November 17, 2012

Greenhouse Gardening

View of herb bed looking at greenhouse outside inside greenhouse windows ;^)

Monte and me designed a new greenhouse outside the south windows of my indoor greenhouse. Confused? Off our dining room is a greenhouse. Instead of going directly outside out the back door, you first walk thru a greenhouse, then out another door to our Pergola (which is this blog header pic).

For years, in the summer, on the outside south facing windows of the greenhouse, we've planted tomatoes. At 8000 feet elevation we have about 90 days of frost free growing period, and many nights go down to 55 degrees or less. All this does not bode well for growing tomatoes. Like the book title $64 Tomato (fun book), every year I wonder why I even take the time to grow tomatoes! Tomato plants, all summer-long in walls-of-water, is about my only way. Tho now my son made me a rock spiral bed and the rocks warm the soil quite nicely for tomatoes, in which I grow 60-days-to-maturity determinate tomatoes.

Outside greenhouse has 4 doors that can open and an automatic arm opener for the little above window

We bought a roll of greenhouse plastic and stapled it both inside and outside of our greenhouse frame - hoping for more insulation. Monte made doors to access the inside growing space. From past experience of putting plastic over the bed at the end of the summer, we knew it 'cooks' inside. So I researched and bought a window that has an automatic arm opener - no electricity. Pretty snazzy!

Automatic arm opener to release excess heat
I've got some lettucy transplants and herbs in there, and seeds started for more, as well as radishes. Roof water can water it when available. Last year I did something like this but not very accessible, so let it do it's own thing, till come February we noticed fairly large lettuce growing, so then we made it easier to get into and didn't have to buy lettucy salad makings (nor snap peas) till . . . this fall - between it and the summer planted outside gardens.

Kale, Chard, Spinach, Lettuce varieties, Herbs and radishes inside outside greenhouse.

Thompson Seedless grape clusters inside greenhouse

My 'inside' greenhouse still has grape clusters hanging down. We already harvested a bunch of clusters - freezing them in ziplock bags. We're leaving these to eat and dry. We've found it's fun to just go and eat the hanging "raisins". Guests love it!

Old glass window cold frame

A past winter we tried a simple cold frame. It worked great . . . till the voles found it about late February. We strung lights thru it to heat it some. I think water jugs would heat a cold frame too, tho taking up space. But if you're not around to crack open the window frames it can get quite hot in there on sunny days pretty much 'cooking' the veggies!

Nice winter harvest from cold frame

I've tried growing salady things in my inside greenhouse over winter and have decided it's too labor intensive to water and not worth it. I do keep herbs and my large potted plants for outside summer deck decor overwinter in the greenhouse. Some year I might try hydroponic growing in there. I've got heat coils and grow lights. What I do use it for primarily tho is my early seed starts for planting outside in the spring - which I begin in January-February. With my short cool growing season it's how I get a head start. Like I start broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, chinese cabbage, leeks, flowers . . .

My inside greenhouse right now
Spring plantings in the greenhouse
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