If you’ve been following me on Instagram or Facebook, you know that I moved this summer. Yep that’s right, this main-lander moved ocean side – and is loving it. Whenever I think about moving back to the mainland that Taylor Swift song – we are never getting back together – plays through my head. That’s right I love it here and I’m never going back.
Honestly I can’t say enough about this place, it’s a tiny (like population 300 tiny) village on the west coast of Vancouver Island. I’m at the heart of the Nootka Sound and I it’s exactly what I needed.
I however digress, we’re here today to discuss the greenhouse. I was so excited when I discovered that the house had one. Sadly, the previous tenants basically just let it go to seed, so it needed a bit of work and the soil would benefit greatly from some compost – but other than that it’s the best first greenhouse a girl could ask for.
With all the moving and everything else going on in my life; I didn’t get a chance to put anything up for winter storage. So all I have for winter is what I put up last year. And I can’t express how thankful I am right now to have canned so many tomatoes.
I’m also learning a new climate as I moved from a zone 8 – 9 to a zone 3 – 4. It’s very different – no snow kind of different (insert happy dance). So I’ve got a longer growing season with milder temperatures, only it’s cloudy… everyone I talk to tells me that it gets dark and cloudy, with very little sunshine. So I’m not sure what will grow over winter. Most of the locals just put their beds to sleep, and pick them back up in the spring. The few I’ve met that actually try to grow anything over winter do so in their greenhouses with lights – I don’t have a light in mine – because of this, I’m trying to plant mostly root type vegetables.
So I pulled up the seed sowing calculator that I got from Reformation Acres and went online to find out what the first frost date was expected to be for my area. November 25th. Seriously people I love this thing; if you don’t have one, head over there right now to download yours – it’s OK I’ll wait.
Are you back? Great!
I looked up the first and last frost dates, entered them into the calculator and proceeded to run down the “Fall Sowing Date” column to find out what plants I could reasonably expect to grow in my climate. Peas, Radishes, and Spinach. I’m not a fan of Radishes but the other two went on my list of things to plant. Only problem, I wanted more than just peas and spinach. Give me some root vegetables. Something more than just peas and spinach.
But then, remember I’m planting in the greenhouse. That’s got to count for something right? Ya OK, it’s not heated and other than the sun – which everyone claimes doesn’t show it’s face much during the winter months – but it’s still a greenhouse and bound to be at least a bit warmer than just being outside… right? So I went back to the calculator and looked for anything in September and came back with; Beets, Greens, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce, Seed Onions, Shallots and Turnips. Combined with the peas and spinach, that’s a much better list and I pretty much like everything on it.
Only problem, I’m broke and live 3 hours away from the closest store that might sell seeds. So I’m stuck with the seeds I already have that are on the list. I’d ordered seeds last spring, but with the upheaval of my life I never got around to planting them. I’m hoping for the best.
I tend to order my seeds from Stokes (I’ve included a link to their site for you’re convenience, I am not in any way affiliated with them) as I’m one of those people that take a long time to decide which seed to choose.
Have you seen how many varieties of carrots there are to choose from… I mean come on people, I’m used to grocery stores. You know, where you choose from the baby, single, 2 pound bag, or 5 pound bag. I had no idea there was so much to know about carrots… and don’t even get me started on sweetness levels. The first time I ordered from them, it took me a day just to decide what variety of each to buy. No kidding, a full day!
And to top it all off, I didn’t write down what I bought nor did I save the seed packages. If it wasn’t for the fact that I had emails someone the information on my peas, I wouldn’t know what kind I had ordered – tender sweet. Believe me when I tell you, that particular seed is amazing. If you like to snack on them while you garden and hide all the evidence.. just make sure you don’t tell anyone, cuz you wont want to share. 😉
So I pulled out my seeds and discovered that out of everything on my list, I have PEAS, PARSNIPS, & BEETS. Yep that’s it. Three out of the ten things I can plant. I’d hoped for more, but three is better than none.
I headed out to the greenhouse and proceeded to pull up the weeds that had taken over and discovered jars of things best left forgotten. I made the mistake of opening one of them and wanted to puke. The smell was that bad.
After pulling everything out, I realized that the soil isn’t that great. I’d anticipated that it wouldn’t be in the best of shape – after all it had been a couple of years since someone cared enough to use the greenhouse – but I’d at least assumed that it had started out in decent shape. It reminds me of garden soil mixed with way too much peat moss. Organic material is desperately needed. I had one bag of manure in the back of the truck, but there was no way it was going to be enough. But hey, we have to push forward.
Upon discovering the condition of the soil, I decided to focus on the front section of the greenhouse. There was enough room to do a 24”x 24” square of both beets and parsnips. With a 4” strip along the back of them for peas. A small enough space that I could at the very least spread what I had for soil amendment over the top, while minimizing my losses should nothing grow.
I’ve decided to just dedicate the middle section to compost – as I don’t currently have one here that is easily accessible. I’ll just empty the contents of the bucket directly onto the soil and dig it in. It might not be much use this year, but down the road I’ll be glad I did it.
The back section will be for an onion experiment I recently saw on Pinterest. Re-growing onions from kitchen scraps. The plan is to continue buying onions as I need them and just plant the bottom portion. If it works, I should be able to just keep planting the bottoms to always have enough onions. I just have to get there… I’ll keep you updated. So far I’ve only got two bottoms, and I haven’t planted them yet – you’re supposed to let them dry out for a couple of days.
I may end up planting lettuce or spinach in with the onions, but at this point I want to see if the other stuff will grow first.
So that’s the greenhouse. I’ll work on keeping you updated on it’s progress, and I’d love any comments and suggestions you might have.
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