Friday, May 19, 2017

Greenhouse Update

So after a long long cool wet winter/spring, we are finally into some really beautiful sunny days.  I'm new to greenhouse gardening.  We were careful to find the sunniest spot in the garden for the greenhouse, and plants have been starting wonderfully.  I've got all kinds of flowers, and vegetable plants started, and have already moved some into the garden and flower beds.
Today, on our first full sun day when it got to just over 70 degrees, the greenhouse was more like an oven.  I'm going to get a thermometer to keep track of the temperature in there, but know I need to do something to provide a bit of shade. 
I had a roll of black plastic so I tried to improvise a mini-shade, knowing that I would need it soon if not today.  The greenhouse has a built in gutter on the east and west sides that is about an inch wide - I left the black plastic folded so I can open it up for more shade if I need to.  Then I tucked the black plastic into the gutter and wedged a dowel into the gutter on top of the plastic to hold it in place.
So greenhouse gardeners - what do you do about full sun days when your greenhouse can heat up quickly and fry all your plants?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Projects, Projects, Projects all day long....

My little orchard is really starting to thrive, but when you have six mature apple trees, there is a lot of thinning involved in the spring!
My dear departed friend, Steve Smith, who was an expert on all things apple tree, told me that I should thin the apples to no more than ONE every five inches.  Yikes, I have a big job ahead of me, as that involves removing about 95% of all the blossoms. 
I found the perfect tool for removing blossoms/baby apples - the tiniest Fiskar scissors are perfect for the task.  They are very sharp and I can work with precision.  I used to pinch them off, and my thumbs would be sore for days.  I have about 10 hours into my thinning program and am pretty much done - once again, hoping that I have thinned them too severely.  I worry about that every year, but always have a huge apple crop, so it's getting easier.
Ron helped me pressure wash all the decks, which were a combination of green and brown after a very wet winter.
When we built the house, we tight-lined the gutters under the front slab and into a French drain.  However, we left way too many trees so the tree debris plugged up the drain, and our gutters were overflowing every time it rained no matter how many times Ron cleaned them.  So he decided to make an open ditch from the porch down the hill away from the house.  That looked so awful that we decided to tight-line it and cover it.
So both drain pipes are tight-lined, the yard is a muddy mess, but the problem with overflowing gutters should be solved.
In the meantime, my greenhouse is flourishing - I have really nice looking tomato plants, pumpkin and squash that are ready to go into the main garden, and all kinds of flowers growing.  In spite of another wet month, the corn, beans, onions, carrots, kohlrabi, peas, and potatoes are all up and growing in the main garden area. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017


First step:  Lay out all the parts and pieces.
Second step:  Study directions - Multiple times - 86 pages of instructions with NO words - Just drawings and arrows - not always very clear - Most of the parts had numbers - but not all of them.  Definitely a challenge!
We found that every step had to be done in order - no skipping ahead!  The bolts that hold most everything together fit into a groove in each piece, and you have to be sure to put every bolt in when it is called out.
Once we had the ridge pole in place, it firmed it up nicely, so we could quit worrying about the wind blowing it down before we got it done.
I've started moving plants in, but I was pretty tuckered out after finishing, so will work more on using it now!
Even the doors and windows had to be built!  We were pretty happy with how it turned out!

Friday, April 21, 2017

The foundation is done!

When we woke up to perfectly blue skies and sunshine, we decided to work on the greenhouse.  We finished the cement block walls the other day in a driving rainstorm, so we were happy to see that the rain didn't disturb the last tier of blocks that went in while it was pouring. We put lag bolts in at intervals around the perimeter so that we could put a sill plate on top.
Ron drilled holes in the 2x6 treated boards that we used for sill plate, and I tightened all the bolts while he got each new plate piece ready.
Next step:  squaring the metal for the beginning of the greenhouse onto the sill plate.  Fortunately, the foundation was level all the way around, so we didn't need to make any adjustments to that.

Ron left to tend his mowing, and I used the tractor and shovel and rake to fill around the foundation so that the greenhouse will start at ground level.  I still need to bring gravel all around the perimeter, but the foundation is done.  Now the fun begins as we put together the Chinese puzzle that will become the greenhouse.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Great Greenhouse Project Continues

After watching the original greenhouse site for a couple of months at various times of the day, we realized it just wasn't sunny enough where we had it.  So the project got a lot bigger:  first dig a hole for the new spot (I'm determined to have it partially underground), then fill in the old hole, reroute the water line, then line the bottom with gravel, measure it from every angle, and level it.
More trips to Home Depot for more cement block for the foundation.  We are going to do three tiers of cement block, or a total of 90 blocks. (That's a lot of lifting and toting!)
We decided to order an 8 x 12 greenhouse from Costco, so it was really important to get our foundation the proper size.  We waited for the greenhouse to arrive to be certain of the dimensions.
So here's the greenhouse....yikes!
Including nuts, bolts, brackets, and panels, there have to be a thousand parts and pieces.
Fortunately I have a very handy husband, so the project is once again underway.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Making Good Use of A Sunny Day

When you have a tractor, there is always a job to be done.  On Sunday we helped my sister and her friend clear brush, move a greenhouse, and smooth out a level spot for a new building.
You can see the side of the greenhouse behind the back of the tractor.
The greenhouse is about 50' away from it's original site, in a new sunny site where we cleared the brambles for it.
I have to admit I had kind of forgotten about all the seeds I started in my mini-greenhouses I made from Costco fruit containers.  I was horrified when I checked the "boiler room" where we have our hot water tank and I had put them under a grow light a month ago.
They were pathetically dry, very leggy, and obviously needing transplanting.  
Even though it's way too early to plant beans outside, I didn't have much choice, so I planted the beans in my raised bed, and the peas with the row of blackberries I'm trying to start.  Now we really have to hope for warmer weather and no more frost. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Great Grand Babies and Baby Showers :)

Granddaughter, Sara, with husband, Dan, and the subject of the party, beautiful little Adeline.
Auntie Amy and baby Addy.  We almost had to arm wrestle to see who got to hold her next.
Fortunately there was more than one baby to hold - Tina and Jesse with Sammy - 3 generations.
Makes everyone think about having one!
Blue eyed beauty cousin - funny how the toddlers immediately find each other.
Sunshine and warmth made for a perfect day for a party!
Tina knows how to throw a party!
Food, good friends, and fun games.  I especially liked the "Diaper raffle" where everyone brought various sizes of diapers and a name was drawn for a prize.  Fun and Practical!
Even Jasper had fun because he got to hang with Jesse and Randy, "the big boys".