Skip to main content

Greenhouse Update: Starting Seeds & Controlling Greenhouse Temperatures

Seed starting is underway on our little urban homestead!

We had a year's worth of toilet paper and paper towel tubes to work with.  We cut the toilet paper tubes in half, and the paper towel tubes into quarters.  Then, we lined them up in trays and filled each with dirt (we made our own soil this year by blending some topsoil with our compost).  Finally, we planted one seed in each tube, and watered.

We also had some seed starting trays and inserts left over from previous years that we used.  We hope to stick with using toilet paper tubes in the future, rather than the plastic inserts.  The toilet paper tubes can be planted right in the ground and will decay with time; whereas the plastic inserts will end up in the landfill.

In other news, my husband is still working on a solar method of heating the greenhouse during these cold spring nights.  For now, we are using a kerosene heater:

He is hoping to have another, cleaner, heating method in place soon.  Once he's got it together, I will of course share some photographs.

This time of year is tricky for us.  The nights are cold in central Wisconsin, with lows in the 30s.  During the day, it is finally in the 50s, however, and with the sun shining, it can get hot quickly inside the greenhouse.  Luckily, my husband came up with a clever, automatic louver that opens when it gets too hot:

And here is a photo of the louver from the inside:

You can also see the exhaust fan he installed.  This will also turn on when the temperature gets too high. 

In addition to the louver and exhaust fan, we have a couple other defenses to control the temperature.  We have 60% black shade cloth to cover the roof on very hot days.  In addition, a portion of the roof is on hinges so that it can be opened to improve air circulation inside.

So now, we will continue to water and monitor our little seedlings inside the greenhouse, while we begin to work up the soil in our garden outside.  The dirt is finally drying up enough to be turned, and our chickens are loving this!  We have been allowing them to forage in the garden, and they are doing an excellent job scratching up and loosening the dirt for us:

They are eating a lot of the worms, but there seems to be no shortage.  Adding compost to the garden every year really seems to have increased the amount of earth worms in our garden.  The hens are also enjoying eating the weeds that are sprouting, as well as the small, gritty rocks that help them to digest their food.


Popular posts from this blog

Why Did My Chicken Lay That Strange Egg? {Decoding 10 Chicken Laying Issues}

What do you got? A huge egg with two yolks in it?  A wrinkly misshapen egg?  An egg with a soft shell?  Or perhaps the all-inclusive just plain weird looking egg? Whatever it is, I hope to help clear up some of the mystery behind: Why Did My Chicken Lay That Strange Egg?

Soapmakers: Why You Shouldn't Use Vinegar if You Come into Contact with Lye

It was one of the first things I learned when I began making my own soap; I read it in books and on the internet: "Always keep a jug of vinegar on hand when you are working with lye.  Vinegar neutralizes lye." Soapers, have you heard this?  Do you practice the habit of keeping vinegar nearby when you make your soaps?  So did I, until recently, when I read an interesting post on a soap forum, and then decided to research the claim myself.

Homemade Tomato Trellises

Since we love homemade ketchup, spaghetti sauce, and salsa (okay, well I love salsa anyway), tomatoes have become one of our favorite garden plants.  It's so nice having some garden tomatoes in the freezer to cook with all winter long--say, for some good Italian or Mexican food. Since we use lots and lots of tomatoes, it means we must also grow lots and lots of tomatoes.  Growing so many tomato plants, we have always been presented with the problem of what to use for cages or trellises.  You see, tomato plants can grow to be quite large and heavy, which means that if you have no support for your plants, the fruits will wind up developing on the ground--leading to rotting, slug infested tomatoes!  There is nothing more disappointing than having to throw away half of your tomato harvest because pests got to them. Tomato plants that are kept up off the ground typically have better yields, less instance of disease and pest infestation, and are easier to harvest, so we definitely wa