April 5, 2007

At long last, the greenhouse is functioning. Sort of, mostly. There are 5 trays of seeds in there with a lot more to follow….even that small number represents a lot of work. 48 pots to a tray, 50 trays. Every single pot needs washing in soapy water with bleach. I make my own seed mix, peat moss and compost and perlite. All the ingredients get poured into a large trash can and the I try to mix it up with a shovel….it’s very heavy. Perlite is a volcanic product that poofs everywhere and has all the charms of fiberglass….just lovely. But after 5 days, I already have germination of my seeds. Two flats of tomatoes, with two seeds per pot……..a truly imposing amount of potential plants. What does anyone do with 200 tomatoes, after last year’s experience with about 60?? A flat and a half of peppers, eggplants…..those are the critical ones to get started early. Hopefully a month from now I’ll have some good-looking little plants to transplant.

 The rapid germination occurred because the greenhouse can get to over 100 degrees on days that are only 73 degrees outside….instant summer. I wasn’t sure I could achieve germination because usually these seeds, especially the eggplants, want 75+ degrees for the soil temperature. But I guess it is warm enough in there to fool them, even though nighttime temps are the same as what’s outside after several hours of cooling. We are filling large barrels from Drew with water to act as a passive heating system; the water heats during the day and releases its heat rather slowly at night. It’s cheaper than propane…….

I am finding that a greenhouse isn’t a building so much as a tool which needs active attention. The structure needs a lot of monitoring; vents and doors are opened and closed to regulate the heat. There are ventilation fans installed but the thermostats aren’t hooked up yet. Unfortunately, we should have been at this stage 8 weeks ago; I can’t wait any longer to start summer vegetables, so it will be extra duties until all the bells and whistles are working. All in all, Ken did one fantastic job on the structure, and he can pretty much brag that he did it himself. And he can keep bragging as it becomes more and more functional….

We have a new addition, a little white blue-eyed kitten that came by the light of the full moon. "Luna" has so far demurely destroyed two screen windows, a cat carrier, and the psychological well-being of our male cats. She is the sweetest thing to us humans, and the moment she sees any of the other cats she turns in to the Psycho Bitch from Hell. It’s better than TV…. the cats will work it out, they always do. She had her spay operation yesterday and seems to be very uncomfortable. She was already pregnant. She only weighs about 5 pounds, if that, and at the roughly 6 montsh old she seems to be, I think having kittens would have been disastrous for her. So, another stray cat got lucky. Here’s hoping she avoids predators and has a long and enjoyable life hunting rodents.

Every day something new is blooming. Clematis, wisteria, sweet peas, roses…it’s a lovely time of year.

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