Dec 18th, 2013 by greenhouses
If you have been following the blog this year you have seen the building of a 10×24 greenhouse and the installation of an aquaponics system.
Part of the “greenhouse test” was to see if an unheated greenhouse could grow year round. If you would have asked me the first week of December I would have said – absolutely. Despite lows in the teens at night we still had a nice crop of lettuce and even harvested a last batch of tomatoes.
With the equivalent of 38 barrels water in our system (can you imagine even trying to put 38 55 gallon drums into that space and still be able to walk around) we thought we might be able to keep the temps stable enough to keep going.
We were wrong.
It held up fine for the 0 degree nights, but we got hit with much colder than normal – heck more like 50 year lows and with days of -10 to -18 and NO sunshine during the day the flow from the fish tank to the grow beds froze up and drained a lot of our system water. Even the 55 gallon drum of “fill” water froze solid.
So, the lettuce is frozen solid, there is a huge hole where the water escaped that needs some wheel barrels of gravel, and the system needs about 700 gallons of water to restart.
Oh, and the aluminum doors are frozen solid.
Our normal highs and lows for this time of year mid 30′s/mid 20′s was working great. Even the cold mid 20′s/mid teens was ok and the greenhouse was almost 70 with the sun shining.
But the overcast days with highs in the teens and low in the negative teens killed us. I don’t know if a heater would have helped. I am considering using a tank heater next winter and since it should be another 50 years for it to be this cold again in December maybe it will work.
Tags: greenhouse, lettuce, winter
Dec 3rd, 2013 by greenhouses
This week’s forecast is for highs around 24 and lows at 10. Are you kidding me, it is only the first week of December.
The next week or so will be interesting in the greenhouse. I decided not to spend the money to heat the greenhouse this winter or to install a tank heater in the aquaponics system. The goldfish can survive freezing temps (and I have a lot of air pumped into their tank) and the only crop that is doing great right now (again the first week of December) is my “accidental” lettuce crop.
I guess we will see if the almost 2000 gallons of water in the system will hold close to it’s 50 degree temps or freeze up and destroy the system? I was just outside with temps just above freezing and light snow falling – greenhouse temp was 78.
Here is my lettuce bin today.
Cutting some lettuce for the house.
They last big harvest – I don’t think the green tomatoes will make it through this arctic blast and this is the last of the dog’s pumpkin treats.
Tags: greenhouse, lettuce, winter
Nov 26th, 2013 by greenhouses
In spite of a complete lack of trimming of my tomato bushes, freezing temps and being the last week of November we are actually eating food fresh from the greenhouse.
handy kitchen gadgets
Plus we let a friend grab a bunch of green tomatoes from my unkempt bushes
and look what she returned – green tomato relish
here is a handy recipe from
25 medium or 35 small green tomatoes
3 medium green bell peppers
2 medium sweet red peppers
3 medium onions
4 tbsp pickling salt
4 cups sugar
3 cups white vinegar
3 tbsp mustard seed
3 tbsp celery seed
1. Chop, process or grind all vegetables into a fine dice, then cover with the pickling salt and stir to coat. Let the mixture stand for 3 hours, then drain well.
2. Boil the sugar, vinegar and seeds for 5 minutes, then add the vegetables and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Seal in hot, sterile pint jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Tags: bell peppers, greenhouse, vegetables
Nov 20th, 2013 by greenhouses
The ultimate in garden bird protection – a greenhouse.
Usually when its the freezing cold on November 20th you don’t have to worry about protecting your garden from birds.
But when you lots of bright red tomatoes, colorful punkins and even a few cantaloupes growing those cold hungry birds start eying your greenhouse plants.
not for you you, silly birds.
If you don’t have a greenhouse and are in a warm enough climate to still have to worry about “rats with wings” then think about bird netting, stringing line across the top of your garden or bribing them to stay away with a bird feeder filled with sunflower seeds.
Tags: Bird, garden, greenhouse, greenhouse plants
Nov 12th, 2013 by greenhouses
Winter is quickly approaching and I am concerned about the need to refill the aquaponics system.
Of course, that assumes that it will be able to run all year without freezing and needing to be turned off in Jan-Feb. If I can only get 10 months of use out of the greenhouse per year instead of 12 I think I will take it and be happy.
I have a buried sump tank that holds about 280 gallons of water. Since I haven’t been able to completely enclose the water I still lose some to evaporation and condensation during the cold weather. If I have to refill the sump tank when the temps are way below freezing that causes a big problem for me since the nearest water source is over 75′ away.
I wanted to have a water line ran into the greenhouse but buried power and a septic system kept that from happening – I was happy just to get power out there. I looked into heated hoses but wow they are expensive. So, since my strawberry tower was a complete bust I decided to replace it with a 55 gallon water barrel. It has a faucet on the bottom that will let me easily refill the sump from the barrel and it adds even more contained water to the system to help control temperature.
here is the barrel – ready for the install
filling the barrel – and showing the refill capability
installed – I feel like I have utilizing all the space effectively since without the workbench and the barrel I have a 4×4 space that would be wasted.
and a followup shot of the accidental lettuce – 1 week later
Tags: greenhouse, Jan Feb, lettuce, workbench