Categories
Greenhouse Supplies

EARTH DAY AND NATIONAL ARBOR DAY

Earth Day Network

The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. The passage of the landmark Clean Air ActClean Water ActEndangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed. Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network (EDN) works with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.

All of EDN’s activities, whether greening schools or promoting green economic policies at home and abroad, inform and energize populations so they will act to secure a healthy future for themselves and their children. With its partner organizations, EDN provides civic engagement opportunities at the local, state, national and global levels. At every turn, EDN works to broaden the definition of “environment” to include all issues that affect our health, our communities and our environment, such as greening deteriorated schools, creating green jobs and investment, and promoting activism to stop air and water pollution.

Over the last 50 years, EDN has executed successful environmental campaigns on issues ranging from climate change and drinking water to voter registration and saving the whale. EDN is a recognized leader in creating civically–oriented innovative programs with partners outside of the environmental movement to tackle new challenges. Their core programs today focus on projects such as:

Click here for further information or how to get involved at a local level.

National Arbor Day

Learn more about this National Holiday, which is celebrated on April 25th, through the Arbor Day Foundation website, at this link.

The anatomy of a tree

Anatomy of a Tree

A: OUTER BARK

The tree’s protection from the outside world. Continually renewed from within, it helps keep out moisture in the rain, and prevents the tree from losing moisture when the air is dry. It insulates against cold and heat and wards off insect enemies.

B: INNER BARK (“PHLOEM”)

Pipeline through which food is passed to the rest of the tree. It lives for only a short time, then dies and turns to cork to become part of the protective outer bark.

C: CAMBIUM CELL LAYER

The growing part of the trunk. It annually produces new bark and new wood in response to hormones that pass down through the phloem with food from the leaves. These hormones, called “auxin”, stimulate growth in cells. Auxin is produced by leaf buds at the ends of branches as soon as they start growing in spring.

D: SAPWOOD

The tree’s pipeline for water moving up to the leaves. Sapwood is new wood. As newer rings of sapwood are laid down, inner cells lose their vitality and turn to heartwood.

E: HEARTWOOD

The central, supporting pillar of the tree. Although dead, it will not decay or lose strength while the outer layers are intact. A composite of hollow, needle-like cellulose fibers bound together by a chemical glue called lignin, it is in many ways as strong as steel. A piece 12” long and 1” by 2” in cross section set vertically can support a weight of twenty tons!

LEAVES make food for the treeLeaves

And this tells us much about their shapes. For example, the narrow needles of a Douglas fir can expose as much as three acres of chlorophyll surface to the sun. The lobes, leaflets and jagged edges of many broad leaves have their uses, too. They help evaporate the water used in food-building, reduce wind resistance— even provide “drip tips” to shed rain that, left standing, could decay the leaf.

Back to our home page

Categories
Greenhouse Supplies

COMMUNITY: Food Co-Ops

FAQ

  1. Do you have to be a member to shop?
    • Nope! Most co-ops offer two kinds of membership. 1) A shareholder or co-owner membership and 2) a senior or discounted membership. So be sure to ask what’s available in your area.
  2. Is there financial aid available?
    • Yes! Many co-ops have programs to facilitate the transition of excess dues over to helpful donations that can assist those who can’t afford a membership
  3. How about co-op membership cards from an outside community?
    • As community food co-ops continue to grow in popularity, there has been an increased effort to integrate different programs. In many community food co-ops, a membership card for another existing co-op is enough to receive the full member price at the co-op where you are shopping
  4. Is the food sold 100% organic?
    1. Most co-ops do not have a 100% organic inventory. They do, however, often stock organic products on the majority of their shelf space.
  5. Do co-ops accept food stamps?
    • Yes! Almost all community food co-ops accept food stamps. There may be a few outliers, but they would be the exception to the rule.

Many co-ops are committed to maintaining their model so that they can encourage their members to make informed choices on issues regarding food, healthy lifestyles and care of the environment. Most offer a wide variety of excellent quality healthy products, presented in a friendly community atmosphere.

Find one near you at this link

Back to our home page

Categories
Greenhouse Supplies

COMMUNITY: Marion-Polk Food Share

2014-05-23 MPFS

We teamed with MPFS back in 2014 and provided use of our 16′ x 20′ Solexx Conservatory Greenhouse to help them get a jump start on the seedling starts for their Community Garden.

It was estimated by Jared Hibbard-Swanson, MPFS Youth Farm Manager, that they were able to grow about 5000 plants over the course of the 3 months for their Youth Farm and had a great experience in doing so.

MPFS Youth Farm is a program that seeks to improve the quality, diversity and stability of our local food system by training Salem are young adults to grow food and run a small farm business. All of the youth who participated in our program in 2014 were able to acclimate a strong commitment to fighting for a fair food system and a few of them even saw themselves working directly in food production to bring nutritious and safe food to the community.

Jared also noted that throughout 2014, the Youth Farm had donated over 2,500 pounds of fresh produce to MPFS pantries and meal sites while selling another 2,500 pounds to support their business.

2014-05-23 MPFS all loaded up

It was so great to support MPFS with donated canned goods in the food barrel we had here onsite. We were able to join in to provide healthy fresh produce for those in need. It’s a small thing we can all do to help those in need and together WE CAN make an impact.

5-1-14 Marion-Polk Food Share Youth Gardens Program

5-1-14 Marion-Polk Food Share

5-1-14 The Marion-Polk Food Share

5-1-14 Youth Farm

Please donate to your local food banks to help make a difference in your communities.

You can learn more about Marion-Polk Food Share Programs at

http://www.marionpolkfoodshare.org/

Or by visiting their Facebook page at:

https://www.facebook.com/yourfoodshare?fref=ts

Back to our home page

Categories
Greenhouse Supplies

SEASONAL INFORMATION: Summer

Taming the Heat: 3 simple steps

1. Circulate the Air

Cool and Clear the Greenhouse Air. Monitor your greenhouse temperature, so you can adjust the environment as necessary. There are both natural and mechanical ways to provide your plants with the air temperatures they find comfortable in the summer greenhouse; many growers prefer a combination of the two.

For natural means, you can open doors, windows, and vents to cross-ventilate; installing base vents at the bottom of one end of the greenhouse and a louver at the opposite side of the greenhouse will promote a natural ground-up cross circulation through the greenhouse.

If natural circulation is not adequate, stale air can be pushed out with exhaust fans. The air can be kept evenly warm with circulation fans.

Louvers can also provide just the right amount of natural air into the greenhouse, with or without an associated fan. Try one of our heat sensitive louvers, which will automatically open and close based on the interior temperature.

We have plenty of other cooling and ventilation options, to suit all needs and budgets. Just click here for more.

cross ventilation diagramClear the Clutter. Circulating the air will be most effective in an uncluttered greenhouse. Move some of your plants onto benches and tables. Prune your more exuberant plants back to make sure they’re not touching one another, and move some plants outdoors if they can tolerate the heat.

2. Diffuse the Light

Indirect light is better for your plants than direct sunlight during the intensely bright and hot summer months. It penetrates from all angles, reaching deeper into the plant canopy for better growth. Also, it spreads evenly; there are no “hot spots” which can lead to plant stress and slowed growth. This gentler light also helps keep the heat down.

Shade cloth is an excellent means of reducing light and heat, and so is our patented Solexx covering. Solexx has the dual benefit of providing diffused light and cooling advantages during the hot, bright summer and heat retention during the cold weather.

3. Keep Plants Hydrated.

Summer heat can lead to excessive dryness in the air. There are several ways to keep plants properly watered.

Hand watering may work better for tender plants, but will require some time. Overhead misting may be a better option. If you’re growing tropicals that require foliar hydration, the air itself needs to be exceptionally moist.   Automatic watering systems also are very convenient, particularly for vacation time, when you’ll need something that can be easily programmed.

Damping down the greenhouse floor can also help in humid areas, because the water will evaporate during the day, humidifying the air.

Keeping your summer garden refreshed

Mulch: Spreading a 2-inch-deep layer of mulch over your soil is one of the best things you can do for your garden. The mulch blankets the ground, shielding the soil from the sun. This keeps it cooler, so your plant roots are happier, and prevents moisture loss from evaporation. There are so many organic options of mulch. Shredded wood, pine straw, a mix of grass clippings and shredded leaves, or any other organic matter is going to help your soil in the long run as it decomposes and adds to your soil structure.

Weeds: Many pesky weeds love summer heat and quickly take the jump from tiny to gigantic. It’s important to pull them from your garden, because weeds steal moisture and nutrients from your plants. Many weeds also encourage insect pests and diseases to pop up in your garden. Weeds are easiest to pull when they’re young and small. They also come out of the ground easiest when the soil is moist. Another reason to get them while they’re young: you can stop weeds from producing seeds. A single dandelion plant can produce 2,000 seeds in a year. A weed such as lamb’s quarters can produce 150,000 seeds in a year. Remove spent blooms from many of your annuals and perennials, and you might see more flowers! This process, called deadheading, prevents plants from producing seeds so they put more energy into beautiful blooms.  Deadheading cuts back on future efforts, too, for plants that self-seed. Perennials and annuals can self-seed to the point of producing too many weeds in the garden.

Watch for Pests: Like weeding, keeping an eye on pests and diseases in your yard should be done all year. But midsummer seems to be particularly popular for these gardening obstacles.  Some of the more common midsummer problems to watch for include:

  • Black spot
  • Cucumber beetles
  • Grasshoppers
  • Japanese beetles
  • Powdery mildew
  • Rust
  • Squash bugs
  • Tomato horn worms

Water:  If you experience dry summers, or a dry weather pattern, you may wish to water your garden to keep it looking its best.  Most common garden plants prefer an average of 1 inch of water a week. It’s best to apply that inch all at once to encourage plant roots to sink down more deeply in the soil.  When watering, apply water directly to the ground rather than getting a plant’s foliage wet; water sitting on the leaves can lead to disease. Soaker hoses are great for this!

Add Color with Summer Annuals:  Once summer heat arrives, many spring-blooming annuals such as pansy, viola, and osteospermum fade. Make your yard look its best by pulling out the spent plants and replacing them with heat-loving varieties such as angelonia, lantana, ageratum, coleus, pentas, portulaca, salvia, sweet potatoloving annuals grow quickly in warm temperatures and will soon provide a beautiful burst of color

Some more summer bulbs include calla, canna, and dahlia which are surefire ways to add color and drama to your landscape all summer long. These varieties are tender, so if you live in a Zone where they’re not hardy, plant them after all danger of frost has passed. Once temperatures rise, they grow quickly.

Pinch Mums and Other Late Perennials:Keep mums, sedums, asters, and other fall-blooming perennials standing tall by pinching the top inch or two of new growth. You can do so up to the Fourth of July.  Pinching the tops of the plant typically gives you a more compact, sturdy specimen. It may also give you more blooms from the sideshoots that develop, though the blooms are typically a little smaller and appear a couple of weeks later.  Other perennials that you can pinch in May and June:

  • Balloon flower
  • Bee balm
  • Goldenrod
  • Joe Pye weed
  • Perennial sunflower
  • Phlox
  • Russian sage
  • Remove Faded Flowers

Raise Your Mower:  Raise the height of your lawn-mower blade if you have cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, rye grass, or fescues. More leaf surface keeps the plants healthier during hot, dry weather.

Start a Fall Vegetable Garden:  Vegetables fall into two basic categories: Cool-season and warm-season. The warm-season varieties — tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, cucumbers, summer squash — are all going now. Once temperatures cool, these plants will fade.  Enjoy continued harvests by planting cool-loving vegetable seeds, such as broccoli, carrots, kohlrabi, lettuce, and spinach, now so you can enjoy fresh, delicious harvests this Autumn.

June Gardening tips

Seasonal opportunities: When you can set out your tomato plants, remove the lower leaves and bury in a trench, leaving the top tuft of leaves showing. This gives the plant additional roots and strength. Remember that planting seeds in cold soil can promote disease and slow germination. Plant new starts inside a black plastic pot that has the bottom cut out and is half buried in soil to protect the plant from cutworms and to warm the soil. Everything grows very fast as the weather warms, so keep your garden weeded to give your crop optimum water and nutrients. Stressed or sickly plants invite pests and diseases. Seed fast-maturing crops every two weeks for a continual harvest. This is also an excellent time to take cuttings for the greenhouse. Root cuttings in coconut coir on your heating mat.

Aesthetic herb thymes: Give yourself a special treat this summer by adding the beauty, color and flavor of flowers to your summer salads, ice cubes and cool drinks. Some flowers to have growing in your garden include: borage (cucumber flavor), nasturtiums (sweet and spicy), chive blossoms (sweet, subtle onion flavor), calendula (saffron color), rose petals (fragrant, calming) and common orange daylily (fresh green been flavor). Also try honeysuckle, daisies, pansies, carnations, cornflowers, gladioli and geraniums. Pick fresh each day, rinse quickly under cold water and remove pistils, stamens and white base before adding to your finished dish. Young violet leaves can also be used, they contain three times the vitamin A of spinach and five times the vitamin C of orange juice!

Back to our home page

Categories
Greenhouse Supplies

SEASONAL INFORMATION: Winter

Modern greenhouses for your garden come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some greenhouse types have tall sloping roofs while others have curves which cause snow to slide right off them. Repelling the snow is further assisted by heating your greenhouse and keeping a greenhouse warm has never been easier. Living in a cold climate, you may find that the new plastic-based greenhouse types are much easier to heat than old fashioned glass models. 

Plants to try out during the cold weather:

Vegetables: lettuce, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, beets, fava beans, garlic, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, radish, parsley, spinach

Flowers: Christmas cactus, freesia, impatiens, amaryllis, azalea, pansy, primrose, sweet pea, snapdragon

Tips about Winter Growing:

Seal and Insulate

If you decide to install new heating units or systems in your greenhouses, take these preparatory steps first. This will help ensure that your heat and money aren’t leaving the greenhouse. Here are a some things you can try to help get as much free heat and insulation as possible:

  • Make sure both the interior and exterior walls are clean of dirt so maximum sunlight can pass through.
  • Caulk and seal leaks, tears, and holes in the structure.
  • Consider upgrading your greenhouse material to a better insulator like Solexx.
  • Fill buckets or old milk jugs with water and paint them black (or add a dark dye to the water). They will collect heat during the day and slowly release it back into the greenhouse at night.
  • Line the base of the greenhouse with hay bales.
  • Hang Christmas lights around your plants for extra heat.
  • Use a seedling heat mat or two under your more sensitive plants and cover with a tall humidity dome. Or make a mini greenhouse within your greenhouse using Solexx.

Insulating your greenhouse is key to keeping the heat in and the cold and wind out.

On a side note: If you are thinking about buying a greenhouse or recovering an existing greenhouse, our Solexx coverings are superior insulators and minimize heat loss. To see how Solexx compares to other forms of greenhouse covering, check this brief chart

Choose Suitable Heating

Whether you want to grow exotic non-native plants, maintain a vegetable garden, or plan to grow flowers through the winter, keeping your plants comfortably warm is imperative. Choosing a heating system will depend in part on the size of your greenhouse, the needs of your plants, and your personal budget.

Monitor Temperatures
Temperatures can fluctuate radically from night to noon. Therefore, it’s important to monitor the air your plants breathe. First you’ll need a thermometer to measure indoor and outdoor temperatures. You can keep track of both, as well as greenhouse humidity levels, from the comfort of your home with our wireless forecasting unit.

Keeping humidity levels moderate requires keeping the greenhouse dry. Water carefully, so plant leaves and surfaces stay dry most of the time, and water early in the day so the water evaporates before evening. And of course, desirable humidity levels vary with the temperature.

Infestations

As the weather grows colder, rodents and other pests seek out shelter. These pests will often nest in heating units or chew through delicate wires and insulation. If you find evidence of rodent squatters in your greenhouse, clean out the nesting material and disinfect the area thoroughly. Rodents can carry a multitude of diseases, and proper precautions need to be taken. Any lingering insects in the greenhouse can be treated with a natural insecticide or removed by hand. You can also sterilize your potting soil now. Baking it in an oven at no more than 180 degrees, in a foil-covered pan, for 30 minutes should kill off any harmful bacteria and insect larvae. Provide plenty of ventilation during the process.

For more information about how to control rodent infestations, visit the Centers for Disease Control’s website at: http://www.cdc.gov/rodents/.

Winter Nursery Supplies Checklist:

Winter nursery supplies differ from summer nursery supplies in many ways. Winter sunlight hours are reduced, and temperatures plummet, making sunlight and warmth two of the most difficult variables to control when growing plants during the winter.  Winter gardening supplies you may need are:

Specific gardening supplies vary from gardener to gardener, but this list will provide a framework for creating your own winter nursery supplies checklist.

Back to our home page

Categories
Greenhouse Supplies

SEASONAL INFORMATION: Fall

Fall Harvest

Canning your fall harvest from the greenhouse is one of the best parts of greenhouse gardening for many gardeners. Storing those fresh fruits and veggies signifies the culmination of a long and ‘fruitful’ growing season. The love of fresh produce is a strong motivating factor for many gardeners. It’s why we spend hours pulling weeds, watering, and caring for fledgling plants month after month.

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, the garden crops tend to get ahead of us. There are only so many hours in the day, and when other responsibilities encroach on your treasured gardening time, you can find yourself stuck with a boatload of work. Here are few ideas to help you make the most of those busy gardening moments.

Canning

One of the inevitable side effects of a love for gardening is hours spent in the kitchen preparing all those fruits and veggies for storage. Until a few years ago, I simply froze all of my garden veggies, but then I decided to give canning a try. Boy, am I glad I did! If you are new to canning, these time saving tips might prove to be very valuable. Give a few a try and see what a difference the extra effort can make!

1. Invest in a food processor. Veggies are ready for canning in seconds and the entire machine cleans up with a rinse in hot soapy water. My fingertips are very thankful that I won’t be scoring them repeatedly while slicing up cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, and beets this year.

2. Buy a pressure cooker. Although most pressure cooker manuals do not include any instructions for pressure canning quarts and pints, but the FDA encourages home gardeners to use pressure canning for all low-acid foods, like beans and carrots. You can find pressure canning time tables and instructions online if your pressure cooker doesn’t come with canning instructions.

3. Compost your food scraps. Those snap bean ends, tomato cores, and corncobs make great fertilizer for next year’s crops.  Mix your layers of food scraps with coffee grounds, grass clippings, and leaves to create the richest compost. Be sure to water it well and turn it over often to increase airflow for better decomposition.

4. Enlist help. Recruit your kids, spouse, or friends to help you pick, clean, prepare and can your crops. The work will go twice as fast and you can reward them a few jars of the finished products.

5. Always label your jars. You may think it’s a no-brainer that jar contains this year’s beans, but in 12 months, your memory may not be so clear. Sometimes jars get missed from year to year and labeling them with the date canned helps keep you from wasting food and getting spoiled jars.

6. Stock up. Always buy an extra set of jars and several boxes of fresh lids to keep on hand. It can be frustrating to have a hot jar of produce ready for processing and realize you are out of lids or bands.

Having canning supplies handy during harvest time means that you can keep more of your food fresh for use during the off-season. Here is a list of supplies that will help you successfully can your fresh produce!

  • Boiling-water canner – Basically just a big pot with a tight fitting lid, mainly used for canning fruits or high-acid vegetables.
  • Pressure canner – Similar to a pressure cooker, the lid locks down to keep steam in. This canner is great for vegetables and low-acid foods.
  • Canning jars – Commonly called Mason Jars, these are the glass jars that come with metal screw on lids. They create very tight seals and are perfect for canning just about anything. You can choose from pints, or quart-sizes, and regular or wide-mouthed varieties.
  • Lids and bands – Lids, sometimes known as “flats,” should be new and never reused because they may not seal properly the second time. Bands thread onto the jars to hold the lids in place during the canning process. These can be removed after a pressure seal has formed and the jars cool for 12-24 hours.

Canning your fruits and veggies from the greenhouse can be an immensely rewarding experience. Canning takes a lot time, and the lengthy process is often daunting for many gardeners who are new to canning, but taking a few time saving tips can help make your first canning season a pleasant one.

Pumpkins

Halloween is past, yet the pumpkins are still plentiful. You’ve decorated your yard, made a pie or two, and given away more pumpkins than you can count, yet there are still more lying around in the garden! What’s a gardener to do with all those left-over pumpkins? In a good year, a single pumpkin vine can yield more than a dozen pumpkins ranging from tiny to gigantic.

Pumpkins have a two-fold purpose for gardeners. They are great for fall decorations and quite tasty as well.

Directions for Storing Pumpkins

Pumpkins can be pressure canned like most other low-acid vegetables and stored for the winter months. Canned pumpkin is good for 3-6 months. To prepare the pumpkin:

  1. Cut open pumpkin and de-seed the shell, including removing any stringy portions of the pulp.
  2. Cut pumpkin up into strips or chunks.
  3. Place strips on a cookie tray, rind side up.
  4. Add 1 cup of water to the tray and bake at 200 degrees for an hour. (The rind should peel off easily by hand or with a spoon or dull knife, but the pumpkin should not be mushy)
  5. You can also cook the pumpkin in a covered dish in the microwave for 20 minutes, if you prefer. (Don’t’ forget to add the water.)
  6. Remove from oven/microwave and allow to cool.
  7. Remove rinds and cut the flesh into 1-2-inch cubes. (discard the rind)
  8. Clean and heat canning jars and rings.
  9. Place cubes into hot jars
  10. Fill jar with hot water, leaving 1 inch of head space
  11. Clean and dry jar rims
  12. Screw warm lids and rings on jars
  13. Place jars in pressure canner and bring to 10 lbs. pressure
  14. Time jars for 65 minutes for pints, and 75 minutes for quart jars.
  15. Allow to cool and seal before moving jars

Freezing Pumpkin

Alternately, you can also freeze your pumpkin for up to 4-6 months. Follow steps 1 through 7 above, then place cubes into a food processor and puree the pumpkin. Pour the puree into freezer jars, seal and store.

Please note: It is not considered safe to can pumpkin puree at home, nor can you freeze pumpkin chunks. http://www.pumpkinpatchesandmore.org/pumpkinprecautions.php

Pumpkin Recipes

Putting all that pumpkin-y goodness to use if the best part of growing your own pumpkins! Here are a few tasty pumpkin recipes to try out!

Overripe Cucumbers

One vine can produce tons of cucumbers, long into the growing season. The leafy vines often hide growing cucumbers from your sight, resulting in overgrown, or overripe cucumbers. Overgrown cukes are long, large, and often yellow. The flesh is porous, less crisp than young cucumbers, and the seeds are large and plentiful. Many cooks will tell you these cucumbers are not suitable for pickling or relish making. So, what are you to do with these garden giants? Well, you can make them into a sweet treat. Pickled Cinnamon Cucumbers taste a lot like candied apples and the rich cinnamon flavoring makes them immensely appealing as an after-dinner treat.

They take about 3 days to process and the finished product is jar filled with richly colored red rings of sweetness with a cinnamon stick in the center. These jars are nice enough to give away as gifts or enter into the county fair. You can find the original recipe here: http://www.scrapbookflair.com/oklahomadawn/Cinnamon_Cucumber_Rings/Page1 .

Cinnamon Cucumber rings
2-3 gallons cucumber rings
8 1/2 qts. cold water
Red food coloring
1 tsp. alum
2 c. water
8 cinnamon sticks
2 c. pickling lime
1 c. vinegar
2 c. vinegar
10 c. sugar
1 pkg. red hot candy
Mix 2 cups pickling lime and 8 1/2 quarts cold water. Pour over cucumber rings. Let stand 24 hours. Drain. Wash and put in cold water. Let stand 3 hours. Drain. Mix 1 cup vinegar, red food coloring, alum, and add enough water to cover. Simmer 2 hours. Drain.
Mix 2 cups vinegar, 10 cups sugar, 2 cups water, 1 package red hot cinnamon candy, 8 cinnamon sticks. Bring to boil. Pour over cucumber rings. Let set overnight. Drain off; heat and pour back over cucumbers. Do this for 3 days. On 3rd day, pack rings in jars; seal.

Another option is to go ahead and make them into pickles with a special recipe that calls for overripe cucumbers. This recipe includes brown sugar and vinegar, making an unusual, yet palatable pickle. The original recipe for these pickles is here: http://www.cooks.com/rec/doc/0,1636,149170-226205,00.html .

Mother’s Ripe Cucumber Pickle
Large ripe (yellow) cucumbers
2 lb. brown sugar
1 pt. cider vinegar
2 tbsp. whole cloves
2 tbsp. stick cinnamon
Cut cucumbers in half lengthwise. If very large you may need to cut crosswise also. Cover with alum water (2 teaspoons alum to each quart of water). Heat gradually to boiling, then let stand until clear. Remove cucumber from water and chill in ice water.
Make a syrup by boiling 5 minutes the sugar, vinegar and spices (tied in muslin). Add cucumbers; cook 10 minutes. Put cucumbers in jars and pour syrup over them.

Books on Canning:
Preserving the Harvest
The Beginners Guide to Preserving Food at Home

Keeping the Harvest: Home storage of fruits and vegetables

Back to our home page

Categories
Greenhouse Supplies

SUPPLIES: Fun and Unique

Greenhouse Books

Beginning a collection of greenhouse books is a great way to celebrate your love of greenhouse gardening, even when you can’t get to the greenhouse! Greenhouse books are full of information about greenhouse gardening, helpful greenhouse gardening tips, and beautiful pictures of thriving greenhouse plants in the height of their glory.

Greenhouse books also make great gifts for the greenhouse gardening enthusiast on your shopping list! If you are just starting out with a greenhouse book collection, or if you need a few starter ideas to help you choose the perfect book for a greenhouse lover in your life, try out any one of these wonderful and popular greenhouse books.

  1. The Greenhouse Expert
  2. Greenhouse Gardener’s Companion, Revised: Growing Food & Flowers in Your Greenhouse or Sun space
  3. How to Build Your Own Greenhouse
  4. And many more related gardening books

For even more ideas on great greenhouse books, try visiting your local public library to browse the greenhouse books available. You may even find one or two greenhouse books worth taking home or even purchasing from a bookstore. This is also a great way to peruse books before purchasing them as gifts for friends without making the book look as if you read it before giving it away.

Greenhouse books come in many different sizes. You can choose from a variety pocket guides for quick reference directly in the greenhouse, or large hardcover editions that are perfect for displaying on a coffee table or bookshelf. Some full color editions are even suitable as a centerpiece or topic of conversation at a gardening party or gardening club gathering.

Greenhouse books are a wonderful way to expand and share your love of greenhouse gardening with others. They also make great gifts for any gardening or greenhouse gardening enthusiast on your shopping list. Greenhouse books hold a wealth of knowledge tucked between pages of colorful photographs and useful greenhouse gardening tips!

Accessories Ideas for Fun and Pleasure

Garden Gloves. If you regularly wear gardening gloves, why not add a little smile to your day by purchasing gloves with a fun design. Sponge Bob, Smiling Bumblebees, or brightly colored gloves will do the job just as well as those plain brown gardening gloves. Choose a design that makes you smile.

Sun Catchers. Sun catchers are a beautiful addition to any gardening accessories collection, especially in the greenhouse. These brightly colored glass wonders can transform a greenhouse or garden area into an enchanted place of whimsical beauty. Sun catchers are available in various abstract patterns, themes, or characters. Have a love for ladybugs? What about rainbows or fairies? You can find various sun catchers to decorate your gardening space and show off the beauty of the sun in a style that’s all your own.

Potting Benches. The right potting bench can add comfort and personality to your greenhouse. Potting benches offer the benefit of having a place to get your hands dirty while you dig in to your gardening adventures, as well as a place to lay your many gardening tools, such as gardening gloves and growing aids. Potting benches come in wood or metal styles, most often cedar and aluminum. Finding the style that is the best fit is as easy as weighing your needs against the dollars in your pocket.

Decorative Containers. If you want to take your gardening from engaging hobby to wonderful escape, it is a good idea to have the right greenhouse supplies on hand. A nice selection of decorative containers is nice because they can take that simple perennial and turn it into a decorative arrangement.

Plant Stands. Plant stands can help to maximize the space inside even the smallest greenhouse. Multi-layered plant stands can nestle neatly in a corner, often displaying three or more rows of plants- from those that were just recently planted, to those that are blooming into their prime. When you put both of your green thumbs into the hard work of making your greenhouse garden beautiful, it’s nice to have a spot to display them all so proudly.

Outdoor Lighting. One of the best ways to enjoy your garden after the sun goes down is to install accent garden lighting. Solar lights are the ideal gardening accessories when it comes to accent lighting. These inexpensive garden accent lights can be placed around your favorite crops, in a special sitting area inside your garden, or around the border of your greenhouse. Colored accent lighting can also add whimsy and fun to the adventurous gardener’s space.

Hanging Baskets. Hanging baskets serve as a way to admire and appreciate the beauty of flowers and celebrate your gardening efforts. Once your seedlings have outgrown their 4″ pots, you can bring them together to make a colorful arrangements from floor to ceiling.

Wind Chimes. Wind chimes are a fun and inexpensive addition to any garden. You can choose from small wind chimes, to sets that are larger than a full-grown man. If you are crafty, you can even make your own set of custom wind chimes from items scourged from the local junk yard cleaned up and painted to match your custom design.

Art. Many greenhouse gardeners appreciate the simple beauty found in nature, and purchasing a framed print of a photograph that captures nature’s glory at its finest is sure to be a treasured gift for any greenhouse gardening enthusiast. Better yet frame a picture of a prized plant your gardening friend grew in their greenhouse.

Magazines. Greenhouse gardeners will always welcome a little know-how from fellow greenhouse gardening lovers. Some popular choices in greenhouse gardening magazines are Garden and Greenhouse, Fine Gardening, and Mother Earth News.

Camera Supplies: Documenting your growing season is one of the best ways to prolong your greenhouse gardening enjoyment. Stock up on film, memory cards, batteries, photo paper, or printer ink to be prepared for those first new shoots that will be emerging any day now.

Unusually fun Greenhouse supplies:

Birds. Adding Hummingbird feeders can provide a great source of entertainment, photo opportunities, and a little cross pollination action for your flowering fruits and veggies. Garden supply stores carry a wide range of Hummingbird feeders and you’re sure to find one that match your garden theme and personal taste.

Snazzy Gear. Buy a festive pair of garden boots, a big floppy hat with your favorite flowers around the brim, or a pair of hot pink overalls for your gardening chores! Whatever strikes your fancy can help brighten your mood and lift your spirits as those last winter snowdrifts melt away.

Whirlygigs. Yes, that’s probably not the technical term for those wind-powered novelties, but it sure is fun to say! You can make your own whirlygigs (http://www.binkyswoodworking.com/WhirlyGigs.php ) or purchase ready made ones from a novelty shop. You can even find floor to ceiling models that boast intricate designs crafted from metal and multiple color schemes for your visual pleasure.

Worms. They make ideal garden supplies since they produce nutrient rich castings and help aerate your soil. Just transfer your excess worms (they tend to multiply like crazy) from your worm trays into your garden soil as you work your crops. Watching the little crawlers burrow into the earth is sure to put a smile on your face.

Wind Chimes. Gardeners often feel close to nature, and installing wind chimes or wind-powered decorations to your garden helps you celebrate the power of the elements more completely. Themed wind chimes are available if you are looking for something with a little whimsy, or you can simply select one that has an appealing sound for your garden.

Accents. Don’t forget the accents! The right accents in your greenhouse will turn your greenhouse from outdoor annex to second home. A small garden stone or tool shelf, or a fountain figurine may be choices that help you find the accents that make you feel like your greenhouse belongs to you.

Back to our home page

Categories
Greenhouse Supplies

SUPPLIES: Extra info on helpful supplies

The Spading Fork

Outdoor garden tools are slightly different from greenhouse gardening tools. When gardening in the open air, you need to prepare your garden in a very different way to protect your plants from the harsh elements.  In order to give your plants the most stable base, you’ll need to prepare the soil for delicate beginning roots by breaking up the packed earth deep enough so your plants can withstand winds and rain. An outdoor gardening tool that makes this task easier is a spading fork.

It is used to dig into the soil and loosen the clumps of compact dirt, allowing roots to reach nutrients buried deeply and adding oxygen to the soil. A spading fork’s handle length depends on your height. Try several out in the store to see which one fits you comfortably. If you purchase a spading fork with a too-short or too-long handle, you can always buy a replacement handle or shorten the existing handle if it is wooden.

You will want to select a quality made spading fork that will hold to years of use. Check the welds and fasteners to make sure quality workmanship is present before purchasing any outdoor gardening tools. In addition, you will want to choose a spading fork with a comfortable handle. Many gardeners prefer wooden handled gardening tools for the comfort and durability they provide.

Buy the Seymour SF-30 Spading Fork | Hardware World

If you would like to opt for a man-made material, be wary of cheaply constructed fiberglass handles that shed small prickly particles of fiberglass as you use the fork. These types of handles can be impossible to work with unless you have very thickly calloused hands or leather work gloves to protect your skin.

The last step in selecting the perfect spading fork is to find one that fits your budget. Quality garden tools are available for inexpensive prices- if you’re willing to shop around. Compare prices online, visit your local garden center to compare quality products, and look for special features that you desire such as a hanging hook, a wooden handle, or a product that’s made in a particular country or by a certain high-value manufacturer.

Soil Tampers

Soil tampers can be used before or after sowing seeds. They evenly push tiny seeds into soil easier than a fist or fingers. I tried sourcing pre-fabricated tampers locally and on the internet. Available from the UK, tampers range about $10 – $25 online not including shipping. I wasn’t ready to shell out funds allocated for plants and seeds, so I created yet another carpentry project for my husband.

Materials and Time Required
Total project cost averaged $5.00 using scrap wood and materials on hand.
It took one person and two hours to build four soil tampers.

Tools Used

  • Black sharpie marker
  • Broom and dust pan
  • Dust mask
  • Ear muffs (hearing protection)
  • Extension cord
  • Eye goggles (eye protection)
  • Jigsaw
  • Metal angle
  • Power drill
  • Quick grip clamps
  • Ruler
  • Screwdriver
  • Straight edge
  • Tape measure
  • Wood glue
  • Workmate table

Materials Needed

  • Container templates
  • Wood screws
  • Scrap 1/8” – ½” plywood

Prep Work 

  1. Clear and clean working area.
  2. Prior to beginning project, charge all cordless tools.
  3. Pick a clear, cool and dry day to work.

Cutting Corners
Anything that can save a tremendous amount of time on repetitive tasks always catches my attention. Since I plan on using the same size containers for seed propagation repeatedly, I selected four template containers.

Square and Round Container Templates
• Copy outline of container onto plywood in pencil.
• Secure wood snuggly with quick grip clamps to stabilize template on workmate table.
• Screw blade into the jigsaw tool facing out.
• Cut ‘inside’ the template line so the tamper will fit inside the pot snuggly.
• Create a long handle out of scrap wood.
• Dab a spot of wood glue, center the long handle on wood base.
• Using a wood screw or nail, turn base upside down and attach handle.

wood_templates secure circle_cut

Seed Tray Template
The seed tray template took the longest to construct, but provides the most time savings when starting large flats.
• Copy outline of tray pack cell onto plywood in pencil.
• Measure the center of each of the cells. Using a black sharpie marker and straight edge or metal angle, create crosshairs on the underside of tamper template.
• Secure wood snuggly with quick grip clamps to stabilize template on workmate table.
• Create nine small block tampers and one long handle out of scrap wood.
• Center each individual tamper onto base. Attach using a spot of wood glue for added strength.
• Using a power drill and wood screws, turn base upside down and attach each block tamper to the cross hair lines.
• Invert and attach long handle to middle of tamper.

measure screws_plastic plastic_screws

Saving Time and Money
Martha actually had a project that was as simple and easy to create as shown on the video. Save time sowing seed flats in the greenhouse and money by using materials around the garage. Have fun and get growing!

finished-templates final_tampers using_tamper

Photos taken by Dawn Hummel.

Pot Latches

So many people now are enjoying container gardening, whether planting flowers or herbs. By using a Pot Latch you increase the amount of space that you are able to use by getting your smaller pots up off the ground and mounting to a fence or post in your yard.

Planting with Pot Latch

The other benefits of growing vertically include: the controlling of potential pests as they are right in front of you and harvesting is made easier as there is no stooping or hunching over.

It increases accessibility for gardeners with disabilities because they can tend to and pick from a chair or garden seat. You also will have lest waste not having fruits hiding under lush growth.

We are running a special right now on our Pot Latch; Buy One Get One Free. Follow this link to our web page to place your order for our Pot Latches and the quantity that will work for your specific needs to get growing vertically!

Shade Cloth

FAQ’s

What plants benefit from shade cloths?

Any plant that require more than 30% shade to grow successfully

How long does a shade cloth traditionally last?

Most shade cloths of high quality will last for ten to fifteen years, keeping their shape and effectiveness. The weather and care of the cloth most often determines its longevity.

How should I attach the shade cloth or greenhouse coverings?

A shade cloth can be attached with screws, nails, ropes or cables.

Is shade cloth enough to cool a greenhouse?

While a shade cloth will prevent plants from overheating and burning, proper cooling systems are most effective for cooling. An appropriate ventilation system is essential for proper greenhouse growth. Light, temperature and humidity control are important and a good ventilation system can provide appropriate amounts of these essentials.

How do I know what size of shade cloth to get and what color?

Shade cloths come in many colors, which only matter in personal preference. For size, a shade cloth should cover the roof and 2/3 of the side walls when unrolled. Thus, you can measure how much material it would take to do this on your greenhouse. Most shade cloths and greenhouse coverings go on the exterior of the greenhouse. This is because they can easily be removed for winter and won’t overheat like inside coverings might.

Worm Bins

How Many Worm Bins Do I Need?
Most greenhouse gardeners agree, the more worm bins, the better! Since most red worms can consume half their weight in food each day, you will need to figure out how many worm bins you can support. Estimate how much food waste you create each day in pounds, multiply by two, and that will determine how many pounds of red worms you can support. You should place about one half pound of red worms in each worm bin. Just keep in mind that your worm will multiply as time goes on so once your worm population gets established in one bin, you can take worms from that bin to start another.

What to Feed Your Worm Bins
While worms are not particularly picky eaters, there are some food items that they abhor. Do not place milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, meat drippings, trimmed fat, grease, or meat into your worm bins.

Worms are mostly vegetarians, and love all breads, grains, cereals (minus the milk), banana peels, eggshells, vegetables, fruits, and even teabags, and coffee grounds (including the paper filter). They love to feast on moist cardboard, paper, and newspaper, but avoid anything with plastic coatings or chemical treatments.

Tips for Keeping Your Worm Bins Healthy
Maintaining your worm bins is not likely to rival the upkeep on a four-star hotel, but there are some basic worm bin tips that will help keep your worms happy and healthy.

  • Keep plenty of fresh, moist bedding in the worm bins (like moistened, shredded newspaper)
  • Make sure your ventilation holes are free from obstruction and adequate to keep your bin smelling fresh
  • Harvest your worm castings regularly
  • Bury your worm’s food in the bedding to avoid attracting insects

Worm bins make a natural and easy to care for gardening companion. They don’t require extensive care, attention, or nurturing like farm animals, and still produce plentiful fertilizers that will make your crops thrive.

Back to our home page

Categories
Greenhouse Supplies

SUPPLIES: Essential and Efficient

Essential Greenhouse gardening tools to get you started

Seeds: Seeds and seedlings are often the area where a greenhouse gardener’s creativity comes into play. Choosing which seeds, saplings, and seedlings to coax to life is one the most exciting things about greenhouse gardening. A greenhouse gardener can choose to try his or her hand at a tropical variety of plant, or can grow common delicious hothouse tomatoes.

Greenhouse Seedling Starters: Seedling starters can be done inside your home or in the greenhouse with a few adaptations. One of the easiest methods of starting your seeds is to purchase a plastic starter kit from your garden supply store. This type of kit often contains peat pellets or cups, a base tray, and a clear cover for keeping in heat and moisture. You add water and your own seeds and place the tray in a sunny window or under a grow light.

If you decide to start your seeds in the greenhouse, you can use the same system, or you can adapt your greenhouse trays for seedlings by placing plastic wrap over the top of the trays until the seedlings emerge. Be sure to disinfect all your supplies before planting, especially if you have left them unused all winter.

Soil: One of the advantages of gardening in a greenhouse over a traditional garden is you can hand-pick the type of soil you are going to use. You can pick soil based on the consistency, types of nutrients, or suitability for specific types of plants. You can match your soil to the type of plant you will be growing. Any given greenhouse might use several kinds of soil. Each greenhouse gardener has his or her own personal preference when it comes to selecting a greenhouse gardening soil mixture. As a beginner, you may wish to purchase a bag of basic potting soil to start and venture into soil mixtures as you grow in experience and knowledge.

Foods and Fertilizers: Plants require essential elements for proper growth. These elements are boron, carbon, calcium, chlorine, copper, hydrogen, iron, oxygen, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen, sulfur, and zinc. A depletion in any of these essential elements can inhibit plant growth. Fertilizers and plant foods supplement these essential elements and allow the plants to thrive under optimal growing conditions. Some common supplements are peat moss, compost, and water-based fertilizers.

Watering Can and Hose: Greenhouse plants needs lots of water, and one of your most trusted greenhouse equipment staples is a watering can and a garden hose. You can spend as much or as little as you want on these item, but basic equipment is all that is required.

Ventilation: Your greenhouse plants need fresh air circulated in the greenhouse to stay healthy so an exhaust fan (to bring fresh air from the outside into your greenhouse) and a circulation fan (to circulate the air once it is inside the greenhouse) are highly recommended.

Benches and Shelves: Shelving is generally something that you attach to the interior of your greenhouse walls or they lay on top of built in framing.  These are not the same things as greenhouse benches, which are free standing and can be moved throughout the greenhouse. Both can help you organize the greenhouse. You can use benches and shelving for growing plants, flowers and vegetables and use the undersides of the benches for storing your pots and tools.  You could also use this area for additional room for your plants.

Greenhouse Grow Lights and Shade Cloths: If you don’t already have them, you will likely need a few grow lights and shade cloths as the daylight hours begin to lengthen in the spring and summer months. Your grow lights can be used to supplement the light for your seedlings until they are ready to harden for outdoor planting.

Greenhouse Flooring: When choosing a flooring option that can really bring your greenhouse to life, remember to consider: drainage, if you are leaning towards a solid material you might have to install drains to avoid mold; decomposition, organic materials (mulch, bark, etc.) will decompose over time and add on additional costs to replace as time goes on; heat some materials, such as brick and flagstone, can help trap and slowly release the day’s heat during cooler nights; comfort, softer materials include pine needles, sawdust and bark mulch, which can be better on your back while spending hours working in your greenhouse; weeds, laying down a weed blocking material underneath a floor base can help avoid pulling unwanted weeds from your greenhouse floor.

Pots: Pots come in many sizes and materials. They can be organic peat pots, clay pots, plastic pots, or even recycled coffee cans, 2 –liter soda bottles, or paper cups. Some greenhouse gardeners even prefer to forgo pots altogether and till and plant the ground directly under the greenhouse roof. Others prefer to plant an outdoor garden and use portable greenhouses or cold frames to gain the beneficial effects of greenhouse gardening without the added expense of constructing a full-scale greenhouse.

Cleaning supplies: Spring cleaning takes place in the greenhouse, maybe even more so than in your own house. Cleaning your greenhouse panels, disinfecting soil, tools, and pots, and clearing out the debris and leftovers from winter can be a liberating and spirit-lifting experience. You’ll need some organic disinfectants, vinegar, bleach, and lots of towels and rags to get your greenhouse back in shape for the growing season. It’s also a good idea to air out your greenhouse during your cleaning routine and be sure to keep your plants away from the cleaning chemicals as you rub away the dirt, grime, and germs from the previous year.

Other tools: pesticides and fungicides, trowels, rakes, and shovels, plant supports like trellises, tomato cages, and twine, fertilizers, Compost bin, garden cart

How to save money while buying greenhouse supplies

Buy Quality: While it may seem contradictory to spend more on quality garden supplies, purchasing high-end gardening tools will save you money over time. Going cheap may work for a season, but you’ll be eyeing up those new rakes and hoes come spring and considering if you budget can stretch enough to take one home.

Shop with the Future in Mind: Many garden supply stores will put items on clearance during the fall and winter months to help make room for new merchandise. This is the time to buy new watering hoses, gardening tools, and seasonal decorations for a fraction of the price you will pay in season for those same items. Always try to shop with the future in mind to help save a few dollars when restocking your greenhouse supplies.

Shop Local: Check around in your area and you may find that you can pick up garden and greenhouse supplies cheaper from a local vendor or private shop. Retail garden centers are handy, and are sure to have that hard-to-find item you are looking for, but for the basics, a local shop might be your best bet. These local finds are true treasures in the money-saving department.

Recycle: Many greenhouse supplies can be repaired or recycled from season to season. That old garden hose can be transformed into a drip line, and those milk jugs can serve as mini-portable greenhouses for your outdoor garden. Gardeners are naturally crafty recyclers, and this trend can help save you money on supplies.

Back to our home page

Categories
Greenhouse Supplies

GARDENING: Hardening Off

A week or more before you plan to move your plants outdoors, start the transition process, known as hardening off. Reduce frequency of watering and greenhouse temperatures, to help ease your plants into the shift.

Watering:  Your seedlings can go a little dry between watering before they’re set outside. Bottom watering is best, since overhead watering can cause foliage diseases. As you water less frequently, check the plants. If they don’t droop, they’re probably strong enough to start the transition.

Temperatures: The 85-degree temperatures that you needed for your seeds to germinate should be brought down to around 65 degrees for seedlings. A thermometer is the easiest way to monitor the temperatures in the greenhouse, so you can make adjustments with heating and ventilation.

A visit to the Porch. An unheated, protected area will allow plants to gradually adjust to cooler temperatures. A porch or enclosed deck can be a great transition space between the greenhouse and garden. If you ventilate the space, keep the plants away from drafts. If such an area is not available, you can also shelter your plants under an evergreen or in the shade of your house.

Field Trips: Take your plants outside on mild days when there is little wind or precipitation. Frost or fabric covers can be used for extra protection. Just be sure that the plants aren’t being pressed upon directly.

Moving Day!

For container plants, wait until it’s in the high 50’s or low 60’s to move them outside. If it’s dry, sunny, and hot, put the plants out later in the day, so there will be some shade and cooler air. A slight drizzle is good, if the air isn’t cold.

For plants being transplanted in-ground, soil temperature is even more important than air temperature. So test the soil temperature for a few days. Remember, nighttime soil temperatures will be lower, and shouldn’t drop below 60 degrees.

The Pot Lifter  makes it easier to  move your heavy pots from the greenhouse.

Hardening off is a simple process, requiring just a little time and a lot of love. Gently ease your plants into outdoor living, and they should quickly start thriving in their new environment.

Back to our home page