Monday, February 18, 2013

32 outside/ 80 inside

I did a bit more to insulate over the weekend.  I now have 2 full layers of greenhouse film separated by 4".  One is stapled to outside of 2x4 frame and the other layer stapled to the inside.  All seams are fully taped on the outside, but I have yet to tape the seams on the inside layer.

I also finished the Reflectix bubble layer on the north side.  There are still some odds and ends to fix for air-tighness:  the door does not seal well as I need to plane down one side, the greenhouse fan needs to come out and that area needs glazing, and the bottom of the base wall will be sealed with the addition of flower beds.

Today was one of those days without a cloud in the sky.  The temperature never got above freezing, but at 1:30, after 5 hours of full sun, the greenhouse is 80 degrees.  I am quite pleased.

In order to provide better data on the temps, I will need some better equipment that I can make graphs from.  I would also like to start measuring the pond temperature to see how it fluctuates during the day.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Starting the indoor plant beds

I am impressed that I thought of this.  At $26 each, it is a relatively cheap plan for building the raised beds.  I have been working this out in my head since the beginning.  I have considered retaining wall stones, wood, old tires and finally settled on 24"H galvanized window wells.  These should be easy to install and durable.  I bought 2 to check the fit and to see if I like them, and I am quite happy.  Now I need 7 more and quick.  Planting time is upon us!

Update on the pond filter

So far, my filter has not successfully cleared up the green tint in the water at all.  As it gets warmer, I will add  fish and plants to encourage a balanced ecosystem.

The good news is that the filter has not clogged or failed in any way.  It works the same as the day I built it, so the design is physically functional.  Biologically not so much.  I will add some more bio media (scouring pads to encourage the growth of bacteria.

Any suggestions would be great!!!

Update on greenhouse plant experiments

First, the peppers have died.  They did fine when the lows were in the 20's, but when it got down to the single digits they froze.  The small ficus in the yellow pot died too.

The parsnips, as you can see, are doing great! The parsnip roots are about 1/2" diameter and new stems are popping up every couple of weeks.  Everything else (beets, onions, carrots, lettuce, sorrel) are overwintering OK but are not growing any larger.

The garlic cloves I planted a few weeks ago are starting to sprout and grow quickly!  I am excited to see what they do this spring.

My experience with fluorescent lights

As you may have read, I have been starting certain seeds in my basement for the past several years. This idea is strange to many people when they find out that tube lights can actually raise plants better than a sunny window.  Regular old shop lights can provide the amount of light necessary for short, sturdy plants that transplant well.

I have used both the T12 (1.5" dia. tubes) and the smaller T8 (1" dia.) lights to raise seedlings in late winter and early spring. The way I understand it, T12 means 12/8 inch and T8 means 8/8", which is a good way to tell the difference.

They both seem to work about the same, but a 32W T8 is cheaper than a 32W T12.  The T8s are also supposed to use less energy, but I don't see how that is.  32 watts is 32 watts, but the ballast might be more efficient, who knows.  Internetters have also claimed that T8s are slightly brighter than T12s of the same wattage.  Again, who really knows.

I raise my lettuces, tomatoes, and peppers from seeds in my basement, keeping the bulbs about an inch away from the leaves.  Touching the lamps will burn the plants. I use the chains hung on nails that can be adjusted up and down as needed.

I have tried many other plants with varied success, but lettuce, tomatoes and peppers are the only crops that I can say definitely benefit from the extended season.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Starting seeds in the basement

I don't use seed starting mix.  I never saw the need for it.  Just a bag of potting soil and a bag of perlite means more nutrients, water retention and strength.
I mix it in a container that is 3-4 times the size of the mix.
I have tried just the flats filled with dirt, but separating the plants is difficult and annoying. The Jiffy 6x12 cells work well.

As soon as the plants germinate, I drop the lights down to about an inch above the plants.  Just plain old shop lights on a timer to run about 18 hours a day. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Some HOT peppers

A friend just gave me the Carolina Reaper.  This is the supposedly to be the new Guinness winner for hottest pepper.  I grew the habanero Red Savina about 10 years ago then promptly swore off super hot peppers. The Red Savina was the record holder for more than a decade, but since then several peppers have passed it, and the Reaper is supposed to be 4X as hot with somewhere around 1.5 million Scoville units!  My head is sweating just thinking about it.