Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A year in Re-cap, So much learned.

Sorry, Its been awhile... But time has been fleeting this whole summer, and as summer comes to an end and fall takes over... My laundry list of outdoor stuff to get done has finally subsided to a point that I can breath again!

So First Things First...  How was the first full season with the greenhouse?

Awesome, It was definitely a big learning experience. It allowed me to start my seedlings early last fall, It allowed me to enjoy plants in the middle of winter, I was able to see bloom in march and April, I was also able to make roughly 15,000 seeds with ease.

Some of the things I learned.

1. Difficult plants are still difficult in the greenhouse, It isnt magic, and you will still have a hard time.

2. Pest management will make or break you. You cannot ignore pests in a greenhouse.

3. Watering should be easy... Sometimes its not.

4. Potting mix selection is crucial

5. Monitoring the PH of your incoming water is important.

6. Maintaining Temperatures is a fine line.

7. Some plants just dont like pot or greenhouse culture

8. Keeping everything clean is just as important as everything else.

9. Be careful what you bring inside the greenhouse from others.

So let me expand on these a bit.

1.  I loaded a bunch of hard pod setting Tet's and went to town throwing pollen at them... Imagine my face when I wasn't achieving 100% success! Well yeah, they are still a bitch in the greenhouse, and If you MUST use it... bring it in, But dont load up with a bunch of pod difficult plants... You'll just be wasting space.

2. So I Learned a-lot here. Aphids, and Gnat Flys are easy, they dont build up pesticide resistance, and can commonly be dealt with, with organic methods.

Spider mites... Ohhhhh Spider Mites. Dont play with these.  I learned very early on that there is little you can do once a population is established. When I first saw these, I sprayed for them... knocked them out... and went on with life. Little did I know that maybe 2-3% survived.. and slowly built up another population... So I sprayed them again...  This time maybe 10% survived.... And they built that population back up. Well... because I did not rotate mode of action pesticides I literally created a pesticide resistant population. It was too late. They had created a population too great to knock out, even after I bought a few more pesticides they could only be knocked back.  The foliage cover was too great, and you couldnt get 100% coverage if you tried.

If you see any spider mites, SPRAY THEN. Stick to a product rotation of at LEAST 3 MOA's and spray at to the products instructions.. not till you "see them again"

3. This kind of goes hand in hand with Pot selection, and potting mix selection.  Try and keep everything uniform, so you do not wind up with weird issues.  I ran into issues with some pots drying out way faster then others, and some just staying soggy. It wasnt easy to water with half needing water and half not needing water.  Also the water demand of the plants will be very low until they really hit active growth and the GH temps climb way up.

4. A potting mix with too much peat will stay soggy, a mix with too much bark will stay dry. Its really hard to find a good mix between the two.  I use Pro-mix Bk55  It drains a bit faster then I like, but I rather that then it retains too much water like the Bk25.

5. Your potting mix has a limited source of "soil conditioner" to maintain a proper PH, sooner or later the potting mix will align itself with the PH of your incoming water.  I have High PH hard water.  It needs conditioning.

6. This is a case study in how much patience you have.  No really.  30 degree nights, and 60 degree sunny days...  Welcome to march and April.  You have the vents closed since you want it to stay 65-70 overnight without losing heat.. but if its 50 and sunny outside its easily 85-90 inside and you need to vent.  Its a great balancing act at around 80 degrees.  It'll drive you insane. 

7. So this was surprising to me but some plants do not do well in the greenhouse.  I primarily found that most plants with Norris genetics did not do well in the greenhouse... Even one plant "Ashwood Wray of Sunshine" did so bad that I wrote it off for dead.  I put it outside in a raised bed... It took off growing into a monster. From what I know, any plant that has a tendency to go summer dormant after bloom, will not do well in the greenhouse. Kermits scream, Pigment of imagination, and a few others are best left outside where they perform. 

8.  Dont let things get dirty, bugs LOVE dirty.  Use bleach, keep it tidy...  It'll keep bacteria and fungus's (Rust!) from spreading or having a home to stay in. 

9.  So how did I get my spider mites anyway?  GIFT'S! Gift's from outdoor gardens.  So the advantage of having a greenhouse is you can receive plants at ANYTIME. Well... the downside is... Pests, and rust.  I got my spider mites from incoming plants, even caught a few plants with rust.  I avoided getting any rust in the greenhouse this year, although I was prepared for it.  What I wasn't prepared for was the Spider Mites.  Next year any incoming plants will have their foliage cleaned, removed to fresh foliage, dipped, and watched like a hawk... with preemptive sprays. 

So the second year should be a smooth one I hope, I have learned a few things, will definitely change a bunch of things around.

Some changes-

Having multiple pesticides on hand-

Larger heater, Moving from a 50K btu to 80K btu unit. I found that my heater would struggle on cold nights, and truly we did not get many.  If we got a -10 degree night I would of been in trouble as my heater could only manage 40-50 degrees above ambient temperature at night depending on the wind. So a 20 degree night was fine.. it would cycle normally...  5-10 degree nights it would run constant with no cycles.  Not good.

Insulation-  I am going to add a bubble wrap type of insulation to the walls of the greenhouse. It'll be clear, and will let light in, but will double the R-value of the walls.  I will leave the roof alone so there wont be any light deficiency.  I hope this will also help with the BTU demand to maintain the temperature I need.

Switching to a larger seedling Pot

Removing racking in favor of Two tiered benches with (4) 2 lamp T5 fixtures underneath If needed.

Removed drip irrigation in favor of Water bench design

Removed clutter under benches, will keep 27 gallon totes under benches filled with water for greater thermal mass effect.

Bringing in more Pod proven plants.

Keeping the overnight temp lower in February and march to delay bloom for another 2 weeks or so.

Some picture updates!

Cleaned Out!

Seedling Pots ready for planting soon.

Winter 2017/2018 Plant selection. These will stay outside until around Christmas as long as we get sufficient cold so they go full dormant.

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