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Planting a Greenhouse

I tend to divide vegetables into three broad categories – those I love, those I can’t abide and functional vegetables that I’m nonplussed about in their own right but which are essential flavour builders, such as carrots and celery. I guess I’m quite lucky in that there aren’t too many vegetables I don’t like. Swede (rutabaga), or turnip as we always called it when we were kids, is one of them. Boiled onions (especially if swimming in a white béchamel sauce) and puréed carrots will both send me running. But for the most part I love vegetables and I try to eat as wide a variety as possible.

I am constantly shocked at how expensive most vegetables are here in Lithuania. With no Lidl and Aldi competing to keep prices down or taking a hit on essentials like vegetables to get you through the door, many vegetables are prohibitively expensive, especially in winter. I recently saw small courgettes (zucchini) on sale for €1.20 a piece. Of course courgettes are currently out of season and I would expect them to be more expensive than they are in summer, but that’s a price I simply can’t justify on a regular basis. Instead, I stick to native Lithuanian vegetables which would have been harvested last autumn and stored over the winter months, such as white cabbage, onions, carrots and beetroot. I can see why many traditional Lithuanian dishes are based around these humble vegetables.

Tomato Seedlings |

My tomato seedlings on the day I left them out to harden off.

Tomato Seedlings |

My tomato seedlings a few days later.

Now that winter has passed and the ground is warming up I am looking forward to a broader range of vegetables. I plan to plant small quantities of a wide selection of vegetables and large quantities of those that I use most often. When they are ready for harvesting I will freeze, dry and can as much as I can so that next winter we can survive mainly on our own vegetables and avoid the ridiculous prices in the supermarkets.

Many of my favourite vegetables grow indoors and now that I have my shiny new polytunnel I plan on planting them in abundance. I started my preparations back in January when I carefully selected seeds for varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and chillies that I thought would best suit our needs. I planted them early and tended to them carefully and was very happy to have about 40 tomato seedlings, 20 cucumber seedlings and a good selection of pepper and chilli seedlings.

When Arūnas finished construction on the polytunnel back in mid April I left the seedlings out in the tunnel to harden off before planting. The weather was mild during the day and cold but not freezing at night, so I was sure they would be fine. I’m not sure if it was from the cold, over watering or a homemade fertiliser I made with banana skins, but most of my tomato seedlings died. I was really disappointed as they’d been growing for over three months.

Tomato Plants|

What a fabulous gift – 12 beautiful tomato plants.

Tomato, Cucumber & Pepper Plants |

As luck would have it our neighbour is also planting a greenhouse. We got to chatting and she told me that she was getting tomato seedlings from her aunt and asked if I would like some too. Naturally I jumped at the chance and was bowled over the next day to receive a tray of 12 tomato plants as high as my knee. Those of mine that had survived were still only a few inches tall, so these were massive by comparison. I also went to my local market and bought a few huge cucumber and pepper plants for the exorbitant cost of 60 cent each.

Eager to get an early crop I planted them all straight away and strung them up to the roof of the polytunnel for support. I am absolutely delighted to see tiny cucumbers appearing already and a few flowers on both the peppers and the tomatoes. I can see one pepper developing so I know I’m off to a good start.

A nymph cricket on my tomato plants |

Beautiful but not welcome, a nymph cricket on my tomatoes.

Holes in tomato leaves |

The damage the cricket nymph inflicted on my tomatoes & peppers.

Holes in pepper plant leaves |

I don’t really know what I’m doing and am learning new things every day. I spotted a little green bug on my tomatoes and the good folks on Twitter and Facebook helped me identify it as a nymph (sub adult) cricket. While crickets themselves are useful in a greenhouse as they eat other bugs, the nymphs are actually a pest as they eat leaves. After a quick Google search for a deterrent I have been spraying my plants with a garlic-onion-chilli concoction that will supposedly keep the nymphs away. While I have still seen one or two since I started spraying (which I carefully gathered in my hands and set free outside), the damage to my leaves has certainly halted. I also have a large number of ants and some spotting on my tomato leaves – if anyone has good, chemical-free solutions to these problems I’d be really delighted to hear them.

A watched pot never boils, as they say, so while I’m waiting for my greenhouse goodies to ripen I’m working hard on my outdoor beds. I’ll post an update on those shortly.

My very first cucummber |

Tiny but beautiful, my first ever cucumber.

Pepper plant flowers |

A tiny pepper emerging.

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14 Comments Post a comment
  1. Looking good June. Growing your own food has such a liberating affect. Great quality food for a reasonable amount of money. Plus after putting all of that time, effort and love into your plants I’m sure you appreciate the “fruits of your labor” even more than store bought produce. Nice photos by the way!

    Liked by 1 person

    May 16, 2015
    • Thanks Amy! The problem now is having the patience to wait for it all to grow. I want to start eating straight away!

      Liked by 1 person

      May 16, 2015
    • I’m sure you didn’t mean that the prices of out of season produce were ridiculously high. If you put a dollar figure to all to all your infrastructure and labor of planting, managing, harvesting, storing and then add in any losses, you might find that the supermarket prices aren’t out of line. I mostly don’t buy out of season food because it sure doesn’t taste good, often mushy, and well, it probably is shipped in from Mexico where they are free to use chemicals not even legal in the US. Your photos are stunning and your story ALMOST makes me want to plant a garden. It’s so much work, I’ve promised myself i simply won’t add it to my work load this year. May stick a few long Asian pole bean seeds in the ground next week if i get time.

      Liked by 1 person

      May 16, 2015
      • Well, what I really mean is that they are prohibitively expensive – too dear for most people to afford. I completely appreciate that it costs more to produce vegetables out of season, either because they require special infrastructure to be built locally or the vegetables themselves need to be shipped from overseas. And farmers deserve a decent wage for their efforts. The problem is that salaries here are very low – a typical salary is just €300 euro per month, so these vegetables, even if fairly priced, end up being out of reach. Competition is also a factor. While I don’t like the idea of big supermarket chains paying farmers unfairly, a little competition does help to keep prices down for consumers. Supermarkets in Ireland often reduce their profits (or even sell at a loss) on fruit and veg just to get you into the store and then charge extra on other products to make up the deficit. We don’t seem to have either of these in Lithuania. All that said, I totally agree with you on taste – vegetables always taste best when they’re in season and fresh from the ground.

        Liked by 1 person

        May 16, 2015
      • I figured that’s what you meant – here in the US, however, people complain about the high cost of food and it is so ridiculous – especially when the next comment is along the lines – ‘oh, look at my new smartphone, fitbit, HD 80 inch tv, blah, blah.’ or they eat out in restaurants most of the time or buy frozen french fries vs a sack of potatoes. geesh!

        Liked by 1 person

        May 17, 2015
  2. longchaps2 #

    The love of your garden just jumps off the pages and makes you want to get out your shovel, lol. Love this blog June (and the pictures too) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    May 12, 2015
    • Thanks Susan! Yeh, I do love my garden – I’d spend all day in it if I could. And after two years I’m finally starting to feel really comfortable with my camera and editing software. I love that macro shot of the little bug!

      Liked by 1 person

      May 12, 2015
      • longchaps2 #

        Me too. You can practically see his little antennae twitching, lol.

        Liked by 1 person

        May 12, 2015

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