April 30, 2017
Tomorrow is the first of May, and things are beginning to green up here in Manitoba. The snow has disappeared, the days are getting longer and the temperatures are on the rise. Pretty soon it will be time to put in the garden. But for now, my transplants are still safe and sound in the sunroom.
The LED growlight we purchased seems to be doing a good job, especially for the tomato plants directly below it. However, all the plants seem to be healthier, less spindly than previous years. For next year, we will need to purchase two additional grow lights to ensure they all get enough light. And while they are doing okay in the sunroom, they really need to get out. A greenhouse is in the plans for a few years down the road, but for now we decided to build a mini greenhouse.
My plan for this year was to grow my peppers and eggplant under cover. A couple in town, Ernie and Ann, grew their peppers under a plastic tunnel a couple of years ago and got a bumper crop. Ever since they told me their pepper success story, I have been itching to try it out. I thought we could build a simple plastic covered shelter on the south side of the house. And why not have it double as a mini greenhouse to hold the transplants until they are ready to go into the soil?
The original plans for a simple plastic shelter seem to have gone out the window, since I discovered a stash of old windows. Ken replaced the windows for a friend a few years ago, and kept the old ones. They were perfect for this project – all 24 inches by 24 inches. So, four days later, my simple plastic shelter has become a beautiful work of art.
The greenhouse is 3 feet wide and 11 feet long. The base was made using 2×6 treated lumber, staked in place. An old hose was turned into a soaker hose by drilling holes in it, and is buried a couple of inches below the soil. It will attach to the rain barrel and, I am hoping, water the bed gravity fed. The area in front of the bed will become a shale path later.
The front of the green house is two feet high and the back is three feet high. Ken made sweet window panes for each window by making dado cuts in 2×4’s.
The roof is composed of five separate window panes, each able to open. The frames are as pretty as a picture frame – made out of leftover birch from the kitchen cabinet build and coated with a Behr finish. (The little bed at the east end of the greenhouse is the space left as Ken did not want to cut the 2×12 base board. LOL. I think I will try planting a fennel in that spot. And putting my garden gnome door there too. )
Since the front is only two feet high, I can reach in to do any weeding, planting, watering, etc. The sides – west and east, both have a window pane and a vented top panel to allow air flow. When it gets too hot, some or all of the roof panes can kept propped open with dowels, though I have yet to complete this part of the project.
The forecast for the next few days is warm (around 15C) and cloudy, and the nights are not forecast to go below zero. Should be perfect for transitioning the plants to the greenhouse. Fingers crossed, I will move them out tomorrow – my May 1 celebration!