouse looked like. 

Here, in this picture, I have part of the plastic rolled back so that the plants can get some early morning sunshine. When afternoon comes around, I pull the plastic back across the plants so they don't get the direct afternoon sunlight.

You can see the metal can with the PVC pipe concreted into it.  The heat lamp is attached to the fifth pole.  The other four poles are at the corner of the table, and are holding up the plastic.

Here is a closer picture of the heat lamp attached to the PVC pole.

A peek inside at all the plants I've got growing. 

You'll probably notice that I've got a lot of tin cans with plants in them.  Luckily, several weeks ago, I began collecting small tin cans because I knew I would be needing them to plant seeds in.  I didn't realize just how many I would need!  I've completely used up all my collection of cans, and had to tap into my plastic cup arsenal in order to allow the plants more room to grow. 

Incidentally, I've realized just how valuable every sour cream, yogurt, peanut, tuna, Rotel, green bean, corn can... and so on (you get the picture) have become!  I've completely wiped out every small container that I own in order to plant a seed in it! 

Don't even ask me what my next plan is, after my plants outgroww their small containers.  I'm still brainstorming that one! 

My hope is this... that perhaps my husband will believe me now that I REALLY need a big greenhouse in order to keep all these herbs, vegetables and flowers alive through the cool nights here in Idaho.  I've already found a greenhouse plan that I think we can turn into a permanent workable greenhouse.... I just need to convince hubby of the necessity of it all ... :)

But, for now, I have a greenhouse that works for the plants in the stage we are in. We will won't be able to plant here for at least another month.  Lots of time to figure out our next plan of action for all these plants... don't you think? 

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