The Greenhouse in Early May

It’s been a while since I gave a tour of the greenhouse, either virtually or in person. It’s a busy place this time of year, and I am out there several times each day watering seedlings and doing various potting chores. However, at the moment it’s so crowded I can barely find room to move around in there!

the greenhouse in May

the greenhouse in May

The shelves and benches are full of plants right about now. I’m shuffling tomatoes out during the day to harden them off, then they go back inside at night. I’m hoping to start planting them out this week.

petunias and tomatoes hang out together on the shelf

petunias and tomatoes hang out together on the shelf

In addition I have two beds for growing vegetables and herbs, one 3×5 feet and the other 3×4 feet, which gives me 27 square feet of growing room. I’ve grown a variety of things in those beds over the last few years. This spring, I planted some Swiss chard, komatsuna and cilantro in the smaller of the beds. I’ve already harvested some of the cilantro and komatsuna, and the chard should be big enough to start cutting in a couple of weeks. I’m planning on letting the chard grow there all summer, if I can keep it going in the summer heat of the greenhouse environment. At least it will be safe from the deer in there!

bed with greens and cilantro

bed with greens and cilantro

I also have some earlier planted cilantro growing in a mini salad box that is sitting on the bench top. I try and plant little patches of cilantro periodically since it tends to bolt to flower so quickly. I use a lot of cilantro in the kitchen, and it is nice to go grab a handful whenever we need some. The handful in the below photo went into a black bean and rice dinner we had last night.

handful of cilantro

handful of cilantro

The larger bed was planted with cucumbers (Manny and Tasty Jade) about 10 days ago.  Cucumbers usually do well in the greenhouse this time of year, except for 2012 when it got too hot too fast and the cukes burned up in there. Since bees and other pollinators rarely venture into the greenhouse, I only grow parthenocarpic varieties that don’t need pollination. Manny and Tasty Jade have both done well there in the past. This bed also has a couple of lettuce plants ready for harvest and two overwintered parsley plants that I need to harvest and then pull up and replant.

young Tasty Jade cucumber plant

young Tasty Jade cucumber plant

For supporting the cucumbers, I’m using cages made of the same concrete remesh material I use to make tomato cages. The ones for the cukes are about 18″ in diameter, and were here when we bought the house. A previous owner no doubt used them for caging tomatoes, but they make a perfect support for the cucumbers. By the time the vines get to the top of the cages and start going crazy, most of the seedlings should be gone and the cukes can ramble around a bit without hurting anything. Commercial growers use a different trellising system for growing greenhouse cukes, but I’ve found that the cages work well for me with a minimum of effort. I’m not trying to maximize production, I’m just trying to get a few early cucumbers.

remesh cages will support the cucumbers

remesh cages will support the cucumbers

I’m doing a lot of potting and propagation this time of year. I have some peppermint starts I potted up that are going to the Impact Community Garden. I have quite a few mint varieties growing in containers outside, and one or more will be featured in an upcoming Saturday Spotlight. I will pot up the peppermint in a large container and take it to Impact later this week. I did the same thing with some spearmint last week. We thought it would be nice to have some mints down there for folks to harvest as they need them.

peppermint plant

peppermint plant

I had one Lemon Verbena plant that I overwintered in the basement under grow lights. Once it started new growth this spring I took some cuttings and rooted them in a perlite mix to make more plants. I’ve found it roots easily this time of year. Lemon Verbena is not at all frost hardy, but I will put a couple of plants in the ground and let them grow that way all summer and fall. I will harvest the leaves and dry them for tea next winter. I love Lemon Verbena in iced tea, and I usually add it to my green tea for additional flavor.

Lemon Verbena cutting with roots

Lemon Verbena cutting with roots

I’m also growing slips for Carla’s Purple sweet potato, and potting them up as soon as they are long enough to break off and root. I should have enough to share with a couple of people who have told me they would like to try them. Of course I am looking forward to trying this beauty myself!

Carla's Purple sweet potato plant

Carla’s Purple sweet potato plant

I hope you enjoyed the tour of the greenhouse. It is a great place to hangout this time of year for sure!

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6 Responses to The Greenhouse in Early May

  1. Daphne says:

    I’ve always wanted a small greenhouse. I was going to to put one in here. But the spot I picked out was where the builder put the air conditioners. It is good I didn’t build it because it is also the spot that the snow comes down like an avalanche from the solar panels. No where else in the yard is sunny enough in the winter for a greenhouse.
    Daphne recently posted…Harvest Monday, May 6th, 2013My Profile

  2. Jenny says:

    Your greenhouse plants look wonderful! Wish I could place on on our back yard, but for now have to keep them indoors.
    Jenny recently posted…First May weekend in the gardenMy Profile

  3. kitsapFG says:

    My little greenhouse is a bee hive of activity right now too. Yours has me beat though – you have so much going on in there! I have never tried to grow cucumbers in the greenhouse as I usually have my peppers in there during the summer months (as we never get really very warm around here they benefit from the heat). I should give that a try and see if it gives me a jump on the cucumber production.

  4. The greenhouse is definitely full! And with such a wide variety of plants. It all looks great.

  5. Michelle says:

    You have a really impressive operation going there. I really love seeing it all. I can get by without a greenhouse in my mild climate, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t covet one. it would make it possible to grow some things that are just a bit too marginal in the cool summer weather here, like chinense peppers. Thanks for the tour, it’s inspiring.
    Michelle recently posted…Harvest Monday – May 6, 2013My Profile

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