We Own A Greenhouse

So here we are planning and building a greenhouse.  Now the beauty of a community garden is everyone comes with different strengths and knowledge on different topics.  The people on the Greenhouse Building Committee are not only willing to give extra time to this project, they all have their own expertise whether it’s organizing the group, keeping everyone on task or being the communicator to the rest of the members.  And maybe some have their own greenhouses.  But being who I am – I decided to research the topic.  Now I’m hoping others are willing to read what interesting information I find.

In my quest to gather information I stumbled across a fabulous website of an award winning television show called Growing a Greener World.  As I got excited and started poking around I found an episode with Sheri George, Lifetime Master Gardener on what she has found necessary in her greenhouse. And I’m sure she didn’t come across these tips by chance and has more likely learned from experience and is willing to share with others.  Isn’t that why we blog – to share the experience. They are too good not to share right here!Image

  • Automatic vent openers. (Prevents greenhouse from overheating and uses no electricity)
  • Pea gravel over landscape fabric for floor. (Spray water on rocks in summer to help keep greenhouse cooler.)
  • Oscillating fans year round but especially important in winter to prevent cold spots and disease. (Clip on variety frees up shelf space.)
  • Gutters to fill rain barrels (also will help prevent splashing if flowers/crops are planted alongside greenhouse).
  • Shade cloth is essential in summer if greenhouse is situated in full sun. (Vegetables love full sun, but southern full sun in a greenhouse will cook plants.) Many different weaves for desired amount of shade.
  • Keep greenhouse journal. Fun to track high and low temperatures daily for monthly summary. Also write down what seeds were planted, how planted (covered, uncovered…etc.) and how long it took to germinate. Will help in deciding what seeds to grow in the future.
  • Propagation mats with thermostat help with successful germination also do not have to depend on heater as much in winter.
  • To prevent pests and disease in greenhouse, DO NOT overwinter plants that have been outside or are already sickly. (People love to ask if they may overwinter their tender plants in greenhouse…learn to say “no”).
  • Water seeds/seedlings from the bottom to prevent damping off.
  • Ants love greenhouses…recommend perimeter treatment at first sign of ants. (Will have giant “ant farm” if they find a way into the chambers of the twin wall.)
  • Do not use yellow sticky traps for greenhouse gnats. Prevent gnats by not overwatering. (Traps not only gnats, but spiders, ladybugs and an occasional wren.)
  • Use a wireless temperature transmitter to keep track of highs and lows…make sure it has an alarm to alert someone that the temperature has gone below desired temperature.
  • For seed starting, make sure to use sterile germinating medium, clean/disinfected trays and pots. (1 part bleach to 9 parts water is sufficient.)
  • Learn what whiteflies and their eggs look like. Very hard to get rid of if they become established in the greenhouse.
  • Common beneficial insects will come to your greenhouse. Learn what their eggs and larva look like so they are not killed. (ladybugs and  green lacewings especially)
  • Check seeds/seedlings several times/day. Make sure the greenhouse is not too hot or too cold, seedlings not too dry or too wet…sort of like the story Goldilocks and the Three Bears…needs to be “just right” for optimal success.
  • When cold, use warm water to water as very cold water will shock the seedlings and slow growth.
  • Use diluted fertilizer to feed seedlings. Full strength will “burn” roots.
  • Most importantly, have fun and smile with the joy of growing plants.

Tips for Owning a Greenhouse

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Greenhouse Project – Timeline, Part 3

2013 Timeline

11/9   http://youtu.be/I5GieLfQ0pM

Members were at the garden this morning to help with trenching the area and assist in whatever help that was needed to square and level in preparation for the footings.  By setting the footings, it properly spaces the framework and allows the area you need to lay your foundation. Ron, Steve & George continued to work till past 5:00. 

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11/13 

The insulation was measured and laid against the framework.  Spacers had to placed inside to avoid framework from falling in once dirt  was pushed back against frame.

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Greenhouse Project – Timeline, pt. 2

Sometime between receiving the PNM Grant and ordering the greenhouse a Greenhouse Building Committee was formed.

2013 Timeline

10/30    Ron, George, and Steve leveled the site and did a lot of measuring and digging. The corners are square and the area looks just like the beginning of an archaeology dig. The greenhouse arrived at Home Depot. (email)

10/31    Ron and I went to Home Depot this afternoon to see what the “package” looked like and he decided he could use his pick up since there are multiple boxes and most are lightweight. He will go at 10 in the morning to pick it all up. If you want to help unload, check with Ron. Ron took pictures of the leveled site. It is important to document the steps and stages for our report to PNM. Saturday they will begin the trench digging. Be there if you can dig square! Jjh (email)

11/9       email to VCG members

We need help this Saturday 11.9 getting the greenhouse site ready for the pour, which is postponed until we can do these tasks:  getting the forms aligned with the string line at the right elevation and position, setting the forms, fastening the forms to the screed, installing the insulation, and backfilling around the forms. There’ll be at least a couple Greenhouse Committee supervisors so even if you’ve never done this before, you can help.  We start at 9 a.m.  Ask Ron Goens any questions you may have.  I’m sending this to everybody, but please let me know if you don’t want greenhouse reports.  Geri

Interview with Geri about the step-by-step process in applying for the PNM 30th Anniversary Grant Proposal for the Valencia Community Gardens greenhouse: http://youtu.be/Wzblqz9wKRk

 

ImagePreparing to set the footings, everything must be level and square.Image

Greenhouse Project Timeline, Pt. 1

I will be updating this timeline as we continue to progress on the Greenhouse Project.  I am hoping that sharing this information with others will inspire you to build your own greenhouse or even start your own community garden.

2013

6/4         Proposal, Draft

6/10       Proposal, Working Draft

6/13       PNM Application & Budget, ready

8/12       Congratulations!  Your proposal for a 30th Anniversary Grant from the PNM Fund has been approved for funding in the amount of $6,085.21.

9/6         We received the PNM Resources Foundation greenhouse grant check today. From left to right are Deb Christensen (VCG President), Suzanne Taylor, Geri Rhodes (grant writer), Joyce Johns (grant writer and VCG Treasurer), and Donna Holliday (PNM Resources Foundation Valencia County representative). Grant Committee advisors were Ron Goens, Lorri Gast, and Andra Stratton. Thanks to everybody who made our greenhouse possible.

10/23   Greenhouse ordered http://www.homedepot.com/p/Monticello-20-ft-x-8-ft-Aluminum-and-8mm-Twin-Wall-Polycarbonate-Greenhouse-Premium-Package-MONT-20-AL-PREMIUM/203539437?cm_mmc=sem|psocial|fbx|dynamic#.UpKKCuIliRM

10/29    Tool Inventory completed

             Supplies Ordered

The space selected for our greenhouse was in a no-till test zone. We harvested the tomatoes just before our last canning workshop and then the area needed to be be cleared. Most of the dead tomato plants were put in the noxious weed pile instead of our regular compost area to try and reduce the amount of “volunteer” tomato plants popping up in the spring.

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Circle of Life

When you first think about seeds it’s generally after you’ve decided you’re going to grow a garden and are thinking about what you will be growing.  Now that you’ve decided on what, where and when, it’s time to purchase those seeds. So simple enough – you go to a reputable nursery and buy your seeds or order them from one of those seed catalogs you’ve been ogling all winter.  But don’t forget our discussions in weeks passed on the topics of GMO and Organic foods. This will help you decide what to look for when buying your seeds.

Unless of course you saved seeds from previous seasons or are part of a growing community of seed sharers.  Yes, here is another layer onto the ever growing pile of garden information I want to introduce to you.

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What’s that you say, you want to be a seed sharer and you’re curious about learning more about seed saving?  Well I just happened to stumble upon the best site, especially if you are local to New Mexico, they even offers workshops. Garden’s Edge is dedicated to preserving native seeds by conducting classes to teach us. The benefits of seed saving from plants that have already adapted to your climate, soil and water usage are to grow stronger and better plants in their own suitable climate.  Doesn’t that make sense?  It’s not a wonder why every year when I purchase plants and/or vegetables that were grown in California they die here in New Mexico.  It’s not me, it’s the seed from which the plant was grown.  There are even Seed Banks that provide farmers with seeds on credit, and after their first harvest they pay them back with seeds.

If you’re curious as where to start Organic Gardening has a “Beginner’s Guide” that has been very helpful. It discusses which are the best seeds to save and which are not, and why.  So maybe you aren’t ready to save seeds this season… Read the articles so you are more informed before you purchase your seeds and maybe next season when your beautiful organic plump cucumbers are ready to pick, think about saving seeds for next season so you can save money and have a better chance that your cucumbers will be more beautiful than the season before.  And remember, it’s not always as easy as it sounds. There are to consider.  Here’s another great site discussing Monsanto and the seed industry. http://grist.org/food/seeds-on-seeds-on-seeds-why-more-biodiversity-means-more-food-security/?utm_source=syndication&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed  I promise, it’s interesting stuff.  So remember my motto; Read, and read more and don’t forget to do your research.

Companion Planting

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Soon it will be winter and the only thing gardeners can do is peruse the seed catalogs and the Old Farmer’s Almanac dreaming of the day when the ground has warmed again and the soil will be easier to till anticipating that planting season is close by.  So the excitement of your favorite seed catalog arriving in the mail is only known by other garden enthusiast. The question of what to plant is always foremost on the gardeners mind. Tried and true are always a sure bet but the unknown makes it so much more magical. The worry and threat of insects and animal pests can put a damper on that magical moment. Making sure your garden vegetables have sufficient amount of sunlight, enough water and good soil aren’t always enough. So planning ahead is important. Knowing that planting marigolds are as good as gold around tomatoes to ward off pests as Old Farmer’s Almanac implies, is a sure bet. But why? Its been scientifically proven that certain plants give off a chemical that ward off certain pests.  Like the marigold for instance, magically repel Mexican beetles.  And for some reason planting basil next to your tomatoes and lettuce improves the flavor and magically repels mosquitoes.

Another great site comes from the online organic magazine Organic Gardening which offers several articles on companion planting. And from searching for images I found this very helpful chart.

Image Have fun dreaming of the next planting season and continue to do your homework and research before planning out the layout for your next best garden ever!

We Need A Greenhouse!

Shout it out to the universe, and it will come.  If that is what you believe, good for you!  For us at the garden – it started from a need.  This past growing season was difficult and we often felt frustrated, defeated and sometimes just angry. Chickens coming into our garden and pecking at anything and everything green and tender. How dare they?  We discussed every possibility from bringing our dogs, to talking to our neighbor (where the chickens were coming from), and just short of toting a rifle. We did come to a consensus after hearing from the neighbor that the chickens are not his, hmmmm? We set traps and found a home for the dozen of chickens we have caught so far. But they are still coming in and destroying any new vegetation and getting smarter by the day.  It’s been weeks since we caught one. If only we had somewhere to get our seedlings started early so we can get a jump on the growing season and would be protected from the horrible… chickens! And maybe if we could get lots of seedlings started we can share them with neighboring community gardens. From this, grew the idea for the need of a greenhouse. 

So we have a need.  We were all in agreement, so there was the desire.  So how about the funds?  And just like that – one of our members spotted an ad that PNM was giving out grants. If you know anything about grant writing this is far from a done-deal, it’s very competitive and time consuming. So the PNM grant writing Committee was born, and together we shared our knowledge, beliefs and ideas.  Two committee members volunteered to do the writing as long as they received all the information they needed to complete the task.  Often grant applications and proposals have a deadline, strict guidelines and often word counts so you really have to be able to say what you want and how much you need within a certain amount of words.  And just like that, one of the members was reading the local paper and saw Valencia Community Gardens listed as one of the two in Valencia county to receive the grant—Belen, our sister community garden was the other.  How awesome is that? 

So in August we received the grant funds from PNM… Imageand Purchased our greenhouse kit from Home Depot including the supplies needed for the project. 

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We as a community agreed on where to place the greenhouse.  We then asked for volunteers to form a greenhouse committee.  Some of us cleared the area to prepare the site.  The committee has met and created a timeline and discussed where to begin… this past Saturday folks were there digging the trench to set the frames in order to build the footings for the structure.  It was decided that the greenhouse needed a little bit more stability than the kit suggests because of the harsh wind and climates of the area.