Sunday, June 11, 2006

My Greenhouse Oasis

Come let me share with you the delights of my greenhouse. It is an amazing thing to bundle up against the cold in February and walk to the greenhouse....the bitter wind, perhaps even snow, is stinging my eyes and I shiver as I walk. But once I step into the greenhouse, I am comfortable in a T-shirt and jeans and the smell....the is like stepping into spring!
My greenhouse is unheated...if the weather is predicted to be especially bad for an extended period, I sometimes put a kerosene heater in during the night. I use a shade cloth during the summer and there is a vent fan as well as two circulating fans. It is a small greenhouse - about 16 feet by 30 feet. This picture is of my heirloom tomatoes. I grow a lot of tomatoes and all but one variety are heirloom. I usually grow a few Early Girl tomatoes, which are a hybrid, because they fruit several weeks before my heirlooms and because I am impatient for that homegrown tomato taste!

This is my little potting bench. It is an old piece of countertop mounted on metal legs. The wooden tray is where I do the potting - it holds the potting soil that spills so that I don't waste as much. The blue trash can holds my potting soil that we mix ourselves and extra bags of it are stored beneath the bench. The hanging fan is one of the circulating fans. The fan across from my bench is new this year. Josiah came down to the greenhouse on an especially hot morning and was concerned at how hot I was - he was worried that I was overheating so he placed a fan so it would blow on me as I work - what a great idea!! Wish I had thought of that about 6 years ago!! My tags, seed planters and markers are off to the right and there is room for a flat on the left of the wooden tray. I spend a few hours a day here from February on through planting season and I must confess I find it peaceful and restful...I love every minute of it!

This is a Mullein plant. One of my favorite medicinal herbs. I pick the flowers everyday and will use them (along with St. John's Wort flowers, garlic and olive oil) to make an oil that kills ear infections and stops ear pain on contact! This oil is a staple in my medicine kit...I have used it on my kids from the time they were small and even on my Mom! The flowers have other properties and so does the rest of the plant.

I encourage you to read about Mullein and all of its wonderful uses...and I encourage you to grow this herb. It is a beautiful plant and makes a lovely addition to landscaping around your home or farm! It used to be called the candlestick plant (I think you can see why) and the tall spike was dipped in tallow and used as a torch. I have several of these plants growing around the farm and I pick the flowers every day. The flowers can also be tinctured as can the leaves.

I will try to remember to write one day just on the many uses of Mullein!

This next picture gives you a good idea of how we built my benches. Greenhouse benches are beautiful and EXPENSIVE!! Instead we stacked cinder blocks, added some support pieces and rolled out snow fence on top.

It works well and was very cheap to build. It holds up beautifully - this has been here for almost 7 years! The slats allow the water to drain through but are strong enough to hold the plants. The plants on the right are culinary herbs..the middle bench with lots of empty space holds the plants left to be put in the garden this year..the next ones over are the heirloom tomatoes for sale and the far bench to the left are the medicinal herbs for sale. We should finish putting all of our plants in this week.

This last picture is of Borage...blooming where it is planted in the greenhouse! The flowers are edible - they have a slight cucumber taste and are beautiful sprinkled on top of a salad along with other edible flowers! Borage is wonderful to plant in your strawberry bed - it helps to repel strawberry pests...and...of has some wonderful medicinal properties. But that is a post for another day!

The best thing about working in the greehouse is watching the miracles that occur each day. The hand of the Creator is evident everywhere in His kingdom! To plant a seed the size of a piece of pepper and then have it give me countless bouquets of flowers all summer long...or many pounds of food is an amazing thing!! To watch seeds germinate, break through the dirt and grow while reaching for the sky is an amazing thing. God's hand is everywhere if we would just open our eyes to see!


  1. Hi Cheri! Can I come play at your house? :) Your greenhouse, that is. Look at those gorgeous plants! You are doing a fantastic job there. I think you must share a golden thumb with Mountain Firekeeper! We have a few mullein plants growing wild here, not many though. Can the seeds be saved from them? One plant (some would call it a weed, poor uninformed souls) that we are lacking is plantain, which sorely disappoints me, BUT...BUT BUT BUT! I was soooo delighted to discover that we have several comfrey plants growing all over the property. Someone must have planted them who knows how many years ago. May I email you with some questions about processing them? Blessings to you!

  2. Oh WOW!!! What a gorgeous place! Thanks sooo much for sharing it with us!

  3. Tia - You are most welcome!

    Emily - feel free to email me with any questions. You can save the seeds from the plant - or just dig up a small one this fall or early next spring and transplant (I like spring best!). You can buy seeds for plantain! I actually grew it in the greenhouse for a customer although it is prolific in our area.

  4. Cheri, what gorgeous pics!!
    What a lovely greenhouse...
    Blessings to you

  5. "To plant a seed the size of a piece of pepper and then have it give me countless bouquets of flowers all summer long...or many pounds of food is an amazing thing!! To watch seeds germinate, break through the dirt and grow while reaching for the sky is an amazing thing. God's hand is everywhere if we would just open our eyes to see!"

    This evening I was thinking this very thing and would not have said it better myself. Wonderful photos!


  6. I just found your blog and this is absolutely beautiful. I love your green house and cant wait for your uses of mullein.

  7. Cheri,

    I, too, am anxious to hear how you use mullein. I have read much about it but can't seem to find a good recipe for its use and would like to hear from someone who actually uses it. There's some blooming on the road near me and I would like to get it before the road crew mows it down!

    Wonderful post!

  8. Tonya,
    I'll write on Mullein soon but please don't harvest anything growing along the road - the plants breathe in the exhaust and other toxic fumes and render them unusable for medicinal/culinary purposes!

  9. Mullein? Is this a desert-y plant, with fuzzy, oval, grayish leaves at the base that can tolerate lots of heat, drought, and abuse? If so, I think I have some. Another noxious weed, I supposed. And you're convincing me to stop mowing/burning/stomping/piling cinder blocks on the comfrey in my backyard. Another herby-question for you; you posted (recently) about dandelion. Is there a difference between the dandelion that grows big with oval-y leaves versus the one that has the skinnier, pointy-edged ones?

  10. Hi Ellajac,
    I dont' know about it being a desert-y plant but it does grow in waste places, has fuzzy leave, a long stalk that breaks into hundreds of little yellow flowers! A WONDERFUL herb :)

    Yeah- keep the comfrey! I was so excited to find mine growing well today. 'Tis my favorite herb...or at least one of them :)

    I have never seen a dandelion that grows big with oval-y leaves...are you sure it is a dandelion? I'd love to learn more about it :)


  11. My mullein, if that's what it is, grew very tall in my semi-abandoned greenhouse... some rain (we get VERY little in summer) fell thru a hole in the plastic and it grew. We left it to 'see what it was'... it also grows on my abandoned west-side of the house (very hot in summer); nothing I want to grow there does, so I guess I"ll leave the mullein and figure out something to 'do' with it. :)

    As to the dandelions, in Western Washington where my family is (70 inches of rain a year, and grass grows by itself), the dandelions get big and the leaves are fairly roundish - up to a foot long, too. Here (12? inches of rain, annually, things grow where you put water) my dandelion leaves are pointy all the way up the sides. If I ever can get a pic of my folks', I will.

  12. I used to live in Western Washington..Marysville...don't remember the dandelions though - I lived in an apartment - perhaps they were all sprayed away :) I'd love to see a picture if you get one.

    Lots of good things to do with Mullein - do some reading :)


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