Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I have a greenhouse!

Welcome to Nitty Gritty Garden, a down-to-the-details how-to vegetable garden blog about gardening in the Pacific Northwest, zone 8a. (I found a helpful website http://www.plantmaps.com/ where all you have to do is put in your zipcode and it tells you your zone, plus adds others by clicking in a box.) We live in Duvall, WA, so we are a bit colder than Seattle. Everything is a little later here than the surrounding suburbs of Seattle.

I have been gardening for over twenty years, but 2015 marks my initiation into gardening a la greenhouse. Late last spring, I purchased a kit greenhouse with some inheritance money (thanks, Dad!). By the time we were done with the greenhouse (my husband built the foundation, we put the kit together over spring break, and I built my own benches), it was late April. Currently, 2015 is really my first year using the greenhouse.

Specific greenhouse info in case you wanna know: I purchased an 8 x 8-foot greenhouse from the Greenhouse Mega Store (http://www.greenhousemegastore.com/product/snap-grow-plus/hobby-greenhouse-kits) for around $1200. I also got my potting supplies (not soil) from them. The greenhouse was relatively easy to put together, but you should know my husband and I built our own log home (and I mean that literally) and I did the wiring, so we are no strangers to construction, following obscure directions, and the like. I am quite happy with the greenhouse thus far. The self ventilating window is pretty cool!

Venturing into virgin territory, I am scrambling to figure out what to plant when. Last spring, I realized that even the size of the seed starting pots was an unknown, though my 2 x 2-inch pots seemed to work well for all seed starts. We had a mild winter here in Duvall, WA, and we seem to be having an early spring. Our average last frost date is around March 29, so I am planning accordingly.

February 15, I planted a good deal of my cooler weather plants in the greenhouse using Edna's Best Organic Potting Soil, purchased at my local True Value:

  • artichokes
  • beets
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • chard
  • cilantro
  • kale
  • lettuce
  • peas
  • spinach

I purchase most of my seeds from Territorial Seeds http://www.territorialseed.com/, some this year but some saved from years past. I also have some seeds from my friend Nicole, who is also an avid gardener and award-winning garden photographer (http://blogs.seattletimes.com/allyoucaneat/2014/07/29/how-does-your-garden-grow-send-us-your-harvest-photos/#mid=&offset=&page=&s=).

I also planted some flowers, as my goal is to grow all my flowers for decorative pots and window boxes from seed:

  • nasturtiums (saved from my flowers last year)
  • sweet peas

The temperatures have been amazing: 55-60 during the day, but a chilly 32-34 at night. I have lidded five-gallon buckets filled with water under my planting shelves in the greenhouse, and I also have a small heater set to 50 degrees. On a sunny day (as it has been the past week), the greenhouse reaches 90-100 degrees, but at night it cools off to 40, so I decided to use the heater. I have ordered a 35 degree activated plug that will turn the heat on at 35 degrees and off at 45. I'll let you know how it works when it arrives. I have also ordered a special grow light for my tomatoes, which I plan to plant this coming weekend. I will have it on an 18-hour timer.

Meanwhile, I have spent the last several days getting my garden beds ready. I have 5 x 5-foot and 5 x 10-foot raised beds (made from 2 x 10" treated wood); two 5 x 5' beds, six 5 x 10' beds, plus other randomly sized beds, a blueberry cloche, and a raspberry patch. The soil level is low and needs amending, so we are adding aged manure from Hollandia Farms in Monroe. We inherited a farm truck from my dad (aka Rosie) that my husband used to bring home manure and a compost soil mix from West Coast Nursery on Hwy 203.

Yesterday, we started amending the two small beds and one large one. We used our cement mixer to mix the manure with the existing garden soil and some ROCK DUST, and the rototilled the mix into the beds. They turned out beautifully, but it took a really long time, and my husband is recovering from knee surgery so a lot of the shovelling and wheelbarrowing was left to me. Today, we decided to skip the cement mixer and just till the manure into the beds directly. It didn't work as well, but I think it will be OK. In all, I moved 13 large (two-wheeled) wheelbarrow loads into the garden to the remaining beds. I am pooped (pun intended)! I will be skipping my core workout tomorrow morning and just doing my physical therapy!

I will start planting in the beds as soon as the potatoes and onions get here. Hurry up! Here is my garden plan for 2015:

Also, we have decided to plant edibles amongst decorative plants on our patio-to-be. We are still installing planting beds, but for now, we have 250 plus daffodil and tulip bulbs that we planted on a very wet and rainy day late last fall. They are all sprouting now, even the daffodils I forgot to plant that stayed in a box outside on the deck in a covered area! Can't wait to see them bloom. I will post pictures soon. The bulb sprouts, from the nearby Skagit Valley, are huge!

I ran out of energy today, but tomorrow I will take and post some pictures. I will also be planting leek seeds. I hope you are making the most of the early spring! Yours,

NG Gardener

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