Growing Heirloom Tomatoes without Electricity in a Northern Climate - Part 1

Just a few weeks ago, we had a thriving seedling community inside a solar greenhouse. Then the greenhouse was murdered by the wind, and I was left with nothing but milk cartons to start my tender annuals like tomatoes and peppers.

I thought about just going for it with the milk cartons to see if we could succeed.

But after a few days of internal pouting, I dug the crumpled up greenhouse from the trash and repurposed it back into a smaller greenhouse.
greenhouse from plastic film sticks
Yes, this is a bit....lumpy. I'm sure it will twist the panties of my "Well, I guess some people have to grow their own food" neighbors. They better hope we don't all have to grow our own food someday because only some of us know how to do it....

But here's the deal - it's in the garden, it's small, and it's obviously temporary. It's 1-month temporary. Education is dirty and sometimes ugly. People are just going to have to get over it.

This "new" greenhouse doesn't heat up as well as the previous version. There are three reasons for this. #1 it is no longer sitting on stones. #2 It no longer contains any heat sinks (bricks and water - read about it here) due to lack of space, and #3 It is no longer air tight. Well, it wasn't "airtight" before but it was much tighter than it is now.

I'm hoping that means I won't fry anymore plants and it will be a safe place to grow my heat sensitive seedlings. Being lower to the ground should also make it less of a flight risk in the wind.

Check out this link to see the greenhouse/cold frame I'd really like : 2015 Garden Part1

I started the tomato and pepper seeds today. I soaked them for 2 hours then placed them between two wet paper towels.
Growing heirloom tomato seeds germination
Heirloom seeds on a paper towel. One silpat below and the other went on top.

I sandwiched the paper towels between two silpat sheet (as opposed to a plastic bag that would be trashed!) and put it on the counter to germinate. I am not using electricity, to speed up germination but the seeds are benefiting from the warmth of the house.

I have read that germinating this way can shave up to a week off the germinating/starting time. Here's hoping.

These seeds will then be transferred to the milk cartons within the new greenhouse and eventually into the garden.

Want to learn more about off grid gardening or how/why we are growing without electricity?

Check out:
Winter/Spring Seed Starting without Electricity - Part 1
Winter/Spring Seed Starting without Electricity - Part 2
Growing Food on the Edge of a Forest
How to keep indoor plants and seedlings for getting leggy while grown in a window
How to grow seedlings in winter in northern climates
DIY self watering planters from recycled materials


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