Archive for the ‘2008’ Category

Wacky seeds for Christmas!

My mother-in-law got me seeds for Christmas, among other things! I got lettuce collection that includes Romaine (Lettuce Green Towers), “Summer Glory Blend”, Green Ice, and a packet of mixed greens.

She also gave me a collection of some slightly zany varieties that I will enjoy trying. Purple Haze carrots, Eight Ball Zucchini Squash, a huge yellow Pineapple Tomato, Spoon Tomato said to be so small that 10 of them will fit on a spoon, a dark black seedless watermelon Everglade Hybrid, a supposedly delicious Mirai Mr. Mini sweet corn, and a crazy cauliflower-like Romanesco Veronica Hybrid.

Thank you R!

P.S.  Don’t let these links imply that I endorse one merchant or another.  I don’t get any kickbacks, I just use Google search!

Zone 5 Greenhouse New Year update


The radish seeds I sowed in the greenhouse in a pot on December 5th started to show their heads last week.  Yesterday many had come up!


There were several consecutive nights of 0 degree weather outside (in degrees fahrenheit, 32 below freezing), and the greenhouse got as cold as 19 by morning once, but the radishes seem to be doing well!

Shortly I’ll be moving some other seedlings out there…things I started inside under my grow lights. I could keep them inside and just grow them under the lights, but this is an experiment after all!  I want to see what works!

I’ll be VERY happy to start some Kale seeds this week!  Thanks very much to Robin for sending me those!  I owe you!

Dryer vent re-routed to greenhouse

Upon the advice of one of my commentors (thank you again!) I ran my nearby clothes dryer vent down into the greenhouse.  Currently the outside world is 37 degrees but the running clothes dryer is keeping my greenhouse air about 30 degrees warmer.  It’s also so humid in there that it’s literally raining.  The floor has a drain, so no worries!

photo-library-2908photo-library-2907What a fun experiment this is turning out to be!  The lettuce seeds sown indoors are sprouting nicely.  The radish seeds sown in the greenhouse are taking their time germinating in the cold.  I saw a chart that said they’d take a month or so with the temps I have been maintaining.

What I’d like to save next year

I’ll revisit and update this post from time to time.


  • Salsa (garden tomatoes with Mrs. Wages spice packets) [10 pints, 20 half-pints]
  • Tomato sauce (garden tomatoes)
  • Tomato paste (maybe, if I have the patience.  I can buy this for like 19 cents though.)
  • Whole tomatoes, possibly
  • Sweet pickles (garden cucumbers with Mrs. Wages spice packets, crinkle-cut slices and diagonal sandwich slices) [10 pints, 10 half-pints] 
  • Dill pickles (5 quarts spears and 2 pints of hamburger slices)
  • Sweet relish
  • Applesauce (apples bought locally, 1 to 1.5 bushels)
  • Pepperoncinis (water, vinegar, sweet, salt brine???)
  • Jalapenos, if semi-mild (again, what liquid?)
  • Sweet & Sour Sauce (thin bell pepper jelly)


  • Broccoli
  • Green Beans
  • Bell Peppers

Wanted: Kale Seeds

Would anyone be willing to put a few of last year’s Kale seeds (any variety) in an envelope and mail them to me?  I don’t have any (didn’t try it in the summer garden) and stores around here don’t stock seeds in December.  I would really appreciate your time and effort.

Greenhouse at night


I don’t know if you can see it in the picture above, but the greenhouse might be warming up to itself a bit!

I have had my little greenhouse enclosed since Sunday, and after four days of nice bright sunshine warming the thing up to as high as 90 degrees, there is now a 7.4 degree difference between outdoors and the greenhouse at 11 p.m, several hours after sunset.

Update 7 a.m.: outdoors 29 F, greenhouse 37 F.  I do have 5 gallons of 90 degree water in there, heated by a 200 watt aquarium heater.  Perhaps that explains the difference.

2009 Tentative Garden Layout


8 ft x 6 ft beds.  The lettuce at the top will be planted on/in 20 inch high bales of straw, thanks to a few awesome bloggers who taught me this trick in their posts.

I’m going to do a broccoli experiment this spring.  I’ll plant two whole beds of broccoli, one with a closer spacing than the other, all other things equal, and we’ll see how it affects yield:


I’m guessing the bed with 35 plants will outperform the bed with 24, but it’s worth checking.  Maybe I’ll be surprised.

Basement steps Greenhouse

This is the finished product.  I capped our walk-out basement stairs with a very simple greenhouse made of scrap wood and 3 mil painting dropcloth.  This should help me extend the season a bit.





Just open the door from the laundry room and you’re there.

This afternoon the outdoor high reached 42.  The greenhouse was 81.  It seems promising.  I’m going to start some butter crunch lettuce seeds in the containers on the steps in the pictures.  I just need to figure out what to do about nighttime freezing.  I wonder how much help a 5 gallon bucket of water warmed with an aquarium heater would be?

I made a little greenhouse

I made a little greenhouse of sorts today.  I didn’t get it done before dark…not completely done anyway…so I didn’t take pictures yet.

The lowest level of our house is a walk-out basement about half as far in the ground as a full basement.  As I open the laundry-room back door and walk out the ground outside is at mid-stomach level.

At these stairs, I added a simple 2×3 roof and framework covered with 3 mil plastic.  I haven’t sealed it up tight at all, but tonight it seems to be a few degrees warmer than the rest of the outdoors (33 vs 28 degrees).

Hopefully I’ll add pictures soon.

Seed Research / Garden Planning for 2009

This post is for my own benefit, mostly.  I’m going to make it stick up to the top for a time while I plan.


1.5 beds of tomatoes for 2009, 18 good plants.  Start 30, hope for 24 good growers.


1 bed (12 plants) for salsa and salads

  • 2-3 Early Tomatoes
  • 4-5 Big Tomatoes
  • The rest Disease resistant
    • Still looking

1/2 bed (6 plants) for sauces

  • Still looking


Going to have two beds of broccoli first thing in the spring.  The beds are 8 feet wide and 6 feet deep.  It’s a bit of a reach to the center, but I’m not going to remake them differently at this point.  Last year I planted both broccoli and cauliflower with the square foot gardening recommendation of one plant per square foot.  Small Miracle claims to grow full sized heads when spaced as close as 8 inches apart.  Coronado Crown claims 6 to 8 inch floret-packed heads with very little center stem.  Early Dividend claims to set “walloping 1 foot heads” (yeah RIGHT) just 45 days after setting out 8-week-old transplants.  Might have to test that theory.

The cauliflower didn’t do well and was pulled out, so the broccoli ended up having a staggered grid pattern of approximately two square feet each.  By June they were so big they were shading out most everything else anyway, so I can’t imagine how it would have worked to have twice as many.

In spring 2009 I’m going to have two beds of early spring broccoli, so I’m going to do an experiment:

  • In one 6×8 bed I’ll plant every-other 12 inch square…24 plants in 48 square feet.
  • In another 6×8 bed I’ll plant using an approximate 14 inch spacing, giving me 5 rows of 7 plants…35 in 48 square feet.

I’ll compare yields to see if the 24 plants each grow noticeably bigger heads than the 35.  Maybe I should go to the trouble of weighing them?


Tomatoes get 4 square feet each, but don’t need the room until June.  First thing in April, plant a continuous perimeter around the full tomato bed of 25 day radishes.  It should be equivalent to a 26 foot row and they shouldn’t be bothered too much by the minimal shade of baby tomato plants.  Maybe even get wild and crazy and plant two rows around, first a row 6-8 inches in, and two weeks later a row at the outermost perimeter.

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