Thursday, December 29, 2011

More than just 'green'!

You would expect to see green in a GREEN-house...
this photo is taken from the outside.  
That's a watermelon vine plotting an escape...

...and the GREEN leaves of the cantaloupe which is threatening a take-over.

But there are other colours too.  
Like the MAUVE of the eggplant/aubergine flower...


... the YELLOW of the ripening Broad Ripple tomatoes.

 The BLACK Pearl Chilli is living up to its name.

 ...and the excitement of ORANGE 
on a ripening Grosse Lisse tomato.  
The first for the season.

And my favourite...RED!  
(This one has already been eaten...sweet!)

But not to worry, the WHITE and GREEN in these photos 
give promise of more to come.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fat fruit in the Fat Fruit!

 I went away for three weeks and left the greenhouse and garden in the hands of someone who is definitely not a gardener.  She managed to keep everything alive.  Some of the plants in the greenhouse were not so green or so lush on my return.  However, check these babies out!

One capsicum is blushing...
and there are more on the way...

...and the tomatoes growing and beginning to ripen.

To have tomatoes this mature at this time of the year 
in my climate is very unusual.
As for the capsicums...they usually take until 
well into January to even set fruit. 
So to have them ripening already 
is nothing short of amazing.

I love my
Fat Fruit Greenhouse!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Fat Fruit Tardis

Something you may not have known 
about the Fat Fruit Greenhouse.
Just like Dr Who's Tardis, it is much bigger inside than it appears.

Incorporated in one side, 
is a chicken coop!
The nest box opens from the top for easy egg retrieval.
The whole door (with the nestbox attached) swings out
for easy cleaning.

There is mesh above and below the nest box for ventilation.

At first I was a little worried 
about the heat factor inside the coop.  
But I have been monitoring that with a thermometer
and am very happy that the ventilation works well.

It is ideal for Jenny and her babes.
It would take three or four hens if you were using it as a night coop
and had the door open during the day to allow them to free-range.

In this view from the side you can see that it is a triangular prism.
Daniel is going to make benches with one shelf at the top so,
from now on, the coops will be square in profile.

Can you see the marine ply, on top of the coop, under the shelves?
In the winter these panels come out and there is
a mesh panel to keep the chooks out of the greenhouse.
(You can see this in the second/middle photo)
Two of the panels fit exactly in the grills on the door,
above and below the nest box.

In the colder weather, the chickens are protected from the draught
the warmth from their bodies will help to even out the temperature
in the greenhouse on cold nights. 

Now, isn't that clever!

Tomatoes and our first food from the greenhouse!

I am so disappointed with these photos.
They do not do justice to the tomato. 
You can sort of tell how tall it is
by the size of the chair.

Not only is it is strong!
Look at the girth of those stems.

Here is the one in the garden (they are both grafted Grosse Lisse).
This one is doing very well for a tomato
at this time of the year in Melbourne.
However, it is only half the size of the one in the greenhouse.

This one is climbing
up the racks.

There are three
BroadRipple tomatoes
in this basket.
I had planned to take two out
and plant them outside...
but I ran out of time.

We ate some of the salad greens 
from the polystyrene box last night.  
The first food 
from the 
Fat Fruit greenhouse.  

Sunday, November 20, 2011

It is so lush!

Yes, I do know it is Sunday,
but if it is any consolation, these photos
were taken on Friday.

The greenhouse is a wonder!

One capsicum...

...and more on the way.

Salad leaves and...

...huge leaves on the eggplants.

A little tomato and...

...ripening chillis.

Everything is so lush.

Oh, I know I promised pictures of the tomatoes.
But for some reason the computer keeps turning the
photos on the side and they just don't look as 
exciting that next week.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It works!

Look at the clever greenhouse cucumber.
It is starting to climb the trellis.
And look...

it is already holding on.

Compare this with the other cucumber - 
in the same potting mix, but outside...

...and the poor little sod in the veggie patch.  
I hope this one is at least developing some fabulous roots.

 Here are some mixed salad plants grown from seed.
The first one is in the greenhouse, and the second outside.

This one isn't as easy to see.
It is the black pearl chilli.
The first photo is an early one 
taken a couple of days after I potted it up.

You can judge the size better in this photo. 
It is the pot on the right on the middle shelf.
The one with the blue tag.

I think it has put on about four sets of leaves...
doubled its size in fact.
Check out all those lateral shoots too.

We had a very warm weekend after a week of cool, overcast weather.  
It is always warmer in the greenhouse, even on very cloudy days.  
The temperature in there has been in the mid-20s to 30 C.
On the hot days, with the vents open and the blinds pulled, 

the temperature was in the high 30s.

Below top - 25th October
Below bottom - 10th November
(note the hanging basket)

You just wait till I show you the tomatoes, next week.
A hint:  WOW!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Keeping my cool - venting

People warned me about the addictive nature of greenhouses.  Only now, am I beginning to understand.  It is so pleasant in there... and warm.  Mmmm!

Melbourne is doing its 'Spring thing', with lots of fluctuating temperatures and sudden changes.  One day it may be warm and sunny with a top temperature in the high 20s or the low 30s (Celcius).  Or it can be like Wednesday, cool, damp and drizzly with a top temperature of 17 degrees.

However, the Fat Fruit Greenhouse is able to iron out the bumps in the weather.  I have a thermometer in there and the temperature, during the days, has been steady in the mid to high 20s...lovely for growing.  The soil in the pots is noticeably warm to the touch.

When it begins to heat up I can open the vent which runs the full length of the house roof.  This can easily be lifted by pulling a chain. See, in the picture below, it is open?

If it is an even hotter day, there are a series of vents along the top of the walls, under the eaves.  I can flip these open by hand, and they are held up with a magnetized catch.  The double door can be slid completely open or just cracked a fraction.

By operating the vents and the door,  the temperature in the greenhouse can be adjusted quite quickly.

And that's not all, there aren't any steak knives...
but there are two cord operated, shade-cloth, blinds.  
On sunny days, to cut back on the radiant heat, 
these can be pulled all the way or part of the way across the roof.  

As it was cool yesterday,  
the blinds stayed open, and the vents stayed shut.  

I checked the temperature in there several times,
and it was a balmy 23 to 26 degrees each time.

Just perfect for the gardener to have a little rest, 
with a cup of tea and a gardening magazine.
It is a hard life,
but someone has to do it.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Some very early results

There is a marked difference in the three cucumbers.
This may be due to individual plant differences.
However, I thought it was worth sharing.

The plant: Cucumber - Crystal apple.

GREENHOUSE:  Potting Mix Formula # 4
Next set of leaves out with strong buds visible for next set.
The stems are straight and strong.

 OUTSIDE POT: Potting Mix Formula # 4

Next set of leaves beginning...
but not as advanced. Stems not as erect as GH one.


This one was a little bigger to begin with,
and is at the same stage as the GREENHOUSE one.
However, the snails have dined on the first of the true leaves
and the leaves are not as green as the ones in the pots.

All three, received an application of seaweed extract on Friday.

Not vast differences, but differences nonetheless...
and enough to excite this old 'scientist'.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Potting mix experiments

Science in the garden is so much fun!
Here are the first of my first experiments, growing in my Fat Fruit Greenhouse.
Following the progress of the plants, and the evaluation of the various potting mixes will be interesting.

Like a true scientist, I have planned my experiments and attempted one variable
(i.e. same plants, same pots, same potting mix but in a different location - in greenhouse/not in greenhouse)  Some plants and seeds have been also planted in the garden beds.

Seedling producers are making it easier to buy a variety of plants 
without having to buy a punnet of six of each type.

These were perfect for my experiments.
I have planted one of each variety, 
in the same soil mix, 
and the same type and size pot.
One will be living inside the greenhouse 
and one outside.

Formula #1 - (20 October)
50% cheap potting mix
50% well rotted manure
Added blood and bone.

All seedlings and seeds in the greenhouse
  • Grafted Grosse Lisse tomato
  • Early money tomato
  • Egg plants (grown from seed - can't remember the type)
  • Watermelon 
On the left: tomato - early money
Right - tomato - grafted gross lisse.
Both in IKEA self watering pots, which I already owned.

Formula #2 - (23 Oct)
70% good quality potting mix 
25% well rotted compost
5% river gravel/sand

Seedlings in greenhouse
  • Tomato - Early money (will be able to compare with same variety in Formula #1)
  • Chilli - black pearl
  • Chilli - habenero heat
Chilli - Black pearl
The second set of tiered shelves from the greenhouse
being used outside.
Inside the greenhouse

Formula #3 - (23 Oct)
Good potting mix only
Seedlings in self watering pots in green house AND outside, AND in garden bed.
  • Capsicum - Yolo Wonder
  • Capsicum - Sweet Mumma
Capsicum's  eye-view of the sky, through the greenhouse roof.
Formula #4 - (23 Oct)
70 % well rotted compost
20 % good potting mix 
10% river gravel/stones 10%

Seedlings in the greenhouse AND in same type of containers outside.
  • Capsicum - Big Bertha
  • Capsicum - Cherry Pick
  • Capsicum - Golden Bell
  • Cucumber - crystal apple (also in garden bed)
Seeds (24 Oct)
  • canteloupe/rock melon
  • Salad mix (Goodman seeds, corn salsd, mizuna,  mibuna, spinach, lettuce, rocket)
  • Beetroot - crimson globe (Mr Fothergills) - also in garden 3 days earlier.
  • Spring onion - white lisbon (Mr Fothergils) - also in garden 3 days earlier.
Just greenhouse
  • Chilli - Ever bearing perennial - Rainbow Chilli.
I will have to become a chilli fan,
with gorgeous bejeweled specimens like this one.

There is a long way to go, before the greenhouse is full...but it is a start!