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Greenhouse “Work”

April 27, 2012

So many tools to choose from when deciding when to plant the garden.  The greenhouse is putting us about one month ahead in the warm season planting department.  Greens are one thing, but warm weather crops…we’ve been waiting since the last tomato to plant the first tomato plant again.  The single most important thing a garden will teach you is patience.  Jumping the gun can really lead to disappointment.    Agrarians have been watching their fields for planting cues for centuries.


Like reading the weeds in the pasture, you can read the signs in the garden.  Or in this case, I’m reading the greenhouse garden.  Snakes sunning themselves tells me the soil is warming up.


Volunteer cilantro in the garden tells me its time to plant the first warm weather crops.  Outside that is usually late May here, inside it’s mid to late April.


Warm weather annual weeds at the thread stage.


And if you need to get scientific and exact about it, a soil thermometer can tell you what you need to know.


This year I wanted to use the SRM plastic mulch again.  Even with a greenhouse, I can use an earlier and higher yield.   The first order of business of planting tomatoes is to install my tomato twine since it requires ladder work, and I like to have that part done before I do any planting and in this case before I lay the mulch.  Time was of the essence too, I needed to get the mulch down while the soil was still damp or I needed to water again.


I tie my tomato twine at each bow along the purlin, this gives a four-foot spacing that works well with my indeterminate varieties.


Next up is amending  each planting hole with composted cow manure.


I use soaker hoses for summer irrigation, so that goes along the row before the mulch is put down.

Secure the mulch firmly with soil.  I think another pair of hands would have helped, the mulch should be tighter.


Lay out the plants, using the twine as the spacing marker.  Plant.


It’s nice to have the indeterminate plants off to a good start.  Next I need to plant my determinate paste tomatoes, and I’m done with tomato planting.  One more big task crossed off the list.

Have you been able to set tomatoes out yet in your area?

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. jenj permalink
    April 27, 2012 9:27 am

    Tomatoes here went in the ground in early March. My friend’s are already about 4 feet tall. This year, I just went with the volunteers that showed up in the garden, about 2 dozen worth (yeah, I was feeling lazy). They’re growing more slowly, but I’ve already got a dozen or so small tomatoes. Can’t wait to see what I end up with!

  2. Victoria permalink
    April 27, 2012 9:48 am

    Nowhere near tomato planting time here – the next 3 nights at my house in upstate NY are all forecast to be around 26 degrees. Instead, I will be covering all the flowering berry bushes that I can, along with the asparagus that was tricked into coming up already.

  3. ryan permalink
    April 27, 2012 10:20 am

    wish i had a greenhouse! where i live it just got done snowing, at least its melting off the lawn as i type this. Planted tomatoes in the house 10 days ago(along with other stuff) they are finally starting to come up:) I planted multiple seeds per cup and am not sure if i should let them all grow or pull some out and leave one per cup. I did this whole process with brussel sprouts which i planted a couple weeks before planting tomatoes. when i seperated the little sprouts into there own containers many of them died and the survivors are just now begining to grow:( (at least i hope they are growing) Thankyou for sharing your knowledge online i need all the help i can get!

    • April 27, 2012 10:38 am

      Ryan, sorry about your snow :( I would just snip the extras and leave the strongest plant to grow. Too many in one cup will compete for all the nutrients and you’ll end up with all weak plants. Better to have a smaller number of strong ones than a greater number of weak ones.

    • Victoria permalink
      April 28, 2012 8:58 am

      My personal rule when starting plants is 3-4 seeds per cup or pot, thin to the first / best looking 2 as soon as they come up, thin to the best looking as soon as the first set of true leaves is out.

      The best thing for the remaining plant is to cut stems close to the ground when thinning. If the plants are still VERY small, or for some reason you NEED to save the other seedlings, you may be able to pull a seedling up and move it to a new pot. If you’re going to do that, prepare a new pot with moist soil and a hole in the middle for the seedling. Water the existing pot well, give it a couple minutes to soak in, and gently pull up the seedling to move. Put it in the new pot and gently press the soil down around it. If the seedlings have gotten too large, this can damage or kill both of them by disturbing the roots too much.

  4. April 27, 2012 11:36 am

    We had summer in March. Great swimming weather. Spring showed back up and I didn’t cover my tomatoes one night. I gambled and lost. Oh well.

    Greenhouse is still occupied with ducks, pullets and rabbits. The sawdust bedding is around 90 degrees in there. We plan to plant melons in there as we have a hard time getting melons to ripen here without losing them to possums or cold fall weather.

    Are you at all concerned that the tomato plants will pull the roof down?

    • April 27, 2012 11:53 am

      I hear you on the gambling part…happens here a lot!

      I’m waiting awhile on my melons, but I did get some zukes and cukes going, hopefully in a symphylan free spot this year! I did see a couple of the little critters yesterday when I was pulling quack grass :( But they weren’t near the new cucurbit spot.

      If I planted the tomatoes denser and they weren’t heirlooms, maybe, but at 4 foot intervals, they’re OK. And it is a commercial grade structure, not conduit or PVC.

  5. April 27, 2012 7:15 pm

    My cilantro is already keeling over in this Alabama heat. It does frighten me a bit, I must say. It seems we had no Winter at all in this “neck of the woods”. My first tomatoes (no greenhouse) have turned red this week. I’m not trying to make you jealous… not really. Just imagine what my electricity bill will run as the summer heat sets it!

    Squash is just a couple weeks out, and my a/c has been turned on when the days are humid and temps are in the mid-80’s. Just. Can’t. Take. It. Dripping wet in April, no less. That said, we had quite the cold-snap last weekend when temps dipped to the upper 30’s and gardeners panicked. But my a/c was turned back on yesterday when we were sweating at 5pm with temps in the upper 80’s. Go figure. Alabama weather at it’s finest! Blessings to you.

    • April 27, 2012 9:05 pm

      Wow! what a difference, it’s been cold here for us! Love hearing about the differences in gardens. :) I hope your weather moderates a bit for you.

  6. April 28, 2012 2:27 am

    I started the tomato seedlings here last weekend. No greenhouse. We’ve had around 28-30F at night most days this week. And wind!! Geez it makes it raw out there. So tomatoes are a long way from going in the ground. My last hard frost is May 31.

    • April 28, 2012 4:45 am

      Pam, this has sure been a winter for records, we were warm at first and the started getting a lot of snow after January. Now it’s not so bad, and a little more normal. I hope your summer weather evens out a little!

  7. jimschultz permalink
    April 30, 2012 10:56 am

    I’m curious what the chimney-like pipe is sprouting from the center of your greenhouse floor? Also, what are the outward facing cups on top the “chimney cap”? Thanks for all your great posts and pics!

    • May 1, 2012 12:19 pm

      Jim, that’s my cosmic pipe from the outside garden. I put it in the greenhouse to protect it from the tractor operator (me). Since I so carefully put the last one in a “safe place” and promptly found it with the hog mower! :p I don’t think I will ever live that one down!!

      • jimschultz permalink
        May 1, 2012 3:41 pm

        I can totally relate! Can’t list the number of things that I didn’t mean to brush hog. But seriously, what’s a cosmic pipe? Does it funnel special Findhorn-like forces I think it warrants an explanatory post all its own.

        • May 1, 2012 6:29 pm

          It’s my secret weapon to entice hubby into the garden! Really it’s all his idea and this one actually was a Xmas present after I destroyed the other one :( The worst thing is I have teased him for YEARS for hog mowing all kinds of stuff! So I really had a red face on this one!!

        • ryan permalink
          May 1, 2012 8:19 pm

          Man…what is that stove pipe for…must say I’m pretty curious also. It must be some new high speed apparatus that channels cosmic rays that enhances plant growth would be my guess. hopefully with low to no long lasting radition in the veggies. Well that anyway is my guess.

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