"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Greenhouse Update (High Hopes)

Greenhouse from the Outside

Greenhouse from the Inside

The Seed Drawer

Today was the first day I have seen the sun in more than a fortnight. We here in the extreme Pacific Northwest have been suffering through a long, chilly, windy, stormy, wet spring. The weather has not changed appreciably since mid-February. I read in yesterday's paper that we have already received more than the average precipitation for all of March. This news did not surprise me: I have been wading through the freezing mud for weeks now. I know how deep it is.

Today, however, the sun actually came out. And it is still out, at five in the evening. Thank you, daylight savings time! I don't care if you cause incrementally more heart attacks, I am all for you! Rock on, light after four P.M.! Inside the greenhouse, the temperature rose to somewhere around seventy degrees. I decided to plant some more seeds.

Weeks ago, I planted pepper seeds inside the house. I thought they were never going to sprout - we keep the thermostat at 63, and they need a soil temperature of 75, according to the package. But finally, most of them did sprout, and now I have a lovely little bed of seedlings all straining towards the sun on the kitchen table. About half the plants are jalapenos, and the other half are thai peppers. If even half the plants bear fruit, we will; have enough peppers to use fresh and dry for the winter.

In the greenhouse so far, I have planted radishes, spinach, snow peas, and swiss chard. All of the above are up, though I don't see any serious happy growth. All the plants are about where I would expect them to be if I had sown them outside in a regular year. It hasn't been warm enough to plant the warm-weather crops I have wanted to try - until today. It probably still isn't warm enough, actually, but I had to try. I cut an egg carton in half and planted cantaloupe in one half and tomatillo in the other. Then I decided it really wouldn't be warm enough in the greenhouse overnight and brought them all into the house.

My greenhouse, handsome though it is, and happy with it as I am, isn't really very effective. It isn't well sealed. I didn't know how much that mattered, until I was at a community pea-patch last week, on a raw thirty-six degree day, and stepped into a well-sealed greenhouse. It was lovely, balmy, delicious. A thermometer was hanging from the ceiling and it said 76 degrees. My drafty greenhouse keeps things about four degrees warmer than the ambient temperature. I spent some three hours last week squeezing silicone gel into the cracks, making a bloody balls-up of the job, using fourteen times as much silicon as should be needed, and gluing my hair to my pant legs. Even after all that, I hadn't managed to make a dent in the draft, so I said the Hell with it and decided it would be easier to nag my husband intro submission.

He's actually rather busy with things like making money, so I don't know how long it might be until I have a real greenhouse. In the meantime, the four degrees difference will be enough to give me about two weeks head start on cold weather crops, and eventually will allow me to grow things I wouldn't be able to otherwise; like peppers and cantaloupes.

Frankly, I don't know why I bother. I am SUCH a black thumb. I know that defeat and despair awaits me in the prettiest part of the year, but I persist anyway. Why? Because it is there?


dilli said...

Aimee, consider baby hoophouses within the greenhouse. skinny pieces of pvc bent over in a u with clear plastic. It allows me to grow all winter long with no heat source in the GH.. if you plant in beds within, consider old fish tanks to cover small plants and seeds or clear jugs cut off and inverted.. i have found out over the years that we have to make the GH function as we wish, its but a tool not a magical means making growing easy... i am a brown thumb myself.. i simply have persistence which most construe as green thumb :)

Aimee said...

Dilli that's a good idea. I actually left about half the floor space of the greenousr bare dirt, so I can plant right on the ground and cover with plastic wrap'

Dana said...

Love your writing. Greetings from Madison, Wisconsin!