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Seed starting green house

 
pollinator
Posts: 184
Location: Japan, roughly zone 9b - wet and warm climate
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I'm currently working on converting this greenhouse into a seed starting green house.

I referred to various image searches to build some shelves. I'm using old cedar boards I had on hand for the frames and some fencing material for the shelf tops.

I'm considering reserving some space for a compost bin to help keep the temperature up in the winter.

I will probably have to get the plastic changed, but I'm going to try to use it as is first.

Any tips, hints, helpful advice welcome. Especially in the vein of "I wish I had known before I started..."

Having trouble posting images, will add more later
 
Lew Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 184
Location: Japan, roughly zone 9b - wet and warm climate
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Let's try some pictures again
IMG_20210416_105253750.jpg
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IMG_20210417_141454660.jpg
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pollinator
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Location: Southern Oregon
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I have found that my greenhouse just isn't warm enough overnight for germinating. If I had electricity in the greenhouse, I would use my seed starting heating mats there, but I don't. So I start my seeds in a building, under lights with heat mats. Then I transplant and move to the greenhouse to finish growing out.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 3297
Location: Officially Zone 7b, according to personal obsevations I live in 7a, SW Tennessee
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I start tomatoes inside, mid Febuary, maybe 10 weeks bfore official last frost. Then I move them to the greenhouse. If the tmeperature will dip below 40* F I haul them inside. This happens here for a few scattered nights. For the cool weather crops, Again, I start them inside, to speed up the sprouting. I haven't lost anything yet. Once they reach identifiable first leaves, they may stop growing, but are still alive and grow again when it warms back up.

 
Lew Johnson
pollinator
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Location: Japan, roughly zone 9b - wet and warm climate
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So I guess I should find out what kind of temperatures my greenhouse experiences throughout the year... do you all just manually check with a thermometer? Or do you have some fancy monitoring device?

I do have a raspberry pi I could repurpose... but I'd need to order some sensors and run extension cables... I also don't have power in the greenhouse.
 
Stacy Witscher
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I have a small thermometer in my greenhouse. It does transmit to an app on my phone, but honestly, it doesn't work very well. I have to take my phone to a certain place in my house and refresh it on an app. It's easier just to walk down to the greenhouse. I had a different thermometer that would just display the greenhouse temperature but it broke after about 6 months. The thermometers that I've tried all struggle with the dripping water in the greenhouse and of course they can't be in direct sun, so it's difficult to get an accurate temperature. But I've mostly figured out what the temperature will be like under different conditions depending on outside temperature, wind and cloud cover vs. bright sun.
 
Lew Johnson
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Got it to a usable state. Finished the basic shelves, patched the worst if the holes in the plastic. Still needs some more improvements and sorting but mostly it needs things growing in it!

So today I got some seeds into some seed trays at last.
IMG_20210421_131126988_HDR.jpg
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IMG_20210424_134929040.jpg
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Posts: 1
Location: Driftless Region, WI
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Lew Johnson wrote:So I guess I should find out what kind of temperatures my greenhouse experiences throughout the year... do you all just manually check with a thermometer? Or do you have some fancy monitoring device?

I do have a raspberry pi I could repurpose... but I'd need to order some sensors and run extension cables... I also don't have power in the greenhouse.



I monitor my greenhouse with a Temp Stick (no affiliation). It has been game changing.
 
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A lot depends on the temperature.  I had to redo the plastic on my greenhouse this year. I knew it would get to hot so I put in a window in the south and north side.  Unfortunately it's not enough. My little seedlings get fried. I need a solar fan for mine.
 
Lew Johnson
pollinator
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Location: Japan, roughly zone 9b - wet and warm climate
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Jen Fulkerson wrote:A lot depends on the temperature.  I had to redo the plastic on my greenhouse this year. I knew it would get to hot so I put in a window in the south and north side.  Unfortunately it's not enough. My little seedlings get fried. I need a solar fan for mine.



My greenhouse has a flap connected to a hand crank to open the north side enough to ventilate it entirely. It's easy to get it to cool down. Managing constant temperature though is a lot trickier... It seems like a lot of the farmers around here pretty much leave their greenhouses open in the heat of summer (maybe even at night?) here. This part of Japan is definitely on the hot end of temperate.
 
Posts: 389
Location: On the plateau in crab orchard, TN
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Old french technique for heating is to use a corner of greenhouse.  Create a compost pile, as it breaks down it produces heat.
 
Michael Moreken
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Where are you (what island?) in Japan Lew?
 
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Location: eastern cape breton, 6b
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i live in Cape Breton so our climates are probably pretty similar. i have a coupla greenhouses i built out of old windows - you definitely want a window or two installed to vent as others have pointed out - i have the apex of each shed roof as a plastic flap i remove in the summer which helps too... your shelves look pretty good


starting indoors might help you as another pointed out - you COULD also try a trick i use for seedlings earlier than later  which is a smaller greenhouse WITHIN a greenhouse - basically a frame around your shelves with plastic wrap and a big flap on the front... you will have to monitor carefully it will get hot quicker... but the warmth will start earlier, get hotter and if you close the flap at the right time of day... you will trap more warmth longer.. hope these pics show what i mean well enough - cheers!

ts1.jpg
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ts2.jpg
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James MacKenzie
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forgot to add - i use ne of these in the house in like, february to "start before i start" - it is an easier setup than the beast i just posted - they are cheap and oddly reliable - cheers!

https://www.amazon.ca/Greenhouse-Portable-Roll-Up-Plastic-Outdoor/dp/B092MKX2PB/ref=sr_1_14?dchild=1&keywords=greenhouse+stand&qid=1620054075&sr=8-14
 
pollinator
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Location: Geraldton, Ontario -Zone 1b
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Michael Moreken wrote:Old french technique for heating is to use a corner of greenhouse.  Create a compost pile, as it breaks down it produces heat.



It also produces Co2, I believe. This should be another benefit to whatever is being grown in there.
 
Lew Johnson
pollinator
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Location: Japan, roughly zone 9b - wet and warm climate
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I got some seedlings growing in the greenhouse now. They're pretty leggy, but growing.

I'm using my own soil, full of dormant seeds. After I saw the diversity I had an idea... For managing my seed starting soil - pre-weeding it. If I soak the soil in the tray before I sow my vegetable seeds I can cull everything that grows, then sow my veggies after...
IMG_20210509_075456644.jpg
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Lew Johnson
pollinator
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Location: Japan, roughly zone 9b - wet and warm climate
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Thanks to all the tips and pointers so far. I am planning a compost pile, a little bit more discriminating than my outdoor heap.

I will avoid including seeds in this one, because I will probably use the resulting compost primarily as a seed-starting medium.

I am trying to make leaf mould in another spot as well, but it's a long-term thing so we'll see how that goes.

Usually with compost piles I hear that they need about 4 feet x 4 feet to really activate. I won't have that much space to work with inside... I wonder if I'll get reasonable results with half those dimensions.

Several asked about my location. I'm in zone 9b or so, so we actually have a year-round growing season. The greenhouse however lets me manage seed starts densely in isolation and I would like to try to grow a few smallish tropical plants in here if I can manage the temperature well enough. My neighbor managed to grow pineapple by bringing it inside in the winter. I'd love to try that. I will probably also just keep a few tomato plants in the greenhouse, most people around here shelter their tomatoes from the rain.
 
pollinator
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It seems quite dark in there... is there shade cloth on the roof? That would explain the legginess, especially if it’s fairly warm in there.
 
Lew Johnson
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Kevin Wilson wrote:It seems quite dark in there... is there shade cloth on the roof? That would explain the legginess, especially if it’s fairly warm in there.



Yes. There is a shade cloth. I didn't know that causes the sprouts to try to grow taller... but it makes sense, like they're trying to grow through ground cover to reach the sun.

I intend to remove the shade cloth, but it's also giving some protection from falling branches from the persimmon tree above. I started pruning the tree back heavily this past year. It had grown out to full size, and was basically useless for harvesting from, and was also dropping branches and leaves in inconvenient places. I am waiting to let it recover from the heavy pruning before I have another big go at it, but I'm going to lop off even more big branches in the coming year, hopefully bringing it down to a manageable size. It may not survive... but these persimmons are pretty resilient.

I planned to see how well it worked as-is without removing anything or re-doing the plastic (which will both probably need to be done).

If it turns out that the seedlings aren't capable of transplanting I'll prioritize the re-covering earlier than planned.

 
Lew Johnson
pollinator
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Location: Japan, roughly zone 9b - wet and warm climate
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I had a bit of time in between work today. Went ahead with building the mini-compost station.

I discovered a useful technique while trying to figure out how to nail it together vertically. You always need something behind what your nailing, otherwise the boards just take the impact and the nails don't get driven in. I found that by using a cut off of 4x4 behind the nail strikes everything came together perfectly.

Ran out of time before I could finish it, but most of the work is done. I just need to put in a middle divider to separate matured from active compost, and some removable front gating of some sort.

I'm giving myself bonus points for burning through huge amounts of my scrap lumber in this greenhouse project. I might actually be able to clear it out soon!



4x4-support.jpg
This was key to successful nailing.
This was key to successful nailing.
back-left.jpg
the basic design comes together.
the basic design comes together.
supports-outside.jpg
I'm keeping as many of the supports on the outside to avoid compost getting stuck in awkward places.
I'm keeping as many of the supports on the outside to avoid compost getting stuck in awkward places.
vertical-nailing.jpg
Putting together the side panels flat and horizontal first and then attaching the entire completed side makes this easier.
Putting together the side panels flat and horizontal first and then attaching the entire completed side makes this easier.
workbench-fail.jpg
I tried to put a panel together on top of the workbench which resulted in dropping all of the slats and spilling my box of nails... I then worked on the concrete floor with better results.
I tried to put a panel together on top of the workbench which resulted in dropping all of the slats and spilling my box of nails... I then worked on the concrete floor with better results.
 
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