Monthly Archives: December 2009
Elkstone has seen lots of action in the past week…our circulation fans are installed and seem to be working well. They are mounted tilted down, so standing in front of them, I can feel the warm air blowing down on me. It seems to be helping with keeping the temperature up; we had reports of -20 from around town last week, but inside the temp was around 50 in the mornings. During the few sunny days we had, the greenhouse warmed up to 70. The circulation fans are not “hard wired” yet; there are extension cords running from them. Rob O. said he will try to return and do that soon.
The climate battery is now controlled by thermostat. These fans come on for warming at a dropping temp of 55, are off when the interior is between 55 and 75, and come on again for cooling at 75 degrees and above. We can adjust these temps, but need to keep that “off” time between the two thermostats.
The west doors have been painted, and reinstalled. We still are using the blue foam board for insulation, though, as we do not have any weather stripping in there yet…when I removed the blue board to take these photos, there was ice inside again.
As for plants, I have removed most of the basil, a few more tomatoes, a few peppers, and the eggplants from the bed West of Water Tank (we need a new name for that one). It’s just too chilly in here for these hot season annuals. We still have 15 tomato plants that seem to be holding on; these are mostly cherry or pears, and Stupice. There’s lots of fruit, just slow to ripen, probably due to all the cloud cover we’ve had as well as the cold.
Our winter seedlings are starting to pop up now. So far, the sunflowers, broccoli, and thyme have sprouted. The new heat mat is helping; most seeds need around 70 degrees to germinate, and we’re dropping down to about 45 at night, according to our new min/max thermometer. Other than greens, we haven’t seen any of the direct-sown seeds pop up, so the seedling trays on the heat mats will be the best method of starting new crops, in winter, at least.
Our perennials are doing fine. Growth has slowed or ceased, but that’s not surprising…have I mentioned that it’s been really cold here?
I have ordered some beneficial insects from M & R Durango. I’d like to get a population going in the greenhouse. These bugs will arrive before we set out our winter crops, so we’ll have any pests under control.
There are elk droppings in the driveway…hopefully we’ll get a little more snow to cover the agri-forest shrubs soon.
If November was chilly, December has been downright cold. On Friday morning, the temperature outside was 0 degrees at 8:45; inside was a cool 40. The heaters surely had kicked on, but did not seem to heat significantly. We had some icy annuals on the southside; the greens by the vent were frosty, as were some basil and peppers. Luckily, no major losses- all perennials are hanging on.
This week we removed the cucumbers from the western cuke bed. They were very productive for close to 3 months, but had become tired, pale, and spotty. The thrips had moved back in; it was time for them to go. We also removed some tomatoes that seemed to be affected by a fungus wilt. At Jeannie’s suggestion, we pulled out the roots with the plants and hung them (from the strawberry trellis- coming in useful!) upside down to ripen. With lots of green fruit on the vine, we have seen a few ripen this way. Interestingly, it’s the yellow Valencia variety which seems more suceptible to this wilt, which is unfortunate, being my favorite tomato. Could also be because they were in shadier locations.
I have been amending our soil with the composted sheep manure that Deano delivered. Luckily, the ground is frozen, but with little snow I can still access the pile. I reworked the western cuke bed to ready it for broccoli. I think lower growing plants are a must on the south side- we’re seeing significant shading by our tomato “trees”.
We placed orders this week as well. Along with some greenhouse/growing supplies, we have ordered winter seeds: beets, broccoli, herbs, more greens. I have direct-sown some peas and beans, as well as nasturtiums & California Poppy, & cilantro. I’m interested to see what the difference in germination rates will be between direct-sow, and seedling transplants.
Deano has said he will try to bring gravel for our path to the shed while the ground is frozen but uncovered by snow. It would be nice to have this in when the snow melts next spring.
With sub-zero night temperatures, the greenhouse has been a bit too cool. On Friday morning, I discovered ice inside. Mostly, it was from the irrigation sprayers, just a surface coating, but a few plants did actually freeze. We lost a nasturtium, and I cut back some basil…we’ll see if it rebounds.
Jeannie and I made this plastic second entryway on the east door. We have blocked off the west doors with “blue board” insulation sheets until we get weather stripping in them. Not pretty, but effective!
Here is our new seedling shelf. We can adjust and add more shelves to it. We put plastic over it to trap heat and moisture for the seedlings. I’m trying it out with some sunflowers seeds. Sunflowers in winter!