This is an article shared by my friend Elysse. She runs a little farm in our home state of Idaho and wanted to share some tips from her gardening adventures. We have been friends for nearly 20 years and it has been so fun to stay in touch and share ideas as we have so much in common still today! Thanks Elysse!
If you are anything like me you love the idea of growing your own food, eating it fresh out of the garden, and preserving it for the long days of winter!
I love to grow a garden for many reasons. It is a fun family project; I love getting to plant seeds with my husband. Plus, if I grow my own food I knew where it came from. And last but not least, I love the idea of saving money!
I’m not sure where you live, but I live in southwest Idaho where our growing season is decent – usually late May through October. Still, our springs are unpredictable and the winter frost can hang on long past when our fingers are itching to get in the dirt.
This year my husband and I researched how to adapt a portion of one of our buildings to become a season-extender greenhouse. Season extender greenhouses are ideal if you live in an area with a short growing season, or if you just want to increase your yields.
A building on our property that we converted a portion of into a greenhouse.
First, since we were re-roofing the building, we put in several clear, polyurethane panels. Some of these panels were simply to provide natural light, but on one section of our roof we put several clear panels together. We call this section of our building the “greenhouse”.
Some of the pictures from our greenhouse panels
In February and March we begin buying the supplies and ingredients we need to plant seeds that will grow in to starts in our greenhouse – ready to go in the garden!
To make an ideal potting soil, mix 1 part vermiculite to 1 part peat moss. Mix well. You can find these items at your local garden store or order online.
One of our favorite orders to place is seed trays and containers. If the seeds are small (like many flower seeds) plant them in smaller containers.
If the seeds are large (like sunflowers) use larger containers.
We like to order from Greenhouse Mega Store. It may seem pricey to buy containers, but just remember it is a one-time investment that will pay off in the jump start you will get on your garden. You can also use small plastic yogurt-cup type containers if you drill at least one hole in the bottom of each container.
Be sure to keep your plants well watered. If you use stacked shelving, like we do, remember to rotate your trays of plants so that they receive equal sunlight.
Typically we begin planting our garden around May 15, so we begin planting seeds in our greenhouse about a month before they go in the ground.
As you see your plants grow, if they are starting to grow roots out the bottom and there is still danger of frost in your garden, then transplant them to a larger container or pot until you are ready to plant them in your garden.
Keep an eye on the temperature in your greenhouse. If it gets over 85 degrees, be sure to open the door or get some air flow through the building.
If you are starting several different varieties of plants one of the trickiest, but most important, parts of managing your greenhouse is to keep track of what is what. You can do this by labeling each shelf and keeping a list, or using a Popsicle stick to label each container or tray.
Here’s to hoping you have a wonderful garden and bountiful harvest this year!
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