Monday, January 24, 2011

My Greenhouse

     February is almost here and in the Pacific Northwest it will be time to plant peas!  Many people plant them too late and complain when they quit growing at the first hint of hot weather.  I plant snow peas, the edible pea pod type found in Chinese food.  I am too lazy to shuck peas.  Peas are planted directly outside and don't require much soil preparation.  You can poke a hole in the ground and plant them in the mud.  They add nitrogen to the soil and are finished by the time tomatoes are ready for planting, so you can get two crops in one space.
 Polycarbonate windows and slate over plywood walls
     Gardening is my favorite art form, more than painting and working with steel.  I start all of my own plants from seed in my greenhouse beginning April 1st. with lots of flowers and my almost famous tomato plants.  My greenhouse is almost forty years old and I will tell you about it today.
 I always leave one tomato plant to grow in the greenhouse.
It is about 12 feet long and 8 feet wide and built to retain heat.  It is on a 6" thick concrete slab with the first three feet built of concrete blocks and painted black on the inside. It is built like a house with 2 x 4 framing, insulated walls and plywood paneling painted white on the inside to reflect the light. Originally I had redwood planting benches but they have long since rotted away and a few years ago I replace them with a continuous, poured in place steel framed concrete benches covered in tile.  Not only will these never disappear on me, they are easy to clean and retain their own heat.  In the coldest months I can heat this space with a little 60 watt (think one light bulb) heater placed under the concrete bench.  The heat radiates throughout the bench and warms the entire greenhouse.  It really only comes on at night, two minutes of sunlight and the greenhouse is very warm.  There is a large attic fan in the far gable of the roof, set to automatically turn on when it becomes 90 degrees f. This is essential in a greenhouse as two hours of winter sun will make it very hot in there.  I also have a tiny fan, just enough for a little air circulation, that I leave on 24 hours a day.  This prevents "damp-off" disease, the curse of any greenhouse.
   It is a great place to hang out on nasty rainy days of early Spring and that is usually where I am. Tomatoes love to be transplanted, always deeper each time and I will do this three times before they are ready for the garden.  I have had as many as 150 plants in this space and I only keep about 20 for my garden and give the rest away to worthy homes.
More of my Garden is HERE.


Barbra Joan said...

This is something I always wanted. My own greenhouse, not so much for vegetables , but for flowers.. Of course here in florida we don't have the continuous cold temps, it gets cold for a couple nights , ruins all the tropicals and then goes to 75 in the day. Go Figure!
I always thought if I had a greenhouse I could live in it. Nothing and I mean nothing makes me feel better than to be surrounded by plants. Can I come and paint in there?

stonepost said...

Good Morning Barbra, yes, anytime, you are more than welcome!

Clipped Wings said...

I love all the slate tiles on your greenhouse. I haven't grown veggies for years, but this year I'm hoping to start up again. I grow heirloom plants mostly in compost. Seems to make them disease free. I grow everything in containers on the patio or in the compost bins. I just plant the seed in the compost, and that has always worked well here. I grow climbers, and the purple Italian string beans work well on the patio trellis. Very colorful and tasty when picked young. It's wonderful that you give so many plants away. My mom used to do that with all her baby plants.

AutumnLeaves said...

Absolutely gorgeous, Jerry. I can smell that loamy soil and feel the humidity. Love that slate tile on the outside too.

Chez said...

I think I have said it before StonePost. I want you for a neighbour. Please!!!!
Love snow peas and the greenhouse concept.