Tag Archives: tomato

Why are there grow lights in my basement?

3 Apr

Ah, gardening in Seattle, that fun time of year when you have to plant in pots in your basement with an array of grow lights. Look in my basement window, and it looks like a mini marijuana growing operation. But alas, it’s just tomatoes, peppers (sweet and hot), and basil. Those are the things I like to grow that you can’t plant outside in Seattle until May.

So, I ask you, sun gold cherry tomatoes, please pretend that the five, slightly blue bulbs shining down at you 24 hours a day are the sun, and sprout upward with gusto. I need you to leap out of the ground and be strong enough for me to put in a greenhouse while I leave on spring break for vacation in a couple of weeks. Can you do it?

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Covered wagon or greenhouse?

27 Feb

Rather than  buy starts, last year I built a greenhouse so I could sprout my own tomatoes, peppers, and basil. Calling it a greenhouse is being generous. I used some scrap two-by-fours to frame out a low-slung frame that’s eight feet long, four feet wide and three feet tall – or something like that. The only complicated part was to build and mount a door. Then I stretched plastic over it all, and voila, I had greenhouse.

It worked great – I wasn’t sure how it would perform, and I actually ended up with too many cherry tomatoes, lots of peppers, and even some of the finicky basil that I had never been able to start on my own before.

After I was done with it, I parked the greenhouse in the hidden area on the north side of my house and thought vaguely that I needed to do something about the roof. (Every time it rained, the water pooled heavily on the roof, which caused it to sag and sag some more each time it rained). I promptly forgot about the plastic-wrapped wonder until recently, when I started thinking about dragging it out so I can get some new starts going. When I went back to take a look, sure enough it was filled with water and rotting leaves. Yuck.

Seeing some of the PVC-like plastic pipes some people use to tent over their raised beds, I came up with the idea of popping out the top of my greenhouse with some PVC pipes. I just needed to figure out how to secure the pipe ends without tearing the plastic. I went to the hardware store, looked around, and decided 45-degree PVC elbows would likely do the trick. So I bought two 10-foot lengths of 3/4 inch PVC and six elbows, plus some basic brackets to hold the elbows in place.

From there, I estimated how long a piece I thought I would need by wedging a piece of PVC into the roof and seeing how far I could wedge in. I quickly made a mark, cut the pipe down to size, screwed the brackets over the elbows, and wedged the PVC pipe in one elbow, bent the middle of the pipe up until I could slip the other end into the elbow on the other side, and I was done. I did that twice more, and I suddenly had a pop-up roof and a greenhouse that looks just like a covered wagon.

Now it’s time to move it to the sunny side of the yard and see how warm it stays at night.

Really, Do I Have to Eat Greens to Get Better?

25 Feb

Natalie was really sick yesterday so I stayed home and made her garden soup for lunch – the surest way to get anyone better. First I went out and picked big piles of overwintering chard and spinach. I sliced the stems out of the chard and fried those up first with some pressed garlic. Then I added both piles of greens and stewed them down. Thanks to the garlic, the greens started to waft deliciousness right away. On the side, I was heating up some premade tomato soup. Just as it got hot, I dropped the stewed greens into two bowls and then poured the hot soup over the top. On the side, I melted cheese on corn tortillas and sprinkled more garlic on top (you can’t have enough garlic when you get sick). Natalie is feeling much better today. Not sure if the soup did it, but…

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