Thursday, January 26, 2012

Get Your Greenhouse Ready!

I'm itching to get in the dirt!  Good news we have a greenhouse.  Bad news is, it needs to be cleaned.

Unfortunately our greenhouse has a tendency to build up stuff over the summer.  We "stick" stuff in there promising to get it "later".  Later has come and I need to get the tarps and pots out and get ready!

Getting ready for greenhouse use:
  1. Remove everything possible.  By getting everything out of there I can see what need to be done and have room to do it!
  2. Weed the floor. If you have nothing but dirt, consider weeding it and putting down GOOD weed block. You can cover it with gravel.  I like the medium round rock as it is easy to weed and never compacts making weed removal easy. It's also barefoot friendly.  I like to be barefoot as much as possible.
  3. Take old soil from seed bench.  Removing old soil gets rid of any pathogens.  Ours is plastic lined and I will be washing with bleach water to sterilize the tray. See how to build a heated seed box.
  4. Begin sifting soil.  We built a really nice soil box last year for screening our soil and making our own blend of potting mix.  I highly recommend screening soil.  Getting the box filled with screened soil mix makes it easy to fill trays quickly.
  5. Create transplant area. Last year we had a little table with two chairs just across from the heated seed box where we start a lot of our seeds.  I noticed that a lot of soil fell to the floor.  I want to put down a tarp this year under the table.  The more soil that fall down into the gravel the more places for weeds to live.  I want to keep the floor free of dirt as much as possible for the longevity of the greenhouse.
  6. Sterilize seed trays. Dip all your tray packs and pots in a water bleach solution to kill pathogens and fungus.  You want to start as clean as possible in the greenhouse.  Fungus is your enemy in this prime environment!
  7. Fill sterilized trays with soil for direct seedings.  As soon as the temp permits we will begin sowing some seeds directly, like squashes, into tray packs.  Having the soil in the trays beforehand--but not too early (leaving soil in trays too long could allow fungus spores to land!)--makes me ready to just come in and plant.
  8. Create a schedule for planting. Having a schedule for starts in relationship to their days to maturity, greenhouse time and when they can go out is imperative.  When you have 30 things headed out at different times with different germination rates and days to maturity, you need to be able to look at a schedule and get it out of your head.  Very few of us can pull off something like multiple plantings and their needs without something to reference.
  9. Get a journal in place with pen attached. Keeping notes is a must.  Make notes about where you got your seed (you can even just glue seed packet on the page), it's germination rate, and any notes about stresses you potentially create to determine the viability of the seeds.  Maybe they all sprouted and then you stressed the heck out of them so yields were down.  Trust me, you won't remember the whys next year!
  10. Get any needed materials. Buy your seeds.  Get new containers if needed.  Pick up soils. You can now order our seeds.
  11. Reorganize and refine storage.  Think about flow and what worked the year before.  Get your supplies organized so that life in the greenhouse is a joy. Disorganization is a bummer.
Taking these steps will help you to enjoy your time in the greenhouse and get a lot done!

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