The Winter Greenhouse

I have taken two weeks off from blogging. Life became very hectic, I experienced some sickness, and I couldn’t seem to get any gardening done.

Today, I started back on my gardening plans by gathering the plants I want to winter-over, into the greenhouse. Last year I had kept two pineapple plants, a tuberose plant, and an orchid in the greenhouse, then used them to landscape around the pool. I wanted to save these plants again, for next year.

 I landscaped near our temporary deck with free plants.

Pineapple, tuberose, and orchid plants used to landscape at pool.

I used an old tub that’s original purpose was to mix up cement. You can get them for under $10.00 at Lowes. My husband drilled holes in the bottom for drainage. I pulled the plants out of the loose mulch around the pool and placed them in the tub.

Plants from pool area with some begonias and aloe vera plants thrown in together.

Plants from pool area with some begonias and aloe vera plants thrown in together.

I also brought in my lemon tree. I have loved having this tree that produces lemons year round. I picked three lemons off the tree today. There are a few lemons left, and the tree is full of purple blooms that will turn into lemons over the winter months.

Lemon tree full of blooms with a few lemons left.

Lemon tree full of blooms with a few lemons left.

I brought in my ferns and some hanging baskets to winter-over.

Last year I purchased a small thermostatically controlled heater from Aldi for around $16.00. It would cycle on and off based on the temperature in the greenhouse and keep the temperature above freezing on very cold nights.

It is supposed to frost the end of this week but all is ready in the greenhouse so I don’t have to worry.

The winter greenhouse.

The winter greenhouse.

Have you brought in your plants yet?

“While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. ” Genesis 8:22

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An Easy Job in the Greenhouse

As I completed my work last Saturday, I ended up in the greenhouse. I saved the easiest job for last when I was really tired and couldn’t do much more anyway. I had not yet started my hot weather plants. These include watermelon, cantaloupe, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins.

In past years, I have tried to grow these plants in trays then transplant them to cups. They are very tender plants, once started, and if I succeeded in getting them transplanted to cups okay, many times they did not make it through being transplanted to the garden. I tried starting them in peat cups, but these cups become hard if they dry out and once planted in the garden, if you have a dry spell, the roots cannot grow through and establish themselves, so you have weak plants.

If I planted the seed directly in the garden, since the weeds grew faster than the plants sprouted, the plants could not get established before weeds took over.

This year I am trying something different. I learned about Jiffy Pellet pots on a Martha Stewart gardening video.

Jiffey pellets

Jiffy pellets

These are dried peat dirt encased in a biodegradable paper like substance. They come in a hard dry form…..

Dry pellet pot

Dry pellet pot

that you soak in water until they expand into….. a neat little seed pot.

Expanded pellet pot

Expanded pellet pot

They have a pre-made hole that you poke the seed into, then as you keep them moist, at all times, the seeds sprout, and you can transplant them directly to the garden. As I said before, this was a very easy job. You can leave them soaking while you do other jobs. There is no filling cups with dirt, so less mess.

I will let you know in future posts how well the plants transplant to the garden.

This week, as I wrote about last weeks projects, I continued to work in the garden. Next week I will catch you up with the garden and what is growing there.

Have a great weekend!

Work

Saturday, I was able to get the corn planted. While my husband continued to work on leveling the bare spots in the yard to receive grass seed, I cleared off six raised beds and transplanted plants from the greenhouse. I planted beds of tomatoes, basil, eggplant, cauliflower, jalapeno peppers, and green peppers.

Garden beds planted.

Garden beds planted.

This cleared out a lot of the greenhouse. I kept back a few of each plant. If one or two doesn’t survive, I can replant.

The greenhouse cleared of most plants.

The greenhouse cleared of most plants.

Many times as I work in one area, it leaves a mess to be cleaned up in another. Clearing out the greenhouse left a need to wash and reorganize the pots. My husband helped me move out the lemon tree, coffee plants, and several other large plants that were passed to me from my dad. This made a mess on the greenhouse deck that needs to be tended to now.

Greenhouse deck full of plants.

Greenhouse deck full of plants.

There are marigolds left in the greenhouse that need to be planted around the base of the greenhouse. You may remember a previous post where I prepared this area with a rock border. It was so long ago, that now, before I plant, I will have to weed the area once more.

The work never ends. If you do not stay at it all the time, you can fall behind in just a few short days. I, however, consider this work to be a gift. I don’t know about you, but I tend to not be able to control my energies or wrong thoughts, unless I can work them out through hard physical labor.

I surely don’t want to be like the people in Thessalonians of which Paul said, “For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.” (2 Thessalonians 3: 11)

Instead I prefer to follow Paul’s advice of….”And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.” (1 Thessalonians 3: 11-12)

Remember….work is not part of the curse. Work was in place before the curse…..Genesis 2:15

May you find joy in your work!

(I think I will ask the fortune cookie people to put this one in their next batch.)

Let’s Make Lemonade!

There is an old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

The weather has been unusually cold and rainy. It has been difficult to get as far as I would like to be in the gardening process for this year.

My son-in-law, Ryan, was here this weekend to celebrate the birthdays of my daughter-in-law, Collette, on the 4th and our son, Preston’s, on the 5th. Ryan brought his camera and wandered around outside, taking pictures of random things that caught his eye.

Fruit growing on Meyer Lemon tree in greenhouse.

Fruit growing on Meyer Lemon tree in the greenhouse.

He took this picture of a lemon growing on the tree in my small greenhouse. When I look at this picture, it gives me a hope for warm summer days and the sweet taste of lemonade. Meyer lemons make the best lemonade you have ever tasted.

So for now, as we endure this time of cold, rainy weather, we just need to remember it won’t be long until we will be sipping lemonade, going to the beach, jumping in the pool, and eating delicious things from the garden.

Summer is coming! Let’s make lemonade!

In The Greenhouse

The greenhouse is filling up with plants that are ready to set outside.

Beginnings

Beginnings

The greenhouse today.

The greenhouse today (right side).

The greenhouse (left side).

The greenhouse (left side).

The local weather stations say the last frost free date for our area is May 2nd. To be on the safe side we wait until after our son’s birthday, May 5th.

So next Monday, I will have the great pleasure of putting these little plants into their garden homes for the summer. I pray that God is gracious and gives a big harvest of food that can be shared with others.

How are your garden plans going?

Transplanting in the Greenhouse

When I start vegetables or flowers from seed in the greenhouse, I usually start them in trays. After they have grown enough to have a third leaf, I transplant them to cups or sectioned containers to allow them to continue to grow.

This allows them to absorb nutrients from the dirt in the tray, and then they can be moved to another container with fresh nutrients.

Geraniums started from seed.

Geraniums started from seed.

You will notice that a few of these tiny plants have a leaf starting to turn yellow. This can happen when they need more nutrients than they are getting or if they are receiving more water than they require.

I prepare new pots with fertilizer-enriched soil in varying sizes. For a flower….they will not bloom until the roots are bound up in the pot. If I plant some in smaller pots, they will get root bound sooner so the blooms come sooner. Once they are blooming I can set them in the garden. I leave some in the larger pots and allow them to bloom later.

Prepared pots.

Prepared pots.

I use small plastic spoons to scoop up the plants, keeping the roots intact; then place them in the new pot. This has to be a very gentle process.

Removing the plant.

Removing the plant.

Transfer in process.

Transfer in process.

Once the plant is placed in the new pot, I water it well. I also transfer some of the soil from the original tray, because it is already moist and will pack well to hold the plant in place as you water.

The final step is watering it in.

The final step is watering it in.

So, there you have it. How to grow and transplant your spring flowers.

Amish Landscaping

My husband and I have traveled several times to Pennsylvania and Ohio to visit the Amish farmlands. I love Amish farms. I love the strong work ethic that keeps their gardens weed free and planted with beautiful flowers and vegetables. I love the Amish for their thrifty lifestyles and use of available landscaping materials such as rocks.

When we rode through the Amish countryside we always saw flower beds lined with rocks. On some farms, they had placed rocks around the foundations of houses or barns.

We are getting ready for the fence company to come place a fence around our garden.

We had a lot of rocks to get out of the way that had been placed around our grapevines.

Rocks around grape vines

Rocks around grapevines

My husband has taken down the old trellis for the grapevines. The fence company will place a split rail fence for the grapevines to be tied to. The rocks are now unnecessary and in the way.

My husband loves rocks. Several were in the landscape that he and his grandmother had pulled out of a river in the mountains near her house. They had been washed smooth by the water over the years.

We also have rocks collected from our land. Four large flat rocks were once used as the cornerstones for the foundation of an old home on our property. The old sills even had homemade nails driven into them.

Saturday, we spent the day moving many of these rocks to landscape around a tree near the garden where honeysuckle and briers always try to take over, and it has been difficult to mow around due to the tree’s roots.

Rocks around tree

Rocks around tree

The rest of the rocks needed a new home so I decided to use them around the base of the greenhouse. I always plant flowers here, and presently I have marigolds planted in the greenhouse to fill up this area.

I had a fake rock border around the greenhouse to hold in the dirt for planting. I wondered if I could hide the fake rocks with real rocks.

I removed all the plastic “rocks” and tilled the area up. I replaced them and started moving real rocks into position.

Real rocks

Real rocks

Rocks are really pretty if you examine them. Some are pink, others shine like diamonds, and some are smooth and polished.

Pretty rocks

Pretty rocks

A smooth river rock on the corner

A smooth river rock on the corner

After moving all those rocks I now have a landscape fit for any Amish farm.

Rocks around greenhouse

Rocks around greenhouse

When summer arrives I will post pictures with the flowers in bloom.

Planting Seeds

Yesterday I began planting seeds in my greenhouse.

Seeds started in recycled containers

Seeds started in recycled containers

This time of year always gets my heart excited for a new start in the garden. All the old weeds and last years mistakes can be wiped away and hope begins to grow. (“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12 NISB)

I had to plant the seeds that take the longest time to germinate and grow, around six to eight weeks, so they would be ready to set out after the last frosts in early May.

I planted seeds for my flower beds and pots…. Geraniums, Hosta seeds, and Sweet Peas.

Sweet Peas, have such a hard shell they have to be soaked in water for 24 hours before planting. The parable in Luke 8:5-15 covers seeds and soil. To this parable I would like to add another, a seed whose shell is so hard, it has to be soaked down, to soften the exterior and let the life giving nutrients in. Those with hard shells know what I mean.

Sweet Pea Villa Roma Scarlett seeds soaking to soften the hard shell

Sweet Pea Villa Roma Scarlett seeds, soaking to soften their hard shells.

Once seeds are planted I lightly cover with potting soil using an old soup ladle to scoop and  sprinkle the dirt

Once seeds are planted, I lightly cover with potting soil using an old soup ladle to scoop and sprinkle the dirt.

I also planted Cauliflower and Jalapeno peppers. In summer, fresh Jalapeno peppers make the best Mexican cornbread ever.

Below is my recipe for the easiest Mexican cornbread ever. Cooking and baking doesn’t have to be hard.

2 cups self-rising buttermilk cornmeal

To a one cup measure, add 2 eggs and fill the rest of the way with oil

Add  one cup of buttermilk

Mix thoroughly

Add 1 small can of drained corn or equivalent of fresh corn

Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (low fat works fine)

Add 1-2, depending on size and taste , fresh, diced, Jalapeno peppers (in the winter use diced from a jar, to taste)

Bake in 8×8 dish, sprayed with Pam, at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until done.

ENJOY!