Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ours are not really greenhouses. They are hoop houses; covered in plastic with earthen floors. We don't grow anything in the ground, all of our plants are sitting up on tables. A weed or two shows up underneath the tables, but mostly we throw Sweet Alyssum seed to attract beneficial insects, especially hoverflies to the greenhouse. It IS a sweet smelling little flower, and totally drought tolerant so we don't have to think about watering it. One less thing to water.

These covered spaces, we call them 'rooms', are special indeed. Especially at dawn. No sound at all; no helpers, no hoses pumping water, no dogs racing through, nothing. Well, maybe a cat wishing for a hummingbird, but those guys stay very high as do the phoebes, who flip through to catch flies now and then. We often forget to close the doors at night, and wonder why the deer, who pass by so closely, choose not to enter the enclosed space where all the tasty items are. But they do not, knock wood.

So we celebrated Labor Day by laboring little. A little watering, of course. I actually spent a few hours getting plants gathered for the weekly tasks; assembled the Tea Herbs on one table, the Mediterranean Herbs on another, the Women's Health Herbs on another - ready for a presentation next weekend. The plants look good and seem to have enjoyed this extra round of heat that was put upon them last week. It was almost too much for us; the greenhouse thermometers ran to 105, 108, and then we left. Stepping outside did wonders. Turning on the fans did wonders as well, but we don't like them. Too noisy.

The frogs are happy, too. The heat and the moisture from a stepped-up watering schedule makes these little guys feel downright tropical. They love it and I can only hope that it boosts their appetite for aphids and spider mites, and whiteflies and the few other insect problems that we have. And we have very few. Insect problems. Perhaps its because we are good people? Or because the plants live in one place for a short time? Or because we don't use any pesticides so we never kill the good guys? I don't know; but other than a brief problem with powdery mildew under a too too dark shade cloth over the mint, and an awful yucky problem with onion maggots in chives that lasted for about a week, we have been blessed, and I say again, blessed with healthy happy plants that fend for themselves.
Every year we talk about installing a few lights in the greenhouses so we can visit after dark, work after dark, find things after dark. It doesn't happen. It could happen. But - on moonlit nights - it's blazing bright in there, so who needs it. Moonlit nights we need, and you couldn't find a better place to spend an hour on a night of the full moon, than a greenhouse filled with healthy, vigorous plants. Does photosynthesis take place after dark?

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