Update on the Springtime Garden

We have had so many changes to our gardens and to the greenhouse. One big change that Nate completed this past weekend was to add windows to the greenhouse. Yes, windows!

The greenhouse is at least 10 degrees warmer inside than the outdoor temperature. When we hit summer temperatures – this is going to be WAY too hot for the plants. We have been keeping the door to the greenhouse open in an attempt to cool the inside. It’s been working so far, but it was still getting warm inside and the weather has barely hit 70 degrees!

When Nate’s dad was here the other weekend to build two additional gardens (I’ll describe those below), he and Nate spitballed a couple of ideas for how to create the windows. With the greenhouse being a zip-tie dome with PVC pipe, the biggest difficulty was figuring out how windows could be installed. For most greenhouses, windows are a given or the roof can be lifted to allow for better air flow. Surprisingly, there are not many videos on how to build a window for this type of greenhouse. He adapted how you would build a door to the zip-tie dome to fit for a window.

Here’s the short version (since I wasn’t actually here when he made the windows – I came home from having brunch with the girls and voila!). For each window, Nate cut the PVC pipes the appropriate length and then drilled holes where the zip ties would go through for attachment. The PVC pipes were then zip-tied to the dome. The plastic had to be cut to size to fit inside the triangular shape of the PVC pipes and then attached to the pipes using metal clamps. Once all of this was completed, he simply had to prop the window open using a metal rod.

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And now I have a greenhouse with wings! (aka two windows). The greenhouse has cooled down a fair amount and now the air can flow throughout the greenhouse rather than just through the door.

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Inside the greenhouse we have a whole heck of a lot of pea plants, but not many peas. They are flowering now so it should only be a matter of time (a couple weeks?) for us to get plenty of peas. We’ve also been pulling out carrots as needed for salad and while they may look a little funky, they are delicious!

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I learned that the carrots need to be thinned out and do better growing from seed rather than transplanting as I did from the AeroGarden. One issue with transplanting is that there is an increased risk of the root growing crooked, which is what happend to ours. Additionally, we had 6-8 carrots per pod which was too many and also led to crooked carrots. Despite their look, they really are quite good and I plan to plant more in the fall when the weather starts to get cooler again.

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I have also transplanted a cucumber plant and several squash plants from the AeroGarden to either the greenhouse or the gardens next to the deck. Yes, I’m going to try my hand again at growing squash. Nate also got me 16 tomato plants from the Farmers’ Market – yes 16! I’m keeping an eye out for white flies early on this year and have already put up several yellow sticky traps and sprayed the plants with horticultural oil and soapy water. It helps to alternate the various methods to deter white flies since the soapy water will kill the adults, but the oil will smother the eggs. So far, so good but it is still early on in the season.

And last, but certainly not least, Nate’s Dad and youngest brother, Mike helped build two gorgeous garden beds in the back yard! They are ideally placed where the gardens would get plenty of sunlight. Rich brought up wood posts that were removed from their house in Spartanburg to build two amazing new garden beds. They are about 8 feet by 1.5 feet and extremely sturdy. They will also require a heck of a ton of soil/dirt to fill! When I was mowing this past weekend, I started dumping the grass and leaves collected in the mower bag to the garden as a mulch starter. Both gardens will have a good start after the next mowing. We will likely have dirt brought in to fill the rest so that the gardens could be ready for the fall. I have found that it’s best to get the soil just right before trying to plant anything so I want to take the time to get the soil in the new gardens ready to go, but it will take time.

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One slight issue that we have in that area is that it gets a lot of water. The runoff from the roof on the house is shuttled through a drainage pipe that leads right to the middle of the side of the backyard. This a little bit above where the new garden beds were built. However, I am looking at this as an opportunity because I can build a rain garden! I have been taking a sustainable gardening class through Durham Tech and one of the weeks we visited a couple of houses that created rain gardens because they had the same issue that we do. There are plenty of plants that love to take up excess water, which is great for a rain garden. The idea behind this concept is to plant shrubs, trees, or other foliage to allow the water to percolate through the ground to the garden areas. This way the gardens are not flooded all at once, but rather get water as needed.

There are lots of online resources for creating a rain garden, but a great site that I found is the NCEE (North Carolina Cooperative Extension): https://www.bae.ncsu.edu/topic/raingarden/plants.htm. This website divides the state by its respective regions (coastal, piedmont, and mountains) and then by sun and shade plants. I need to do a little more research on what plants would do well in the area we would designate as the rain garden, but this is a great resource. We would need to do both shade and sun as this applies to the backyard as two different microclimates.

That’s the update for now! I hope to be writing more frequently now that the weather has gotten nicer and we will be harvesting veggies in the near future.

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