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.
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.
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