The solar heated greenhouse is up and running. It’s not totally solar heated but I get enough heat with my creative heating techniques to get my vegetables and perennials going and with a few more tricks I heat the greenhouse in mini climate area areas until the temperatures become more consistent in NW PA. With the price of heating it pays to experiment.
photo credit: quinn.anya
Today I started my tomato and pepper plants. Normally you start both of these plants six to eight weeks before your last frost but I like large plants to set out and I trade my plants for perennials so I start my plants now and use the tomato and pepper re-potting method. In my growing zone you normally plant your tomatoes and pepper plants from May 15 to 31. Even in May its wise to be prepared for a late frost and cover you more tender plants at night.
photo credit: rudy.kleysteuber
I also collected more milk jugs from friends and family to fill with water and lined another wall of my greenhouse and one side of the mini greenhouse I setup inside the larger greenhouse. The smaller greenhouse is for my perennials that are requiring a little more heat to grow and this should supply the extra heat needed.
Milk jug solar heating has been my primary heating source in the greenhouse for four or five years but I have to admit this winter has challenged the heating. I may have to break down and add a small electrical heater if this cold doesn’t break soon.
My first batch of perennial plants that I am raising from seed are now 3 inches tall. I will move them into the smaller portable plastic greenhouse I put up inside the larger greenhouse and start a new crop of perennial seeds. I have been giving my perennial seeds a cold treatment in the refrigerator as shock treatment to force them to germinate and wake up earlier than they normally would. My first group of herbs are also doing well.
I also have three batches of compost brewing in the back of the greenhouse. They should be ready in a week, just in time for another round of seed planting.
As spring nears I am slowly starting my plants, perennials and herbs first. Next will be flower that require a longer seed starting period, then on to the regular seeds that take six to eight weeks to be ready to set out in the gardens. It feels great to be back out in the greenhouse playing in soil and making plans for the new gardening season.