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Spring 2012 - Vol 34, No.

ELEPHANT EARS SEED STARTING HEIRLOOM TOMATOES FRUIT TREES CACTUS

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Hobby Greenhouse

Contents
Features

10 Growing Elephant Ear


(Alocasia)
by Kathy Bokelman

16 Starting Your Own


Seeds
By Roger Marshall

26 Flowering Cactus

Spring 2012 Volume 34, No. 2

Departments

7 Your Questions Answered


9 Photography Competition
31 The Tool Shed: New Products
32 From The Planter
37 Book Review
38 The Back Door

Etcetera

by Donna Bocox

20: Growing Heirloom


Tomatoes

9 Help wanted
36 Discounts
34 HGA Bookshop

by Paula Szilard

24 Growing Fruit in
Your Greenhouse
by Roger Marshall

28: A Hartley Greenhouse Can be an


Investment For the
Future

Front cover: Hoodia gordonii in flower in Donna


Bocoxs greenhouse.
Back cover: Donna Bocoxs Huernia cactus in flower

Hobby Greenhouse is the official quarterly magazine of the Hobby Greenhouse Association. It is published in the
Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. The mission of Hobby Greenhouse is to provide a vehicle for sharing member
information and for printing articles on greenhouse construction, maintenance and on indoor gardening. It carries
advertising and is available to non-members.
Hobby Greenhouse

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Editors Note:

s you may have noticed the magazine has changed a little more. The covers
have gone to what the print industry calls full bleed, in that the image
goes all the way to the edge of the page. This brings it up to par with other
magazines, plus it gives more space to the wonderful pictures that our readers are
sending in. Similarly, some of the pages have larger pictures on them to give you,
the reader, a more visual feel for the stories that we have.
As you may also have noticed many of the articles have become a little more
how-to. The Hobby Greenhouse Association appears, to me at least, to very howto, and I want the magazine to reflect that. For example, Kathy Bokelman has a
look at growing elephant ear plants (Alocosia). In the next article Donna Bocoxs
piece on growing cactus with her wonderful pictures tells a story of one womans
passion for unusual plants with a large variety of flowers. In another story, Paula Szilard tells us
about heirloom tomatoes, part of the growing (no pun intended) trend in the gardening world toward
more tasty fruit and vegetables grown at home or in the greenhouse. And of course, I follow up with
a piece on growing fruit in a greenhouse. Many tropical fruits, indigenous to zone seven or higher
will do quite well in a heated greenhouse or even indoors provided they get enough light and they
reward you with a lot of fruit.
As we, at least those of us north of the Mason-Dixon line, come into spring and the frost-free
growing period, I put together a short piece on how I start my seeds. These techniques have worked
out for me and you might like to use them in your greenhouse or even your basement to start seeds
six to eight weeks before you want to plant them into the garden. I find that starting seeds early
enable me to get two and sometimes three crops from the vegetable garden, bring flowers into bloom
and to enjoy the garden much more. My back aches from thinking about all the planting out I have
do in spring but at least I get to creak around for the summer and enjoy the benefits that my garden
and greenhouse give me.
Have a wonderful summer and look for your next magazine in June.
Roger

Our Contributors Without them there would be no magazine


Donna Bocox has a lovely Julianna greenhouse in Iowa where she grows almost
500 cactus acquired from all over the country. Donna loves flowering plants and
her cactus collection has many beautiful plants as you will see in these pages.

Paula Szilard is currently a master gardener in the Denver area. She grows hundreds
of tropical plants in her sunroom, enclosed porch and basement grow room. She
has converted her front lawn into an edible landscape and usually plants a large
vegetable garden in the back. She also serves as Vice President for Programs for
the Tropical Plant Society, (www.tropicalplantsociety.org), a group of local tropical
plant enthusiasts.
Kathy Bokelman is a master gardener who gardens organically as far as possible, in
Nebraska. She has a 12 x 16 greenhouse mostly filled with cactus and succulents.
She loves to search for rare and unusual plants especially those that attract birds
and butterflies.

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Hobby Greenhouse

The Hobby Greenhouse Association


President: Tom Karasek, WA 360 578-1228 tomsherron@msn.com
Vice-President: Mary P. Lawrence, PA 724 744-7082 mary.lawrence@windstream.net
Treasurer: John Dey, OR 541 798-5807 deyj@earthlink.net
Secretary: (Vacant)
Past Pres: Tom Eckert, PA 717 766-3492 tjghg@verizon.net
Finance (Dir): Gary R. Gamblin, KY 270 782-1918 grgsole@insightbb.com
Membership (Dir): Richard Schreiber, IA 515 981-4360 schreiberra@hotmailcom
Programs/Activities: Vacant
Public Relations (Dir): Rick Jarvis, MO 573 422-9912 rick.jarvis@hughes.net
Publication (Dir): Janice L. Hale, MA 978 369-3421 jhale@world.std.com
Resources (Dir): Vacant
Chapter coordinator: Tom Eckert, PA 717 766-3492 tjghg@verizon.net
Your Questions Answered: Paul Holzwarth, MA 508 865-1609 holzwarthp@charter.net
Historian: Barbara Wich, IN 219 674-9170 wichrichard@msn.com
Robins: Jackie Prendergast, AZ 866 210-0709 jackiepen@aol.com
Webmaster: Joe Kerenick, SC 803 738-7556 jkerenick1@sc.rr.com
Membership Services
HGA is a non-profit organization of people who garden in hobby greenhouses, window greenhouses,
light gardens, and other indoor areas. Membership in HGA includes a subscription to Hobby Greenhouse
magazine. Other membership benefits include round-robin letters, email correspondence, help and advice
on greenhouse gardening, and discounts on greenhouses, supplies, and print materials.
Membership Renewal
Your membeship in HGA expires two weeks after the date printed in the HGA membership card on the back
cover of Hobby Greenhouse magazine. In order to avoid missing any issues, please renw your membership
before this date.
Change of Address/Corrections
Please notify us of any changes or corrections in your address as soon as possible. Bulk mail is not
forwarded. You could lose a copy of the magazine if it is undeliverable.
Membership Dues
US: $28/yr, $54/2yrs, Contributing Membership $60, Sustaining Membership $100 Canada and Mexico $30/
yr $58/ 2yrs
(Canadian money orders payable in US dollars)
Mail to: HGA Membership, 922 Norwood Dr., Norwalk, IA 50211-1329
To pay by credit or debit card: www.hobbygreenhouse.org
Membership Questions: schreiberra@hotmailcom
Missing Issues: Publications Office, 80 Deaconess Rd., Suite 443, Concord, MA 01742-4173 or jhale@
world.std.com
Advertising: Advertising rates and information can be obtained from Publications Director Jan Hale. The
Hobby Greenhouse Association reserves the right to refuse an advertisement.

The HGA Board of Directors would like to acknowledge the following members that made a donation
over and above their dues in 2011. Marcia Brooks , Bob Gibson, Howard Royce, Wendy Burnett,
Anthony Hale, Sandra Wiggins, Jeannette Dupey, Carole Henderson, Joan Wilson, Denise Elliott,
Greta Janssen. Thank you!
Hobby Greenhouse

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Editor: Roger Marshall


Contributors: Paula Szilard, Kathy Bokelman
Donna Bocox, Peg Spaete
Hobby Greenhouse Magazine (ISSN
1040-6212) is published quarterly by the
Hobby Greenhouse Association, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, to promote
greenhouse and indoor gardening as
ahobby or avocation, and to disseminate
practical and instructioive information
relatcie to the erection, maintenance, and
operation of a greenhouse by a hobbyist.
Subscription/Membership Rates
Member: US $28 (Two years $54)
Contributing Member
$60
Sustaining Member
$100
Canada and Mexico $30, Two years $60)
Canadian and International Money orders
payable in US funds.
Single copy non-member price US $3.50,
overseas $4.50.
Correspondence All advertising
correspondence should be addressed
to Hobby Greenhouse Association, 80
Deaconess Rd., Suite 443, Concord, MA
01742-4173 Tel: 978 369-3421
Email: jhale@world.std.com
Editorial Correspondence should be
addressed to Roger Marshall, Email:
EditorHGA@gmail.com
The Hobby Greenhouse Association reserves
the right to refuse any advertisement.
Disclaimer Every care is taken in compiling
this magazine to ensure the accuracy
of the articles but the editor and HGA
assume no responsibility for any effects
therefrom. While care is taken of material
submitted, we cannot be responsible for
loss or damage. No portion of this material
may be reprinted without permision.
Copyright 2012
Hobby Greenhouse Association
80 Deaconess Road, Suite 443
Concord, MA 01742-4173
Printed on 30% Post Consumer Recycled
Paper
PRINTED IN THE USA by E Graphics LLC

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Write for Us
Tell our readers about your experiences
in your greenhouse. Hobby Greenhouse
magazine is looking for stories about
greenhouse gardening, growing
techniques, and raising plants under
cover.
All indoor gardeners have a plant (or plants)
they love to grow. Many of us have discovered
new growing techniques and tools that others
want to know about. Many of us built our own
greenhouse and learned several valuable
lessons. Why not share your knowledge with
other readers.
Write about your passion. Hobby Greenhouse
magazine is looking for articles about 1200
words in length. If you write one youll get free
membership for one year in HGA. (Shorter
articles compensated proportionately.) If you
have or can take photographs thats even better.
(Contact the Editor for ways to submit a story
and keep the photo information on page 37.)
Editor: Roger Marshall
email: editorhobbygreehouse@gmail.com
Publications Director: Jan Hale
Email: Jhale@world.std.com
Snail mail: Hobby Greenhouse Magazine
80 Deaconess Rd., Suite 443
Concord, MA 01742-4173

In the Summer Issue


Paula Szilard will look at some of the many
species of Ficus.
Tom Eckert has a profile of Ed Egolf and his
garden.
Tom Karasek describes what to look for when
buying a new greenhouse.
We have several new products coming over
the next few months that well tell you about.
Plus well have all your usual departments
and sections.

Hobby Greenhouse

Your Questions Answered (Formerly Cyber Connections)

Image by Roger Marshall

Note: All responses may be edited


for length and clarity.

Whitefly on the underside of a fig


leaf.
Could you please ask the HGA group if anyone has had success fighting whitefly in their greenhouse? I have tried soap sprays,
pyrethrum and Neem oil with very limited effect. Thank you, M Thomas.
I too, find white fly, especially on tomato plants. I use yellow sticky pads to ascertain the number of whitefly and then
spray with insecticidal oil. Post the yellow pads, then gently shake the plants to get the white fly airborne, then spray
with insecticidal oil. This only controls them. I have also found that scented geraniums near plants with whitefly seems
to deter them. This works best when the greenhouse windows are closed. I have imported insects, but that only works
until the windows are opened, then the insects tend to fly away. Roger Marshall
Coping successfully with whiteflies requires patience - lots of it. Soap sprays and neem oil will work well as will any
light horticultural oil used to control scale insects. First, forget about trying to deal with the adult whiteflies. They quickly
fly off if disturbed and relatively few are sufficiently contacted by the treatments mentioned above. You have to go after
the eggs and nymphs which are small, and don't fly or move around. So a well applied treatment well will get rid of
most of the eggs and nymphs. Of course, the surviving adults will fly back, lay eggs which hatch into nymphs that you
must wipe out with another treatment. However, if you can keep your greenhouse tight enough to severely limit entry
of fresh adults from the outside, continued treatments will result in effectively wiping out the pest in your greenhouse.
This method also takes advantage of the fact that the average life span of the adult is measured in days. I use yellow
sticky paper and also clean up and dispose of dead and partial eaten leaves and finally, since a greenhouse is a closed
system get a frog to eat em up
Bob Lippi
As a very last resort, on the recommendation of a friend of a friend, I used a 40/60 rubbing alcohol/rainwater solution,
sprayed on my Meyer Lemon (covered with white fly), left it on for 10 minutes, rinsed it off with 100% water; repeated 3
days later; worked wonders. I was astounded at the success of this approach as I've battled white flies in my greenhouse
repeatedly with much less success using all the recommended treatments. While it worked very well for the Meyer Lemon,
I'm not sure less sturdy plants would do as well, but if you are getting desperate, as was I, it is worth the try. Alice Dionne
Yellow sticky traps work well for a light infestation as does a 24/7 wall-mounted fan or two set to rotate the air around
the greenhouse. An inexpensive yellow trap can be made from a sliced-up margarine tub coated with old motor oil. Some
people say that certain plants are white fly magnets, but I think that is climate specific. Tom Karasek
I feel your pain. I always seem to have white flies. I too have tried every spray known to man. I started to use a systemic
product that my local local gardening store had Instead of a spray, it is granules which I sprinkle on the top of the container.
Every time you water it sends some of the product into the plant. This seems to work better with new plants than the older
(continued on next page)
Hobby Greenhouse

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Your Questions Answered... again


ones. Every plant that comes into the greenhouse gets a few teaspoons of this in the container. Sticky yellow white fly
traps work to some extent. They definitely capture the flies, but do not stop them from reproducing. My other success is
just to rip the plants out of the ground or remove the container and throw them away. My last success is as the weather
cools the flies are naturally reduced in number compared to the summer. Lyndsey
Three of the best over the counter sprays for heavy infection I would recommend are Orthene, Malathion and Sevin.
Would not recommend Orthene or Malathion if greenhouse is attached to living quarters, the smell may not be appreciated.
Sevin has almost no smell when sprayed. You may have several generations of whitefly active at the same time and
breaking that cycle is more difficult. Increase your spray of which ever sprays you feel OK with including what you now
use unless you have been using it for several years in the greenhouse. Spray every seven days. Insects can and do build
up immunity to sprays when used for long periods of time. It is best to rotate spray types to prevent this from happening.
I highly recommend using the yellow sticky cards to monitor pests. Place them just above the plant leaf height, use several
as more is better to trap the pests. White fly are attracted to them, you will be amazed at the success killing them this way.
This works only on the adult white fly but eliminate the adults and you will reduce reproduction of them. Tap your plants
occasionally to make them airborne and many will be attracted to the cards and die. Fly paper hung in the greenhouse
is also successful on them and many flying insects but it just does not look as nice just hanging there. Tom Eckert
I have used the granular form of Imidacloprid, sold as Marathon, with great success. It is systemic and you can't use it
on food plants, but works well to control scale, mealybugs, and whiteflies on ornamental plants. It is the same chemical
that is in the Bayer Tree and Shrub Insect Killer, but it labeled for use inside. The Tree and Shrub spray is not, and should
only be used outside. The carriers in it would be too toxic to you in the greenhouse. If you can't find Marathon, there are
other brands formulated for indoors.
My husband, a state entomologist specializing in horticultural insect control, says you might also want to follow up the
Marathon by spraying Insecticidal Soap on the underside of the leaves, especially on the lower part of the plant. This is
where the immature flies will tend to accumulate, and where the Imidacloprid will be least effective sytemically. He also
said to mention that there is also a "Q Type" whitefly that is resistant to about any insecticide that you can throw at it. I
hope that isn't the one you have. If you have Q Type, the soaps and oils work best. They recommend a "crop free period"
in your greenhouse. That means disposing off all your whitefly-infested plants and resting the greenhouse, or lowering
your expectations and put up with the some whiteflies. Commercial greenhouses alternate insecticides that homeowners
can't get, and then leaving the greenhouse vacant in the winter and not heating it (in areas where the temperature gets
below freezing), and freezing out the whiteflies. Carie Nixon
White fly can be very difficult to control as repeat spraying is necessary to kill the new fly's as they hatch. I have begun
using a combination systemic insecticide (applied to the soil at 8 week intervals), yellow sticky traps and a variety of
insect sprays. I spray every 3 or 4 days, using a different spray like Malathion, Neem oil, pyrethrins, and others. White fly
do become immune to sprays used repeatedly. I have also heard that the fly's do not fly after dark, so spraying at night
will be most effective. Mary Tarkinow

Photography Competition Entry Form


You may make a facsimile of this form if you do not want to cut your magazine.If you send in an electronic image, make
sure all the details below are included. Your name will be checked against our member list. Non-members will be eliminated.

Name _______________________________________ Phone # _____________________________


Street address ________________________________ Address _____________________________
City _________________________ State _________ Zip or postcode __________________________
email address ________________________________ web site (optional) www.___________________
Name of entry ___________________________________________________________________
Page 8

Hobby Greenhouse

Photography Competition Sponsored by

Charleys Greenhouse & Garden

1. The photography competition is sponsored by Charleys Greenhouse and Garden who are providing prizes to
the value of $500 for first prize, $300 for second prize, and $200 for third prize. Each prize will be in the form of
vouchers for products from Charleys Greenhouse. and Garden
2. As this is the first year for the Photography competition, the subject is Your Greenhouse. Each picture must be
taken in or around your greenhouse. A part of your greenhouse either inside or outside must be in the picture. It
doesnt matter if you only have a piece of frame showing, that counts. You can enter any number of times, but each
entry must be accompanied by a copy of the entry form at the bottom of the opposite page.
3. To enter the competition the photographer must be a member of Hobby Greenhouse Association.
4. The photographer retains all rights to the images but agrees to allow Hobby Greenhouse Association and Charleys
Greenhouse and Garden to use the images in the Hobby Greenhouse magazine, in promotional pieces and in
advertising for Charleys Greenhouse and Garden or for the Hobby Greenhouse Association.
5. Closing date for entries is midnight July 31st. Entries must be postmarked or emailed before midnight July 31st.
6. The results will be published in the Winter 2013 issue.
7. The competition judges will be the editor of Hobby Greenhouse magazine, Charley Yaw, President of Charleys
Greenhouse adn Garden, the president of the Hobby Greenhouse Association and a well known photographer.
8. Images must be unretouched jpg images. Photoshopped, retouched, or amended images will be discarded.
9. The Hobby Greenhouse Association and Charleys Greenhouse and Garden assume no liability for loss or misuse
of any entries.
10. You will ba asked to provide an email address to allow us to inform you if you have won and for Charleys
Greenhouse and Garden to mail you information on some of their products. There will be no other use of your email
address. See entry form on opposite page.

Guidelines for entries.

1. All photos should have a minimum of 300 dpi (dots per inch). Ideally, images will be 8 x 10, but may be 6 x
8. (This will typically give a file size of one to three kBs).
2. You can deliver your images by email to editorhobbygreenhouse @gmail.com or send them by snail mail on a CD
or on a flash drive. We accept no responsibility for safe delivery of any emailed or mailed items. Snail mail deliveries
to Editor/Hobby Greenhouse magazine, 44 Ft. Wetherill Rd., Jamestown, RI 02835.
3. You can send prints with your electronic CD, but printed entries without an electronic version will not be accepted.
4. We suggest that you save your images at the highest resolution that your camera allows to give the best possible
picture. Blurred images will not win prizes unless they are done for special effect, such as a waterfall.
5. When taking a picture we suggest that you get in close. Many pictures have a beautiful image of a flower that
is nicely centered in the picture, but the flower is a dot in the middle of the screen. If you are taking a picture of a
flower with a bumble bee on it, get right up to the flower so that it fills most of the screen, focus in tightly on the
bee and press the shutter gently. (You may get stung, but if you win it will have been worth it.)
6. We expect to get a lot of flower pictures, but we will be looking for something unusual that stands out beyond
the norm.

Hobby Greenhouse

Page 9

growing Elephant Ear


(Alocasia)
By Kathy Bokelman

or an interesting, unique plant, the Elephant


Ear is a great choice. There are 70 some
species in this genus from tropical southern
Asia. Reaching as tall as 8 feet, this clumping plant
is hardy to zone 8. It has luxurious heart shaped
leaves that can reach 3 feet long and 2 feet wide.
The most widely known elephant ears or taro
(for those with a culinary bent,) are classified
as Colocasia esculenta. Various cultivars also
exist, including the black leafed elephant ear
plants called Black Magic. These plants love
wet conditions and partial shade. I planted the
Black Magic corms in front of my compost pile,
where they received a heavy dose of nutrients as
well as damp, soggy conditions. Elephant ears are
great for areas where it is difficult to find other
suitable plants.
In zones 9 and above, these plants are treated
as annuals and need to be dug up after a frost has
killed off the tops. Allow them to dry in an airy,
Page 10

shaded area. When they begin to shrivel and the


dried up dirt falls off, put them in a cool garage
or basement (above 50 degrees), and store as you
would canna bulbs. Make sure the corms have an
airy location so they dont rot. Hanging in a well
ventilated sack works well. Elephant ear corms,
that are large, need little attention until spring
when they are ready to go outdoors. The smaller
corms can use an occasional quick spritz of water
to keep them from totally drying out.
In zones 8 and below, elephant ears are
perennial, have naturalized and are widespread.
They are actually considered invasive in some
areas of southern Florida.
Even though I have grown them for several
years, this is the first year I have had multiple
blooms and seed pods. The long stemmed
yellow, arum- like flowers are not very showy;
however, it is exciting to discover them hidden
in the dense foliage. The seed pods, didnt have
Hobby Greenhouse

Above: A new blooming ear (yellow spike)


appearing on a healthy plant.
(All images by Kathy Bokelman)

Left: Elephant Ear plants growing in Kathy Bokelmans garden.


Above: The seed pods of Alacosia (Elephant Ear).)

are edible, but most contain poisonous


crystals which cause numbing of the
throat & tongue. Poi, frequently eaten
in Hawaii, is made from the root of the
Colocasia esculenta or Taro.

time to ripen during our growing season, so the picture


depicts the still green, developing seeds Elephant ears
have few problems other than aphids or spider mites. Sources for information on Alocasia are from
In some areas, mosaic virus in common although I have About.com, Fine Gardening and Botanica.
never seen it.
Divide the bulbs in winter
or spring. When planting,
GREENHOUSES
after the danger of frost
is over, position them
so that any remnants of
Sturdy Aluminum Frame
TwinWall or Glass
last years stem rise above
Many Styles and Sizes
the soil level. Since there
Full Line of Accessories
are no roots at this point,
Building Materials
only water them once,
Serving gardeners for over 37 years
and wait until the leaves
emerge to douse again.
(800) 322-4707
They may be started
early in a greenhouse.
A word of caution.
The roots of some species
charleysgreenhouse.com

Charleys

Hobby Greenhouse

Page 11

Starting YOUr Own Seeds


By Roger MArshall

f you plan on germinating your own seeds,


the first step is to determine the last frost date
for your area. Then, about six to eight weeks
before the last frost, you should start your seeds.
Youll need planting pots or trays, a potting soil,
and of course moisture, warmth, and light to get
the seeds going.

can usually buy them at your local garden center,


or you can order them wholesale from Growers
Supply (www.growersupply.com) or A.M.
Leonard (www.amleo.com). If you are recycling
pots that you used the previous year, wash them
in a solution of warm water and a tablespoon
or two of bleach. This will kill most unwanted
organisms.

Pots and Trays

Potting Soil

You can use almost any type of planting


container to start seeds in. I use 11 x 22 seed
trays and then transplant the seedlings as soon
as they show two true leaves. Inserts holding 24,
36, or 72 individual plants can also be set into
11x 22 trays. These inserts, which cost about
$2 each, allow you to grow individual plants
that can easily be repotted. But be aware that
the soil in these inserts can dry out quickly if
you are not careful about watering. When it is
time to transplant to individual containers, I use
4 square pots because it is easy to water the
plants in them without spilling water between
the pots, as often occurs when the pots are round.
Whatever planting containers you decide on, you
Page 12

I use Pro-Mix BX purchased from a wholesale


supplier. I have used it for years and really like it.
But there are many other potting-soil options. At
the least expensive end of the spectrum is the DIY
mixture of homemade compost, vermiculite, sand
(building sand, not salty beach sand), and peat
moss, the proportions of which vary according
to the plants you intend to grow. If this sounds
like too much effort, then purchase a potting soil
of good quality and stick with it if it gives you
success.
In most cases you will need to moisten a
potting medium, but dont over-moisten. Potting
soil is not too moist if you can squeeze a fistful
and no water comes out. Once moistened to your
Hobby Greenhouse

satisfaction, place the soil in


the tray or pot and gently pat
the surface flat. You want to
firm up the soil, not compact it.

Lighting

I start my seeds under ordinary


fluorescent lights set in
inexpensive shop-light fixtures.
I see no reason to spend upwards
of $30 for a twisted garden
light fluorescent tube when
an ordinary $2 tube will do
the job. Put a warm white tube
and a cold white tube in each
shop light. This will give you a
wide enough light spectrum to
start most seedlings. Although
most of your seedlings will be
under these lights for only six
to eight weeks, I have grown
salad greens under them to
about 4 inches high.

Seed Choices

If you are going to start your


seeds eight to ten weeks before
the last frost, perennial flowers,
eggplants, and peppers are
good choices. Many perennial
flowers need to be tricked
into thinking that they have
survived a full winter before
they set flowers, so you might
want to start them very early
(up to three months before the
last frost) and then put them in
a cool greenhouse for up to six
weeks. Eggplants and peppers
take ten days to two weeks to
germinate and are slow growers,
which is why you want to
start them a little earlier than
plants like tomatoes. Ideally,
start tomatoes about six weeks
before the last frost and give
them enough light and warmth
to keep them from getting
leggy. You will also need to
keep planting tomatoes into
larger pots, and you may very
well end up setting out plants
with fruit on them. Leeks and
onions should be started about
ten to twelve weeks before the
last frost, but the timing of
them can be tricky. For longHobby Greenhouse

Above: The authors germination chamber in late January. Each fluorescent fixture
has a warm and a cool white light tube. The fixtures can be raised or lowered to keep
them just above the seedlings. The bottom tray is growing winter salad greens.
Below: Lettuce seedlings after planting out in the cool greenhouse.(All images by Roger
Marshall)

Page 13

Lef t: D if fer ent k inds


of lettuce with peas at
the back in the cool
greenhouse.
Below: Snow peas in
bloom at the back of the
cool greenhouse.

day onions, you


want your plants to
have reached pencil
thickness and be set
out in the garden
soil before your area
is receiving 14 hours
of daylight. This is
because, when the
days are longer than
14 hours, the plants
will start to bulb.
Lettuce and brassicas
(cabbage, broccoli,
etc.) grow much
faster than leeks and
onions, so they can
be started only ten
to fifteen days before
the last frost.

Seed Planting

For most plants, sprinkle the seedlings on top


of the potting soil and gently press them into
it. Then sprinkle a little vermiculite or potting
soil over them so that the seedlings are covered
to a depth of about twice the size of the seed.
Spray with a mister and cover the tray or pot
with plastic wrap. If the trays are going to be left
near a window, you might want to cover them
If you have seeds left over from last year and
want to know if they are viable, soak two paper
towels and squeeze out the moisture. Spread
them out and sprinkle about a hundred (twenty or
fifty seeds will do just as well) on the towels. Put
them in a plastic zip top bag and put it in a warm
place (on top of the water heater is a favorite).
Check them every two or three days. If half of
your seeds germinate you will know to sow those
seeds at double the normal amount. You can
also set up seeds in paper towels and baggies
and put them in the refrigrerator for about six to
eight weeks to stratify them - that is, give them
alternate periods of cold and warm temperatures
to help break dormancy.

Page 14

Hobby Greenhouse

also with newspaper until the seeds germinate,


but in a germination chamber I dont bother with
newspaper.
For good germination, you will need to
locate your trays in an area where they will get a
constant 65 to 80 degrees F of bottom heat. Less
than 65 degree or more than 80 degrees will give
only spotty germination. In most cases 70 degrees
is just about right.
If you are growing plants such as impatiens
or primula, you need only sprinkle the seeds on
the surface of the soil and mist or spray them
lightly. Do not cover them either with soil or with
newspaper. Simply put a piece of clear plastic
wrap over the tray and put the tray in a warm area
under lights. Impatiens, primula, and many other
small seeds require light to germinate, plus they
need temperatures of around 65 to 75 degrees.
No matter what seeds you are germinating,
check each tray regularly beginning about a week
after planting. As soon as about half to two-thirds
of the seeds have germinated, remove the plastic
wrap as well as any newspaper and mist or water
as required. I find that under lights the trays need
water almost every other day. It only takes a few
minutes to water with a small watering can or
you can spray it. Let the surface of the potting soil
dry a little before spraying it. If you keep it too
Hobby Greenhouse

moist and too cool, youll encourage dampingoff disease and your seedlings will die.
After the seedlings have their first pair
of true leaves, they should be transplanted into
larger pots. If you leave this job too late, youll
find that the roots of the seedlings have grown
together and you will tear the roots as you repot
the plants. Handle all seedlings by their leaves,
not their stems, to avoid crushing them.
Growing your own seedlings is rewarding
and fun, but you need to watch them carefully.
Too much water and too low a temperature
and your seedlings might get mildewed and
die. Letting the plants dry out can also kill
them. If you do it right, however, you can get
hundreds of plants from one seed packet and
save a substantial sum over store-bought plants.
If you want to sow small seeds, mix them with a little
sand before sowing. The sand will help you pick up fewer
seeds and will help spread the seedlings more evenly. If
your seeds are very small leave them on the top of the
soil and simply press them gently into the surface. Use
a mister on smalll seeds otherwise you wash them into
clumps which will get tangled roots.

Page 15

Flowering Cactus
by Donna Bocox

ven though I have been growing cactus for


the past twelve years, I am still a beginner.
My love of cacti started while living in
sunny California. Then I moved to Iowa which
presented a whole different set of challenges. No
longer could I just grow them outdoors and cover
them on those infrequent nights when the temp
dipped down below freezing. In Iowa I had to
figure out how to grow them all over again. This
introduced a greenhouse to my cactus family.
When I moved from California I brought with
me about 100 cacti. Building an extra garage to
our home, my husband added a large bay window
with the intention that I could put my entire
cactus collection in that window. That lasted
just one year, because (of course) I continued to
collect. Currently I have just under 500 of the
little prickly buddies, but I am still a beginner
as far as collecting and growing. I do not know
many of the correct names, in fact I have no
intention of learning the names, although I do
try to collect the name of each plant and put it
Page 16

on a stick inside the pot. I also keep a spreadsheet


of what I purchased, when, and from whom.
I buy cactus for a completely different reason.
I love the flowers. Anything that has an unusual,
large, or colorful flower on it, is what I collect.
If you give them adequately draining soil, dont
overwater, and give them a good source of light
most cacti will flourish and flower. Most of mine
have indeed flourished. Thats not to say that I
havent killed a few along the way.
My cactus is in my 10x15 greenhouse for
most of the year. In summer, I put some out on
my deck and around the yard. The change of
scenery does most of them good, and causes
many to bloom during the summer.
Even though they are cactus they still get
watered. The outdoor ones get watered when it
rains. In the summer, cactus that stay inside the
greenhouse get watered about every 10 days. In
the winter they are all inside my winterized
greenhouse and I water about every 3 weeks.
Watering is done when it is warm inside the
Hobby Greenhouse

Opposite page: Lobivia Winterania in full bloom. Above: Neoporteria in full bloom. Donnas cactus spend
winters in her greenhouse which is carefully wrapped and heated to keep them happy.
greenhouse (around noon) which gives plenty
There are not a lot of cactus nurseries in Iowa.
of time for the water to be absorbed into the Therefore I have had to search out other sources.
soil before temperature in the greenhouse drops I have grown children that live in both Arizona
down for the overnight. You dont want them to and California so I have found my favorite source
be sitting in water at night when the temp inside in each place. My oldest son lives in Tucson,
the greenhouse can get down into the 40s. Cacti about 5 miles from Miles 2 Go, owned by
do not like their feet wet. (The temperature Miles Anderson. Most of his business is mail
inside the greenhouse during a winters gets up order (www.miles2go.com) I like to visit his
to 90s when the sun is out even if the outside nursery, pick his brain and look at his awesome
greenhouses. His website offers a huge number
temp is 10 degrees)
of cactus and succulents, including grafts, with
Cacti are easy to grow, keeping a couple of pictures of most on line and the best part is that
rules in mind:
shipping is included with price of cacti. Miles
has more knowledge about cacti in his little finger
1) Dont overwater. Better to not water at all than I will ever have in my entire body. Another
then to overwater. They will tolerate no water, but favorite place is in California, Poots House of
they will not tolerate too much water.
Cactus in Ripon, CA. She has a huge selection
and variety and is another wealth of information
2) Plant them into a mixture that is quick on the cactus specie.
draining. I make up a simple mixture of potting
I challenge you to try your hand at growing
soil, part sand and part of Gran-i-grit (crushed these unusual plants. You will find it easy
granite which can be purchased at a feed store).
and rewarding to get them to grow and flower.
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Page 17

Having them in a greenhouse


has another benefit. You have
your own little oasis in the
winter in your back yard. If the
temp outside is 10 degrees, the
temp inside your winterized
greenhouse can get up to 90
degrees. So, get your lawn chair,
sit back on Sunday afternoon
with your favorite beverage and
enjoy all your prickly buddies!
If you have additional questions
or comments please feel free
to email me at cactuslover@
wildblue.net

Page 18

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Top Left: Notocactus in full color. Bottom left: Schlumbergera (Christmas cactus) Inset left: Epiphyllum. Top
this page: Echinocereus Pnetalophus. Bottom: Huernia in full bloom. (All images by Donna Bocox)

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Page 19

Growing Heirloom Tomatoes


By Paula Szilard

Tomatoes are one of the most widely grown crops in the summer garden, but for many people heirloom
tomatoes have a taste that takes them back to their childhood. Here Paula Szilard looks at how and
what to grow to get the best heirloom tomatoes.

e owe the Italians a lot, really. They gave


us an array of delectable foods, including
spaghetti, pizza and delicious vegetables
such as broccoli, but most importantly, they gave
us the modern tomato.
When the tomato first reached Europe around
1550 from its ancestral home in the Andes, it was
a very small yellow round fruit no bigger than a
cherry. Hence, the Italian name pomodoro or
golden apple. True, tomatoes were domesticated
in Mexico well before they reached Italy and
Spain, but the Italians were largely responsible
for creating the tomatoes we have today.
At that time, Europeans still werent sure the
tomato was safe to eat. It languished for another
200 years, cultivated only as a curiosity, but the
fearless Italians saw the potential in this fruit.
They not only ate it and lived to tell, but they
also selected the best varieties and bred larger
and better fruit. The Spanish were also early
Page 20

adopters, having received shipments from their


colonies in the New World. They likewise made
extensive use of the tomato in their cuisine, but
not as abundantly as the Italians. From these
two countries the tomato spread to France. And
from there it conquered the world.
Early in their history tomatoes were a hard
sell, but they became so popular in Europe that
in 1812 they arrived back in the New World via
New Orleans. It is said that Thomas Jefferson
himself smuggled in seeds from France. Then
around 1840, the tomato took off like wildfire.
Fearing Burr, a prominent horticulturist in
New England, wrote in 1863, in his classic
book, Field and Garden Vegetables of America,
that cultivation had increased four-fold in the
previous 20 years and that tomatoes were so
universally enjoyed that they were served in
one form or another during every season of the
year.
Hobby Greenhouse

The person most


responsible for the
tomatos success
in America was
an Ohio seedsman
named Alexander
Livingston, who
bred for flavor and
smooth skin. He
developed more
than a dozen very
popular varieties
in the late 1800s,
becoming the
undisputed leader
of American
tomato breeding.
Some of his tomato
varieties, such as
Golden Queen and
Paragon, are still
in our heirloom
repertoire of today.
Most of the
old varieties,
u n f o r t u n a t e l y,
are now forever
lost. Those that
remain and have
been passed down
through the generations for at
least 50 years are legitimately
referred to as heirloom tomatoes.
Some heirlooms were actually
commercial introductions of
the time and were then saved
by gardeners. The key is that
they are all open-pollinated,
in other words, not hybrids.
Unlike hybrids, these plants
come true from seed. Many of
them produce larger fruits and
therefore need a longer growing
season. A considerable number
require a growing season of 8090 days from planting out.
As Americans have become
more discerning in their tomato
preferences, garden centers have
begun offering more heirloom
varieties. Heirloom growers
with a penchant for the more
unusual varieties grow their
own plants from seed. Heirloom
seeds are now much easier to find, thanks to
the Seed Savers Exchange (www.seedsavers.
org) and a growing number of commercial seed
companies such as Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
making them available.
Hobby Greenhouse

Opposite Page: Cherokee Purple


Top: Riestomate Tomato
Above Yellow Pear
(All Images Courtesy of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds)
Page 21

The following are some popular heirloom


varieties for fresh eating:
Brandywine. This legendary tomato is
considered by many tomato connoisseurs to be
the best and have the most complex flavor. It
is large and may need up to 100 days to ripen.
There are many Brandywines, a pink variety, the
Sudduth strain of the pink variety, a red one, a
yellow one, and one called Brandywine OTV, to
mention a few.
Black Krim. This Russian variety is fast gaining
popularity. Connoisseurs have described this
tomato as exotic and musky, even smoky.
Cherokee Purple. So named because it is said
to come from the Cherokee Indians and has a
purplish skin. It is said to rival the Brandywine
in flavor.
Riesentraube. This grape tomato, as its German
name indicates consists of giant bunches of
grapes. There may be up to 350 blossoms in
a floral spray. The flavor is considered fruity
and full.
Yellow Pear. Attractive in appearance, but
mildly flavored, this tomato is a favorite mostly
because its so pretty in a salad or on a crudites
tray.
Green Zebra. This small ripe-when-green
tomato is a small yellowish green fruit with
green striping. Connoisseurs consider it full
flavored and spicy.

Page 22

Hobby Greenhouse

Tomato Growing Tips


1. After all danger of frost hast passed, test your soil temperature. It must be at least
50 F, 6 inches below the surface. You can warm it by using walls of water for earlier
planting.
2. Select a sunny location. Tomatoes need a minimum of 6 hours of sunshine.
3. Plant plants deeply, especially if stems are weak, at least 3 feet apart.
4. Rotate your tomatoes and other solanaceous vegetables, such as peppers, potatoes and
eggplants, planting them in the same location only every 3rd or 4th year. Admittedly,
this is difficult in a small garden, but it keeps soil-borne disease organisms from
building up.
5. Water tomatoes regularly and evenly, applying about 1 of water per week. Good
watering will help you avoid blossom end rot, a calcium deficiency which shows in
garden tomatoes when plants are not consistently and evenly watered. It shows up
in container grown tomatoes because potting mixes and most tomato fertilizers lack
calcium.
6. Stake them using a steel fence post or a wooden stake. Save your nylon stockings to tie
them up.
7. Cage your tomatoes. For best results, build cages from steel wire grids for reinforcing
concrete, available at building supply stores.
8. Fertilize using a good tomato fertilizer, either organic or conventional. Do not use
high nitrogen fertilizers. You will get leafy growth and less fruit. Use a fertilizer with
roughly equal levels of nitrogen or phosphorus, with a little more potassium.
9. Mulch your plants. This not only saves water, but keeps soil from splashing up on the
plants, lessening exposure to soil-borne disease.
10. Its best not to water from the top, to avoid cracking of fruits.
11. Do not use herbicides anywhere near your tomatoes. Tomatoes are so sensitive to
herbicide injury, horticulturists consider them an indicator plant.
12. When growing in containers, use a good quality potting mix, not garden soil, but
be mindful of the fact that such mixes have virtually no nutrients. Unlike Colorado
garden soils, potting mixes have no calcium and unfortunately, neither do most tomato
fertilizers, so sprinkle a little horticultural lime over the top of the potting mix.
Tomatoes on Opposite page: Top: Black Krim. Middle:Natures Riddle. Bottom left: Pink Brandywine.
Bottom Right Green Zebra (All Images courtesy of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds www.rareseeds.com)

Help Wanted

The Hobby Greenhouse Association is looking for a Treasurer and a Secretary. The job descriptions
below are taken from the HGA Guide to the board.
The SECRETARY shall: Publish the Board Report monthly, Keep the minutes of any official
meetings. Send out notices or correspondence as directed by the President or the Executive
Board. Maintain a record of the Association bylaws, amendments, important correspondence,
standing committee reports, special rules, voting results and other documents of importance to
the association. Provide secretarial services as requested.
The TREASURER shall: Be the chief fiduciary officer. Be responsible for the receipt and deposit of
all funds. Make all authorized disbursements by check only. Keep a book record of all transactions.
Provide quarterly and annual reports to the Board
If you would like to volunteer contact Tom Karasek at 360 578-1228 tomsherron@msn.com
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Page 23

G r ow i ng F r u i t i n Y o u r
greenhouse
BY Roger MArshall

rowing fresh fruit in your greenhouse is not


difficult. First, you need to decide what
kinds of fruit you want to grow and then
you need to buy the plants. That sounds easy,
doesnt it, but theres a catch. If you decide to
grow the same kinds of fruit that you can harvest
in your yard, all youll be doing is extending your
growing season by a few weeks. But if you decide
to grow tropical fruits instead, you will need to
heat your greenhouse in the winter, and that can
become prohibitively expensive if you live north
of the Mason-Dixon Line. For example, I have
banana trees in my greenhouse. They are fun to
grow and I can use the leaves for cooking, such
as for wrapping pork. The question is: Would it
be worthwhile to keep the winter greenhouse
temperature high enough to encourage these
trees to set fruit when bananas can be purchased
so cheaply in the supermarket? I figure that a
stalk of wintertime bananas could cost as much
as $200 in your northern greenhouse, and much
of the stalk would probably spoil before you had
a chance to eat it all!

Page 24

Growing Citrus

The most common fruits grown in greenhouses


are citrus. Dwarf and semi-dwarf grafted trees
can be purchased for $20 to $40 and grown in a
pot. They are easy to care for and do not require
exceedingly high temperatures during winter.
When planting a citrus tree into a new pot, follow
these simple tips. Make sure the fibrous root ball
is covered but dont cover the growing stem. If
your tree is graft, make sure that no shoots come
from the rootstock. If they do, nip those shoots
off with your fingers before they can get woody.
Other than that, just keep your tree watered on
a regular schedule and wait for it to come into
bloom.
Most citrus plants set a ton of flowers, giving
a wonderful fragrance in your greenhouse.
However, they typically require insect pollination,
so if you have no insects in your greenhouse you
will have to use a paintbrush and hand-pollinate
from one flower to another. Even then, most of
the flowers will drop off. It is said that more than
90% of citrus flowers never make it to fruit.
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When you do detect fruit developing on your


citrus tree, you need to fertilize the plant and
keep the soil moist and warm to get the fruit to
grow properly. If you dont, the fruit will simply
drop off. You can feed the plant with citrus
fertilizer (7-3-3), and once or twice a season put
a dose of liquid iron in your watering can. Citrus
leaves tend to turn slightly yellow if you do not
add iron to their diet.
Here in Rhode Island, I find that my citrus
trees come into bloom in April or May when
the greenhouse door is open and insects can fly
in to pollinate. The fruit grows slowly over the
summer and is not ready to pick until December
through mid-February. This means that the trees
have to be kept fairly warm over the winter. If
you let them get very cold, the leaves will fall
off, and they will not start to grow again until the
following spring (provided the tree hasnt died).
When putting your citrus plants outdoors
after a winter in the greenhouse, try not to put
them in direct sunlight. Direct sun will often
burn the leaves, leaving them looking yellow
and unhealthy. If your only locations are very
sunny ones, acclimate the tree to direct sunlight
slowly to minimize leaf burn.
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Page 25

Citrus Pest Control

Citrus can get messy in the greenhouse.


Whiteflies like to hide under the leaves and
suck the sap. Thrips also hide on the underside
of the leaves, and on the tops of the leaves you
can also get black, sooty mold.
All these problems are controllable. During
the summer I spray with liquid copper fungicides
to kill off any mold that might be on the leaves.
Two or three sprays over the summer will
usually control it completely. I find the best time
to spray for insects is in the fall just before I put
the citrus trees back into the greenhouse. At that
time I spray for whiteflies and other common
pests. I use neem oil or pyrethrin sprays two
weeks apart. The second spray catches the
insects that might hatch after the first spray.
Weather permitting, I like to do one last spray of
dormant oil to kill off scale and any other insects
before putting the plants into the greenhouse for
the winter. This may seem like a lot of spraying,
but you do not want an insect bloom or lots of
sooty mold in the tightly controlled atmosphere
of your greenhouse.
Once in the greenhouse, you can pick your fruit
as you need it. Citrus fruits are great for putting
in pies, such as key lime, or in your favorite
beverage. You can even make marmalade as
I did one year when I got a bumper crop of
greenhouse oranges.

Above left: Key limes in the authors greenhouse in the winter of 2011/12. The citrus tree fruit ripens around
January and the five-foot tree can provide up to a hundred Key limes each winter. Above right: The end
result of growing your own key limes. Key Lime pie. (Roger Marshall images)
A British study has concluded that a major killer of honey bees is neonicotinoid insecticides used on seeds such
as corn and maize. The study says that virtually all of the maize seed planted in North America (the exception
being organic production which is less than 2% of the total) is coated with neonicotinoid insecticides. If you have
bees near corn or rape seed fields where these insecticided are used be aware that your bees are at risk. The
paper can be found at http://tinyurl.com/776y97v
Page 26

Hobby Greenhouse

The Tool Shed


New and Interesting Items for Your Garden and Greenhouse
The Rainforest sprinkler system comes in at several heights, the lowest
is the spike version that can be pressed into a growing bed to water the
surrounding area. the other low versions have a flat base or a wheeled
base. The system also comes with a three foot and a six foot tripod to
cover a larger area. When mounted on the six foot tripod the sprinkler
will cover up to 1900 square feet depending on water pressure. The
unit has one moving part and costs $11.98 for the spike version up to
$39.99 for the six foot tripod version.

Greenhouse gardeners often use a hose, but it kinks and


gets knots, cutting off the water flow. The Super Hose
is kink and crush resistant due to its double helix wrap
construction. This hose is also 35 to 50% lighter than any
conventional garden hose. It also stay flexible in extreme
temperatures and coils and uncoils with ease. While this
hose is 5/8 inches in diameter, you can achieve the same
flow rate as a 3/4 inch hose, because it features internally
expanded full-flow heavy-duty brass couplings. Operating
pressure 100 PSI. Burst pressure 300 PSI at 70 F. The hose
is made in USA and available from many garden outlets in
the USA and in Canada from Rittenhouse in St. Catharines,
Ontario, (http://www.rittenhouse.ca) It costs $79.00 for a
50 footer and $149 for 100 feet.
The Gavita Pro 100 DE US light is imported from
Holland the home of acres of greenhouses. It is
a professional light with the highest PAR light
output, improved light spectrum (in short, it is
very close to direct sunlight) and according to
the manufacturer is the most efficient 1000 watt
horticultural light available today. It has no fans
to absorb power and the ballast can be mounted
close to the lamps for smaller installations.
The US/Canadian version is equipped with a
standard XR505 connector to enable it to use
any reflector. It comes with a 16' cable with a
240 Volt plug. The Gavita Pro light is available
from GrowRI (www.grwori.com)
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Page 27

A Hartley Greenhouse can be


an investment for the Future
By Roger Marshall

he golden age of greenhouses could easily


be said to have been before World War
One when huge greenhouses dominated
gentrified England. The carnage of WWI ended
this golden age when so many men were KIA
that after the war there were not enough people
to run the vast glass and cast iron emporiums.
Many of these structures fell into disuse or were
dismantled and greenhouses were not seriously
considered again until after WWII, some thirty
years later.
Prior to WWI and II, greenhouses were usually
made of cast iron and required large crews of
men to erect them in a process that could often
take as long as six months. The between war
period saw little improvement in greenhouse
design and building until Vincent Hartley came
along in 1938. He patented a clean uncluttered
aluminum framed greenhouse, one that laid
the standard for professional greenhouses for
Page 28

years to come. His greenhouses did away with


overlapping panes of glass that trapped moss and
mildew between the panes and require frequent
cleaning. Instead each glass pane was set in its
own frame and firmly fixed in place.
Today, the second golden age of the greenhouse
has come upon us, and a look in almost any British
gardening magazine shows advertisements
for many hundreds of greenhouses, but one
always stands out, that of the Hartley Botanic
Greenhouses. The modern version of Vincent
Hartleys aluminum framed structures graces
many of the gardens of the wealthy. Many of
these greenhouses have been handed down from
father to son or from grandfather to grandson.
They have been dismantled, moved and reerected, yet their quality is so good that some
1950s greenhouses are still use today.
Today Hartley Botanic greenhouses are shipped
to many countries and there are an increasing
Hobby Greenhouse

number in America. One of these


greenhouses is now part of Eugene
Lees garden in Providence, RI. Mr.
Lee is a designer and for him the
greenhouse had to look right and
to complement his Victorian style
house. I care what things look
like and the Hartley greenhouse
looked right as a structure. I
looked at the Roger Williams Park
greenhouses and they looked how
a greenhouse should look. Now
that I see my greenhouse in the
yard, it complements the yard
perfectly, he said in a recent
telephone conversation. When
we decided on the location, we
dug the foundation by hand so
that we wouldnt disturb any of the
plants in the surrounding area. We
dug down below the frost line and
put in a foundation that you could
build a house on.
In listening to Mr. Lee, it is
obvious that he has plans for the
greenhouse. We have a separate
hot water furnace with fin tube
heat pipes going around the floor
to keep the greenhouse at around
fifty degrees and while it has a
few herbs and lemon trees in it
now, my wife and I plan on filling
it quickly. The greenhouse gets
good sun in the mornings and Mr.
Lee hopes that it will not require
the trimming of any of the trees on
the surrounding property.
Hartley greenhouses are
imported from England where they
are made. The company, which
has had a distributor in America
since the mid 90s but has only
had an office here since 2008, does
not stock greenhouses in America,
instead it builds the greenhouse to
the customer specifications. Thus
delivery can take a few months.
Shelley Newman of Hartley Botanic
in Boston said that if everything
goes together the greenhouse can
be delivered to the customer in 90
days, but if the shipping process
or theplans process is slow it
might take up to five months to
get a greenhouse. In general, Ms.
Newman says it can take between
three to five months from signing
the plans to delivery.
Hobby Greenhouse

Above: The lower corner detail of a Hartley greenhouse. Not the


amount and weight of the metalwork.
Below: The roof to sidewall joint is often a point of weakness but
not on this greenhouse where everything is bolted firmly together.

Page 29

During that time the owner will need


to install a foundation. Hartley only
installs the greenhouse using their factory
trained team, they do not provide the
foundation, plumbing or electrical lines.
In another interesting twist, Hartley
does not believe that double pane glass
is effective on a greenhouse and all their
greenhouses are delivered, as they are in
Britain, with single pane glass. However,
the company does offer colored or other
glass options.
If you want to own a Hartley
greenhouse, they are not inexpensive.
For example, a Victorian Classic (8 1/2
x 13) costs $28,282 plus delivery to
your site, plus the costs of erecting it on
site. A rough guide to delivery is about
$1000 to the northeast and up to $5000 to
California. So if you could be looking at
about $40000 for an installed greenhouse
if you lived in California. But after all if
you want your plants to be the best, you
buy the best greenhouse you can afford.
Hartley Botanic, Inc. Suite, 1050, 600
West Cummings Park, Woburn MA 01801,
(http://www.hartley-greenhouses.com/)

The Hobby Greenhouse Association


does not endorse or promote products.
Our reviews are intended only to provide
information to our members.
Page 30

Hobby Greenhouse

Opposite page top: A new


Hartley greenhouse in a
California garden.
Opposite page bottom left:
The Victorian style crank
lever for opening the upper
windows.
Opposite page bottom right:
The corner detail of the Lee
greenhouse.
Above left: The interior
doorway detail of this Hartley
greenhouse provides a small
hallway for potted plants.
Above right: The downspout
detail which can be used to
catch runoff water for the
greenhouse.
Right: a detail of the victorian
style angle and shelving in
the Lee greenhouse. (All
images provided by Hartley
Botanic Inc.)

Hobby Greenhouse

Page 31

From The Planter

Barbara W. Wich, HGA Historian


55780 Timber Lane
Elkhart, IN 46514-9456

The following is based on an article from the May/June 1983 issue of The Planter

From little Seeds Grow...


by Peg Spaete

hile plant life is beginning to awaken from a long


winters nap, plant people begin to think about
other aspects of plant growing. Raising plants
from seed is a very exciting and rewarding adventure.
There are a number of reliable seed sources here and
abroad, so your money and effort will be worth the time
preparing the right conditions.
If you start your seeds before the warm weather arrives,
then it is highly recommended that you grow them under
lights. Using heating cables is also recommended to hold
them at the ideal temperature of 72. A sterilized medium,
of course, is a must. For succulents, use 6 parts sharp sand,
2 parts milled sphagnum, and 1 part charcoal. For other
houseplants, 2 parts vermiculite, 2 parts perlite, and 1 part
Jiffy Mix is a good mixture. Fern spores like equal parts
sand, small gravel, garden soil, and milled, sphagnum.
The important thing about a good mix is to have enough
roughage so the mixture does not become hardpacked
or caked.
Containers can be clay pots, cottage cheese cartons, or
seed trays so long as they are clean and allow for good
drainage. The two types I use are clear plastic shoe boxes
with holes drilled in the bottom and lightweight, 4 x 12
trays ten fit perfectly under a 40w light. For dividers
in the trays, I cut up trays from meat departments. They
are lightweight and reusable and the white reflects the the
light. I prefer to plant fewer seeds (5-30) of one kind so I
can raise more of different species.
Fill the bottom of the container with pumice (gravel or
charcoal is good, too), then add the soil mix and press it
down evenly. The mix must be pressed so when you add
the water, the seeds will not sink. Fill the container to
near top so there is good circulation for the plants when
the cover is removed.
Seed sizes range from dustlike to peasize; therefore,
sowing seeds can be tricky. Many good suggestions have
been given to distribute them evenly. Gently shake the
seeds to the envelope flap and tap the envelope lightly
Page 32

to drop the seed, or use a toothpick, a label, or a fondue


stick to push them off the flap. You can also pour the seeds
into your hand and distribute them the same way. Using a
tweezer for the larger sizes was another good idea. I like the
hand and label method. Some seeds need to be chipped,
soaked, or frozen before they are planted. Check with your
seed source on procedure.
After you sprinkle your seeds, label and date them.
Cover the seeds with soil mix the thickness of the seed
only. Watering must be done from the bottom until plants
are established. Set the tray or pot in a tray of warm water
(some suggest distilled water); watch it carefully so it
doesn't flood. When it is moist, remove it and set on a
towel or in a sink to drain. Cover with Saran Wrap or clear
lid and place under lights no more than six inches. Light
time is about 18 hours a day.
After they have sprouted (they can remain for awhile
in this atmosphere), start gradually to remove the cover.
This will take a few days, so take your time because it is a
delicate state for the seedlings. After the cover is completely
removed, it is very important to check the seed trays
daily. DO NOT LET THEM DRY OUT. Succulent seeds,
for instance, should be kept moist up to twelve months.
Ifyou have had trouble with algae buildup, use distilled
water. If it continues, use Chinosol.
Once the seedlings are established I cover the mixture
with a #4 gravel to prevent the evaporation of water.
Seedlings can remain in the seed pans until they start to
crowd the other inhabitants. Avoid transplanting as much
as possible as it is very traumatic for the plants. Fertilizing
is also necessary to ensure wellshaped, healthy plants.
Patience is a key word for growing from seed.
Germination can take place within 24 hours or up to a
year or more. The growth rate of the seedlings also varies
as much; however, it is worth the wait and anticipation
to see that tiny, black speck become a lush foliage or a
spiny barrel.

Hobby Greenhouse

Complimentary
Memberships

The following companies offer


a free one-year membership
in HGA with the purchase of a
greenhouse.

Tips
Short and sweet
* To make germination of difficult seeds easier, soak for
24 hours in the following solution:
1 Gallon rainwater (or distilled water)
1 tsp. liquid Kelp
1/2 tsp. AMWAY Adfuvant
* Another germination tip is to file the outer coat of hard
seeds -- make several shallow grooves in seeds. Than
plant. or, place such seeds in a pot of boiling water and
let water cool to room temperature. Repeat three more
times. Sow promptly in a peatlite mix or sphagnum peat
moss.
* To improve hard or clay soils, rototill or deep spade all
of your lawn clippings and leaves in several times. Be
sure to do this in late fall also. You may also add kitchen
scraps, old soil from houseplants, sawdust, wood chips,
and other organic materials. Be sure to add a little extra
Nitrogen fertilizer (such as left over lawn fertilizer) to the
mixture. By doing this, in one or two growing seasons you
will have a much better soil and help kill noxious weeds
at the same time.
* To have higher production of legume crops (beans, peas)
you should innoculate the seeds with a special seed
innoculantavailable at garden centers. Nitragin is one
trade name.
*Apple trees need two or more varieties for pollination,
except Golden Delicious and Grimes which are
selfpollinating. Crab apple trees may also serve as
pollinators.
*Apricots, Sour Cherries are selfpollinating.
*Peaches are selfpollinating except J.H.Hale, which
requires another variety as polinator.
Hobby Greenhouse

Backyard Greenhouses
A Division of Ecoland
Corporation
USA Administrative Office
243 W. Congress, Suite 350
Detroit, MI 48226
or
2549 Dougall Ave.
Windsor, ON N8X1T5
800 665-2124
519 979-2041 Fax: 519 250-0160
www.backyardgreenhouses.
com
Thank you for 24 new
members in 2010 and 11 new
members in 2011.
Compost Critter
Solexx Greenhouses and
Glazing
Ringtown, PA 17967
570 401-4843
jeff@compostcritter.com
Maine Garden Products, Inc.
Freedom Greenhouse
574 Cushing Rd.
Friendship, ME 04547
877 764-9365
207 236-2600
www.mainegarden.com
Rion GreenHouses
SupplyHero LLC
8853 Lenexa Dr.
Overland Park, KS 66214
877 894-4884
www.supplyhero.com
SolGreenhouses
Snap&Grow
614 325-6430
dannygrau@solargreenhouse.
com

Page 33

The HGA Bookshop

HGA offers books and other materials to members, usually at discount. Prices include postage and
handling within the USA. (Canadian, Mexican and overseas members, please contact the HGA
Bookshop for additional postage cost: jhale@world.std.com. International Money Order, US funds,
shipment by airmail.) Make your check or money order payable to HGA and send your order to:
HGA Bookshop, 80 Deaconess Rd., Suite 443, Concord MA 01742-4173
Greenhouse Etc.:

Plants:

BUILD YOUR OWN UNDERGROUND ROOT CELLAR,


by Phyllis Hobson. Storey Publishing Bulletin. 32 pages,
pap. ($3.95) Members: $3.75 Tools, materials, plans,
construction information.

BEGONIAS: CULTIVATION, IDENTIFICATION, AND


NATURAL HISTORY by Mark C. Tebbitt. 272 pages,
hard cover. ($34.95) Members: $23.00 Concise, detailed
method to identify cultivated species. Beautiful photos.
For the begoniac.

BUILDING & USING COLD FRAMES by Charles


Seigchrist. Storey Publishing Bulletin. 32 pages, pap.
($3.95) Members: $3.75 Cold frame construction and use.
BUILDING YOUR OWN GREENHOUSE by Mark
Freeman. 198 pages, pap. ($18.95) Members: $15.00
Practical instructions on how to build it.
GREENHOUSES FOR HOMEOWNERS AND
GARDENERS by John W. Bartok, Jr. 214 pages, pap.
($30.00) Members: $25.00 Planning, designing, and
building a hobby greenhouse. Drawings, plans.
THE NEW TERRARIUM by Tovah Martin. Martin &
Clineff. 176 pages, full color. ($25.00) Members: $16.50
Creating beautiful displays for plants and nature in the
home.

Greenhouse Gardening:
GARDENING IN YOUR GREENHOUSE by Mark
Freeman. 200 pages, pap. ($18.95) Members: $15.00 How
to raise vegetables, herbs, flowering and nonflowering
plants in your home greenhouse.
GREENHOUSE GARDENERS COMPANION by
Shane Smith. Second Edition. 497 pages, pap. ($21.95)
Members: $15.50 New edition of complete guide to
greenhouse management and growing flowers and
vegetables
ORTHOS ALL ABOUT GREENHOUSES. Cont. writers:
Larry Hodgson, T. Jeff Williams. Tech. Editors: J. Bartok,
Jr.; J. Hale; M. Miller; F. Rushing; C. Yaw. 96 pages, color
photos, illus.. ($11.95 US/ $17.95 CAN) Members: $8.00
Basic information on selecting and building greenhouses,
growing techniques. 10 plans.
STARTING SEEDS INDOORS by Ann Reilly. Storey
Publishing Bulletin. 32 pages, pap. ($3.95) Members:
$3.75 Starting seeds, special germination, planting times

Page 34

BULBS FOR INDOORS: YEAR-ROUND WINDOWSILL


SPLENDOR by Robert M. Hays & Janet Marinelli.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden. 111 pages, pap. ($9.95)
Members: $7.95 Hardy and tender bulbs for indoor
and greenhouse growing. How to grow information,
encyclopedia.
CLIVIA by Harold Koopowitz Timber Press. 384 pages,
full color, hard cover. ($34.95) Members $20. Growing
Clivias
COLEUS by Ray Rogers. Timber Press. 227 pages, full
color. Hard cover. ($29.95) Members: $20.00 Rainbow
foliage for containers and gardens.
CRAZY ABOUT CACTI AND SUCCULENTS edited by
Ray Rogers. Brooklyn Botanic Garden. 120 pages, full
color, pap. ($9.95) Members: $7.95 An overview book
on growing cactus and succulents.
GROW 15 HERBS FOR THE KITCHEN by Sheryl L.
Felty. Storey Publishing Bulletin. 32 pages, pap. (3.95)
Members: $3.75 Essentials for growing herbs outdoors
and indoors. Herb varieties, harvesting, cooking
GROW THE BEST STRAWBERRIES by Louise Riotte.
Revised and Updated! Storey Publishing Bulletin. 32
pages, pap. (3.95) Members: $3.75 postpaid
GROW THE BEST TOMATOES by John Page. Revised
and Updated! Storey Publishing Bulletin. 32 pages,
pap. (3.95) Members: $3.75 postpaid
GROWING & USING BASIL by Ellen Ogden. Storey
Publishing Bulletin. 32 pages, pap. ($3.95) Members:
$3.75
GROWING & USING CHIVES by Juliette Rogers. Storey
Publishing Bulletin. 32 pages, pap. ($3.95) Members:
$3.75

Hobby Greenhouse

GROWING & USING DILL by Glen Andrews. Storey


Publishing Bulletin. 32 pages, pap. ($3.95) Members:
$3.75
GROWING & USING TARRAGON by Glen Andrews.
Storey Publishing Bulletin. 32 pages, pap. ($3.95)
Members: $3.75
INDOOR BONSAI by Paul Lesniewicz. 208 pages, color
photos, B&W drawings, pap. ($16.95, $25.95 CAN)
Members: $13.00 Guide to those species that can be
grown successfully indoors all year.
SUCCULENT CONTAINER GARDENS by Debra Lee
Baldwin. ($29.95) Members: $22.00 Planting containers
with stunning succulants
TEMPTING TROPICALS by Ellen Zachos. 328 pages,
full color, hard cover. ($29.95) Members: $8.00 175
irresistible indoor plants and their culture.

Orchids

EASY-CARE ORCHIDS by Mary Carol Frier. Storey


Publishing Bulletin. 32 pages, pap. ($3.95) Members
$3.75 Six easy orchids for home and greenhouse.
GARDENERS GUIDE TO GROWING ORCHIDS, THE.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden. 120 pages, full color, pap.
($9.95) Members: $7.95 The basics for successfully
growing orchids on a windowsill or in a hobby
greenhouse.
BEST ORCHIDS FOR INDOORS, THE. Brooklyn Botanic
Garden. 120 pages, full color, pap. ($9.95) Members
$7.95 Description of the best orchids to grow in home or
greenhouse.
MINIATURE ORCHIDS by Steven A. Frowine. Timber
Press. 264 pages, index, sources. ($29.95) hard cover.
Members $19.75 Profiles some 300 miniature, dwarf and
compact orchids
MOTH ORCHIDS, THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO
PHALAENOPSIS by Steven A. Frowine. Timber Press,
204 pages, 323 color photos, b&w line drawings, index.
($39.95) hard cover. Members: $25.00 Growing the most
popular orchids in the world.
ORCHID GROWING FOR WIMPS by Ellen Zachos. 128
pages, full color, pap. ($17.95) Members: $9.00 Complete
guide to growing 16 different types of easy to raise
orchids indoors.
ORCHIDS FOR THE HOME & GREENHOUSE. Brooklyn
Botanic Garden. Guest Editor Marsden Fitch. Revised,
expanded edition. 95 pages, color, pap. ($7.95) Members:
$6.95 Orchid history, culture of Paphiopedilum and
Cattleya orchids, pitfalls for new grower, propagation,
pest control.
Hobby Greenhouse

ORCHIDS SIMPLIFIED by Henry Jaworski. 143 pages,


color, pap. ($21.00) Members: $14.00 An indoor
gardening guide to growing orchids for the novice. Easy
text instructions, beautiful photographs.
TROPICAL SLIPPER ORCHIDS by Harold Koopowitz
411 pages, full color, hard cover. ($59.95) Members:
$40.00. Complete info on these popular low-light
orchids.

Miscellaneous:
BUILD A POND FOR FOOD & FUN by D. J. Young.
Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin. 29 pages, pap ($3.95)
Members: $3.75 Building a fishpond for food and
recreation..
COMMUNITY GARDENING. Brooklyn Botanic Garden,
119 pages, color, pap. (9.95) Members: $7.95 Garden
programs that bring neighbors together.
CONTAINER GARDENING by Patti Barrett. Storey
Publishing Bulletin. 32 pages, pap. ($3.95)
Members: $3.75 Growing flowers, vegetables, and herbs
in containers.
EASY COMPOSTERS YOU CAN BUIILD by Nick
Noyes. Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin. 31 pages, pap
($3.95) Members: $3.75 Information on composting and
bin construction.
EDIBLE GARDENS . Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 119
pages, color, pap. (12.95) Members: $11.00 Planting
beautiful edible gardens.
FERTILIZERS FOR FREE by Charles Siegchrist. Storey
Publishing Bulletin. 32 pages, pap. ($3.95)
Members: $3.75 Finding, growing, and using organic
fertilizers at home.
FRAGRANT DESIGNS. Brooklyn Botanic Garden. 120
pages, full color, pap. ($9.95) Members: $7.95 Achieving
fragrance in the garden.
GARDEN PRIMER, THE by Barbara Damrosch. Second
Edition. Workman. 820 pages, pap. ($18.95) Members:
$9.00 Reference book on the essentials of plants and
gardens.
GARDENING WITH CHILDREN by Monika
Hannemann, etc. Brooklyn Botanic Garden. 119 pages,
color, pap. (9.95) Members: $7.95 Teaching children
about gardening and natural world.
INCREDIBLE SELF-WATERING CONTAINERS by
Edward C. Smith. 254 pages, color, pap.($19.95)
Members: $13.00 A vegetable garden that never needs
weeding, produces bountiful harvest, and needs water
Page 35

DISCOUNTS

Packages or $500+ material orders.


5% additional contributed to HGA.
Details on website.)

Discounts are available to


national HGA members only.
Mailing label with membership expiration date must
accompany order.
Photocopies accepted.

Farm Wholesale Greenhouses


3740 Brooklake Rd. NE, Salem, OR
97303
greenhouse@famwholesale.com
www.farmwholesale.com
(10% discount off retail prices)

Advance Solar LLC


701 N Duncan Ave., Amite, LA
70422
877-238-8357
greenhousekits@charter.net
www.advancegreenhouses.com
(5% discount on all greenhouses
and accessories ordered with
greenhouse.)

Greenhouses, Etc.
4804 Collister Drive, Boise, ID 83703
Phone: 888-244-8009
FAX: 208-367-1088
steve@greenhousesetc.com
www.greenhousesetc.com
(5% discount on Standard or
Custom Kits, Complete
Greenhouse Packages. Free
Estimates.)

Atlas Greenhouse System, Inc.


PO Box 558 HWY. 82 East, Alapaha,
GA 31622
service@atlasgreenhouses.com
www.hobbygreenhousekits.com
(5% discount on all items)
Backyard Greenhouses
(See Complimentary Memberships
for contact information)
(5% discount on all greenhouses
and accessories)
Bovees Nursery
1737 SW Coronado, Portland OR
97219
866-652-3219
bovees@teleport.com
www.bovees.com
(10% discount on vireyas)
Charleys Greenhouse and Garden
17979 State Route 536, Mount
Vernon,
WA 98273-3269
serrvice@charleysgreenhouse.com
www.charleysgreenhouse.com
(5% discount on all items including
greenhouses)
CompostCritter.com
Solexx Greenhouses and glazing
Ringtown, PA 17967
570-401-4843
Jeff@CompostCritter.com
(5% Discount on Greenhouse

Page 36

Indoor Gardening
1158 Commerce Ave.
Longview, WA 98632
360-353-3851
www.CowlitzInDoorGardening.co
m
(10% discount on hydroponics
systems, nutrients, house & garden
nutrients and soils. Also applies to
Special Orders)
Interior Water Gardens
615 Long Beach Blvd., Surf City, NJ
08008
1-888-476-9493
www.InteriorWaterGardens.com
(10% discount on all hydroculture
products including orchids in
hydroculture pots.)
International Greenhouse
Company
1644 Georgetown Rd.
Danville, IL 61832
Toll free: 888-281-9337
FAX: 217- 443-0611
www.igcusa.com
(5% discount on all items)
Kitchen Culture Kits, Inc.
905 Champions Dr.. Lufkin, TX 75901
www.kitchenculturekit.com
(10% discount )

1901 W. O St., Lincoln, NE 68528


800-963-8700
FAX: 402-438-1901
www.lancasterconservatories.com
(5% discount)
PlanTea
PO Box 1980, Kodiak, AK 99615
(10% discount on PlanTea
fertilizer)
Poly-Tex, Inc. (greenhouses)
27725 Danville Ave, Castel Rock,
MN 55010
info@poly-tex.com
www.poly-tex.com
(5% discount on items in catalog.
Catalog free.)
Rain or Shine (greenhouse
accessories)
13126 NE Airport Way, Portland, OR
97230
1-800-248-1981
info@landscapeusa.com
www.landscapeusa.com
(10% discount on all items
including greenhouses.)
Solar Innovations, Inc.
31 Roberts Road, Pine Grove, PA
17963
570-915-1708 (direct line)
570-915-1500 (main phone)
FAX: 800-618-0743
www.solarinnovations.com
(5% discount on all greenhouses
and their accessories.)
Spectrum Hobby Greenhouse Co.
PO Box 5491, Los Alamitos, CA
90720
Spectrumhobby128@aol.com
www.spectrumgreenhouses.com
(10% discount on all hobby
greenhouses, plus special freight
allowance to senior citizens)
Stokes Tropicals (tropical plants)
PO Box 9868, New Iberia, LA 70562
info@stokestropicals.com
www.stokestropicals.com
(60-page full color catalog. 10% off
orders $30 or more. To order online,
use coupon code HGA710.)

Lancaster Conservatories, Inc.

Hobby Greenhouse

Book Review

n recent years there has been almost a revolution in


the gardening world. Younger people are driving
this revolution and it has to do with growing and
eating your own organic food. The movement has
been driven, in part, by reports of pesticides found
in vegetables, poisoning scares from contaminated
food products on supermarket shelves, and concerns
about the amounts of fossil fuels used to deliver
fresh food to your local supermarket from distant
parts of the world.
This movement has produced a number of howto books from various writer/gardeners, but to my
knowledge The Heirloom Life Gardener is the first
book from a major seed company that subscribes to
the heirloom/organic path. The first half of the book
describes how Jere and Emilee Gettle developed their
organic philosophy and how they began to preach
the lifestyle to others through their company Baker
Creek Heirloom Seed Company. The fact that their
company sells a lot of seeds says that many gardeners
subscribe to this type of growing. For reasons of full
disclosure, I have grown organically and saved seeds
for more than forty years and it is nice to see others
coming around to this ideal. I do however, find it
Hobby Greenhouse

tiresome to read of Frankenfoods and other


derogatory comments about mass production
methods. A lot of people would go hungry if
it were not for large production farming.
The first part of the book is decorated with
pictures of the Gettle family and their friends,
along with the methods they use to collect
seeds from many parts of America and other
countries.
The second part of the book is far more
useful in that it contains information on how
to grow the many seeds that Baker Creek sells,
how to save the seeds, what kinds of insects
and diseases can affect the plant, and how to
use it in the kitchen. The value of the book,
for me, is this section. Even though I have
grown most of the plants illustrated I found
myself agreeing with many of the books
comments. I also disagreed with a few, but,
hey, they are the seed sellers, My gardening
style comes from what I learned from old
timers in England where I grew up.
I do like the pictures of the many different
types of melons and squash, makes me want
to try them all. In fact, I shall order a bunch
of squash and melon seeds from Baker Creek
just to try some of the more succulent ones.
An added advantage of melons and squash
is that it is relatively easy save their seeds.
The disadvantage is that you can end up with
several pounds of seed to give to all your
gardener friends and neighbors.
Im not so interested in saving seed by
letting my plants go to seed, but I do save half
filled seed packets from year to year simply
because most seed packets have too many
seeds to use in one season. I have found that
most seeds, when they are kept cool will last
several years, except for leeks. Ive found that
leek seeds last about a year or two the book
says to save them for two years.
All in all, I like this book and will keep it
in my reference library. I have also ordered
seeds from Baker Creek and will probably do
so again. The book makes me want to grow
more and more, but, alas, garden space is so
limited.
Roger Marshall
The Heirloom Life Gardener
By Jere and Emilee Gettle with Meghan
Sutherland, published by Hyperion Books
in 2011.
ISBN 978-1-4013-2439-1 Price $29.99
Page 37

The Back Door


The Trials of Greenhouse Ownership
By Roger Marshall

ouve admired other peoples greenhouses


for years and always wanted one. You
probably imagined sunny days in the
middle of winter when you would sit out there in
eighty degree temperatures. You thought youd
have a few plants in flower and be able to enjoy
their aroma. You decided that you wouldnt have
to take vacations in Florida because youd have
your own slice of Florida in the backyard. But
alas, like a backyard swimming pool is not the
place to do ten mile training swims, a backyard
greenhouse is not the best place to sit and enjoy
winter sunshine. Lots of things can happen.
Greenhouse ownership is fun, but it is
fraught with unexpected events. Like the time
when I lived in England and played cricket.
A cricket ball is harder than a baseball by far
and hitting it for six is like getting a homer in
baseball. Unfortunately, near our cricket field
was a very nice greenhouse in which the owner
often found our cricket balls.
In fact, Ive noticed that very hard balls have
a distinct affinity for glass-sided greenhouses.
Soft balls like soccer balls or footballs will often
take pity on the greenhouse owner and bounce
right off, but a hard ball like a cricket or baseball
seems to enjoy the sound of tinkling glass.
Then theres the problem of heating the
greenhouse. When I was researching my book
How to Build Your Own Greenhouse available
from Amazon bookstore, I visited several
greenhouses during a particularly severe winter
here in Rhode Island (well, it was six to eight
inches of snow!) This ladys large single-pane
greenhouse was warm and toasty, so was her
husband when he got the heating bill. She
spent over $700 in one month heating the giant
greenhouse, but she enjoyed it when the sun
shone. Frankly, for $700 Id have flown to Florida
and enjoyed real sunshine.
I hate to waste heating money so my
greenhouses look like something out of gift
wrapping horror show each winter. First, theres
the layer of Bubblewrap that covers the inside,
then theres the layer of Shrinkwrap - a marine
plastic that shrinks when it is heated - over the
outside. The plants are invisible under several

Page 38

layers of horticultural fleece, all in the name of


keeping everything warm so that I can enjoy
fresh organic produce all winter long. Provided,
that is, that I brave the cold, dig my way through
Rhode Islands latest snowfall (after all it was
only six inches) and dig through the layers of
material to find whatever plants the mice (who
also like layers of fleece) have left me.
Recently, I went into the greenhouse on one of
those rare sunny days to find that an animal had
decided that my greenhouse made a perfect home
for him, or her, and their offspring. Theyd dug
tunnels under the plants while well hidden from
any stray hawks that might be flying through the
greenhouse. Theyd dug under the path, along
the outer walls, under the drains and out under
the electrical line. All my expensive and careful
winter preparation was destroyed by this little
critter who had decided that he, or she, didnt
want to make the long trek to Florida when they
could enjoy all the delights of Florida along with
a ready food supply in my greenhouse.
If you survive all these travails, then youll
quickly learn what many poor people learn
every day. Water is a heavy commodity. I figure
it takes about thirty gallons of water to water my
greenhouse. In my younger and more sprightly
days (not so long ago, Ill have you know), I toted
a pair of three-gallon watering cans from the rain
bucket to the greenhouse and watered by hand.
Figure thats five or six trips every other day
and youll quickly figure out why I gave up free
weights at the gym.
Then there is the manure for the greenhouse
beds. I dont know how they manage it, but
greenhouse doors always seem to be one-inch
narrower than the wheelbarrow full of manure or
compost. So I stand in the door and cart endless
buckets of manure to each greenhouse bed. Of
course, I could be like normal people and put
in a waterline or have all potted plants in the
greenhouse and have no need for wheelbarrow
loads of manure, but thats not true greenhouse
gardening. You need a little pain to really enjoy
your greenhouse.
Hobby Greenhouse

Organizations...

www.gesneriadsociety.org

33 Kintyre Ln.
Bella Vista, AR 72715

Achimenes, Aeschynanthus, Chirita,


Columnea, Drymonia, Episcia,
Kohleria, Nematanthus, Petrocosmea,
Sinningia, Streptocarpus These and
many other gesneriads are excellent
plants for the greenhouse hobbyist.

Purchase our 56-page manual How to Know and Grow


Gesneriads for US$10 postpaid anywhere, or join The Gesneriad
Society for one year for US$25 in USA, US$30 elsewhere. Go to
www.gesneriadsociety.org or send check or credit card number with
expiration date and CVV code to The Gesneriad Society, Dept AVM,
PMB 637, 1122 E Pike Street, Seattle, WA 98122 USA. New
members receive a copy of How to Know and Grow Gesneriads,
two back issues and the next four quarterly issues of our journal
Gesneriads, a package of mixed gesneriad seed, access to the
worlds largest source of gesneriad seed, and many other benets.

Do YOU belong to another gardening association?


If so, ask if they would like to exchange ads andpublications with HGA. Contact Jan Hale at jhale@world.
std.com for more information. (HGA Ads-Publications include reciprocal reprint rights with credit.)
Hobby Greenhouse

Page 39

HOBBY GREENHOUSE ASSOCIATION


80 Deaconess Rd., Suite 443
Concord, MA 01742-4173
Phone (978) 369-3421
CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED

Page 40

NON-PROFIT
PRSRT STD
U.S.POSTAGE PAID
PERMIT NO.2726
FREDERICK, MD

HGA Membership Card

Hobby Greenhouse