Welcome to Bepa's Garden!
This blog is about organic gardening, healthy eating and healthy living.
Each month I will be posting Garden To-Do Lists, Tips & Techniques, Garden Project Plans, Photos from the Garden, Recipes and Book Reviews.
I hope you enjoy reading and I hope I can inspire others to start a backyard garden!
Happy Gardening!


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Using a shade cloth to cool the greenhouse

Keeping the greenhouse from overheating in late spring / early summer when the temps begin to rise into the 90's is sometimes a bit of a challenge. Usually by mid May, the seedlings have all been transplanted into the garden, so it isn't a concern, but lately we have been getting some pretty warm days in early March and April so it is becoming an issue.

I do have an automatic window vent on one wall and last year I added screens to the door which seemed to help keep the temps down with cross ventilation, but on those sunny 80° days it can easily top 100° inside the greenhouse.

It seems a bit strange talking about this today when we have overcast skies with temperatures in the low 50's and the thermometer in the greenhouse now reading 53°, but the past several days have been in the mid 70's and it has begun to reach 90° which can stress the seedlings causing low productivity and smaller yields.

This year I decided to add a shade cloth to the greenhouse to see if I can better control the temperature and add some protection to the seedlings vigorously growing inside.

Shade cloths come in different size panels or you can purchase custom lengths and add your own clips.
I purchased a 6' x 10' Sunblocker Knitted 70% shade panel from Grower's Supply for just over $50.00. 

My greenhouse faces east to west with the side facing south receiving the most sun. I installed the panel hanging mostly to the south side and attached it to the north side of the roof so I can flip it to the back when it is shady or over to the front when it is sunny.

A few days ago it was sunny and 70° and the greenhouse started to heat up to over 90° with the vent fully opened. I quickly installed the shade cloth and within minutes the temp started to drop and came right down to 83°.

The greenhouse was still warm and humid with filtered sun still coming through the cloth. The seedlings are still growing vigorously and seem to need less water now that they have a little more protection form the heat.

We seem to be getting warmer days earlier in the season which can really do damage to the seedlings inside the greenhouse that I work hard to grow each year. Using the shade cloth seems to be an easy way to better control the temperature and I will probably be able get more use out of the greenhouse during the hotter summer days.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Getting children involved in gardening

A key point in our mission for the school garden is to get children outside and more involved in gardening. We believe they should be taught where their food comes from, how to grow it and also be given the opportunity to get involved in the entire process. The school garden is mostly for them and we are trying to come up with ways to get them involved and excited about gardening. 

Over the past couple weeks we distributed seed starting kits to the 17 teachers who signed up to take part. We were very surprised that we had over 75% of teacher participation with more asking to participate each day! The children became very excited watching the seeds they planted germinate into seedlings and some classes have already begun "blocking up" their plants!

To keep that excitement going we want them to also be involved in creating the garden. We believe having them help layout the garden and construct the beds would give them a sense of pride and ownership. We were concerned about possible injuries using power tools so I worked on creating a raised bed system that the children would be able to help assemble.

Just about every kid loves building with lincoln logs and blocks, so I set out to design a raised bed system that could be assembled without power tools.

The design I came up with worked really well, but I wanted to see if it would actually go together with ease and be sturdy, so I built a 1/3 scale model.

I am extremely pleased with how it looks and how well it slips together.

I think the children will really enjoy taking part in building all the raised beds and being allowed to participate in the creation their garden!

I am going to pre-cut, notch and sand all the parts. On May 4th we are going to have a ground breaking ceremony where we will be laying out the garden, building the beds, tilling the outer patches and putting up our garden sign! The children that already know about it are excited to take part and hopefully the enthusiasm will continue to grow as the garden grows! We feel that by involving the children as much as possible, they will really benefit from this project.

"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn".
~Benjamin Franklin


Help us win a grant for out school garden!
(Click picture to find out how)

Shared at:

Tilly's Nest
Deborah Jean's Dandelion House
The Backyard Farming Connection

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Taking time to enjoy the day ...

No matter how hard I try to schedule my time, life always seems to have other plans for my days. I have been trying to write some posts, build the duck house, and complete a whole list of things, but my business has been extremely busy and we have been completely consumed by the garden project, both of which I am definitely not complaining about!

Most of the seeds have now been started and the seedlings are growing like crazy now that the warmer weather that has finally arrived. There are plenty of photo opportunities with the all the plants springing to life the greenhouse, so I took some time out of my busy day to head outside with my camera!

Romaine lettuce.
Marigolds, starting to flower!
Cucumber seedlings.
Basil - I wish you could smell it!
More peppers!
Today was sunny, warm, and in the 70's!
The ducks were happy that I took the time to cleaned and re-fill their pool.
I sat and watched as they took turns bathing before drying off and taking a nap in the sunshine!

Ernie waiting his turn to use the pool.
Bert drying off after his swim.
Ernie proudly strutting in the sunshine!
Sometimes it's important to stop worrying about the things that need to get done
and just take time to get outside and enjoy the day!


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Germinating seeds ...

I am always amazed watching the process of a germinating seed.

It is incredible to think that the energy to grow a plant and the potential food that it can produce is locked away inside that small seed just waiting for the right conditions to begin the germination process.

Nature is truly amazing!

Great things can happen given the right conditions!

That's how I feel about our school garden project.

The seed has been planted an it is starting to grow into something amazing!

This weekend my wife and I are working on the garden proposal. We are outlining every aspect of how the garden should be used, what lessons it will teach, what it will incorporate and what the garden should represent. The proposal will be used as both an operating plan for the garden and to obtain our funding. We both get excited and emotional when we look at the potential of this project and what great things can come of it for the school and the community.

The seed has been planted and has begun to germinate,
I can't wait to see what it will grow into!


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

PDF Version of Greenhouse Plans now available!

I have considered, for a very long time, making the popular greenhouse plans available in PDF form, and after many inquiries from customers I have decided to do so!

The plans are exactly the same as the printed version, except they are in the form of a PDF file that will be emailed to you after purchase. You can then print them yourself and have them for immediate use.

 This has been a tough decision and I have thought about it for a long time. I am the type of person who likes actual books. I don't like to ready anything on the computer or Ipad and I prefer tangible items that I can hold and that have substance. I take pride in my products and the packaging of my products and strive to make them aesthetically pleasing, functional and of quality.

However, I also understand the need to have something sooner than later,and not wanting to spend extra money on the ever rising cost of shipping. I also feel the frustration of those who don't live in US and are interested in purchasing my plans, which I have been surprised and flattered that there have been so many! 

The PDF plans, as well as the original bound book, are now available through my website and ETSY store.
The PDF plans will be emailed within 24 hours after payment is received, although I process most orders immediately if I am in my office.

As I have mentioned before, 50% of all sales will be going to help support our school garden project and I am very happy to announce that $535.00 from March's sales will be donated to the school garden!

 A big thank you to everyone who has supported this project! 
We are very passionate about this endeavor and feel extremely grateful for the opportunity to be able to make this a reality!


Friday, April 5, 2013

A peek into the greenhouse ...

My days have been extremely busy and I haven't had too much time to post or work in the garden. 
It has been a chore just to keep up with the seedlings. moving them from the basement to the greenhouse each morning and then back inside in the evening. It is still too cold to leave them out at night, a mistake I made a couple weeks ago and lost all of my kale, broccoli, cauliflower and most of the lettuce.

I had to re-start some of the seeds, hopefully the kale will have enough time to come in.

Right now I have tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, lettuce, kale, fennel, basil, marigolds and petunias in the greenhouse. I still have my sage, thyme, rosemary, parsley and oregano in the basement on heat mats as they aren't big enough to block up yet.

This weekend I plan to start the sunflowers, zinnias, zucchini, cucumbers, pumpkins and squash all in 2" soil blocks. Those will be the last of the seeds that need to be started indoors, the rest will be direct sown in to the garden.

Romaine Lettuce
Bell Peppers
Cherry Tomatoes
Marigolds, starting to form buds.

The weather is supposed to start warming, so hopefully I can start turning the beds and edging the new gardens. I also need to get to work on building the duck house, something I was hoping to do last month!

Looks like it is going to be a busy year!