So – greenhouse shopping.

So, I am looking for a very simple greenhouse.  More of a hoop-house / cold frame or whatever you want to call it.  I’m going to call it a greenhouse.

I don’t have much experience with greenhouse growing.  A few years ago I constructed a make-shift greenhouse out of an old metal swing-set and some plastic sheeting.  It served it’s purpose at the time to transition plants to the outdoors from indoors, under lights.  Now, I would like to start plants in a greenhouse but honestly do not want to invest thousands of dollars until I gain a little more experience.

Greenhouse shopping online, I found a “deal” at a big-box store.  It’s probably not the best construction but I’m hoping it would be a good learning tool.  If anyone has had any experience with similar greenhouses, please share your thoughts.

Greenhouse

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Wintersowing and Me

Here’s how I do it….

First you need to do a little research to find out what type of seeds you can wintersow.  If you take a look around www.wintersown.org, Trudi has made lists of seeds for specific zones to use as guidelines.  My method is, “if it’s a perennial, biennial or hardy self-seeding annual in MY zone… I’m going to wintersow it”.  Simple as that.  But everyone’s a little different so  do your research to see what will work for you.

 

First…got my area prepped.  Box of seeds for WS’ing ready.  Permanant markers to mark my containers. Check.  Basin of water. Check.  Basin to hold my mess in with newspaper underneath.  Check (although I know I’m going to make a mess anyway!) Bucket of soil.  Yup.

Get your containers ready.  I use just about any plastic container I can find and cut up but I prefer to use milk jugs, plastic water bottles and pop bottles.  Wash them good. (if using water, milk or pop jugs…throw out the caps.  You don’t need them)  Next, cut them in half with a serated kitchen knife or scissors…whatever works best for you.  Now cut slits in the bottoms of them for drainage.   If using containers like sour cream containers or butter, toss the lids.  You’ll need to cover those with plastic wrap or lg baggies.

Label your containers (unless you like surprises)  I usually label mine in a couple different places…like the side and the bottom just in case some of the lettering fades.  In this case, I’m going to seed a couple of containers of Rudbeckia (black-eyed-susans) “Irish Eyes”.  I also dated these…can’t remember why tho.

Put approx 3″ worth of soil into the containers.  Any less than this will not promote good root growth.  Set your jugs into your ‘mess tray’ and soak the soil really well.   Setting them into the ‘mess tray’ helps them drain also.

Sow your seeds.  I’ve basically thrown these  right on top of the soil and I will press these down into the dirt just a little bit.  Do your research for your particular type of seeds you’re going to sow.  Some seeds need light to germinate and some need to be in the dirt a little further.  The amount of seeds you throw in also depends on the type of seeds you’re sowing and how much YOU want to thin the clumps in the spring.  I’m usually pretty generous with my sowing. 

Snuggle the lid on.  Sometimes I have a bit of trouble getting that lid back on… so I’ll cut a 1-2″ slit in the side to get it to slip back on. (or back IN to the bottom part of the container)  Now we’re just about ready to throw these outside.  (don’t really throw them!)

Got this tray ready to go outside.  Added a couple more containers of BES seeds…think those were “Indian Summer” or something like that. 

Pick a nice place for them to sit during the rest of the winter.   Can you see them?  When I took this picture we had about 6″ of snow so they’re really snuggled in there.  Now…  I actually can’t see them at all because we’ve gotten another 12″ of snow since then.  Which is OK.  The snow on top and dripping into the containers is good!  They need the moisture during the winter.  If it starts to get a little dry where they’re sitting, I’ll usually find some more snow and just throw it on top of them.

  I chose the north side of the house at the edge of the woods.  If you put your little ‘greenhouses’ on the south or east side of your home, they can become too warm in early spring and then sprout too early…so choose someplace on the north side or someplace with just a little shade.  When Spring arrives, your little seeds will sprout at just the right time and you’ll have oodles and oodles of new plants for your garden.   When it gets consistantly warm, take their tops off and treat them as you would any transplant.  Easy as pie!

OK… I’ve covered the wintersowing and now for ME.  😉  I landed a job at a large nursery nearby!  Starting in March, I will be working at Prairie Nursery in Westfield, WI.  Very exciting!  Check out their website if you get a minute.

http://prairienursery.com

And Winter Sowing Begins

Yesterday I started winter sowing my seeds.  It’s been a couple of years since I’ve sown seeds this way and I really can tell that I missed how easy it is to do.  

Anyway, because the hustle and bustle of Christmas is over, it’s the perfect time for me to get some seeds started.  Yesterday I planted 19 containers of seeds.  All perennials but there are a couple that are “iffy” for zone 4….but we’ll see how they go.  This is a great way to save A LOT of money on plants that you would otherwise have to buy at the garden center, plus it’s an excellent way to recycle plastic containers.  The only money I have invested so far is the soil I bought at the hardware store.  (and on that note….. why is it that so many retail stores “hide” their potting soil over the winter.  Do they think that just because it’s cold, no one needs soil?  What about people with houseplants?)

Here’s the varieties so far:

(numbers are for my record keeping)

Gaillardia (2)

Sweet William (3)

Fountain Grass – Pennisetum (2)

Giant Purple Hyssop (1)

Blue Balloon Flower (2)

Coneflowers – purple (2)

Bee Balm – red (2)

Achillea Ptarmica – “The Pearl” (2)

Aclepias Tuberosa (3)

We started saving plastic soda and water bottles and unfortunately….. I used them all up already.  I found some old plastic planting pots by my shed and I’m going to devise a cover for them using some plastic.  My only real concern is the critters in the woods getting into the containers but it’s a chance I’ll have to take.  I’ve got my 19 little containers sitting in back, nestled in the snow and waiting for Spring.

I’ve also jumped back into the Garden Web scene.  Right now I’m doing a little trading and finding some great seeds for my yard.  After they’ve grown and produced…then I’ll have more to share with others too.

If you’re interested in learning more about winter sowing, visit this website:  http://wintersown.org