It has happened: There is a 9-foot-by-12-foot Julianna Junior greenhouse in the side yard at our house! I took a couple of late summer naps in it when it was raining, and it worked perfectly. It has a few leaks, but a little more caulk will fix that.

I chose the polycarbonate panels rather than the glass. It’s not as pretty, but it has better insulation qualities and it was less expensive. I did opt to purchase two automatic openers for roof vents, and I kept two manual vents.

I originally intended to put a cement base under it, but that would have cost more than the greenhouse itself. I also was warned against cement due to shifting, cracking and water-ponding issues.

So with the help of some friends, I had the site excavated to a depth of about 8 inches. Then, I had sand delivered and spread 2 inches over the site. A couple of inches of river rock went on top of that. I discovered that sand is as heavy as river rock to move.

Though I had originally hoped to erect the thing by myself with help when necessary, I read the instructions — and called a professional.

Then, bags of river pebbles were added to go around the base to close up the gaps between the base and the river rock. River pebbles are as heavy as river rock and sand.

I listed my old plastic greenhouse for sale on Craigslist and traded it for some Jack in the pulpit plants. We were both happy.

I may be overly optimistic, as I have been before, but I hope to put a milk house heater out there this winter and grow greens, radishes and other cold-loving plants.

I heated my chicken coop like that for years, so this should be no more expensive than that.

The key to this plan is to see where the snowdrifts form around the greenhouse. I will need to be able to open the door, after all. The coop was on running gear, so I could always open the door, but first I needed to traverse the hills and valleys of the drifts to get there that some years were nearly impassable. I’m 6 feet tall, and some of those drifts were taller than me.


Over half my garden veggies this year were grown in grow bags. And all of my tomatoes were affected by blight.

Blight can be carried on the wind and thrives in wet weather. It lands in the soil and splashes up on the leaves of the tomatoes, eventually killing them. I had hoped by using grow bags, I would be immune from that.

When I saw the first signs, I foolishly thought the plants just needed a little more sunlight and moved the bags. By the time I realized I was wrong, it was too late. I intend to continue to use the grow bags, but need a better plan for that.

The plan is to empty all of the bags of soil this fall. The soil will need to be sterilized before I use it again — IF I use it again. Soil can be sterilized in the oven, but the process stinks. That stink can also be toxic. Because I don’t have an outdoor oven, I will probably not be sterilizing the soil, although a small, cheap microwave might be useful.

The bags also need to be sterilized. Washing them with OxiClean, peroxide or bleach are options, then let them dry in the sun.

I have a couple of dozen grow bags that are in use, and at the price I paid for them, I will go the distance to reuse them. I bought another bunch of bags to use next year, so I need to get this process down pat.

I’m not giving up on my bags, but I am a bit discouraged. But like all gardeners, I know there’s always next year!

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