Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mini Hothouse

This spring I was on the ball!  I started my tomatoes and beans inside because last year, well, last year's garden was a disaster mess.  Let's just say my timing on planting some things last year taught me what not to do this year.  So anyway, beans and tomatoes have been growing in my laundry room window.  My compost/soil mix must be awesome, because things are just shooting up like crazy.  The beans have outgrown their little pots, and so I moved them into a larger pot on my back porch.  Spring may technically be here in Kansas, but some evenings still get chilly and we suffer from constant hurricane strength winds.  To protect my plants I came up with an ingenious (or at least I would like to think so) solution.  Saran wrap and a tomato cage.  Well, not really saran wrap, but a thicker plastic wrap used for moving.  Now I know that this mini hothouse is nothing new to the gardening world, but to me it is, so I am proud. Hopefully, my kids and pets will leave it alone (number one threat to any plant at my house) and the plastic wrap will hold in enough heat.  If this works, I've got a lot more cages and a whole roll of plastic wrap so I can do the same thing to the tomatoes and get them out of my window too.


  1. I am going to try this! Building a greenhouse, at this time, seems a bit daunting, but this is a perfect solution! I actually have rolls of a similar plastic, too, as well as several tomato cages. I've just discovered your blog and I'm enjoying your posts!

  2. I found my way here thanks to Monday's Barn Hop -- and what a clever idea! Thank you for sharing it here with us!

  3. What a great idea! I wonder how it would work as a season extender in the fall. I'm going to include a link to your post on my Tumblr site.

  4. Found you on the barnhop. This is one of those that makes me think, "Well gosh, why didn't I think of that?". Brilliant - and perfect for a Wisconsin gal like me with our crazy weather. thanks for sharing!

  5. Call it global warming or whatever you like, but in recent years, if I wait until average last freeze date to set out my tomato plants, they barely get a few tomatoes full size before the summer heat (here in Shreveport, Louisiana) sets in and stops them from bearing.

    The heat, in the upper 90's keeps up some days until October and then the vines I'm able to have kept alive start bearing again, and just about the time a few tomatoes reach full size I start having to cover them at night to protect them from frost. (The culivar I like, Celebrity, can stand nights that go down into the upper 30's, just as long as there is no frost or freezing.

    So here's what I'm planning to do this year: I planted my seed in a starter kit today, indoors, under a grow light, with a seed-starter-electric heating pad under the water pan. We have lots of day in winter and early spring when the weather here is in the 70's F, even though some night go to freezing.
    I'll just try to keep the vines alive until fall, and I plan to get some (hot water tolerant type) PVC and make frames to go around them. I'll put plastic on those so that when the nights begin to go into the upper thirties, the thermostat will turn on a heat source in each mini-hot house. (I may use ordinary rough-service light bulbs, but put each under a can to keep their light from being a nuisance. The thermostat can be set at any temperature, so I'll set it to turn on the heat sources when the temperature gets below 40 degrees F. I'll run a buriable electric extension from one container to the next. (And, don't worry, I know to install a GFCI -- ground fault circuit interruption device at the electrical outlet -- to remove any risk of a person or pet getting electrocuted if they chew on the wire ( (:>)

    I don't know if this will work or not. Some experimenting and fine tuning may be required. But doggone it I'm fed up with having the heat rob me of tomatoes all summer and an early freeze rob me of them for the winter. Maybe I can stretch the spring and fall growing seasons in my backyard.

    My wife says this is too much trouble. But I love home grown tomatoes. And those store-bought ones have no more flavor than wet cardboard.

  6. Great job, Christina! I hope this works for you. It sure looks like it will. Good luck!

    Thanks for linking this up with the TALU!

  7. What a great idea! When the weather gets warm are you planning on removing your mini-greenhouse or taking off the plastic and leaving the cage there? (TALU)


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