Friday, March 12, 2010

Greenhouse intro

Allison (our new volunteer coordinator and partner in this project) and I had a good meeting Wednesday morning at the site with the property manager, Donna, and the resident services coordinator, Iris, and three residents (including one who is a serious gardener and botanist).  We'll have a lot more involvement this year from the folks in the apartment complex right next to the 200 Foot Garden, as well as additional support from the management.

And we'll get to use the greenhouse.

Yep, there's a greenhouse up on the third floor, attached to the community room.  You can see it from the park where I sometimes bring my dog and where my daughter plays soccer.  Well, now I've actually been inside.  It hasn't been used for a long time, which I  already knew, so the condition was about what I expected.  The good news is that there is water and lots of light and the heater works.  The bad news is that a few of the windows are broken and the top louver system and thermostat is all in disrepair and not fully functional.

The tricky part about greenhouses is temperature control.  Ideally, you want a system that will automatically open the top vents so the hot air can escape when the day is warm.  Otherwise you just cook the plants.  When we opened up the greenhouse, it was over 90 degrees inside (it was about 50 outside).  We turned off the heater and opened some windows, which helped a lot.

At first, I thought it meant we can't use the greenhouse this season, but I think we can make it work, with help from the residents.  We'll need to have someone check the temp a couple times a day, while we're starting seeds.  The good news is that there's tons of sun, which puts us way ahead of where we were last year, trying to start everything in our basement under a couple of grow lights.

Now that I have a sense of what's up there, I can put together a shopping list of trays, covers, seed starter mix, etc.  I already have a bunch of seeds, but we'll need to order more.

Last year was great fun, but I'm even more excited for this year and our chance to get an early start.

If I had more time on my hands, I'd take on the full restoration of the greenhouse as a project (but I don't).  It'll take many many hours (and potentially quite a few dollars, though it's hard to know), to get the greenhouse back to its original glory.  But we'll just get started with baby steps for now.

Okay, off to make that shopping list.


  1. I am glad to see you are back! I love following this project. You inspire me with your posts - it shows me that even a small project by a few people makes a difference to others and to the planet. Cool developments! Keep posting!

  2. Thanks, Kelli. It's such a fun project, and with the greenhouse, the expansion, and added personnel, we'll make an even bigger impact this year.

  3. I didn't see where the 200 foot garden was located by looking at this page. Did I miss something?

  4. Excellent point, anonymous. Thanks. I've just modified the description. It's at 99 Kent Street, in Brookline.

  5. Hello,
    I came across this site today as I was browsing around for information to start my patio-container-veggie garden this season. I loved reading your posts. I am trying to get into growing my own veggies this year, and have no clue or experience. We live in St. Paul st. I (and possibly perhaps, my husband too) would love to come by and see this project, maybe help with getting the greenhouse together.

  6. Thanks for your comment, Sowmya. We'll be working in the greenhouse on Saturday morning from 9am - 11am. E-mail me at if you plan to be there and we can work out the details.

    Also, don't miss Bountiful Brookline's Spring Into Gardening event, from 1-4pm at the Pierce School this Sunday. There will be lots of information and workshops on growing things. The event is free.