Build Your Own Greenhouse

Every gardener at one time or another has thought about having a greenhouse to start seeds and grow plants.

Someone with a large budget could have a greenhouse construction company build one, many of us don’t have those kinds of funds to use.

A prefabricated kit is another way to go. Even these can be prohibitively expensive for the average gardener.

While going through may files the other day I came across a set of plans for a small greenhouse. It measures eight and a half feet wide by 12 feet long and is seven feet tall in the center. It uses one-quarter inch treated plywood ripped into strips that are glued together  to form the sidewall  supports. The base is made from one by eight boards. The entire structure is covered in plastic sheeting.

This set of drawing was developed by Michigan State University and the Department of Agriculture in 1963.  Anyone who has moderate building skills should have no problem building it.

If you would like to take a look at these plans you can see them on my other website.

Please let me know if you do decide to build this greenhouse, I would be interested in how it turned out.


March Is Pruning Time

The month of March is pruning time for most trees and shrubs. These woody plants have been dormant all winter. As the temperatures begin to warm up and the days get longer the plants begin to wake up. Pruning just before they break dormancy is best.

There are some exceptions to pruning in March. Spring flowering trees and shrubs are not normally pruned at this time because they formed their flower buds last year and are ready to open soon. Pruning those bushes now would mean you would  be cutting off all of those flower buds. Forsythia is probably the best known example of a spring flowering shrub.

We don’t normally prune maple trees this time of the year either. This is the time of year when the sap is running in maple trees. Pruning has the same effect as tapping a tree; it causes the sap to flow out from the wound. Although the maple is not hurt or weaken by pruning, all of that sap running out of the pruning cut can leave an unsightly stain on the bark.

Peach trees are pruned a little bit later in the spring after the weather warms up. May is better for peaches because they are actively growing and can heal quicker reducing the time the wound is open to infection.

Whenever you decide to prune keep in mind to make a proper cut. Never leave a stub of a branch after cutting. Cut back close to the limb from which you removed the smaller branch.

Always make your cut close to the limb. Don't cut so close that you cut into the limb itself.

Leaving a stub makes it extremely difficult for the tree to heal itself. Often the stub will die back and rot in place on the tree. This will leave an open area for fungus to become established and cause deeper wood to decay.

Warmer days are just around the corner. I plan on getting out and getting some pruning done this week.


Homemade Maple Syrup

Yes it is possible to make maple syrup at home. You don’t need a horse drawn sled and a sugar shack out in the woods to make your own maple syrup.

A few simple tools are all that is needed,  some of which you probably already have in your workshop or garage.

I knew some neighbors when I was growing up that made small batches of maple syrup in their kitchen at home.  They didn’t have a grove of maple trees or “sugar bush”   from which to collect maple sap.  All they did was tap the maple trees out in their backyard.  Every year a gallon or two was made.

One gallon is a lot of maple syrup. Consider the cost of a small 4 oz. bottle of maple syrup and you can see why it might be tempting to make your own.

The recipe for maple syrup is simple.  Step 1: Collect sap;   Step 2: Boil sap until it turns into maple syrup.  That’s basically all there is to it. Because there are a few other things to keep in mind while making maple syrup I have posted on my other web site an older pamphlet entitled Homemade Maple Syrup.

Even if you are not planning on making maple syrup this year this publication still contains a lot of interesting information to ponder and is only a couple of pages long.

If you can’t make your own maple syrup I encourage you stop by one of many roadside stands or farmer’s markets that sell locally produced maple syrup.

I’ll close by wishing you “sweet dreams”. 🙂