Poorman's greenhouse

mudlady_gw(Syracuse-z5)August 19, 2005

I want far more annuals than I can afford to buy so I am considering a hobby greenhouse or cold frame. My aim is to start seedlings in individual peat pots and somehow have them the correct size to set out around the end of May. Is there any way I can do this without heating the greenhouse?

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penny1947(z6 WNY)

Well I don't know if having them the 'correct size' would be possible without a heated greenhouse or some sort of grolight or heat mat set-up. I use the winter sowing method for all my seeds. Some may be a little small by the end of May but I actually have nearly everything already planted out by that time and they catch up very quickly to the garden center counterparts. If you aren't familiar with wintersowing check out the Wintersowing FAQ below. We have alot of wintersowers on this forum. Last year my sunflowers and morning glories were in the ground by the end of march.


Here is a link that might be useful: Wintersowing FAQ page

    Bookmark   August 20, 2005 at 12:33PM
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Thanks for the info Penny! Winter sowing does make sense and I will certainly try it. I am wondering if I utilize an unheated hobby greenhouse as my "container" for sowing the seeds wouldn't mimic your method with the added comvenience of a walk-in environment. I want to landscape my property with lavish plantings in glorious colors and I have to find a way to afford it because I hope to be retired by next April. Your response led me to lots of interesting links :-)

    Bookmark   August 21, 2005 at 7:34AM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

The only problem per se of using a green house to accomodate your containers is that you would have to keep them watered so that they stay moist. Whith the containers being outside in the elements mother nature does that naturally with rain and snow. I have a small cheapy green house that holds 6 flats of seedlings give or take but I use it after my seeds have sprouted to give them an added boost before setting them out in the garden. Five years ago I had a bare slate of a yard except for a few hostas and 1 bee balm. Now thanks to wintersowing I have more plants than I know where to plant and I am digging up more garden space all the time. I have even done Rose of Sharons, hardy Hibiscus and southwestern plants in addition to annuals and vines. WInter sowing also seems to make the plants hardier by at least one zone.


    Bookmark   August 21, 2005 at 8:19AM
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jean_mdc(z 4/5 NY)

Dear Mudlady

I know that you want annuals but just consider this.

Kareen did a demo at our garden club on winter sowing. So...I had a bunch of lupines that were throwing off their seeds. I stuck them in plastic that had a really high dome. They really just got going and we were about to start with frost so I took the whole clump of dirt.....slid it out of the bottom and planted it in my garden.....but I put the top dome back over it(it had a few holes in it).....and left it like that all winter.

When spring came they were beautiful! I put them where I wanted them and they also bloomed beautifully! My thought is this...depending on what you want to grow for annuals......there is a whole class of annuals that often reseed themselves.....datura..........nicotina..... Start them now!....at least that would give you a possible head start that wouldn't cost anything but the time to gather your seeds and get them started. If this works you could possibly do some trading off with someone who started other annuals that you know you want.
My other thought is that I now start to take a few cuttings from my most spectacular coleus. I just start them in a small pot and leave them outside for now....when it starts getting colder I bring them in.... as long as they have some decent light inside they don't need a lot of attention. When they start getting leggy.....I just repeat the process but that gives me a bunch of plants in the same color.... it makes that garden spot looks more dramatic because of the mass of the same plant!
I also would love a greenhouse but I don't want to heat it so.....this is how I work around what I want vs what I have?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2005 at 9:10AM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Fluorescents lights in the basement will work. They don't cost a lot to run, and aren't a big investment.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2005 at 9:39AM
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A basement and fluorescent lights works wonderfully. I have had cherry tomatoes ripe on the vines and petunias blooming at Christmas. Many years ago I had more than 100 different varieties (not just 100 plants) of African violets and other gesneriads all under lights in various parts of my house. I do have a problem; my retirement home has no basement! I wish I could make that decision over again, but I was, and am, very concerned about how I will be able to live on my retirement and social security income. I have six rescued and adopted pets; four Siberian huskies and two cats. Responsible pet ownership is very expensive. Time will tell, but I WILL find a way to have lavish annuals surrounding my humble abode.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2005 at 11:26PM
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