Saturday, January 30, 2010

Violas and starting seeds

We've got several violas blooming in the solarium. We started these as seedlings a few months ago and they are one of the few plants that were able to grow well with the low light conditions of a Montana winter. Next winter I think I'm going to hang some pots of violas and force some flowering bulbs as well.

We started a few seeds this week. This is probably a bit crazy considering its January 30 and our last frost date is around June 1. However, we're going to get them going inside the heated part of our house under florescent bulbs. Once they are tolerant of a bit more cold, we can move the seedlings out into the solarium to get some real sun and harden up a bit. Once the seedlings outgrow that, we will move some things into the greenhouse to stay, and some to wait in beds for the threat of frost to leave. That, or we'll have our raised beds with hoops/plastic up and can plant the seedlings outside. We started some leeks, sweet peas (I love those), onions, shallots, tomatoes, and peppers. We are planning to grow half of our tomatoes and peppers this year in the greenhouse to see just how far we can extend our growing season. We may also pot up a couple plants to put in the solarium. We'll plant some more seeds again in 4-8 weeks when everyone else conventionally gets started just to hedge our bets in case our experiment doesn't work.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Spring in the Solarium

Spring has arrived in our solarium. All of our citrus trees started showing new growth and flower buds within the last couple days. Above is the meyer lemon and below is our indio mandarinquat.

Below is the bearrs seedless lime showing some new growth and buds. I wasn't sure that the citrus trees would make it in the solarium as it regularly gets down to about 40 degrees during the winter, but it looks like they will pull through.

We are trying to think of ways to most efficiently utilize space in our greenhouse for this spring and next winter. I think that we could grow lettuce and force some greens in here fairly easily. The light is excellent, we just need some more pots.

Currently, we have the three citrus trees, some trays of little seedlings and several pots/planter boxes with herbs and some other things just for fun. I was playing around with starting some seedlings so ended up planting chard, beets and carrots in some of the planters.

We recently had to "harvest" the carrots as they were blocking light from some of the herbs. Below is a picture of that harvest, I think that all of the carrots we picked maybe added up to one smallish baby carrot.

Below is a picture from a few weeks ago of the greenhouse. Temperatures have regularly been at about 32 in the greenhouse on our colder nights (-15). We finally threw in the towel for growing food in there this winter. We were able to keep our little plants alive, but with less than ideal light in some areas and the temperatures, by the time we could harvest anything we'd be needing the space to get a head start on spring. I think that next year we will probably transplant some larger plants in to the greenhouse from outside (lettuces and things like that) as well as starting some plants in the greenhouse earlier in the summer. We moved into our home on September 25 and sowed seeds in the greenhouse on the 27th. At a minimum, I think that 4 weeks earlier would have given us a much better chance of keeping some things alive over the winter.

Finally, a picture of myself, Jeff and the puppies with our new Montana friends. We've been having fun playing in the snow, but are getting excited about spring being around the corner! We are hoping to place our order for seeds in the next few weeks.