By Jannie Vaught
The leaves are falling.
Just the other day there was a warm breeze and with it, the leaves began to tumble to the earth. There is a scent to Autumn and for this gardener, it is the drying of the leaves and the sound of them as I walk across the yard under the trees. That’s the scent of Autumn. With that, the colder evening and nights have arrived and I started the re-potting of the many pepper plants in the raised beds. They are now potted and in the greenhouse/polytunnel that we set up last month. I bought an aluminum frame with a heavy fiber poly cover with a large door and windows for entry and ventilation. Having never used anything like this it has been an experiment. And I am thrilled with having this as a season extender and a warm and growing place for my many herbs and season starts. Now it is full of very large still producing pepper plants.
We placed it in a very “Rocky” and tree-shaded area. We started by leveling a 12 x 20 area. Placed a heavy weed barrier and pinned it down. Then we made a rectangle frame with simple 2×2’s. Then the aluminum frame went together on the wooden frame with the weed barrier extended past the frame. we secured the frame with a few screws and placed the cover on. Secured this with heavy cording and tied to cinder blocks on each corner. We can get some strong winds. Then we placed 2 grow lights inside the upper ridge pole being extra careful that they are extremely secure and not touching any fiber. To keep the heavy extension cord off the ground we cut a small hole and placed duct tape on both sides and cut through that to have a rip-proof hole for the cord. this is secured with large staples along the outer roof edge of the garden shed and plugged into the solar outlet. These are not the red heat lamps but multi-colored grow lights. And the plants are thriving. We bought a large thermometer and hung it inside to keep track of the temps. It stays now at about 80ish and will become very humid and damp which I will then open the door to let some of the moisture dissipate to keep down any mildew. So far so good. I am using a home-built potting bench with an undershelf which I made from the wood of the old raised beds and down each side are a large variety of minimal 5-gallon pots. I use smaller pots for the bench with the herbs and smaller starts.
From clean cat litter containers to old stock mineral tubs with several holes drilled in the bottom for drainage. But I prefer the 10-gallon black nursery pots that trees come in. Now for the pepper transplanting. First I picked all the ripe peppers from the plants. Then I filled the bottom of the potting containers with about 1/4 full of compost then I mixed potting mix with vermiculite about 1/3 more. I carefully dig the plants up and place them in the bucket and fill with more potting mix pressing down and water well. Then they go into the greenhouse.
So far they are thriving and no shock. I’m hoping this will keep the peppers growing and producing through till next spring. I also transplanted a Thi Basil plant and we will see how it does. I hope this personal experiment helps you to find ways to keep those perennial plants through the cold season and use it for all the herbs you have. Houseplants are happy in there also but make sure you check for any mealy bugs or spiders that house plants can have a good wash and new soil does a house plant good.
Growing Green With Jannie
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