Growing in the greenhouse.
Living quite north, on the border of zone 3 and 4, sometimes it gets challenging to get our garden going. With the danger of frost at night all through the month of May, and the first frost day in the middle of September (if we are lucky, usually even sooner!) it leaves us with a pretty short growing season. However, those seedlings that do survive the beating of the prairie wind and dropping temperatures at night, manage to catch up using the advantage of long summer days with almost 12 hours of sunlight. It is a race against time for the plants having the need to grow vigorously in order to produce the seeds. For example, we plant our potatoes all the way untill July 4. When the soil is so warm and the seeds have very strong sprouts, the potatoes grow even better than those planted into cold soil around Easter time.
But in order to extend the growing season one of our priorities was to get a greenhouse as soon as possible. We are already known for growing interesting and different varieties of vegetables and heirloom tomatoes. But in order to come out even better financially at the end of the season is to be the first and the last with the produce on the market.
In the Summer of 2013 we put up a 30'x72' greenhouse. It's technically called a "hoophouse". Then we tilled the virgin sod twice before the winter to break down the roots of perennial grasses. In the spring we will be putting the plastic over it and starting to plant a month sooner than into the open ground.
There are a few things to learn and consider about growing in the greenhouse successfully. For example, the honey bees don't like to visit the greenhouse too much. So we need to make sure we plant open pollinating varieties in the greenhouse. Sometimes it is advisable to have a colony of bumble bees nearby so that they have a free access into the greenhouse as they don't seem to mind coming in. And, also, we'll have to have a proper irrigation system set up as just mulching will not be adequate enough for the water supply for the plants growing in the greenhouse.
In the late February - early March we usually start our own seedlings, mostly from the seeds we have saved ourselves from previous harvest. It gives us an advantage by cutting the start up costs and giving us the confidence to know that our seedlings will tolerate the cold nights better since the seeds have a memory of previous growing conditions. Our seeds are better than the packaged seeds having nearly 9o percent germination rate.
This growing season our warm loving vegetables will be happily thrivinging in the greehnouse. So we hope!
Putting up the greenhouse. Summer 2013.
What a team work!
"Gardening is a way of showing that you
believe in tomorrow."
- Unknown author.