Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Repairing the Greenhouse

We had some snow the other day and it caused the roof of my greenhouse to collapse.
I thought about getting another one, but that would cost $80-100.  Instead I decided that I should attempt to repair it.

I went to Home Depot and picked up ten 10' sections of 1/2 PVC pipe and a number of 'T' and corner connectors.

I started by removing all of the bent and damaged parts of the greenhouse.
Then I created two arches out of the PVC pipe.  One for the front and one for the rear.

I used zip ties to connect the arches to what was left of the greenhouse structure.  The shelves are still usable.
Then I added a section of pipe to connect the front arch to the rear arch.  I don't know if this was really needed or not.  I had the pipe and the fittings so I figured why not.

The final step was to create the ridge beam to hold up the center of the roof.  I used a 4-way cross in the rear.  This allowed me to run a center support down to the ground.

Here's a view of the front.  It does not have the center support.  It would have made getting in and out too difficult.

Here's what it looked like when finished.  I think it'll work.

It was a tight fit to get the plastic back on.  I managed to rip a hole in the corner that I fixed temporarily with duct tape (as seen in the picture above).  The duct tape didn't work real well and I had to sew the corner with some thread.

When I conceived of this project I imagined all kinds of cross bracing.  As I was putting it together I realized that it was going to be unnecessary.  Simpler was better.  That also means that I have a bunch of PVC pipe and fittings left over.  Oh well, I'll probably find something to do with them. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

2014 Seed Starting update.

I started seeds less than two weeks ago and I'm already moving them to bigger pots.
The tomatoes and tomatillos took off.  The peppers are taking longer (as expected).

I moved the best looking seedlings to bigger pots.  I even labeled them so I'll know what they are when it's time to put them in the ground.

The last step was to move them under the shop lights.

I didn't transplant everything.  I'm going to wait until the peppers are bigger.  I also need to do something about my greenhouse so I have a place to put the plants when they get bigger.  I don't have enough space under the lights in my garage.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Anaerobic compost results

It was almost exactly a year ago that I filled my anaerobic compost bin.  I haven't written much about it since then.  I was busy with other things, and it really didn't do much.  It did produce gas, but I never figured out what to do with it.  I tried to hook it up to a single burner stove, but that didn't work.  I could never get it to light.  I know that the gas was flammable.  I was able to light it coming straight out of the barrel.  I only did that once though.  The 12" flame made me think twice about doing it again.  So whenever the barrel rose up I just opened the valve and released the gas.
I didn't benefit from the methane it produced, but at least I got great compost right?  Well, not really.  I had read that it would take a year for the anaerobic composting to complete.  So I went out the other day and removed the trashcan.  I was very surprised to see that it had hardly composted at all.  I could still identify leaves and pine shavings.

I removed some of the water with a 5-gallon bucket.  Once the water was low enough I tipped the barrel over and dumped it out.

It stunk something fierce.  Luckily the smell went away after a day or two.

I'm not really sure what I did wrong.  I know something was happening in that barrel.  Methane gas was produced, but it hardly looks like any decomposition occurred after an entire year.

I don't think I'll be trying this again.  I'll stick to plain old aerobic composting from now on.

Monday, February 17, 2014

No luck getting baby bunnies.

Put the rabbits together a little over a month ago.  It's only supposed to take 28-30 days for the babies to arrive.  A week before that the doe is supposed to pull out her hair and make a nest.  In anticipation of the nest building we threw pine shavings in her box.

She did not pull out her hair.

She did not make a nest.

Instead, she made a mess.  She got pine shavings everywhere.  She showed no signs of being pregnant.  We're pretty sure it didn't work.

So my wife put the rabbits together again today.  Now we wait another 30 days.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Greenhouse + Snow = Bad news...

We had snow this past week.  Luckily I can work from home.  So I was not one of those people stuck on the roads for hours.  Anyway, we got about 5" of snow and after that it rained.  When I went out to check on the chickens the next day I noticed that my greenhouse had collapsed.  This made me sad.
Fortunately I didn't have any plants in there.  I got a shovel and removed the snow so I could investigate the damage.  It was bad.  Some of the metal rods were bent in half and most of the plastic brackets had snapped.  I'm not sure if it's salvageable.  I need to figure out something soon though.  I just started seeds and I'm going to need some place for them to go once they get bigger.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Starting seeds for the 2014 garden.

In my last post I wrote that I was going to do more planning with the garden this year.  I printed out a sheet of paper with the layout of our raised beds.  Then I sat with my wife and decided what to put where.
That that information I was able to get down to business starting seeds.  In years past I've always just started seeds and figured out where to put the plants later.  That has always meant having a bazillion peppers and only a handful of beans.  Hopefully that won't happen this year.

 I've had a lot of luck with the 72 pod seed starting trays from Home Depot.  They don't appear on Home Depot's web site currently, but they are in the store.  I got this one for $7.99.  That's more expensive than what they've been in the past.
Since the tray has 6 rows I plant things in multiples of 6.  I counted the number of plants I needed based on our garden layout and rounded up to the nearest multiple of 6.  Our layout only calls for 4 tomatillos.  I started 6 seeds.  It called for 16 Roma tomatoes so I started 18.  This should insure that we have enough plants even if a few seeds don't germinate.  If I do happen to end up with extra plants I'll managed to find some place for them to go.  I can put them in containers or give them away. 

I'm getting so serious about planning that I printed out a grid to correspond to the seed starting tray.  Now when seeds sprout I'll know what they are. 
The last step was to move the tray into the garage.  I have it on a seed starting mat to keep it warm.