At first I somewhat disliked the greenhouse, its grungy plastic, its crowded interior, and how tedious and high maintenance it is to work with (taking the sides down when it gets too warm and putting up a “tent” inside when the nights are too cold). But I have been spending most of my time in there lately since the nice weather has allowed us to move all of the seedlings out from under the cozy basement grow lights. While doing various spring time tasks such as seeding, thinning, and potting up, I have learned to delight in it, the medium sized plastic plant tent.
The micro-climate it provides is perfect for the plants and for humans working on chilly spring days. It blocks harsh cold winds but lets in the warm sun as if there were no barrier at all. It is beautiful in the morning with all the condensation on the plastic that it starts dripping down onto the plants (and on your head) like rain. I like when I am working in the warm humidity surrounded by baby plants and a cool breeze comes through and brushes my back and goes through the tops of the little seedlings’ leaves. I can hear the calming sounds of the near-by pond and the spring peepers signal when evening is on it’s way.
And I love nurturing the seedlings. It is exciting to see something, that you tediously dropped as tiny seeds into hundreds of little pockets of soil, show signs of life in the form of little pale sprouts. They bend as they push against the soil then stretch up towards the sun with fresh little leaves that they will soon loose like baby teeth.
The first time I “potted up”; taking seedlings out of trays that they had outgrown and putting them into bigger cells with more soil, it felt so weird to be handling such a small and delicate life form. But it didn’t take long to see the results; some celeriac I potted up perked up and grew what seemed like half an inch overnight!
The greenhouse has been filling up fast, but soon the cold hardy varieties, such as broccoli, will be hardened off on a table outside under mesh covered hoops. The mesh will give them some protection from wind but will expose them to many more outdoor elements (temperature change, wind, less frequent watering) than the greenhouse does. The purpose of hardening off is to ease the plants’ transition from the warm and stable greenhouse environment to the harsher environment outdoors. And about a week after, they will be well trained to go out into the field!