Our house is pretty okay, but our tomato seedlings are living in the lap of luxury since Jamie built them a greenhouse. He loves his outdoor projects and he loves growing veggies; combine the two and you might just end up with the bitchinest veggie garden imaginable. He hasn’t started giving his tomato seedlings little voices and personalities yet, but let me assure you, those dudes are spoiled rotten.
It began in April, when there was an autumn chill in the air and the chili peppers were beginning to look unhappy. Jamie had been wanting a permanent greenhouse, so he ordered a lean-to Maze greenhouse from Deals Direct. Same brand they carry at Bunnings, but cheaper, plus a bonus 20% off coupon and free shipping. It had an aluminum frame and strong polycarbonate panels, which sounded great to us. No more junky, flimsy, disintegrating zip-up covers.
Jamie wanted a sturdy foundation for it, so he built one out of scrap hardwood sleepers, using the same method we used for the raised beds. This would be the ‘floor’ for the greenhouse.
Constructing the greenhouse itself was far more complex. This made IKEA self-assembly look like Lincoln Logs.
And of course, it wasn’t over once assembled. We quickly realised one obvious fact: IT HAS NO BACK. IT’S A LEAN-TO MODEL. Ohhh, right. Time to bung together a backing for it out of recycled plexiglas sheeting. It’s all scratched to hell but it doesn’t need to be pretty, it just needs to be there.
And there was one more issue, which, I’ll let you play What’s Wrong With This Picture to figure it out. That’s right, the dwarf apricot tree in front of the greenhouse was a problem! It was young enough to move it out of the way, which I did in the middle of winter. It’s recovering well.
And here we are now, the greenhouse doing its job. The plants look great! It’s been so good for seedlings, as well as delicate plants that dislike spring winds blowing hot and cold. The sliding door lets fresh air pass through. (And yes, that excess section of plexi at the top gives me an eye twitch just looking at it. Soon.)
It’s a tradition in southern Tasmania to plant out tomatoes after the local Royal Show, the third week in October, because that’s the last frost. So we’re doing that this weekend. All of Jamie’s little guys are taking off, some of them flowering even. I think they’re ready for the big leagues.
(We bought seedlings. Maybe next time I’ll get around to doing seeds. Maybe.)
I did plant tomatillo seeds, which haven’t taken off yet. Last year’s batch did stupidly well, so I have high hopes for these guys. You’re going to be next year’s salsa verde crop! Yes you!
The chili peppers will probably stay in here most of the time. As I’ve learned with my year-round indoor habanero, they seem to like consistent warm conditions, no sudden cold snaps. The rocoto is more cold-tolerant than other pepper plants, but it’s only begun to thrive inside the greenhouse. It has flowers! Little purple ones.
A lime tree would also be a good candidate for the greenhouse, if we try growing another one in a pot. Lemons can survive outdoors here, but limes struggle.
So yeah, we’ve got a mini-greenhouse and it’s here to stay. Jamie is that much closer to garden domination. He’s got an irrigation system in the works and I made an extra trellis for my hundred million tomatillos to come, fingers crossed.
Gardens aren’t always the most interesting topic for people who are into houses and home decor, but we’re finding that we get a lot of satisfaction out of pottering around outdoors. Our dream is to have a patio with a firepit one day… but we’ve got an exterior paint job and front yard to finish off first.