Greenhouses, Straw Bale Gardens, & Hydroponics

Once again I have been lax in my posts, and for that I apologize.

This summer has been a busy one for me as I am creating my own garden oasis. The acreage I bought almost a year ago (July 4 will be my 1-year anniversary of owning this place) has been a learning curve for sure. I think I have all the quirks figured out now, and I have lived here all 4 seasons.

I am gradually converting over an acre of lawn into outdoor living space, gardens, and an orchard. The latter is the next project, and the groundwork for it will be done within the first week or two of July. I don’t have the equipment to do it myself, so my boyfriend will bring his little tractor and rototiller over and do it for me.

As it sits I have 7 saskatoon trees, at least 10 raspberry canes, 3 rhubarb plants, 6 very thin asparagus plants (started these from seed a few weeks ago), and 5 or 6 goji berry bushes to plant in the new space. (That space should take close to 15 minutes off my mowing time.)


I invested in a 10 X 10 greenhouse this spring, and regret not doing so years ago. It’s smaller than the porta-garage frame greenhouse I had at my other place, but being built from wood, tin, and polycarbonate panels it is much heavier and has withstood some wicked winds. I also added a wood bench to one side, which added more weight to it as well. And the anchors holding 2 of the corners down aren’t going to hurt either.

Inside I have 12 tomato plants, which I planted in 5-gallon buckets, several peppers of various kinds, 2 cucumbers in pots, all of the fruit/veggies listed two paragraphs earlier, plus other random plants. It’s a little like Heaven walking into it each day.

The inside of my greenhouse earlier this month.
Straw Bale Garden

I am also trying Straw Bale Gardening this year, as there wasn’t a garden space in the yard when I moved in. I’m not completely sold on the idea, but I may have been too impatient and planted in them before they were conditioned properly. The book I have on the method does recommend setting the bales out in the fall, letting them overwinter, and planting in the spring. I didn’t get my bales until mid-spring so I honestly can’t ditch the concept just yet.

I also built 2 raised beds and filled them with straw bales. I have potatoes in one, and an assortment of veggies in the other; along with a pansy and strawberry plant. It took awhile for the potatoes to grow, but they seem to be doing alright now. I did notice a couple are ready to bloom, which means new potatoes are on the way. When the crops are harvested I’ll cut the strings on the bales and let winter take care of the decomposition process. In the spring I should have some healthy soil to plant in.


The price of fresh produce keeps increasing, and the quality and flavour are decreasing. Summer is great because a lot of people are able to save money by growing their own. But what about those who don’t have the space to have a traditional garden? Or what about the winter months (of which never seem to end here in Alberta) when growing outside is impossible?

Enter, hydroponics. I dabbled in growing houseplants over 30 years ago using a passive hydroponics system and didn’t take the time to understand how it worked so gave up. My ex-husband and I lived in an apartment in the city then, and had I inquired about the other systems available, I could have had a lot more years of experience under my belt.

Jump ahead to a couple months ago and I once again decided to give it a whirl. This time I did more research, and also got to see an AeroGarden in use. I ordered 2 of them and am hooked. I have started plants for my greenhouse, and have been enjoying fresh lettuce leaves directly from the system every few days.

Yesterday my 108-plant hydroponic system arrived, and today I have been familiarizing myself with the way it works. Sadly the directions didn’t state how much nutrient solution to use so I have been letting the system run and adding as necessary. At present I believe 18 litres is sufficient, but I may add another 6 litres just to be sure.

I’m excited to have my own fresh lettuce, herbs, and strawberries all winter long. As the weeks go on I’ll be adding what I have learned to my blog and website. And my family and friends will also benefit, because I know I will not be able to eat as much as I grow.

In conclusion I would like to once again apologize for being so negligent with this blog. Getting back in the swing of things since Ross passed away hasn’t been easy, and I’ve basically done the bare minimum. Grief is a crazy thing, and when we lose a spouse it’s hard to remember who we were as individuals before two became one.

I’ll be posting reviews on the tools and systems I use for my gardening adventure so feel free to follow my blog.