Posts Tagged ‘greenhouse’

The Garden in June

The weather has turned hot very quickly since summer has officially begun. We are seeing highs in the 90sF.

The past week has been a busy time for planting in the garden. I’ve added herbs to the herb garden area and to some containers. The green house is now empty for the first time since early spring. It is too hot in there now for things to do well.

The large garden box (D) is empty except for some marigolds planted around the edge. That box will remain fallow this year. It has never been fallow so needs a season of rest.

The law looks better than it ever has. I have learned that despite advice from the water conservation interests in this heat one must water the lawn at least every other day to keep it green and lush. It is a small lawn so I do not feel so badly about the water usage.

I hand water the vegetables, containers and herbs. I usually water containers daily in this heat and vegetables can usually do fine with water every other day or every third day.

Everything is doing well. The latest basil plants from the green house are a bit pale but are already deepening in color with more direct sun in the box.

We have been eating the Boston lettuce, it is still tender and very flavorful. You just cannot get that flavor from store bought produce.

Happy Gardening,

Dan Murphy


Seeds and Leeks

Yesterday I planted some seeds in the green house. I had to make up so new planting medium using a mixture of potting soil and vermiculate. I planted two varieties of broccoli and one of cauliflower. If they germinate they should be ready to put in the garden by mid-May. I will be adding more soon.

I am frequently surprised how warm it gets in the greenhouse. The last day we had sun out it rose to 100 F +. I need to get some venting in there. I have a roof vent but it is not enough.

I also did some weeding. Weeded the garden boxes fully and the asparagus bed.

Speaking of planting I hope to get some leeks in the garden this year. Need to get them in soon. Here is a video on some things to know about leeks.

Happy Gardening,

Dan Murphy

Spring is Here!

Today is the official beginning of spring this year. The daffodils have been up. The sun was out yesterday (though it is to rain today and all week) and the high yesterday was forecast at 50F. It was cold yesterday morning though with a thin layer of ice on the windshield of the car.

On Friday my box of seeds arrived from Territorial Seed. My plan was to plant some of them in the greenhouse today to get started on my “starts”. If the warmth continues I may be able to plant some cool weather plants next weekend.

I got busy with visits from family and other things so the planting will have to wait until later in the week.

A soil test kit also arrived with the seeds so I hope to test the garden soil today to see what is deficient. Then I can amend as needed. With no cover crops this year my garden boxes have been pounded with rain all winter and we’ve had a lot of rain. I expect I will have to dig the garden boxes to loosen the soil.

I am persuaded by several sources that using the electric tiller is not necessary or an advantage. I will let the worms do the tilling as discussed in this Fine Gardening article.

My best laid plans to plant yesterday failed but I will get those seeds started soon – hopefully today.

Happy Gardening,

Dan Murphy


Greenhouse 101

Fall Garden & Greenhouse 8I have had a greenhouse for some time now but do not use it as much as I could. It has no power which means it does not get well ventilated in the warm weather. I’ve cooked enough plants to know the problems with that.

My plan for 2016 is run power out to the greenhouse so I can install a good ventilation fan. This along with a good shade cloth should extend the useful season for my greenhouse.

I have mostly used it to harden off plants in the spring. My plan is to plant more in the greenhouse next year, both spring and fall, to take full advantage of it.

The biggest challenge in the greenhouse is to maintain the temperature and the moisture within levels that plants will tolerate. It means that when something is growing in there you must go in the greenhouse every day without fail to assess ventilation, temperature and moisture. Even one day of neglect can kill a lot of plants.


I have not tried growing much in my greenhouse in winter because it seems too cold in there. However, I read that you can grow frost resistant crops such as lettuce (which will wilt in the cold but will revive when the temperature comes up). The critical thing is to prevent freezing of the roots of any plant. You can also grow brassicas such as broccoli and cabbages as well as kale in the winter as long as you start them early enough in late summer or early fall to get established. Winter growth will be very slow.

I will not use artificial heat in my greenhouse. It is simply too expensive and environmentally unsound. During deep winter the days are too short and the sun is too weak to stimulate growth. Plants must be started early in the fall and be well established by the time the dark winter arrives.

If you get some sun during the day this should prevent a hard and deep frost in our area from developing. The problem will be when we have long periods of heavily gray days and very cold temperatures.


You can allow the soil in the greenhouse to lie dormant during summer. The high heat levels reached in my greenhouse if I do not use a shade cloth exceed 120 F. This sustained high heat and no moisture will kill nearly all pathogens, insects, etc.

If you want to improve the fertility of green house in winter you can plant cow peas which with sufficient water can often tolerate the summer heat. I have not done this yet and would most likely use the shade cloth when I do.

Mother Earth News cautions against using nitrogen fertilizer in the green house and warns about allowing too much nitrogen build up.

You can put a worm bin in the green house but again the worms will only tolerate so much heat and must have continuously moist medium to survive.

One good source of greenhouse tips is Mother Earth News. The author there however lives where there is a lot of snow and colder temps then we have so one might get away with more in the greenhouse here.

Only time and practice will tell. As I experiment I will let you know how it goes.

Happy Gardening,
Dan Murphy

Fall Musings

fallFall has set in here in the Willamette Valley. Yesterday it was a comfortable 70 degrees and sunny. Today we have wind and cooler temperature – we also have some rain. That wind, incidentally, is making good work of scattering about the fallen leaves I spent two hours raking up yesterday. Mother Nature has such a sense of humor.

Vegetable Garden is put to Bed

The vegetable garden is put to bed now. The only thing not cut down and removed are the asparagus tops. I am waiting for them to turn brown. All the other boxes have been cleaned up and I’ve planted a cover crop of crimson clover which is just now sprouting.

The garden boxes are built of wooden 2 x 6s which have been out in the weather now for about 8 years. Some are starting to rot and so I will have to replace parts of them next spring. I use untreated wood because I am not satisfied that treated wood is wise to use around edible plants. Replacing the boxes once a decade is an acceptable cost to me.

The other box that is not cleaned out is the blueberry box. I still need to dress the top with a good rotted sawdust mixture that is locally available to maintain soil acidity.

The Green House

I did not use the green house much this year. It needs some upgrading. I need to run electrical power to it so I can have a fan going which I’ve learned is essential. It also requires automatic vents. I do have a good shade cloth cover for it for when the weather gets too warm. I hope to use it next spring through fall to start plants and grow a few that will tolerate the heat in summer.

Rain Water Storage

I hoped to rebuild my rain storage system this summer but did not get to it. I spent a lot of time on some home remodeling projects this fall and did not have time. Next spring I hope to rebuild the platform that holds the storage tanks (50 gallon plastic garbage cans) and double the total capacity to 200 gallons.

For the next couple of months raking up the leaves dropped by the neighbor’s sweet gum tree and our two maples in the front will be the major outdoor chore. With the coming of rain there will also be weeds to battle.

Meanwhile I continue on the remodel project for two rooms which takes a lot of time. Both rooms have been repainted and when done will have new floors – oak Pergo flooring replaces the old carpet. In the guest room I am building face frames to put doors on the storage area.

So there is plenty to do and I look forward to these projects and more for the coming year.

Happy Gardening,
Dan Murphy

Great Pea Experiment of 2015 – Part II


Missing Lab Coat

On March 8th I told you about my Great Pea Experiment of 2015. My goal was to start peas in three places: indoors, in my greenhouse and in the ground, and see which ones performed best.

I got too busy to plant them indoors but did plant them in the green house and in the ground two weeks ago today, March 29. About two days ago 4 of the 9 planted came up in the ground outside. I had coated them with inoculant but the seeds were two years old. I planted two seeds in each hole.

I planted in the greenhouse the exact same way. I’ve seen no action in the greenhouse. My current hypothesis is that the ones in the greenhouse actually got too much water. I will wait another day or two and then dig up the seeds to see if they rotted.

I shall also plant additional seeds outside and in the greenhouse to see if I have better luck. At present I think my bad luck as a seed researcher is because I do not have a white lab coat. A real researcher wears a white lab coat with lots of pens in the pocket and maybe even a pocket protector. Yes, that must be the problem.

With or without the lab coat I will keep you posted.

Happy Gardening!
Dan Murphy

New Year – New Plans in the Garden

Happy New Year to you.

This is my 100th post to this blog! Amazing.

The mind has been working hard at what will come in 2015 for the garden. Here are the plans in their current form – subject to some adjustments of course:

Moving the Cold Frame

I’ve never used the cold frame much because it is not in a good place. It is tucked in the far NE corner of the back yard where it is too often shaded by the fence and a neighbor’s tree. It must be moved to be at all effective. Or in the alternative it could be scrapped as I do have a green house. So the first task is to do some research to see if there is a purpose for the cold frame that the green house may not serve well. My guess is that the cold frame is much better suited to harden off young plants.

The most likely location for the cold frame is to take up some of the herb garden. It gets a decent amount of sun. There is no law that says herbs must all be in one place. I can scatter them throughout the yard and it may be a much better idea anyway, especially for the sun loving and heat loving ones that would prefer the west side of the house.

Moving the Compost Bins

Next the space where the cold frame now sits would be the site for new well-built compost bins. The current bins, further to the south in the yard, are not ideally placed and are rather shabby looking built of cobbled together pallets and scrap wood. The current one has only two bins, one for fresh vegetative matter and one for finished compost. It does not work so well.

The new design is for three bins side by side. The two largest ones would be for compost in the making while the smaller one on the left side would be for completed compost storage. It would look like this:

Raw Material for Compost Second Stage Compost Finished Compost 




Raw material would go in the left box first. After initial break down it would be mixed into the second stage box and moved the finished compost box only when done. That anyway is the new plan.

These will be sturdy boxes built of water resistant materials with a cover and plenty of air circulation vents.

Along with these two moves the old cedar fence sections behind the current cold frame and the current compost boxes would be replaced with new fencing.

Expanded Water Storage / Wood Storage / Expanded Garden Space

On the south side of the garden shed there are two 40 gallon plastic garbage cans that fill with rain water from the garden shed roof. Two good rain storms currently fill the 80 gallons of storage. I will build a frame to allow four cans against the building with the top two over flowing into the bottom two. This will allow 160 gallons of stored rain water.

The entire structure will be enclosed with an attractive lattice surround to improve the aesthetics of that section of the yard as well.

Immediately to the south of the new water storage area will be a small firewood storage bin for the scrap wood we collect and occasionally burn in the fire pit. South of that the area left will be restored to garden space, now claimed by my wife to extend her planting area.

Green House Upgrade

The green house though handy for a few transplants has been very underutilized. I plan to upgrade it by bringing electrical power to it. It will then become my primary starting area. I can add grow lights for early season starts. I can add a ventilation system to make it more usable in warmer weather. I may even experiment with some hydroponic gardening in there. It makes the mind spin!

There is a summary of the improvements for 2015. It is less ambitious then many of my past projects but it will certainly keep me busy. Additional ideas will come, they always do. But then that is half the fun of gardening.

I will keep you posted on progress on these projects complete with before/after photos.

Happy Gardening.