Ok…that is a little extreme for the majority of Canadians, who live within spitting distance of the US. But this is the current situation in Cochrane, Ontario:
You can see where I shovelled snow off the roof of the house. Too much weight can cause real structural problems and ice dams. I learned. The trailer is our summer guest house. We also have a spare room in the loft.
So it is a little early to be planting stuff, right?
Not if you have a greenhouse. This is a picture of our friend, Eric Crawford and his brother Doug, putting the greenhouse together. So I have a place to start seeds and get transplants ready for planting, after frost, we hope. Last frost date here is around May 24. That is my read. Other readers from the area can feel free to correct me.
So today I was in the greenhouse.
It is cooler in there, and will become a good area to raise mushrooms, I think. We will see. You can see a wood stove bottom left. It is a crappy stove, but it is the old one from the house and does fine for in here. But I cannot grow things in the greenhouse until things thaw out a bit, which is currently underway. In the meantime, I need to prepare to grow seedlings. Let’s see what’s going on in the actual greenhouse.
This is an example of my organic gardening. We compost everything possible. I use corrugated cardboard as mulch and shred it into the compost pile. Any paper that cannot be composted is burned in the wood stove. We recycle everything possible.
These are bags of vegetable peelings, rotten fruit or veggies, egg shells, etc…the big roots were from something I grew last year. These back beds of the greenhouse are the hottest, so that is where everything goes in the spring. It can be difficult to compost outside, if temperatures are low and it rains a lot.
This is the finished compost from last year. To the right, you can see what is left of the egg cartons and the composting bags. Everything breaks down quickly, and I can use that compost anywhere I need it. I then add regular garden soil and start all over again. I do composting outside, but this works very well.
To the left is the bed, finished and ready to be used. No mice or insect pests.
To the right, you will see I have mulched with wood chips. I have a wood chipper, so there is a ready supply for me. This cuts back on water usage.
Now, to get ready for starting seeds, I cover the soil with cardboard and fasten a heating cable to it. The cable lasts longer, not being in the soil. The seedling trays sit on top of the cardboard and the heat helps stimulate germination. If the power kicks out, the heat from the rotting garbage keeps things warm.
And now I need water. My hoses are buried in snow and it is way too cold to be running water. I have carried water from the house before and, even with a cart, that is hard work. Last year I melted snow in the greenhouse. This year I simplified.
Yup…just shovelled the snow directly on top of the beds. If the soil is too dry, microbes and such cannot work as effectively. The heater cable works more efficiently as well, I think. I put that snow on the beds around noon. As I write to you (5:00) the sun has done its work, watering my beds.
It will not be long, however, until rain barrels are filling and snow will no longer be necessary. I have tanks collecting water all over the property and there is usually plenty to water the greenhouse without using the hose. These barrels will be filled with water, as water holds heat very well and this stabilizes nighttime temps. It can get cool at night here…even in summer. There is also an old water heater that I stripped down and painted flat black. It gets VERY hot in the sun. Free heat…thanks golden orb in the sky.
Well, that kind of taps me out for today. I know many of you are already well underway in your gardens. I hope some of my ideas help you out and together we can have a little fun.