I've been thinking a lot about my greenhouse lately, for three reasons.
Reason #1: The plastic covering has accumulated so much algae Kim has started writing love notes in it with her finger.
Reason #2: It's seed starting time.
Reason #3: It will soon be tomato time.
Here's what I've been thinking...
Algae: this came off the outside pretty easily with a floor mop (the squeegee sponge kind) and hot water with a bit of dish soap and a bit of bleach. (That's the "After" shot above.) But the inside still needs doing, and this will be a real pain because of the framing of the walls and the shelves. It will mean lots of stooping over and under things, and lots of individual areas of plastic to wash. I'm procrastinating on this. Plus, I know the plastic will only be good for so long, and it's already five years old. When I was on a ladder scrubbing the roof I noticed there are areas where it has deteriorated enough that it's beginning to crack and split. Which means eventually it will need to be disassembled and replaced. Hmmm.
Seed starting: it occurred to me this spring that I start my seeds in about the coldest place I possibly can. I know greenhouses are supposed to be toasty but mine isn't especially warm, probably because it's in a location that doesn't get much sun this time of year. Which means I not only have to use heat mats, I have to use grow lights. (I know, I know, you're wondering why someone would put a greenhouse in a shady spot. All I can say is (A) our property has lots of trees, (B) it's sunnier through the summer, and (C) I didn't put it there.) Between my greenhouse and Kim's brooder lights for chicks, our spring hydro bill takes a beating. And if I have to use grow lights and heat lamps anyway, why am I not just starting the seeds in the house where at least it's a bit warmer and I don't have to haul water?
Tomatoes: All I have ever grown in the greenhouse (other than some wimpy basil and a single pepper) are tomatoes. Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes. It works pretty well - the plants are protected from rain, they get lots of heat through the summer, and with windows on two sides and a fan in the door I get enough ventilation to avoid blight and other problems. There's just one big issue, though - crop rotation. According to everything I have read tomatoes should be rotated like other crops, to avoid diseases. But in a greenhouse where nothing but tomatoes are grown, that means replacing the soil in the raised beds every year. (Okay, hands up, who wants to volunteer for that job? Anyone?) I've begun to think that I should put the tomatoes into rotation in the vegetable garden, with a plastic roof to keep the rain off, like I have seen some of my neighbours do.
All of which makes me wonder why do I have a greenhouse at all?