Saturday, December 31, 2016

In the Greenhouse

New Year's Eve.  Fifty degrees outside and a sunny day.  I went out to water stuff in the greenhouse and thought I would share some pictures.

Our greenhouse gets most of its use in the early spring when it holds our tomato and pepper transplants, protecting them from frost.  However, it does not go unused in the wintertime either.  

First of all, it is fifty degrees outside, but it is a whopping 85 degrees in the greenhouse!  I thought I was going to have to change into shorts while I was in there.

I have a lot of little aloe plants.

And a couple of huge ones.  I'm afraid this one is going to fall over before I can get a bigger pot for it.

I also have a couple of flowering plants that Tom started when he went through the Master Gardener's class.  One of the Master Gardener sessions was on taking cuttings to create new plants. I'm afraid the name for these plants has been lost and I have no idea what they are.  All I can say is that they thrive on abuse, require little water and bloom profusely.  I never fertilize them.

I have a few cactus plants, as well.  A small one is visible in the lower left of the picture above.  My favorite one is the one below.

I also have a pot of lemon grass.  This spring I will plant it outside, but it is not frost tolerant and has to be brought inside to spend the winter.

There are also a few little fig trees that we got from a friend at the farmers' market.  She took cuttings off her trees for me.  I will let them grow another year in pots before planting them outside.  

Here are some strawberries that I had in pots last summer.  I was afraid the pots were too small for them to survive the winter, though, so I dug them up and put them in temporary pots in the greenhouse.  I'll plant them outside this spring.

The remaining sweet potatoes that we grew this year are also in the greenhouse.  It is a great place to store them over the winter.

All is not rosy in there, however.  Here are a couple of "dead as a door nail" plants that got shoved to the back of a shelf and didn't get watered and/or froze during the recent cold spell where we had low temperatures near zero.  

Thursday, December 22, 2016


We were lucky last year to have a mild winter.  Well, lucky is a two-way sword because without cold enough temperatures to kill insects that are over-wintering, then we had a worse insect problem during the summer than in past years.  However, that changed last week.  On Friday, we had really nice spring-like weather.  Temperatures almost in the 70s.  Then early Saturday morning the wind changed to the north and brought in what the TV weather folks called the polar vortex.  Brrrrr.  They weren't kidding.  The temperature plummeted all day.  In fact, the warmest temperature of the day was at about 6:00 am!

It snowed a bit, but not much and it did not stick to the roads.  So, that much was great.  However, by Saturday night the temperatures were in the teens and by daybreak they were in the single digits.  Yeah, I know there are readers who will laugh at me for whining over our  cold weather when this is the norm for them in the winter.  Just call me a wimp, okay!

Honestly, though, I didn't start this out to whine about the cold weather.  I wanted to share some of our bird feeding issues that come along with freezing weather.  A few years ago I wrote about feeding the birds.  Bird Feeders

The last picture in that article shows how we kept our birdbath from freezing using an electric de-icing pad.  As it turned out, it did not work very well, mainly because it kept causing the electric circuit where it was plugged in to blow a switch which, in turn, caused several of the outlets in our kitchen to switch off!  Not good.  We ended up discarding that and just taking out fresh water every day.  Normally, this was enough because if the temperature was near 30 degrees and the sun was out, then the water would stay unfrozen until nighttime.

During the polar vortex we just experienced, the birdbath water froze solid and Tom had to chip some of the ice out in order to add fresh water.  That turned out to be harder than it looked and took a lot of time. Did I mention my husband is not a fan of cold weather?

The problem was that it did not get warm enough during the day to keep the water from freezing solid again within just a few minutes, and eventually, the birdbath was full of frozen water.

So, he decided to just take out a disposable pie tin full of fresh water.

This worked pretty well because it was easy to dump out the ice when it froze and fresh water could be added.  His feathery friends were very thankful.  

I think the solution is to get a heated dog bowl for the birds.  I've heard these work well.  Of course, the polar vortex is over and warmer weather has arrived.  In fact, temperatures are forecast to be in the 60s this weekend.  We will think spring has arrived!