The greenhouse in high summer

Mamma mia! Look at them tall ‘maters! Also, onions drying on a screen lower left

Mid July: It’s time for another greenhouse post, I think. Daily temperatures get to about 110*, lows 75*.

Well. I harvested the last of the garlic about a week after I posted about the other garlic, and I said there was no rush. Well, I was mistaken. These heads were huge: each one between the size of a peach and a large apple. Wow. Everything grows better in the greenhouse is my lesson. I planted these around January 1st.

The June picture of the last greenhouse update shows the little tomato plants. I always have luck with big fruited tomatoes, not that I am really trying. Did you know that monsters like the one I grew last year that was over 3 pounds is actually the product of the merging of two or three blossoms? That’s what those freaks I mean determined growers are going for: size, to them, does matter. Anyway, look at the height of the Brandywine tomatoes (back right in the picture above). That’s pushing eight feet, with no sign of stopping. They’ll top out and burn once they hit the plastic, though. They’re fruiting well in there too. I expect to start harvesting the indeterminate tomatoes around the first of August.

My prolific early tomatoes are Bellstar Paste. I think the last time I grew determinate tomatoes (they grow to a certain point, fruit, then die) I was a Chicagoan with a back deck. In other words, it was a long time ago. I am growing them again! Little staking, then lots of crazy fruit. Good. They’ll get pulled much more quickly than the indeterminate ones to make room for lots of fall plantings.

Looking back from the big tomatoes to the door: first two beds are peppers, then eggplant and herbs, then the determinate tomatoes at the front

The peppers and eggplants likewise are doing well. I needed to stake some of the peppers: they are so laden they want to fall over. I am growing lots of paprika peppers (Hungarian peppers) this year, as I cleaned out my paprika stash this spring. (You grow them, you seed and dry them, you grind them up in a mortar. Easy peasy.) We’re not big hot pepper eaters here, but we do grow a lot of bells and Italian sweet peppers. The eggplants are slow, but they are always slow to get going. I plan to pull the Hungarian peppers first.

Yep, that’s kind of the shuffle you get into if you get a greenhouse. Grow, then get out. It’s a completely different way of considering dirt, I will tell you. That soil in that greenhouse is precious stuff! What I will do before sowing the new crops is add some compost and dried grass, stir things up a bit, then plant seeds or transplant seedlings. That’s also a lot different than the way I treat my clay garden soil. I am into layering out there, and respect the soil critters as much as I can. In the greenhouse, well, it’s not that they don’t have my respect (they do), it’s just that I have a different agenda.

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13 responses to “The greenhouse in high summer

  1. Lately I have been daydreaming of a greenhouse like yours and all the stuff I’d stick in it.

    How do you get pollinators inside? Do you do something to attract them, or do they just sort of find their way?

  2. Hiya Meg. Well, you pick plants that don’t need pollinators, or you pick things that aren’t fruiting (all lettuce, most root crops). Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant are perfect, meaning they self-pollinate. You can grow what they call English or hothouse cucumbers in there. Without a bug pollinating them, they don’t produce seed. But you know what? Bugs do get in there. I have deer netting covering up the door, vent and side vent (3/4″ square holes) and yes some flies and bees are readily seen. No cabbage butterflies though!

  3. Oh yeah! Well, I suppose that makes sense.

  4. Ah, yes, I just noticed the side vent.
    Quite the little Biosphere you’ve created, El.

  5. I was wondering if you know any good books that describe cold climate, winter gardenning. I like your greenhouse, it does not look like it costs a fortune. I am just wondering what kind of soil temps I would expect, what kind of plants I could grow in the winter and how early I could plant things like tomatoes and peppers? I would especially like to have a longer harvest of cauliflower and broccoli and lettuces. I live in Southern MN, zone 4. I have space for it next to a hedge of honeysuckle bushes, so that should protect it some from the North and West winds. I also have a 24×24 garage that I could tear off the siding and leave the framing, tear out the concrete floor (it is bad anyways) and possibly turn that into a greenhouse, but I think the expense would be a lot more even though the framing is all done. I have been looking online and I have not come across anything yet.

  6. Meg: I swear one of my biggest faults is overthinking things. It’s not always helpful in gardening!

    CC: And yes, I would love to live in there, at least in winter!

    Amber: Almost everything I learned about cold-season gardening comes from Eliot Coleman’s book Four-Season Harvest. I got it when I lived in Minnesota and had been dreaming about having one for years. With a layer of Reemay on top of the beds, it adds a zone and a half to your growing conditions, so your Zone 4A will become a Zone 6B. Not bad! I got my greenhouse kit from Grower’s Solution. Including all the lumber and shipping, it came to under $1000. It’s 16′ wide by 20′ long and about 9′ high at the center.

  7. I’d venture to guess that it’s the good combination of raised beds and the tunnel that create such growing conditions. 😉

    I planted paprika peppers for the first time this year, and I’m quite excited. I also have some Thai chili which is in desperate need of weeding.

  8. I to am dreaming of a greenhouse..but what was the difficulty level in the assembly and start 🙂

  9. Danielle, I love my raised beds. It keeps that nasty rhizomatous grass out. Plus it makes my work seem so…finite. That’s probably hard to believe but I can kid myself into saying “I only need to weed these three beds” or whatever my cutoff is at the time.

    Hello Laura. The assembly of the hoops took about 2 hours (putting them together then erecting them). What took me the longest time was digging a ditch all the way around and burying metal fencing to keep the voles out. I won’t be doing that step with the new one. What I can say is if you are mildly handy with a drill and a hammer, this is fairly easy to do. It is a two-person job though especially putting the plastic over it.

  10. The greenhouse looks outstanding El — what a great job you have done and the season is far from over! 🙂

  11. What size should I pick my Hungarian yellow peppers ?
    Thanks,
    Kevin

  12. What size should I pick my yellow Hugarian peppers ?
    Kevin

  13. Hi Kevin. I let mine get reddish (actually dark orange) and the biggest ones are about 6-7″ long, but most of them are only about 5″ long. Hope that helps!

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