Barn Style Greenhouse

Last fall my husband surprised me by telling me that he was going to build me a green house. He knew that I have wanted one for a while but we just never got around to getting one set up until now. I really did not have an idea of what I wanted. He looked online at several styles and decided on this Barn Style Greenhouse from Ana White. He showed me the plans and I really did not get around to reading the plans; I just looked at the picture. I was expecting something around 4 or 5 feet. Nope! The green house size ended up around a 10×12 feet!

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The plans did not include a door design. I wanted a half-door so I could leave the door open and not have the chickens come in and eat all my plants. He came up with this one. We did include a latch on the front to lock the top and bottom together. We did find a small flaw. The opening in the plans for the door is not a standard door size. We had to build the door to fit the opening, which is how I ended up with a Dutch Door . The door frame needs to be adjusted if a standard door will be used in the plans.

It was an easy plan to follow. The plans were designed to use 12 feet boards so there is very minimal cutting. The bottom of the frame was put together first and this is the part that was the easiest. It is made of all treated 2×4 feet boards.

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The next part was a little more challenging. It was not difficult to put together. We just had to think of some ways to put the ends together. The plans advise making gussets but I really did not want those so we decided to use metal plates on the front of the greenhouse. There are plates installed on front and back of frame.

Remember if an adjustment is made to the door frame; this section will need to be adjusted too. I think building a door would be easier than changing cutting patterns of this section.

greenhouse-4.gifNote my compost bin beside the greenhouse – perfect spot. You can find my post about composting with this Link.

The next step included the back section, middle beam and middle rafter.

greenhouse-3.gif*The girls (chickens) are ready to come out and investigate.

The final step in building the frame – building and installing all the rafters.

greenhouse-frame-2

The next section included installing clear plastic for the top. The 12 foot length was a blessing at this point. We did not have to cut the plastic on the length. We did have to cut the plastic for the front and back but it was not many cuts. We decided to wait until it was warmer to decided on ventilation and airflow.

greenhouse-frame

We used metal roofing for the bottom of the greenhouse. We have a local company here that cut the pieces to size that I needed.

greenhouseThe girls are looking for treats (worms, grubs or whatever they can scratch up)

We had extra lumber that turned into a shelf for me. This was a surprise from my husband too. It is a perfect level. We only put a shelf on this side. I plan to use the other side for larger plants.  We installed 2 small windows toward the back for airflow and 2 vents in the top as well.

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It still gets really hot in there now; the temperature has been reaching about 115-120 F. It is the first part of May and living in southern parts of Alabama – it’s always warm. I was able to start my seeds in here in early spring for my garden. I will be able to continue to grow in the greenhouse come this fall and winter.

Confederate Rose

The first time I saw a confederate rose was in my father-in-law’s yard. I decided to find one for me and I did after several years looking around.  The confederate rose is actually an Hibiscus and grows as a shrub / tree. This plant is best grown in southern states – zones 9 and 10 in full sun. It starts blooming in late summer to early fall. I look forward to seeing these beauties every fall. The plant freezes down in the winter and returns the next spring. The stalks needs to be cut back in winter but i did not do that this past year and really not sure why. I have cut back every year until then. I had growth in the spring appearing on the stalks from the previous year. I will cut back any stalks that did not have any growth. It is best to  cut back after fall blooming. It keeps it maintained and from growing too tall.

confederate-rose

These blooms will change colors. The flowers start the day out white and by the end of the day they are a dark pink color. I planted this about 5+ years ago. I had no idea the blooms changed color when I planted this. I found out the first year it bloomed.  I left for errands one day and by the end of the day – they were pink!confederate-rose-whiteconfederate-rose-pink

Here is a care guide for the confederate rose and it also has instructions for rooting from a cutting. I was not aware of this until recently or I could have got a cutting from my father-in-law’s years ago.  I will be cutting many cuttings this year; just in case not all of them root. I had several requests for a cutting from family members as well. The cuttings are put in a large vase to root in water during winter months. It is planted in the following spring after frost.

confederate-rose-full

This is just starting to bloom. The blooms only last about a day but it is loaded with buds. The blooms leave a large seed pod after blooming. The seeds from this pod can be collected and planted. I am not certain how to do this yet but I will be trying this upcoming spring.

New Rose Blooming

DA1I decided to add a new rose to my collection but I wanted a climbing rose. I needed to come up with an idea of where would be the best place to plant since I have to consider the climbing stems. I decided a garden trellis next to my porch surrounded by the lilies. The lilies have started to die down about this time of year but next year it will be beautiful.

I searched for climbing roses. I wanted an David Austin English Rose. I was fortunate to come across one at Lowes about 5 years ago but I could not find anyone locally that carried them now. I went looking online at David Austin Roses website. There was so many to choose from. I wanted one with lots of petals and a strong fragrant. I decided to go with the Abraham Darby rose. This was shipped before spring. It was small but it finally took off but next year I imagine it will be full of blooms. I only get a few right now but it is still young.

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Bread and Butter Pickles

bread and butter

May though July are my busy summer months. It is what I call “vegetable season”. I will spend those months canning or freezing vegetables. I remember my parents and grandparents did this when I was younger. My parents would have waiting for me bushels of peas, butter beans, tomatoes, corn and anything else that they decided to pick up at the Farmer’s Market. I hated to see those bags but what I would love to go back to those days with them and pay more attention. I also remember sitting under my Grandma’s cedar tree shelling peas or shucking corn with her. Those are good memories.

This year for the first time I decided to make pickles. I had no idea where to begin on this process or what type of cucumber to use. I searched Pinterest for several different recipes and I decided on this Bread and Butter Recipe. I am really glad that I did. This is really good stuff and I see myself making this again.

I used a Mandoline to slice the cucumbers and onions. It was so much easier than slicing by hand. You do need to be very careful with your fingers. You will get cut. My husband decided to do this very thing.

I ended up with 14 pint jars and I am hopeful it will last through next year. I usually plan my canning and freezing for the year to come. The following summer I will do it all over again.

jar bread and butter

Bread and Butter Pickles

  • 6 pounds pickling cucumbers, 1/4 inch thinly slice
  • 2 pounds of sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup canning / pickling salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 2 cups white distilled vinegar
  • 2 quarts crushed ice or ice cubes and water
  1. Wash cucumbers. Slice and discard ends. Slice the onions thinly and add to the cucumbers in a large bowl. I used an old metal dish pan. Sprinkle salt and the ice over the top and let set for 3 hours or longer. I did let the first batch set overnight and it did fine. Place a towel over top of ice.
  2. Drain and rinse the cucumbers and onion thoroughly. The pickles will have a salty taste if it is not rinsed thoroughly. I rinsed them many times.
  3. Prepare the jars and lids. Wash and sterilize the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. Place the lids in a small pan with water and simmer over low heat. Boiling the lids could damage the rubber seal.
  4. In a large nonreactive pot (I used a stainless steel) combine sugar, spices and vinegar. Heat to a boil and add the drained cucumbers and onions. Return to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Fill jars loosely with cucumbers and onions, leaving 1/4 inch head space.
  6. Add Ball Pickle Crisp Granules to the each jar, optional.                                                1/8 teaspoon per pint and 1/4 teaspoon per quart
  7. Ladle hot liquid over the pickles, maintaining the 1/4 inch head space.
  8. Clean the rim of the jar. Place lids and rings onto the jar. Do not overtighten.
  9. Process 10 minutes in a Water Bath Canner.
  10. Remove rings after 24 hours and clean jar. Replace rings if you want to.
  11. Store is a cool dark place.
  12. Allow 4-5 weeks to sit for pickles to develop flavor.

Rooting Store-Bought Vegetables

Rooting store-bought vegetables is something I just recently learned about. It does take time to grow though and I can see this with the same vegetable growing in different stages. I have only started with the celery. I googled Growing celery from a stalk after a friend told me about it. I change the water every few days and I never fill past the root at the bottom. grow celeryThere are many other things you could grow besides the celery. Here is a small list: green onions, lettuce, garlic, pineapple, mushrooms, ginger, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. Some of these will grow in water like the celery but some of will need to be planted in soil.

Here are a couple of links that can help you get started:

20 vegetables to regrow

25 food to regrow from your kitchen

 

 

 

 

Fresh Blueberries

My blueberries are growing!blueberry 1

I planted these about 4 years ago and  finally producing enough that the birds can share with me. Here is a link explaining how to plant and grow. A blueberry bush should be planted in the early spring. Blueberries do well in full fun but can tolerate a little bit of shade. I fertilize twice a year: spring and fall. I use Miracle Grow Fruit Tree Spikes in the ground around the base of the bush. The number of spikes to use depends on the height of the tree. I have had some blueberries in the past few years but it always has been a handful. This year I have quite a few but the bushes are under 4 feet tall. I have been gathering blueberries every morning for the last few days.

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This year, my daughter helped me cut up plastic shopping bags into long strips. I tied these loosely to the stems on the bush. My plan was that the movement of the strips would keep the birds away. Once the blueberries were all picked, I will take down all the plastic strips.blueberry 2

Bye Bye Fire Ants!!!!!!

They are very irritating and persistent! They can cause a great deal of havoc in a yard. We have them everywhere.  This is very common living in the south. Here is a link to areas listed that has an ant population. You can search your area if you are not sure but all you need to do is walk outside. I do a lot of gardening outside. I have made a habit of checking first before I walk in an area or reach with my hands. An ant mound can pop up anywhere. I found them inside the pot of a potted plant. It was surrounding the root ball.

Fire ant 1

One bite from a fire ant starts off stinging which will lead to days of itching. The skin will become red and you will see some swelling. Of course, it is never just one. They will attack and bite in numbers. I can be just a few or a whole lot. I had just a couple of them in different areas and some bites close to each other. Either way, they are just a nuisance.  When I realize I have ant bites, I rub some witch hazel on them. It seems to stop the stinging but it is what my grandmother used – witch hazel or rubbing alcohol. A List can be found here of different home remedies. I have heard of using the tobacco from a cigarette by wetting it and putting it on the bite.

Let’s talk about how to get rid of them. It seems impossible at time. You can use the commercial stuff. Some may not be safe for pets. I have chickens that forage around in the yard. This was not advisable for me to use. I came across an organic type pesticide that was safe for pets. It worked fine but really the ants would just move in a different area close by.

There are many home remedies that is out there. I have heard of boiling water but have not tried this. I have used with no success club soda. A list of other home remedies can be found here.

I cannot take credit for this. A friend told me to use corn meal. I never heard of this but it could not hurt to try. I sprinkled some over the mound and the surrounding area. Now all I have to do is wait and see if it would work. I only did this once. I did not want to use all of the cornmeal on the other mounds if it did not. Fire ant 2

I checked the mound 24 hours later and I have a dead mound! Fire ant 3

Do not put cornmeal out before it rains. It will not work. The next day, I tried again on a different mound before it rained. They were still there the next morning. I think it becomes a snack for them if it is wet. This will not get rid of them in your yard altogether. It will kill a mound but new ones will pop up. Treat them the same way. I put cornmeal out over one as soon as I see it.