Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Which Greenhouse is Right for You?

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There are several types of affordable greenhouses that you can build or buy. Depending on your climate, greenhouses can range from a simple plastic tarp to a glass structure building.

Zone 9 and Up

If you live in zone 9 and up, your average evening time temperatures will rarely go below 35° F. A simple plastic tarp over your sensitive pond plants and garden plants is all you will need. Heavy mulching with grass clippings and leaves will also protect your in-ground plants. However, in Zone 9 most plant damage will come from frost bite and not from freezing ground conditions.

Zone 8

Zone 8 average low temperature is 25° F.

Hardy plants that do not need protection are: cattail, rush, reeds, canna, hardy water lily, iris, parrot feather, and primrose creeper do not need protection. They will die back and come back to life in the spring. To help your plants weather the winter and keep ice off of the pond, a simple hoop house right over the pond will work for you. It is easy and cheap to build.

Floating plants (such as water hyacinth, water lettuce, and frogbit) have leaves that are full of air and are easily subject to frost bite. An easy way to winter over your floating plants is to build an aquatic garden light box with an aquarium lined with mirrors.

Zone 7

The average winter low for zone 7 is 0-15° F.
A lighted or heated hoop house will work for you if you do not receive a lot of snow in your region. But, you will need to keep the water circulating to prevent freezing over. A thicker plastic is also necessary. The hoop house in my latest design shows 6 mil. thick plastic - which is white instead of clear and does not allow in a lot of sunshine. A better option for you is to use 2 layers of 4 mil. thick plastic sheeting that is insulated with 1 inch wide bubble bubble wrap. The best option is to use Visqueen. This is a thicker and harder clear plastic that will withstand cold temperatures and snow pack too.

Zone 7 and Below

Severe cold winter climates need a standard greenhouse. Snow pack can destroy a simple plastic sheeting hoop house and a more sturdy structure might be right for you. There are plans available to construct your own walk-in greenhouse, but the most economical is a 4x6 greenhouse sold by at www.harborfreight.com
that costs about $329. If you purchase this greenhouse on Black Friday right after Thanksgiving, it is 50% OFF and only costs about $150. This greenhouse is easy to construct and easy to heat too.

Cold Climate Gardening Articles

Gardening in Alaska
If you can learn how to garden in Alaska then you will be able to garden anywhere!

Gardening in Nebraska
See how this gardener successfully grows beautiful plants even in severe Nebraska weather.

Build a Cold Frame
A cold frame is a mini greenhouse you can make out of old windows.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Caring for Water Lettuce

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Freezing Winter Conditions
Caring for pond plants in the wintertime can be a challenge. Plants such as cattail, rush, and water lily need little or no care at all. But floating pond plants such as water lettuce need tending to make it through the wintertime. If you live in an area that receives freezing cold, then it is best to winter over your water lettuce indoors in an aquatic garden light box. This is constructed with an aquarium, lights, and mirrors, and is very easy to put together. The instructions can be found on my blog.

In mild winter conditions (such as zone 9 and up) water lettuce can be kept outdoors. However, when the air temperature goes below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, water lettuce needs to be kept inside a small greenhouse (hoop house) or under a plastic tarp.

Winter Problems
Like most all plants, water lettuce does turn shades of yellow in the wintertime. This is normal. As the leaves spot and turn yellow, simply trim back the old leaves to allow the
growth energy to go into the greener leaves. Trim off any dead tips. If your water lettuce suffers from mildew, uncover the pond and allow the plants to air-out. Also trim off all infected areas. Growth is very slow in winter, but as the weather warms your water lettuce will grow and quickly multiply.

As a valued garden friend, receive $2 off your next purchase of $10 or more. This offer is good until February 15, 2011.

Garden Blessings, GAiL