Thursday, October 29, 2009

Greenhouse: Extending my growing season!

The leaves are falling to the ground and there is a new chilly crispness to the air.  Even still I'm thinking of my garden. 

A sure sign that cold weather is coming soon

I've been nursing along a couple of volunteer yellow pear tomato plants that sprouted up in my boat garden this year.  About 2 weeks ago I harvested the first of the juicy little salad tomatoes from the plants and they were delicious.  Because of our short season, these plants haven't yet hit their peak of tomato production.  I placed several jugs of water around them.  The idea is that the water will absorb the heat of the day and help insulate these plants in the colder hours of darkness. 

Here's the tomato plants with the reused jugs of water

Hoping to extend my growing season a little longer, I asked Ben to help me by enclosing the boat garden with a greenhouse.  This is a quick, cheap and easy project that we finished in a few hours.

First we took a trip into town for materials.  Whenever possible I try to use recycled materials in my garden, but this project required a few purchases.  I think we spent about $25 on the following materials:
                 *1/2 inch PVC pipe, several 8 foot lengths
                 *1/2 inch rebar stakes
                 *Heavy clear plastic

Checking the flexibility of the pipe

Now Ben is, by trade, a carpenter, so this project was a piece of cake for him.  I helped when I could, but for the most part, I tried to stay out of the way.

The first thing he did was to pound in the rebar stakes on either side of the garden.  Then he placed the pvc pipe onto the rebar on one side and then bent the pipe over and placed it over the rebar stake on the opposite side. 

Forming the support hoops for the greenhouse

Repeating this process, he formed 3 hoops over the garden bed.

Rebar stakes help secure the hoops in the ground

Next he added a support "beam" down the center.  Using a small drill bit, he drilled through the pipes where they over lapped and wired the support to the center of the hoops.

This hoop house is starting to take shape!

Now that this was fully supported, it was time to add the thick plastic sheeting.  We got ours in the paint department of the hardware store. 

Attaching the plastic to the frame with wire

Here's where things got tricky.  I explained to Ben that whatever method he used to hold the plastic down would have to be removable so that I could pull the plastic back in order to tend to the plants inside.  He figured out a way to wire the plastic sheeting on to the supports so that I could still open the sides.

He finished up at the last light of the day and just before the rain began.

The capsule is complete!

Some men bite their tongues when working with their
wives.  Ben's solution, Duct Tape!!!

While all of that was going on, I did some more fall clean up out in the veggie beds.  I cleared out the remaining tomato plants from my raised beds and turned the soil.  I think we have enough plastic left to enclose these for the winter too.  If that works out I'll keep planting salad greens in these 2 beds. 

2 more beds ready for winter

I've had some strawberry pots going for about 2 years now.  I've noticed that they really don't do as well in the pots as they do in the ground, so I took this time to transplant them over my previously planted garlic.  This is just a temporary spot for them to winter over.  In the spring, I will be moving all of my strawberries into their own permanent bed.

A short term solution for my berries
I love my little organic garden!  There's always something to be done out here, but I enjoy the work and it's a great hobby for Ben and I to share.

 Now with my little greenhouse, I should be able to get an extra month to 6 weeks of growing time at both ends of the season!  That could add up to 3 extra months of food production!!!  I'll be sure to keep you all posted to what kind of trials and successes we have with our new enclosed growing area.

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