January Garden Update

We're Back!

After several weeks where we've just been too busy to garden, we're back. Things in the greenhouse are going pretty well, but I'm a little nervous about the cold snap we're expecting this week. Our greenhouse came with a small heater, and we've set it on a thermostat to turn on if it goes down to 35 degrees, and then turn off when it goes up to 45 degrees. Hopefully that will be enough.    We lost our tomatoes to a cold snap earlier this winter (we wanted to know if we could go without the heater, and it turns out we can't), but the Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbages, beets, greens,  catnip, and carrots are going strong. Winter is a good time for growing greens, and we'll definitely be incorporating more of those next time around.

We were very pleased to see that we've got cauliflower coming in - after inchworms ate almost the entire plant, it's nice to see it sprouting some veggies for us! Our beets are also looking good - I'm hoping there's some nice, big roots under all of those beautiful leaves. Even if there aren't beet greens are tasty and we'll enjoy them.

What's next? We have to start planning for spring (hooray!). Basically, we're going to begin the growing season inside a couple of months earlier than we can outside - but we'll probably try the same kinds of vegetables we would otherwise. We'll test a variety of peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and of course, more greens. I'm also hoping for some early strawberries.

What do you want to grow this year? Let me know in the comments.

Garden Update

Don't Worry, We're Still Here!

I know it's been a while since I've posted. We went on vacation, and then life got in the way. Then, my camera-phone took a little swim (and my photos went for a little swim too). I dusted off my digital camera to find that it wasn't working, either.

Nevertheless, the greenhouse is doing great. We are very impressed with its ability to hold heat, but a little worried about how cold it gets in there if the sun doesn't come out. On cloudy days, it's definitely chilly. The good news is that the plants are inside, so they shouldn't be affected by frost.

To keep the temperature level, we've gotten some large buckets of water to use as thermal mass, which should collect the heat during the day and then disperse it at night.

The biggest challenge I'm having (other than the wet phone) is now that it's dark by the time I get home from work, I can only take photos on the weekend. When I have the camera situation sorted out, I'll be back with more pics.

Thanks for keeping up with us, and hope your holiday season is an enjoyable one.

One Big Planter Box

It's Enormous!

So we've finally got our raised bed installed, thanks to a lot of sweat equity from my husband, family, and friends. It looks lovely, and since it's made of cedar, it smells great and will last forever without imparting any arsenic or BPAs into our food.

Once my current crop of Brussels sprouts, cabbage, beets, and tomatoes is done, we'll be planting some more root vegetables, like potatoes, so we can benefit from the nice depth of the box. It's about 20 inches deep.

It's got strong brackets at each corner and 10 inch timber screws, so we don't have to worry about it blowing away in Hurricane Sandy.

In other news, I think I've almost resolved our inchworm infestation - I'm only finding one a day now. This is probably because we're officially out of cauliflower.

Also, now that it's getting colder, we're enjoying how nice and warm it is in there, and looking forward to some tasty veggies.

So, what are you up to in the garden today? 

Post your updates in the comments.

Hungry Inchworms

We're being invaded!

One of the wonderful things about having our garden inside is that the birds don't spread seeds for weeds all over it, and they don't eat our fruits and veggies.

BUT (and this is a big one), since they can't get into the greenhouse, they can't eat all the bugs off my plants either. This means we've got a bit of an inchworm infestation.

So, I've spent the last few days picking inchworms off my plants. They seemed to find my remaining cauliflower especially delicious.

At this point, it's clear we're going to have to re-plant, or we aren't going to get any cauliflower this year. I hope those nice, fat inchworms enjoyed themselves.

Our Brussels sprouts got some of the same treatment, and the little green guys even made it as far as my arugula. It seems like they don't like green beans too much, so those are safe so far. I've been taking them outside and moving them into the hedge, where they can winter over in comfort - away from all of my tasty veggies.

In other news, our tomatoes, cabbage, beets, and herbs are doing just fine - I'm checking them daily for inchworms and don't see any yet.

So, what's growing in your garden? Have you ever dealt with inchworms? How did you get rid of them?

Bunnies Break into the Greenhouse

We've Been Robbed!

There are a lot of wild bunnies living in our neighborhood, which makes it a cute, but risky, place to garden. I've tried any number of bunny-go-away remedies - they tend to just jump right over the bunny fence, and I've never been entirely comfortable spraying cayenne pepper all over my veggies because I know it hurts them.

So, in my outdoor garden, I do three things:

1) I leave a little clover in between the plants. It grows wild in our yard, adds nitrogen to the soil, and sates bunny hunger.
2) I pick tomatoes just as they start to ripen, or something (bunny, bird, or other) eats them.
3) I grow greens they don't like - like arugula.

I had given up on growing things like Brussels sprouts and cauliflower because rabbits just like them sooooo much. But now that I have a greenhouse, I should be able to grow those, right?

Well, right. Sort of.

The other day, we came home and the door the greenhouse was wide open. It's latched, but not locked. Nothing seemed to be missing so we shut it and then went to run some errands. We came back and hour or two later, and the door was ominously hanging open, again, and you can see in the photo above what the furry culprit did to our cauliflower. I'm hoping I can save it, but I might just need to plant more.

In the mean time, my husband has installed four barrel latches (two in front, two in back), so that the doors stay closed no matter what. This will also help keep the heat in, which we  need since it's getting cooler.

Here's a mug shot so we can identify the criminal if we see them again....

Setting Up (Green)housekeeping

It's time for a little interior decorating.

 We got a lot done this weekend. First, we went on a lumberyard adventure. After pricing out all of the options, we decided to do the raised beds in cedar, rather than composite lumber. We're actually happier with this choice - it's more expensive than regular pressure-treated lumber, but won't leach arsenic into our plants.

Cedar also turned out to be cheaper than composite, is all-natural and will pretty much last forever. Regular, non-pressure-treated lumber from most other wood won't work either - pine, for example, would rot and have to be replaced every year.

So, we got the lumber, rebar, and other supplies for the raised beds, and set the lumber in the greenhouse to season a bit while we go back to our regular jobs this week.

Then, it was time to move the rest of my plants into the greenhouse, as well as some other creature comforts. It was also time to move my green beans into a roomier pot. They seemed a little traumatized, but I'm hoping they'll perk up again in a few days. Our greens, cauliflower,  and Brussels sprouts seem to be enjoying the nice weather in there, and the tomato, beet, and cabbage seedlings are small, but hanging in there until I have more room for them.

We took a well-deserved break in our sunny, warm space. We're still amazed at the temperature difference between inside and outside.

Next weekend, we'll be taking a stab at getting the raised beds together. My husband will be the star of the show - this kind of building project is his specialty and he's got it all planned out.

So, what's growing with you? Please leave a note in the comments.

The Greenhouse is Complete!

We have a greenhouse!

Greenhouse door
It's done - it's built - it has at least one plant in it! It took five weekends, but it's built! We are so excited.

Roller for weather stripping The last step was putting on the doors. There are four  - two in the front and two in the back.

There was also more weather stripping to do. I can't recommend enough that you find one of these weather-stripping rollers at your local hardware store - it made installing and adjusting our weather stripping a LOT easier.

Finished greenhouseArugula in the greenhouseAfter five weekends of work, sweat, a little blood, and a lot of parts, we were finally done. We closed the doors and found an almost instantaneous increase in temperature - it's almost too hot in there for plants now, but this will be a good thing in a few weeks when it starts to get chilly out.

Then it was time to put our first plant in the greenhouse. I have some arugula that's  been waiting to go in there - of course we have plenty of room. Now that we've christened the greenhouse with the first plant, we're ready to create the raised beds.

We're planning to build two beds along the lefthand side of the structure - each about 5 feet by three feet, with a little pathway in between so we can reach the whole planting areas without stepping on our delicate plants.
Our greenhouse

We want to use composite lumber - most of the pressure-treated stuff is infused with arsenic and we don't want than in our beets and tomatoes.

If we use non-pressure treated wood, then it will rot in a couple of years and we'll have to tear down the beds and rebuild them.

So, the best choice is to spend more money up front for beds that will hold up well for years, and that won't leach arsenic into our garden.

At this point, we're looking into suppliers and pricing it out; in the mean time, we'll be gathering other furniture, plants, etc. to place in our space.

Finally, here's a bonus shot of Tito, who was supervising our work from the cool shade of the shed.

Tito in the shed

So, what's your garden up to these days? Please share in the comments.

Next time: Seedling update, moving plants from our house to the greenhouse.