Friday, April 10, 2020

Midwest Gardening April: Greenhouse Heating

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First week of April 2020 Midwest Gardening.

While so many of you are in zones far warmer than Chicagoland (5b) we still battle crazy temperature changes. 

We had a few days of really nice weather last week. This shows the wall temp(in the sun) roughly at noon. No need for a heater then.

At this point, we open all the windows and turn on the ceiling fan. These planters are under a shelf---and it's 91.9 degrees F.

We moved almost all the plants from the kitchen out to the greenhouse early last week.

I also started large planters of lettuce are on the floor on the west side. We have used paver base as a floor, it's fine for walking on and will absorb excess water. We are waiting to see how the drainage, heat, and comfort works with this. We may put some patio blocks over this--
for holding heat in the Fall. 

I am going to try and keep the greenhouse 
going for fresh greens and vegetables until December...we will see. 

We should have purchased a heater in winter, because, now, Hubby didn't have much of a choice. 
We had wanted one with a temperature gauged on/off switch, but none seemed available. 
We ended up with  a 2 ceramic rod 1500W heater, choice of 1-2 rods on, 
and a wide temperature range dial.

How much electricity you use is dependent on the settings. We usually turn it totally off by10am on any kind of sunny day, and quite low on cloudy days. Even during clouds you have radiant heat penetrating through.

Excuse all the cords (12guage for the heater) everywhere. Not going for aesthetics, yet in the greenhouse.

The other purchase was a remote temperature system, which came with three sensors (battery) which transmit to a display screen in the house. We can see all three temps-most of the time, as they cycle at different times. 

In the afternoon the sun can still be quite hot---however, once the trees leaf out it should be easier to control.

These gauges  are very sensitive to we don't get hysterical unless all three temps register insane numbers.
The manual ceiling fan (3 settings) circulates the heat and also makes our plants stronger.

This is the indoor display...96, 72, 98...we know that two sensors are in the sun at this time. The bottom 74 is our home indoor temp(lots of windows in this house) and 48 is the humidity. 

Last night was 27...degrees, and we maintained in the 40's with the 2 rods going at about 75%.

Now, I will go out and turn them way down, though the outdoor temp is still in the 30's as the sun is kicking in. (9:30am)

We found, prices range for heaters, $50-$200, ours was $79. 
Prices for sensor systems are basically under $100 + the price of batteries. Lots are available with many options.

I'll never advertise any brands or systems, just giving you an idea of how much this little project ends up costing. These are multi-season investments. Our last greenhouse lasted us over 10 years, this one should be good until we are gone. We did burn up 2 heaters in the last 10 years---because of moisture issues, but the last greenhouse was a tent of sorts, this one is pretty much waterproof.
AND, that's why cords are strung up all over. 


Thank you for any and all comments.
Finally I am able to reply to comments by using Chrome. So all you Mac users who have upgraded to Catalina---this might help the glitches on Safari  and Blogger!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020


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Hi, Everyone, hope you are staying SAFE!

In 1984, when we bought a 12 year-old, 1400 sq.ft., modest builder grade Ranch House on a bit more than a quarter of an acre. We thought we had gone to heaven after living in a congested townhouse area. 
Our unincorporated community had a lake, parks, un-congested lanes and streets, what we from Wisconsin, call a 'townie bar' on the lake, clean air, critters, bull frogs, raccoons, pheasants, deer, etc. Perfect for two pre-teen boys to grow up in.

The minus-was no garage (we built one, years later),  plus a big empty 1400 sq. foot basement, some of which today is this 



The basement, gave me a clay shop for my pottery business---us, a family room, hubby an office, and a huge storage room shop 
that I shared with my husband.

Over the years we remodeled upstairs, put the washer-dryer upstairs, added a mini-master bath in a walk-in closet, reconfigured the other bath, added exterior water service to all sides of the house and piece-meal'd the plumbing, ourselves. You can see the cobbled plumbing by all the different types of drain pipes, and the extra heat runs. We had a metal pipe failure from the kitchen, which is 50 some feet away from the kitchen, two years ago, so that had to be replaced. It was filled with sand from the sump pumps. Sigh.

Anyway, now the house is 46 years old. We need to update/replace the bathrooms to walk-in showers, improve our water flow, and retackle the tangle of sewer pipes that adding-on eventually taxed. 
Hubby will totally replace and redo all the plumbing on this side of the house.


But before we could do that-we added a new floor over the concrete.  First we had to go through this room and the 30 some years of storage. 

Behind all those bins is a run of kitchen cabinetry gleaned from a remodeler in the area. 

These ARE the AFTER Photos....YIKES! 


Behind this mound of bins of antiques and craft supplies, lurks a 1900 record player, furniture, and the doorway to the other doll/craft room. 


The finished, doll craft room, and I also have a shipping room! Bins here also hide family treasures. Flowers  are just plopped in a vase, not designed. I hope to have friends here for projects, when I have water-another reason for the plumbing debacle.

This sink has water, but not drainage. Originally the sink in the clay room ran to the sump pumps. We have purchased a pump/well for draining directly to the sewer from here, that will be installed to the left through the wall into the DUNGEON.

Oh, and I use LOTS of picnic baskets, woven and metal!
I can't believe how full this room is now---hopefully the dungeon will alleviate the excess. 


This was my first photos of the completed craft room.
I use picnic baskets for current projects or groupings of items with labels, so I can keep track. 

My goal is to have this Dungeon 
look and work as well as the doll craftroom! We 
have a long way to go!

I say this is an AFTER photo now in the dungeon, because every container has been gone through. Ninety-five percent have been sorted, ALL are labeled. I also keep our household seasonal items in here. 


I have 8 huge bins of flowers, and probably 3 more just full of greens, and grapevine. I still have a penchant for expensive, quality flowers, which I mixed in with 'good' ones and gorgeous greens.
In the past, I did weddings, parties, home-decorating, as well as commercial work. NOW, the prices of floral product are insane, and while I have cut my stock to less than half, I still have a ton. 


There are the bins of 4 generations of stuff, good and bad, antiques and photos inherited from my family. PLUS, I've collected also-I know I have at least 2 dozen blue mason jars---
but, can I let them go now, or will I use them for mini's storage? 

 Many bins are marked SELL. I don't really need to do garage sales, flea markets, antique stores to buy...I just need to go to this basement room. I will be posting some of all this in my Etsy store.


January through March during the dreary winter, we went through this room-slowly, and hubby redid the floor. We will seal the floor with some roll on floor paint as we work from the plumbing back to the entrance. Right now, he was laying out all the pieces of the new drainage/sewer reconfiguration. 

Eventually we will paint walls and put up pegboard in places, as we start that after the plumbing is done. As I move into the room ---I'll start with storage on that wall of the plumbing, I will consolidate and eliminate the contents of all those totes. 


I can only get into this one wall cabinet which holds my paints, all stored upside down. They will have to be sorted, because paint doesn't last 20 years, even stored upside down. I taught craft painting, art theory, color mixing, and floral classes through a local craft store for 10 years or so. My classes were always full, 
which really helped with the kids' college bills. 

Do you remember when there were tons of craft/art classes and people who actually knew about the products available in craft stores? When someone could answer a question about how to USE the product...???

I do need to CULL so many bins of holiday supplies, and will probably try and sell some of the more interesting things on Etsy. I commonly purchased items wholesale in dozens to grosses. YES, I purchased wreaths by 72's and 144's. Ornament makings were also bought in huge quantities. I toted off the last of my pine swags and small wreaths to Goodwill, since I no longer mass produce anything.

Craft materials have gotten very expensive. I can sell my 20-year new-old-stock stuff at cost, and make myself and customers happy. Surprisingly, I remember what I paid for everything and who my suppliers were. Tons of things I have already sent to GoodWill included lots of glass, and almost all my baskets. I'll let GoodWill store my baskets, because I can re-purchase just about anything I may actually need for very little. 

Upscale merchandise I donate to a wonderful thrift shop---that supports families in need. 


My worst horde is fabric---antique linens, antique fabric, decor, display fabrics I used for my shop. Lots of rugs, pillows, bits and pieces for projects. Somewhere I have maybe ten vintage needlepoint stockings all backed in velvet. 

Containers for floral designs is another category I have to let go. I've already sent lots of brass--gone! Usable flower pots went to the greenhouse for planting. 
Then there are the wood projects---I really do need to get at those. I see some serious redo's in the future, maybe even some creative craft painting.

with nice weather now, we are going outside and working on yard projects, the greenhouse, and planting, eventually some fishing.

But, rainy days will be spent here in the Dungeon

Do you have a  DUNGEON?

Thank you for any and all comments.
Finally I am able to reply to comments by using Chrome. So all you Mac users who have upgraded to Catalina---this might help the glitches on Safari  and Blogger!