Getting the Green House Ready

As I promised last week I’m sharing a little update on the progress we’ve made in getting the green house ready for the season.  But before we get to the progress, let’s take a look at how things looked when we started.  Since the Hubs finished the structure as fall arrived last year we used the space for storage of all my pots and planters, along with some of the patio furniture and accessories.  We’ll call it organized chaos.

Luna decided to join me in the greenhouse as I started clearing it out.  She seemed to appreciate the warm cozy temps inside and made herself quite comfortable.

While Luna took in the warmth I harvested the dried blooms from the lavender I’d stashed away in the fall.  It was a decent little harvest, which I used to give the chicken’s nesting boxes a bit of freshness.

After that I made Luna move off the table so I could drag it out to the deck.  When I returned she had found a new favorite spot in one of the planter boxes.  I let her be as I sorted and dug out everything else to make room for the new set-up.

We purchased large plastic totes to serve as our planters in the greenhouse.  I filled the bottoms of each with plastic containers from our recycle bin – plus a few from the coffee shop at work – to help fill some of the space to reduce the amount of soil I had to use and provide space at the bottom of the containers where moisture could settle and then be wicked back up.  There are no drainage holes in the bottoms of the totes as that would become quite messy on the floor of the green house so I’ll have to water carefully.

And here’s where things are now.  We’ve got four totes down each side which sit on plant dollies so they can be moved easily, allowing me to work on the plants from all sides – a feature that might come in handy during harvest.  On the left side I brought in the two rusty bed frames I’d used as trellises in the wheel bed last season.  They worked well for the peas in the wheel bed, but this time one will be for green beans and the other will support cucumbers.  The tote in the back corner will be for dill and the one in the front corner will be for peppers.  The Hubs plans to secure them to the wall just to be on the safe side.  This side of the green house will also get vertical strawberry planters in each corner to maximize the space.

The right side has a shelf where the Hubs will be setting up a hyponic system for the buckets you see there.  Those will hold 4 varieties of tomatoes and a squash.  Below them will be yellow and red onions, asparagus and peas, which will get a smaller DIY trellis to climb.

In the back I added a large galvanized trash can under the window to hold extra dirt and the Hubs installed a wire shelf above it to serve as a potting bench.  That way when I’m preparing pots for the deck and porch if I spill it can fall right back into the dirt bin.  Plus the way he installed it I can lift it up against the window if I want it out of the way for any reason.  The ledge created by the wall framing was the perfect spot to store all my garden decor over the winter.  Once the yard finishes thawing out I’ll be moving those items out to their ‘summer homes’ and that space can hold any extra pots awaiting occupants.  My hand tools will be kept in the small tub you see on the shelf, which will be filled with sand to keep everything sharp – an idea I found on Pinterest of course.

It’s still getting pretty cold overnight so I haven’t put any plants out in the green house just yet, but I have purchased the first round of veggies and a couple of flowers which are pretty happy in the laundry room sink and on the kitchen counter for now.  I’ll be going to the big annual season kick-off sale at my favorite nursery this weekend to buy the rest of my stock and will test out a DIY trick I learned on the local garden club page to heat the green house up a bit at night to make sure it’s ready for planting.

I’ve also got a few things planned for just outside the green house, including moving the gutters I used last year for strawberries and potato towers, but I’ll share those once we get things set up a bit more.  It’s going to be a lot of work but if it all goes well we’ll have a great crop of fresh food because of it!  I’m so excited to see what works and what we can improve for next year.  If you have ideas, tips or suggestions on what might be an improvement please share them below and I’ll try to test them out this year.

Shared on Savvy Southern Style’s Wow Us Wednesdays and Knick of Time’s Talk of the Town.

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The Greenhouse Plan

Although there’s still more than a foot of snow on the ground and temps have been on the negative side of the thermometer the past several days, I’m already planning what we’ll be doing in the greenhouse for its debut season.  Obviously these pictures aren’t recent, but they’ll help you visualize the plan as I go over it. 🙂

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On the right side we will install a hydroponic system similar to one our friends have used in the past with 5 gallon buckets on a wire shelf at chest height for cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and squash.  This will be the Hub’s first project of the season since I want to get things growing as early as possible due to our very short season.

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growthTwo photos courtesy of Anne-Tiques.  Hopefully, we have results as good as theirs!

Below the hydroponic system will be 4 tubs where I plan to have garlic, dill, onions and carrots.  Each of these tubs will be on a plant caddy so it can be wheeled out for tending when needed.

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There will also be 4 tubs on caddies on the opposite wall.  I will have two varieties of peppers – one on either end and the two tubs in the center will contain green beans and peas.  I plan to use the two bed frames from the wheel bed last season to act as trellises for the beans and peas.  I’ll also hang large PVC pipe with holes cut out for planting strawberries in either corner on this side.

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The gutters that held the strawberries on the fence last year will be attached to the side of the greenhouse for lettuce, spinach and chard or kale.

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Another wire shelf will be installed under the window on the back wall to serve as a potting station.  The large metal trash can will hold my potting soil and will sit underneath the wire shelf so it can catch dirt as it falls through.  It will also be on a plant dolly so it can also be moved easily when needed.  My pruning tools will be kept in a container of fine sand on this shelf as well to help keep them clean and sharp, as well as easily accessible.

I’d like to try a potato tower or crate planter on the back corner of the green house past the gutters.  It’s an out of the way spot, but I can water it from inside the yard and the dogs should keep any inquisitive moose away since it’s between the fence and the green house. The set-ups I’ve seen on Pinterest look fairly easy to set-up and maintain so I’m game to have ingredients for stews come fall!

I may add some flowers beds around the side and back of the greenhouse, but we’ll see how far I get with our edible crop this season.  I’m thinking either dahlias or peonies since both are great for bouquets and could be cut easily while I’m already out harvesting food items in the greenhouse.  Plus, being perennials, they would come back year after year.  Luckily the faux rock we got for the septic pipes inside the fence, worked perfectly out here to cover the leach field vent pipe so it’s not an eyesore next to my pretty green house!

And of course there will be plenty of pretty flower pots and garden décor out front of the greenhouse.  If you looked closely at the pictures from my last post you might have noticed two wooden chairs off to the side of the building site.  I have grand plans to make one into a planter using chicken wire to build a basket where the seat used to be and the other will be a stand for containers of flowers.

Of course moving all of our edible crops to the greenhouse leaves the Garden Box in the back yard available for other things.  I’m thinking it might become my cutting garden for bouquets.  It would be something pretty to look at out the family room window and would be convenient to use, but I’ll have to plan out which flowers are in each tub since the middle window opens out and we use it quite often during the nice summer weather.

Our herbs will soon have an spot inside the house where they can grow year-round for continued use, so I don’t need a spot for them in the greenhouse.  I’ll share that project once it’s installed and finished.  I plan to have parsley, oregano and basil.  I may do a few varieties of basil if I can find them available locally.  We’ve already got mint and chives out in the rain garden so that should give us a good variety to work with and we’ll have room to add other items as we learn what does well and will be used the most.

It’s an ambitious plan but I want to give it a good shot with our first season.  If you have suggestions on other crops we should consider or tips for any of the ones I mentioned I’d love to hear them.   I also want to hear thoughts on if it’s worth the effort to paint both the interior and exterior of the greenhouse white.  I think it would give it a nice clean farmhouse look, but I’m not sure improves functionality or practicality, so I may hold off and do that at the end of the season when we close up the greenhouse rather than before  when I need to focus on getting things started.  Tell me what you think with the poll below.  I look forward to hearing your suggestions and sharing the progress when spring arrives!

Getting the Deck Ready for Summer

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The temperatures are getting warmer and the sun is out longer which means it’s time to get the deck ready for summer!  I switched things up in the yard this year and put the sectional seating elsewhere so we could have a dining table on the deck.  Having one here makes more sense because the grill is nearby and the space is just off the sliding door to the main area of the house where the kitchen is.

I picked up this great table and chairs set on the local buy/sell page for just $100.  I love that the metal design is sturdy and won’t hold water so it should be ready to enjoy all the time.  I originally planned to add cushions to the chairs, but they are surprisingly very comfortable so I just used the throw pillows I already had instead.

The hubs dug out the umbrella and we placed it with the table for extra stability.  It took a tumble off the deck at the end of the season last year which broke the arm the hubs had repaired after we bought it at Goodwill.  This time he used metal tubing and painted it to match so it blends in quite well.

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You really have to look closely to spot which arm is the one that’s been repaired, so I’d say he did an excellent job!  As an extra precaution we keep the umbrella down when we’re not using it, just in case the winds pick up when we’re not around.

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Before we got everything set up we also pressure washed the deck (ignore the fact that it’s still sitting off to the side there.) so we had a clean slate to start with.  We’ll be painting the deck at some point this summer since it’s starting to show wear and needs a refresher, but a good wash works for now.  I’ll be adding plants to the various planters you see in the far corner this weekend and tilling the area around the deck to add landscaping there.  Check back next week to see it all come together! 🙂