Ready-Made Greenhouse For Under $10
Blog: The Daily Dog Walk
April 8, 2011
Being a plant enthusiast, I have taken an interest in heirloom vegetables and other edibles as well as our native plants. Right now I'm still trying to get my garden cleaned out and tilled for this year, and am planting a few varieties of seeds indoors. A couple weeks ago I planted peppers, which have sprouted and put on their first real leaves, and today I planted tomatoes. Though I probably should have started them a couple weeks ago, late is better than never.
Using clear plastic bins (66 qt) available at any store, I put seeded, soil filled pots in. They have to be clear storage bins, as well as the lid so that sunlight can get to the plants inside. Follow the directions on the seed packet to plant the seeds. Then water is poured into the bottom of the bin so the water is absorbed through the bottom of the pots. The bin is then left with the lid on (to keep it humid) a week or two in bright area in the house- that doesn't have direct sunlight though- otherwise it can get too hot inside the bin.
After the plants germinate, I put the bins in a sunny area in the house- without the lid on in direct sunlight, and close the lid at night- until the weather is warmer outside during the day. Then I start placing the bins outside with the lid 1/2 on or off- depending on the weather. The benefit to taking them outdoors in a controlled environment is that they get much more sunlight than they might inside the house. This makes the seedlings stronger and less "leggy".
The one thing you really have to watch for is leaving the lid on in direct sunlight- as I have found out through personal experience- you can cook all your plants in less than an hour.
I find that using a bin helps when the seeds are germinating by providing a humid environment, and taking the little seedlings outside with the tall sides of the bin really helps to keep the seedlings from getting windblown- while still providing them with enough sunlight, and the chance to be accustomed to our climate much more so than seedlings raised in large greenhouses. The tomato starts I grew this way last year- shown in the photos- had thicker stems and looked healthier than the ones for sale at the stores.
Before planting in the garden I left the plants outside overnight for a week- just in trays protected by the wind- to totally harden off. Last year I planted tomatoes and peppers around May 1st. Though it is getting late to start these veggies indoors- especially the peppers, you can still get a head-start on watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers, pumpkins, and some other veggies too.
There are twenty 3 1/2" pots that will fit into a 66 quart bin, which is adequate for a small garden- after all it is possible to have too many tomatoes! You can use a smaller storage bin if you want less plants, but make sure the sides are high enough to block the wind and let the plants grow tall.
-Remember to water the plants, bottom watering works best. Just pour water between a space in the pots to the bottom of the bin and let the plants absorb it from the bottom
-Don't leave the lid fully closed in direct sunlight
-Don't leave the plants out overnight when it is still cold
-Watch out for early spring gales and hail storms, as these can also flatten your plants if left outside with the lid off the bin
I enjoy growing all kinds of things- this year I'm trying a number of Russian heirlooms that I hope will do well in our shorter growing season. There are many heirlooms that don't keep well on supermarket shelves, but are marvelous tasting. My favorite seed company is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and I would encourage anyone who is into gardening to check out their website at http://rareseeds.com. Their seed catalog is also a thing a beauty within itself.