Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Planting A Straw Bale Hot House

Farmer Man laying the rows!
Since building our straw bale cold frames, we've been monitoring the temperature with an air thermometer.  We seem to have killed our soil thermometer by leaving it unprotected on a shelf in the greenhouse all winter - oops!  With the windows on all the time, daytime temperatures can be as much as fifteen degrees warmer than outside and nighttime temperatures are as much as five degrees warmer.  Very acceptable ranges, so time to plant!  We've decided to use all old seed for planting the first one, to use up the seed and because this is an experiment and it's highly possible that we may let things get too hot inside.  We're a little unsure of how this should work, in practice.  If we let it get too hot inside during the day will the seeds be 'unhappy'.  Or do we want to let it get really hot during the day so that the soil has lots of warmth going into the night?  The forecast is for nights around freezing, and we think that we are more worried about that then really hot temperatures during the day, for now.  We can, of course, remove the windows during the day; we're just afraid we're going to forget!

Doodles found his way into the unplanted bed!
So, we chose 'Nantes Half Long' carrots, 'Russian Red' kale, Claytonia or miner's lettuce, 'Renegade' spinach, arugula, 'Esmerelda' lettuce and Black Spanish radishes.  The carrots are 2010 seeds, everything else is 2011 seed.  Farmer Man raked the bed and then, using the rake, marked shallow rows. I followed behind laying the seed quite thickly.  First design flaw we noticed in the bed:  Farmer Man had taken a scoop of soil out to create a mound for the bed, so that the bed could be sloped to the south.  The back wall is almost four feet high, standing in the scooped out area, and it's a little hard to reach into the bed.  That's an easy fix, we just have to put a scoop of soil in that area.  Other than that, the bed works quite well, easy to reach from the sides and front!  We found the soil in the bed very dry so we'll have to keep on eye on moisture levels!  Farmer Man dug out almost every hose we own: as the irrigation system is not yet running water will be coming from the house.  Better than hauling water and watering cans, and we have no big use for them anywhere else, yet!  Now, nothing to do but wait, watch and water!  Perhaps, just perhaps, we'll be having a delightful, fresh salad in about a month!


  1. Nice to see that Doodles is with the program, inspecting the handiwork to make sure it's up to snuff.


    1. Doodles is coming on walks and hangin' out when we're sitting on the patio! The dogs are very good with him, mostly. The Diva Dog is still a little uncomfortable....

  2. You prompted me to drop back and say hi! I am so interested in this as I am wondering if it would work for tree and shrub seedlings - like my Edible Blue Honeysuckle. I guess a person could also add a little wormth with an old car warmer or baseboard heater if it got started too early!

    Happy Easter!


    1. Hi, Clayton; We're looking into a couple of things: we've read that you could put compost in the bottom and, as the pile 'cooks' it adds heat. If you're close to power, there is also those great little heating cables - we know a few people using the cables for keeping your roof ice-free during the winter but you can also buy greenhouse heating cables.