April 10, 2024

Greenhouse Update (Reporting a Little Progress)

April is prep and planting month, so our other projects pretty much take a back seat. Even so, I have a couple of things in the greenhouse to show you.

The first is progress on our rainwater collection tanks/thermal mass.

They still need to be connected to the front porch gutter spout, and the overflow needs to be finished, but the big pieces are in place. 

The second is a solar patio light

I don't plan to work in the greenhouse at night, but it will be handy for fetching lettuce when winter dark comes early, or to check to see if any cats are out there. (I say that because Riley loves the greenhouse during the day. At 14 years, he appreciates long naps in the warmest places he can find.)

I got this one on Amazon. What I liked about it (besides the price) is that it has a pull chain to turn it on and off. 

So many of them have remote controls only. In my mind, a remote control is just another battery I have to monitor and provide, and I'd rather keep all that to a minimum if there's a simple alternative. 

I'm happy with it.

With the warmer days of spring, I've also been monitoring my winter plants in the greenhouse. Some days the interior temp is topping 80 (27).

The broccoli is flowering, but the kale is still happy. Also, on the right you can see some volunteer cherry tomato plants! Last year's was my cold weather bellwether, and while it eventually froze, it provided valuable information about greenhouse temps when it gets really cold outside. I'll use this one to monitor summer temps (and my attempts to mitigate them).

My potato containers are doing well, and my potted lettuce is still producing. I cut it back pretty ruthlessly, but it hasn't bolted yet, in spite of warm days.

Also in that photo, you can see some of my early seed starts. That's winter squash right below the potatoes, and starter trays of tomatoes and Swiss chard in front. Working with these has emphasized the need for more appropriate greenhouse furniture! I need something tall for a potting bench and higher growing tables. 

We're busy these days, but even a little progress is welcome. I don't plan to use the greenhouse in summer, but hopefully, it will be finished by next fall.


Ed said...

I would be interested in yours water setup once you hook it to the gutters. I was thinking about doing something similar but haven't yet. For one, our greenhouse is quite small and barrels take up a lot of room. I also have a gabled roof line so in order to maximize water collection, I would have to pipe in water from both gutters on either side. Finally, I wasn't really keen to cut in a hole in the siding for two gutters downspouts and another for an overflow drain. But perhaps your setup will convince me it is all worth it.

I bought a solar light for our greenhouse but sadly got the remote version. It worked for about a month or two but didn't survive the winter and hasn't worked since. I don't know if it is the remote, the solar panel or what at this point. Hopefully yours will last longer with the pull chain.

I ended up attaching supports to the inside studs of the greenhouse and then planking over them with some plastic deck boards. This leaves the underneath side wide open for pot and soil storage and I don't have to worry about rot from moisture. Thus far, it has worked out well though the plastic deck boards weren't easy to install. They were warped and twisted and required a lot of coercion to get them to line up straight. I can't imagine someone using them to do an entire deck worth of planking!

Leigh said...

Ed, I hadn't thought about the plastic deck boards, but it might be worth looking into for the reasons you mention (except the part about having to bully them into place!)

I'll take lots of photos of how Dan finishes off the water collection. Space is definitely an issue, but we have a little more room than you do. Although we did discuss stacking them. I was actually wanting three barrels, but all Dan had was two, so that's what I've got. We might could still add a third one in the future, but I'm thinking the two will be adequate since we generally have rainy winters (when I'll be growing things in the greenhouse.)

Rosalea said...

Simple is always the best!
Your cold weather bellwether may not be accurate now that you have more thermal mass in the greenhouse.(?)
Beautiful, healthy looking plants.

Leigh said...

Rosalea, thank you! Next winter that tomato will test the helpfulness of the thermal mass!

Ed said...

Here is a link to the post where I showed the potting benches with plastic deck boards and before my girls painted their mural on the back wall.


Leigh said...

Ed, thanks! I can definitely see an advantage to greenhouse benches that won't rot from moisture.

daisy g said...

You are always so innovative in your gardening adventures. What a blessing a greenhouse is, but I have no room for one. I’m thankful that the winter sowing method has worked so well for me.

Your starts are looking mighty happy!

Enjoy the magic of spring!

Pioneer Woman at Heart said...

Nice! you reminded me we have two solar lights to add to the new coop. I almost forgot we had them. It's been a long winter to get back to that job, but you are making nice additions and updates.

Leigh said...

Daisy, your winter sowing method has worked for me too! it's a keeper for sure.

Kristina, I've really been happy with our solar lights. We don't have one in the coop, but I have three in the big goat barn. They're especially helpful where it's difficult to add electrical wiring.

Rain said...

The greenhouse is looking great Leigh. I'm envious! ☺ I have 4 of those same barrels, I collect rain water in 2 of them for the garden. They're great!

Leigh said...

Rain, so good to hear from you! Yes, the barrels are really nice. I'm hoping the when they're full, they'll warm up in the sun and retain enough heat to help keep the greenhouse tolerable for our winter plants.

Nina said...

My experience with solar lights is that the rechargeable batteries don't last long. I'm of two minds with using them, because it's great that they are solar powered, but if I can't find replaceable batteries for them, they just become more plastic in the landfill. I would love to find one with a pull like yours though. That's a great feature and likely totally under appreciated.

Leigh said...

Nina, I've had great success with them, but maybe I've just been lucky. I very much agree about the quality of things in general, and how electronics and rechargeables quickly end up in the landfill. It's a bigger problem than is generally recognized.

Leigh said...

P.S. to say, this is why the push for battery powered everything seems more like a gimmick than a solution.