I didn't do my usual Green Gift Roundup after the holidays this year, because we didn't give nearly as many green gifts as usual, aside from assorted secondhand books. But we did get one gift that was green in more than one sense of the word: a greenhouse. No, really! Take a look:
Now that those vast piles of snow have melted, Brian was able to set it up yesterday in the southeast corner of our backyard, where it'll get sunlight for about half the day. Then he took one of the other Christmas gifts we got, an indoor/outdoor weather station, and set up the "outdoor" sensor in the greenhouse to see just how warm it got in there. And the answer, as it turned out, was pretty warm. Admittedly, after last week's cold snap, we have had a couple of days of rather warm weather for February, so the outdoor temperature was peaking at above 50. But inside the greenhouse, it was a good ten degrees warmer than that. In fact, this afternoon he came in to report that it was about the temperature in the greenhouse as it was inside the house.
His next step was to set up a folding table in there and set up some of our parsley seedlings on it. Brian always makes it a policy to start extra seeds for every crop we grow in case they don't all germinate, but usually most of them do, so we end up with extra seedlings. So he left the four seedlings that we'll need for the garden inside under our grow light, while setting the others outside to see how they do in a less sheltered environment. His plan is to do the same with all our other seedlings as they come up—leeks, peppers, tomatoes, and so on—and compare the indoor plants with the outdoor ones.
The way I see it, this will be like a less extreme version of the winter sowing experiment we tried a few years back, which didn't prove terribly productive. The winter-sown seeds actually did pretty well compared to the indoor ones, but neither set really thrived, and setting them up outdoors was actually more work than keeping them under the grow lights. But our new seed-starting medium was successful enough last year that I think we've eliminated the stunted seedling problem, and having a permanent greenhouse set up will eliminate the extra work of setting up those mini-greenhouses for the outdoor seedlings. So if they turn out to do as well in the greenhouse environment as their indoor counterparts, then we may actually be able to start them all that way next year and bring our gardening process a little bit closer to nature.