My Greenhouse

My Greenhouse

Tried to place this photo on my previous post. Didn’t work, so here is my
greenhouse that was referenced.

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Fall Chores #1 – Greenhouse

I’ve been away for a while but now I’m back.

Cooler weather has arrived. Time to complete many garden chores in preparation for winter. The first important task is to get the greenhouse in order.  My greenhouse is 10’X12′; plastic waffle panels; four ceiling vents, purchased unassembled from Harbor Freight. My husband, brother-in-law and I took two days to assemble and install the house. It has been up four years and I have been extremely satisfied.

Over the years a few adjustments have been made in the greenhouse to combat the cold winter weather in our area.  Until the outside temperature reaches 25 degrees or under I heat the greenhouse with a small electric milk house heater working at medium, which keeps the temperature at 40-50 degrees.  Outside temperatures of 25 degrees and under I use a kerosene heater. It will run 12 hours on one gallon of kerosene.  Usually, once the sun comes out the supplemental heat is turned off. A very small fan, at roof line, runs continuously to circulate the air.  Using these heaters, and with the adjustments listed below, heating the greenhouse over the winter has been very inexpensive.

In researching kerosene heaters several references stated they should not be used in a greenhouse. If the house is air tight, I suppose this is good advice, however, mine is not. I allow outside air to come in through a small adjustment in two ceiling vents. Two out of the three past winters the kerosene heater was used with no ill effects to humans or plants. The third winter was mild and the kerosene heater was not needed. The kerosene heater should be in good working order, otherwise soot has a tendency to cover the plastic wall panels.

Originally no floor was installed. As the ground around the greenhouse froze it became very difficult to keep the inside temperature at 40-50 degrees. The second year a floor was installed consisting of landscape timbers laid crossways; the spaces filled with straw; and then the wood floor.  That alone increased the inside temperature by 5-7 degrees.

The roof peak on the greenhouse is 10′. A good portion of the heat goes to the ceiling. To combat that issue, in addition to the fan, plastic sheeting was installed over  the inside roof panels, except those with vents.  Light is still available to the plants but heat cannot escape and is circulated throughout the greenhouse. The back of the house is to the north; the left side faces west. Forest is around both back and west side, preventing sun shine reaching inside the greenhouse in those areas. Both remain colder in the winter.  Plastic sheeting was installed on those wall panels. The sheeting can be raised or lowered as needed.  The use of the plastic sheeting raised the temperature another 7-8 degrees.

I spent the last two days removing all roof panels, cleaning the aluminum framework; scrubbing the panels; and replacing each one with additional clips. Originally we only placed three clips on each side of the roof panels which allowed cold air to seep in. I now have six clips on each side which will decrease the flow of outside air to practically nil. It was necessary to replace one of the roof panels. Last winter’s snow caused the panel to cave in. This was not a defect in the plastic. It was my fault for not scraping the snow off the roof in a timely manner.

My husband, bless his heart, has now installed four automatic pneumatic openers/closers in the ceiling vents. The last three winters I have had to climb a ladder each time a vent was to be opened or closed. The automatic opener/closers are a blessing!

Next, new plastic will be installed on the cleaned roof panels and replaced where needed on the wall panels.

Then, the floor will be swept; tables put into place; pots and soil to be used over the winter put in place; the greenhouse closed and fumigated.

While the greenhouse is fumigated all plants to be wintered over will be identified and sprayed with Capt. Jack’s Dead Bug organic insecticide, readying the plants for the winter.  Following the procedure of fumigating the greenhouse, pots and soil plus spraying the plants before placing in the greenhouse, I have never had a pest problem over the winter.

I hope the above information has been helpful to those who have, or are considering, a greenhouse.  If a greenhouse is being considered I strongly recommend the Harbor Freight house. Comes in three sizes, mine is the largest. Often can be found on sale. They are a challenge to construct but by following instructions exactly it can be done without too much difficulty.

First You Need Water…Emergency Preparedness

First You Need Water...Emergency Preparedness

This photo is of the Midwest flood of 2010. A lot of water but none to drink.

Now is the time to get a supply of drinkable water set aside for an emergency. A 5 gallon carboy costs about $6.00 in many supermarkets. When the carboy is returned a refill is about $4.00. If 5 gallons is too heavy, the carboys also come in 2 1/5 gallon size which is easier to carry if you have to leave your home.

A 5 gallon container will provide drinking water and water to cook with for three people for about one week. A family with children would need two 5 gallon carboys for about 1 week.

Storage is easy. In a closet, behind the couch or some corner out of the way.

Water for flushing toilets is easy and free. You will need two or three clean five gallon buckets with lids. Set them outside and let the rain fill the buckets. Once filled, place the lids on the buckets and tuck them someplace out of the way, inside the house or outside. By placing lids on these buckets ensures no dirt will get in the water and it can also be used to wash hands and face.

People can get by without food for a few days. They cannot get by very long without water to drink. In a natural disaster, or just an extended power outage, water may not be available for several days.

Plan now to ensure your survival tomorrow!

And Down Came the Rain

And Down Came the Rain

Tried to use this photo with my post “What Now”. Didn’t attach. This is the downpour I mentioned.

The Power is Gone…There is no Water…Now What?

Today we are having the most awful heavy rain storm.  I sat here listening to the sound of the rain on the roof, thankful to be somewhere safe and dry.  I began thinking of Katrina and Sandy.  Weather disasters happen anywhere at any time.  Fortunately, thanks to my husband, we are always somewhat prepared. However, there is much more we can do.

Are you prepared if disaster happens in your area? Tornado, hurricane, flood, fire, wind damage are all possibilities. Even power outages due to down lines can create havoc. Where would you go? What do you eat? How would you keep warm? Will you, your children, other loved ones and pets be safe? What can you do?

Prepare Now! Not only does prior Emergency Preparation make good sense but it is less costly. Finding food, shelter, gas and other necessities when disaster strikes is very costly, frustrating and frightening. And necessities may not be available during and after the disaster. And government agencies may not be able to get to you for three days to two weeks or more.  

It doesn’t matter if you live in an apartment or home; in the city or country. Unless your home is damaged in the disaster you are safer staying home. Make a plan. Now is the time to prepare. Ask yourself, what would you and your family need to survive at least three days and possibly as much as two weeks.  Keep in mind if the power is out grocery stores will be closed; gas pumps won’t work; ice will not be available; and restaurants will be closed. Most likely motel units will be full and emergency services will deal with life threatening issues first.

The most basic things you will need are: Water, food,  required medications, shelter, clothing, emergency supplies. Tomorrow I will provide suggestions of what to obtain now; where and how to store; and information that should be part of your plan.

There are many internet sites available with information pertaining to Emergency Preparedness.  Some of the information would require a large cost outlay and would not be for everyone. However, most of the information is great and can be adapted to your individual needs.

Prepare now to be safe!

 

Surprise…I’m Back!

ImageSweetie was an old cat, large and gray, that came to live with us about 4 years ago. She appeared to have had a hard life. Based on her paunch she had had many kittens, two of which she brought to us; Miss Kitty, a long hair calico and Nick, a short hair gray that looked just like his mother.

Sweetie was fun to have around the garden. She had no interest in the birds or other critters that dropped by for a visit.  She preferred to lay stretched out in the sun. Her favorite position was on her back, letting the sun warm her white tummy. Every now and then I would reach under a shrub to pull weeds and her head would pop out as if to say “Boo, I scared you”.

Seven weeks ago Sweetie disappeared. We searched everywhere around our two acre property, looking in all the outbuildings to ensure she had not been locked inside and couldn’t get out. She normally didn’t stray far from the house but we searched around the neighborhood.  In the end we finally agreed she must have decided it was time to go to kitty heaven and went off to find a quiet place.  We were very sad as we missed her.

Last night we had a very heavy rain storm. While I was preparing dinner a small, skinny, gray cat came in the cat door and ran straight for the food bowls. Thinking it was Nick I went to give him a pat and wonder why he looked like a starveling. Amazingly it wasn’t Nick, it was Sweetie!  She looked at me, meowed as if to say “Surprise..I’m back” and proceeded to eat enough for three cats.

Where Sweetie has been for the last several weeks, and what adventures she has had will always be a mystery. She appears to be happy she is home and we are overjoyed to have her back as part of our family.

Never Give Up Hope!

ImageImage

Brugmansia in bloom!  Many years an attempt was made to grow this beautiful plant. The first year it rotted in the ground. I tried growing it in a pot. I watered, fertilized and talked to the plant.  It put on four leaves before it died. Tried a larger pot. Watered and fertilized but didn’t have time to talk to it. Slowly it grew. Spent the winter in the greenhouse. That spring and summer, slowly it grew. By the next winter the plant was 16″ tall.  The following spring it shot up to 4′. Planted in the ground it seemed to thrive but didn’t flower. “The heck with it” I said and left it in the ground over the winter.  After a couple of frosty nights I did put about 8″ of leaf mulch over the plant.  Was I surprised in late spring when the plant started to grow again!  And look at it now!  It is beautiful.  Maybe all it took was a little neglect. Will be interesting to see if it comes back next year.

Nick loves to sit on this post and watch the comings and goings in the garden. I have even seen him take a little nap, still sitting on the post.