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Help me build a little greenhouse in your soul
May 29, 2012 9:09 AM   Subscribe

Please help me make the most out of my tiny new greenhouse. Tips on growing, stretching the seasons, maintenance, record-keeping and other garden matters are welcome.

[Caveats: Yes, I have seen this 2007 previously on greenhouses, but I'd like to hear more about apps/new books/sites, if possible. I have Eliot Coleman books on the way from the library, and a friend is an Extension Service Master Gardener, so I am aware of those resources.]

At last, and very late in the winter, I got my greenhouse up and running, and was able to start some Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, kale and sunflowers. At this point, all seedlings are in the ground (or are about to be) and my greenhouse shelves are bare.

Given that I prefer to grow vegetables and herbs rather than flowers*, and that things are really heating up in Zone 6a, what should I be starting now? Are there great gardening apps (books, websites) out there that help track seed starting? When I do remember to write down what I started, it's usually on a banged-up calendar in the greenhouse. I'm pretty much a noob at starting things from seed, but have had success with my limited experiments. Are there fora out these dedicated to greenhouse use and care? How hot is too hot for starting seedlings in a greenhouse? Should I take the seed starter soil out for any reason?

* Of course, if you have suggestions for flowers that serve a purpose, like insect or animal deterrents, I'd be happy for those suggestions too. Right now my son's Venus flytrap is doing quite well in there, but again, how hot is too hot?
posted by MonkeyToes to Home & Garden (2 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I only grow carnivorous plants (many outside, some in a greenhouse) so I can only answer your question about how hot is too hot for a Venus Flytrap. The VFT is native to a swamp that borders North and South Carolina, it can tolerate up to ~110°F so long as the surrounding humidity is high and its soil does not dry out. The easy way to address both of those two conditions is to set the VFT in a tray of demineralized water so at least half the height of the pot is submerged. For most variants, the brighter the light, the redder the traps will become. New growth will burn in direct sunlight so I like to group VFTs at the base of taller plants or hang a bit of white muslin between it and the sun (whitewashing any nearby clear panes of the greenhouse works too). Note that your VFT will appear to die off in late fall, when that happens let the water level drop in its tray down to a quarter inch and wait until spring when the plant comes back out of dormancy.

A lone VFT is not terribly effective at insect control as it only eats a few bugs of a specific size for the duration of its growing season, butterworts and sundews are much better at it and actually work great at aphid control. Neither are as heat tolerant as the VFT so keep them on the lower shelves (especially the Pings, most species of which dislike heat all together).
posted by jamaro at 10:59 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Take a look at Hobby Farms magazine and its sister publications, especially "Urban Farms." The magazine has lots of practical farming/gardening information including stuff on tools, blogs and just generally really helpful info. You don't have to be a 'real' farmer. Here's a search on the site for gardening journals that might prove handy.
posted by shoesietart at 11:35 AM on May 29, 2012

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